KTM 990 SM T

KTM_91

By Kevin Ash


Pictures: Gary Freeman, Herwig Peuker




Touring supermoto: it’s hard to think of any two motorcycle categories that conflict more than these. A racing Gold Wing maybe, or a motocross scooter? Well that’s pretty much what KTM has done with its new 990 SM T, although it’s held back slightly and says the T stands for Travel rather than Touring. Even so, the intent is clear: this is a supermoto (hard edged, uncomfortable, hyper agile, barking mad) meant for covering good distances on everyday roads. So, which is the more compromised then, the supermoto or the travel?

 KTM_990SMT_06Click on image for galleryIncredibly, neither. In fact, the SM T is one of the most accomplished motorcycles I’ve ridden in the last year (and that includes Ducati’s seminal 1198 S) it’s also one of the most exciting. Well, we scoffed when BMW said you could have a big capacity, twin-cylinder trail bike back in 1980 with the R80G/S, and the Germans have done alright with the concept since. And KTM is going to do very well indeed with the SM T.

The bike is based on the wild, fun-focussed 990 SM, using the same basic chassis and 75 degree, liquid-cooled V-twin engine. Indeed, the only difference between SM and SM T engines is the T has a new oil level sight glass, otherwise it makes the same 114bhp at 9000rpm and 97Nm of torque 2000rpm lower. The suspension is altered on the SM T, with reduced travel, although there’s a still-generous 160mm at the front and 200mm at the rear, compared with the SM’s 200/210mm. Brakes are state-of-the-art, radially-mounted, four-piston Brembo Monobloc callipers up front, while forks and shock come from KTM-owned WP. Wheels are by Marchesini, so the spec is high throughout.

What you also get with the SM T is a frame-mounted nose fairing incorporating the single headlight and a small screen, and a plush seat some 20mm lower than the SM’s, as well as a big 19 litre fuel tank. And perhaps the oddest of all, there are attachment points on each of the high rise twin exhausts’ heat shields for quickly detachable panniers.

It’s easy to get caught up in the focus on the bike itself, what it does and what it’s meant to be, but it’s also significant to KTM for another reason: as motorcycle markets have been changing, so KTM is trying a new way of thinking, branching out into making bikes which don’t instantly demand you have to have a national level race licence for the privilege of riding one. As spokesman Tomas Knuffelt says: ’We have built an aura around our products that’s all about winning and speed which puts pressure on KTM riders to always go fast. But the SM T is a first for us, it’s not intimidating in the same way as other KTMs and you don’t have to go fast on it.’

Hmm, I can see what he means- but boy, when you sling a leg over the SM T, you just try and not go fast!

First impression is of a weildy, compact bike which is very comfortable. The seat is soft and well shaped, the bars are fairly high and quite close to you and it’s not a great stretch to the ground like many KTMs (although it’s still not so low that shorter riders will be flocking to KTM showrooms-). Fire up the motor and you’re greeted by the familiar KTM hard-edged clatter of eager pistons, so snick it into gear and let them do their thing- The motor is a gem, so immensely strong in the 4,000-7,000rpm you really don’t need to rev it out to get the most from it, though it happily will spin harder if you feel the urge. On the kinds of twisting country roads we rode around Portugal’s new and fabulous Portimao circuit this bike was breathtaking, pure KTM-shaped excitement and probably as quick as any other bike you could name on this type of terrain. But it’s not being quickest that matters, it’s the pleasure of using the bike’s thrust which is the real joy: the throttle response at these speeds is absolutely precise and crisp, and the motor drives you out of corners so eagerly it has you giggling into your helmet.

You just don’t want to stop, especially when the engine is aided and abetted with such perfect balance by the supreme chassis. You do indeed get supermoto agility but thanks to that reduction in wheel travel, it’s much more manageable. Still there’s a fair amount of dive when you brake, but it isn’t the ear-popping emergency descent of the SM, while the sheer quality of the suspension is sublime, one of the best of any recent road bike I’ve ridden in fact. The control at high speed over very bumpy roads is astonishing, while the ride quality and consequent comfort levels are better than most full-on touring bikes.

KTM says its chassis engineers spent a very long time getting the suspension settings just right, and it really does show. The surprise in fact is just how soft the standard settings are: for a while you’re thinking you’ll soon need to switch to the firmer sport settings recommended by KTM, but with time on board you realise that it works so well as it is, you really can have it set up soft at the same time as riding the bike like a demon, and it just refuses to get out of shape. Okay, the sport set-up does give it an extra edge and even better feedback, so use that for your wild local outings, otherwise leave it on standard and you can cope with anything and everything. You can tweak it the other way if you really want, although I didn’t have time to try this too, but I can’t imagine wanting an even plusher ride than the one I had.

Another surprise is how well the 48mm forks cope with more extreme braking, and with those epic Brembos ripping off your tyre tread that really should raise some eyebrows. The stopping power is immense, yet even diving hard into downhill hairpins there seems to enough suspension movement left to deal with ripples and roughness, while the stoppers themselves add to the whole tactility of the SM T with their own fabulous feedback. Fortunately they’re not set up like some superbikes, notably the Ducati 1198, with such ferocious power you feel like more than a finger on the lever would be too much. Instead they’re more progressive and easier to manage, though don’t just grab a big handful because these are still a mighty powerful pair of brakes.

Could you tour on it? The fuel range I managed was just 110 miles before the low level warning lit up, but this was hard riding at high speeds, including a long, flat out motorway section where the speedo topped out at 224kph (139mph). That’s probably a low 130’s mph with speedo optimism removed, but a committed rider in the right conditions could squeeze a true 140mph from the bike. Oh yes, touring, I forgot- but I blame the SM T for egging me on this way. In more normal, less licence-threatening riding I’d expect 130 miles to reserve (although I’ll be trying one in the UK soon to test this and other aspects), which is okay if unremarkable, but comfort is just fine. That small screen takes the muscle out of the windblast so you can cruise at up to three figure speeds (mph ones-) without having to duck down or strain, and in fact because the screen is not very tall, the inevitable buffeting hits you just below neck level so your head and helmet aren't beaten up by the slipstream.

You won’t get much luggage in the small panniers (which aren’t waterproof) although there is a rack and you could also fit a tankbag, so one person would manage, although two would struggle - a shame as the rear accommodation is comfortable, if not as spacious as on pure touring bikes. And I suspect it won’t be long before aftermarket luggage makers start creating bigger panniers which clip onto KTM’s very effective mounting system.

So yes, you could tour, and while the range might be a little small the bike hits back with its amazing ride quality. Then there’s the riding pleasure, something no touring bike comes remotely close to - one tug of the handlebars and the SM T is transformed from stable, comfy tourer into highly flickable sinuous road weapon, beautifully balanced from high speeds down to full lock U-turns, which are trial bike tight and so easy on this machine, you can come to a complete stop without putting a foot down.

I thought bike of the year had been sewn up by the 1198 S, and that’s still the ultimate track tool, but as far as real world road bikes go, the KTM dark horse has just reared its head: it has everything from cosseting comfort to supreme agility with an overdose of excitement and saturated satisfaction. It ain’t cheap at almost £10,000, but think of it as so many, so good bikes in the one package and suddenly it looks like a serious bargain.



Price: £9,595

Available: End March, 2009

Contact: KTM Sportmotorcycle UK Ltd, 01280 709511, www.ktm.co.uk

shuggiemac
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Hmmm very interesting indeed. I rode a friends KTM SM last year and absolutely loved it. So much so that in a moment of madness when I did consider selling the collection and settling on just one bike then it was the one that came closest to ticking all my boxes.
As I have said before I am holding out for the Mutleystrada replacement from my favoured Bologna manufacturer. In saying that, if it does not live up to all my wishes then I think that this SM T may be the final clincher for me to jump brands.
I have a couple of questions. You say that the screen directs the wind to the neck area and away from the head. Excellent news but from what you have said in the past of you being a tall fella, then this may well put the blast right into the face of those of us under 6 foot tall. Is the screen height adjustable in any way? Next question, are the panniers optional extras or standard? They don't look that much cop in the photos so maybe the people at GIVI etc will have a new lucrative market. Does the securing sysem allow for the panniers to be locked on?
Finally as a comment regarding the seat height. The friends bike who I borrowed last year is the owner and chief editor of one of the bike mgazines out here and she is about 5 foot 5. She had a seat modification done for her bike and she manages just fine with it and it was still very comfortable for me at 5' 10.
Another interesting read - thanks. If I may make a suggestion for a future test please, then at the recent Elefantentreffen there were loads of Urals (new and old) with side cars and I have to say that the quirkiness really had a certain appeal, it would be great to hear your views on one, being a man who must have been on just about everything imaginable, outside of Angelina Jolie. Unless of course you were the pre-Brad squeeze!

shuggiemac
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The Czech equivalent of MCN - I kid you not, it is called CMN. Shared your views on this bike. The cover spread had the headline of "Honza's (John's) new love"

Must have been some long lonely nights on that test for some I guess!

kevash
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Sorry, just spotted that I didn't get back to your earlier post - that'll be the four consecutive launches getting in the way... Ducati dealers in the UK are already taking deposits for the Mutley replacement, even though no one knows what it looks like! Well, dealers have seen it and they're happy.
The SM T's screen would do the same for average height people too, keeping the turbulence away from the head region - an Austrian female journalist I know is quite short and she managed with the seat height and the screen okay too, and in fact commented specifically that she was so pleased she could manage this bike easily.
Whether or not the panniers are an option I think will depend on the markets. As far as I'm aware, in the UK they're standard. But they're not very big... hopefully an aftermarket company (or even KTM) will offer some bigger capacity ones at some point - I'm sure they'd sell. The panniers do lock on, yes.
As for testing a Ural... well, I'd rather do Angelina Jolie first, but if for some strange reason that doesn't happen soon I'll look out for a Ural ride. It won't be happening soon though, there's a lot of other stuff going on at the moment.
Actually I've seen CMN, sometimes the Czech journalists are on the same launches as us. Not that I can understand the headlines... I guess he liked it then!

Paulvt1
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Hi. Just registered and i like the site Kev. Got a TDM 900 so i was very interested to see if this bike hits the mark. Sounds like i'll be booking a test ride at my local dealers.
I'll be looking to change the TDM next year and it looks like i'll be spoilt for choice with this bike and the new Ducati. Strange really, as a former VFR owner, i should be getting excited at Honda's recent statement about a "new V4", but i feel that the conventional sports tourer is an outdated concept.
With the rise of the GS and the fact that riders are getting older, the roads are heavily policed and the fact we have been waiting an eternity for Honda to make up their minds i think the large road motard concept has come of age.
All the best.

kevash
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Hi Paul, thanks for registering, glad you like the site!
To be honest I can't imagine anyone not being hooked on the KTM, so take a test ride at your peril... you'll just have to get one.
By the new Ducati you mean the Streetfighter or the Multistrada replacement? The Streetfighter's going to be more hard edged and single minded I think, and though the new Multi will probably be a more direct rival, that won't be around until early next year.
I'll publish the Streetfighter test here on around March 27 - first full test anywhere too!
Good point about sports tourers, why get one one when you can have a supermoto (of all things...) which does the same job?

Paulvt1
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Nice one Kev. Followed your work since the old Fast Bikes days, and still like your prose.
I was referring to the Multi replacement, but i definitely want to try out the KTM. Let's hope the euro takes a nosedive in the next 12 months, then i might be able to go for one of 'em, as all my fave bikes are euro zone machines.
One question Kev - how does the KTM compare to the Triumph Tiger 1050?
I sat on one at the weekend and it seemed a tad bulky compared to my TDM.

kevash
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Ha, that's going back a bit... Yeah, I was at FB from the outset, one of the original three or four, until I couldn't take working with Schiller any longer, haha. We used to use a mad courier for photoshoots, called Sean Emmett. He looked talented riding out of a car park... Shame he hasn't quite made the most of his abilities, though he didn't do badly.
The KTM costs as much as a Fireblade (though Honda prices are all going up too) but I reckon you'd get more value in terms of sheer fun from the SM T. The Triumph gives you more comfort and wind/weather protection but doesn't come close to the agility of the KTM, the power delivery's softer and it does feel heavier and bulkier. It's distance biased where the KTM is sportier, but the SM T is still pretty good at the touring thing too.

Paulvt1
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Cheers Kev. Will test one. Let you know how i get on.

shuggiemac
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Another question about those panniers. The mounting is on the exhaust heat shields for the bags, as you tell us but maybe there is a small weight limit that they can take which is why the OEM panniers are so small. Did they release figures for max allowable kg? Is the construction of the heat shield sturdy enough to hang a pair of fully loaded Metal Mule, Touratech, GIVI or whatever on to them, even if they did make a compatible mounting on their product?

kevash
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They didn't quote a weight limit to us but no doubt there is one, probably in the manual, but the shields and mounting system do look pretty strong. I think the small size is due to minimising width as much as anything - add a set of Touratechs and it'd be very wide. What's really needed are purpose made panniers that curve in underneath the exhausts, like the left one on a BMW GS. Buth then I do think you'd need some sort of extra frame as this would impose quite a twisting force on the stock mounting points. I'm sure it's possible but it might take a bit of effort - after all, I did manage to fit a set of hard panniers to a GSX-R1000!

clange
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Kevin, is there any you could do a quick riding impression comparison to a 1050 Speed Triple ( ergos, acceleration, brakes and handling).

kevash
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That's a good comparison test, definitely, but it's not something I can easily do, comparison tests aren't really feasible for freelances like me just because of the amount of time they take, and right now I'm really busy with a whole bunch of presentations - I'm in Italy right now with Pirelli, then Wednesday out to Rome with Guzzi and the Ducati Streetfighter is the week after in Spain, so it's all action at the mo. I'm sure some of the mags will be doing it soon, along with some other bikes in the same class.
I will say it's a tough choice between these two, but personally I'd go for the KTM because it's more agile and lighter, on top of which it's more practical day to day (something I never thought I'd say about a KTM...). Both bikes have cracking good engines, just different in character rather than one being better than the other. I suspect the Triumph is quicker but that doesn't make the KTM any less fun, and in fact the KTM is probably punchier at low revs. That's from memory of riding the Triumph a couple of years ago though so I could be wrong.
Having said that, the Triumph is a fair bit cheaper, only £8,000 compared with almost £10,000 for the SM T.

clange
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Thanks! I'm just waiting to see when/if KTM will bring the 990 SM T stateside.

kevash
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You'll not be the first to complain... I gather another year at least, no idea why, though I think it's to do with fully establishing KTM road bike dealers nationwide. I'll ask someone at the factory and get back to you on that...

vanilla
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Thanks for the write-up Kev.
In your opinion, could this bike replace my 990 adventure for two-up Alps touring for 2 weeks?? Or is the seat typical Supermoto-small??
I'm hoping it could replace both my 999 for sportiness and my 990adv for practicality!
Thanks,
Dan

kevash
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The seat's big, fine for two-up, I had a go on the back myself though I'd recommend a smaller passenger than me (assuming you have a choice, haha). If anything the seat's more comfy than the Adventure's, while the road handling is far superior. I've just seen yesterday's MCN and Andy Downes has ridden an SM T back from the factory in Austria and found it really comfortable. You don't get the fuel range of the Adventure - maybe 150 miles - but that aside it's a better road bike in every way, and MCN's suggestion that this could start replacing sports bikes I think is fair comment. Yup, it'd make a good fist at replacing a 999 and an Adventure, but with the write ups it's getting you might struggle to get one!

Paulvt1
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Went to have a look at the first one in at my local dealer. Looked o.k, but whether it's 10 grand good, i don't know. Will have to have a test ride.
Another thing that put's me off is the amount of grief people seem to have with KTM'S. Is reliability an issue on the LC8 variants?
Paul.

kevash
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It's got ten grand quality equipment in its brakes and suspension... and I'll lay money on you coming back from the test ride saying it's ten grand's worth of fun and practicality too.
I've heard mixed things about LC8 reliability, some saying there are problems, others that they're really good. A mate has a 990 Supermoto which has been flawless after lots of miles, but one bike is hardly representative. Getting reliability figures is notoriously difficult, the last lot I saw were Italian warranty return figures and the KTM sample wasn't large enough to be significant. The surprise (for some people) was that Ducati was level with Suzuki in fourth position after Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha.
'Mixed things' I suspect means there were early problems, but the motor's been around a while now and I'd imagine they've sorted most of them out. Personally I'd be happy getting one from that point of view.

kevash
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Clange, I've got this back from the lovely Eva at KTM in Austria re bringing the SM T/R to the States:
"The short answer is that this is part of our selective products policy for the US. With the high costs of the homologation for US specific regulations requirements, we need a certain quantity to import them that it makes sense for us. While we have some interested people for the bike, at the moment it is questionable if it's enough. Second part is that with the market crisis in the US, we are very focused on protecting our current core off-road business and not wanting to step into new product (segments) too fast."
Looks like not for a while then...

vanilla
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Thanks Kev.
In terms of reliability, I've done 15k miles on a 950 ADV with a couple of minor problems in the first 2k miles of it's life, and have done 6k miles on my 990 ADV with no problems whatsoever! The new 990cc FI bikes are great!
I'm so pleased that I've now got 3 KTM vehicles, so hopefully that says something for you!!
Will get down to my local KTM dealer tomorrow.
Dan

lorenzo
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I just got word today that there will be an SMT in the local showrooms here (NZ) in July, so I'll be eager to go have a look at one...cool!

kevash
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Now the Americans are going to get even more annoyed... Everywhere but the States!

vroum_ninou
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I've had my KTM SMT for a year and have done 23000 km on it. I just love this bike!
Last week-end (an extended 4-day week-end) just reinforced my love for the SMT. I might be oggling lustily the MTS 1200, but the truth is, I think I already have the perfect bike!
Over the past 4 days I rode 2000 km. Starting from Madrid I rode up to the Pyrenees. Rode some fabulous roads there in the dry and in the wet and also threw in a track day (half in the wet, half in the dry). Then back to Madrid.

I was riding in my road gear, carrying my track gear (leather suit, boots, gloves) in my KTM roll bag fixed on the rear part of the saddle and the rest of my stuff in the little side cases and the little top case. And yet, I always felt as if I was on a Sunday morning scratch down the local twisty road. That's not how you feel on a fully loaded R1200GS...

This bike make you love every moment of every ride, be it the daily commute or riding a soggy and treacherous "contraband path" in the heart of the Pyrenees.

And it was great on the track too! OK, it was a technical track rather than a fast track, so it suited the SMT. And there comes a point where ground clearance (even hanging off and with the knee on the ground) and long suspensions (even on the sport settings) become an issue, but you've got to be going at a pretty decent clip before it happens.

I had a friend with the new MTS 1200 S with me and to be honest, I never felt like swapping bikes... I barely looked at his bike! I was just having such a blast on mine!

Yeah, it needs a little oil (seems to have stabilized at around 0,3 liter per 1000 km) and a lot of gas: 7 to 9 liters per 100 km of spirited riding (but there hardly is any other way to use it differently). But who cares? Not me...

I think that they said it best in Bike magazine. Although the R1200GS is as capable as a road bike, when you get on one you feel like you're 50. When you get on the SMT you feel like you're 20!

Full disclosure: I have the full Akrapovic system with the corresponding engine mapping and a shorter gearing (one tooth less on the front sprocket).

playlord
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Nice post VN, Felt like I was there with you :)

bobby12
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KTM bikes simply rocks on the road. Though i ride Buell Motorcycles, KTM bikes has always been my favorite. The way it rules on the racing track. I am so fond of KTM dirt bike with it great looks and power. Overall, great fan of KTM bikes.

rick676
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Also a big fan of the ktm, awesome bikes with tons of power. My friend has a 125sx and got to say its a beast for a 125, cant keep the front wheel down. Service and maintenance is a bit of a pain in the ass.. but same as all motorcross bikes i suppose. Makes sence to have Ktm Workshop Manuals to do the repairs yourself

Ultra54
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Reading this makes me crave this bike so bad. I've owned many KTM offroad bikes and have absolutely loved every one of them. Currently I'm a two bike owner which are a 2009 Ducati M1100S and a 1986 Honda Goldwing. I'm always looking for the perfect bike for me and I think this ones it.

aaliyah
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vroum_ninou
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WTF?

ariwerf
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Got to ride the 990SMT today.

First bike I have tried that has similar stance as my current bike (Versys) I felt immeadiatly comfortable and was same at the end of 1.5 hrs in the saddle.

I road out of Long Eaton and had a good 3 mile of dense town traffic to contend with before I got near some respectable road.

The SMT was as narked as me contending with town traffic, this bike dont do slow to well.

The power-punch of the mill and the handling is well exiting and you soon settle in to its rapid mode the town stuff is soon forgoten.

The dealer was in no rush getting it back so I was out for long enough to relate to the reviews I have read on the bike.

Summary. I feel the low speed experience lets it down for me. When spending this kind of money you need the package and real world overall competance.

It is possible its a new bike thing and some getting used to is required, the dealer is cool with another test run and the bike definatly deserves another chance.

He seemed well used to my comments and refered to the fuel injection and KTM background in offroad.

I would be interested in any comment re the above.

kevash
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I never did get to ride one in the UK but this looks like another bike where the fuelling was better on the press launch than with the production bikes later, as I didn't have any significant problems with it. I've not heard everyone complaining about it though, so maybe it varies from bike to bike, or maybe some miles are needed (having said that the launch ones were very low miles).

vroum_ninou
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The KTM SMT has a VERY direct connection between the twist grip and the rear wheel. You really need to learn to control your right hand with this bike to be smooth.
It does not like being below 3000 rpm too much. This means using the clutch a little at low rpms to smooth things out.

I personally am ready to live with that small inconvienience for all the rest that this bikes has to offer, and that's plenty!

I have a smaller front sprocket too (one tooth less) and this helps smooth things out too. But watch that right hand though, or you'll be looking skyward... :-)

ariwerf
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Sounds like you have ironed out any factors that would prevent a smoother experiance at low speeds.

It will be a week before I can have another ride, as I remarked the bike is well worth a second look.

I will try another dealer who knows the bike I rode may not be typical.

Keeping to my game plan I still have the Shiver GT to trial and at some stage the new Tiger.

Something may also come out of the woodwork at the NEC at the end of the month......

mb4807
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ariwerf - I'll be interested to know how you get on. I'm also a Versys rider, but looking to the SM T as my probable next bike. I'll be seeking a test ride in the spring, but for now, will be interested in your comments.

Great site by the way Kevin. Your write-ups are largely what put me on to the Versys in the first place and encouraged me to buy one without even having a test ride. And so far it has been a lot of fun and a very good experience. If I don't go for the SMT, then a 2011 Versys might well be on the cards, just to get the ABS and other upgrades from my 2008 model.

vroum_ninou
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By the way, since we were talking about injection woes, I forgot to mention that I have the full Akrapovic system and the corresponding engine mapping.
I don't know if that makes it better or worse at slow speeds. I use the clutch a lot at speeds below 20 mph to smooth things out and have always done, so it doesn't bother me.

silvercub
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mb & ariwerf - very much a characteristic of bigger v-twins; vroum_ninou's clutch-slipping is the simplest solution. Tiring if you regularly drive in town, however.

For comparison, try the SM690 at 3000 rpm; the SMT will then feel smooth as silk.

Once you've mastered the KTM throttle connection, everything else will seem tame! She will return to you in your dreams....

ariwerf
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V ninou-mb4807-silvercub

There is more than enough merit in the SMT to warrent another look. And I will keep you informed of my feelings after the next trial.
Good comment re the SM690, that bike was winking at me. The lower cc did not bother me as I know what I can wring out of the Versys.
If you like to keep up when group riding the Versys can more than hold its own.
I am constantly being quized by fellow riders more used to sportsbikes or those big German tractors, all amused at this little fart bike nipping at their heels.
Obviosly high speeds on motorways wrecks your bonce and long straights on A or b roads will reveal the Versys limitations.
The SMT gives a lot more potential but I suspect that will have similar drawbacks re buffeting.
My neck won't stand lying on the tank for any lenghth of time but its easy to see when you try it, the benefits that the fared sportbikes has over us upright brethren.
I have to say none of the trial rides to date have produced that eureka moment where I want to start haggling or where I start looking at the Versys in that "your days are numbered way"
The exercise in getting a replacement is more than interesting and this forum is proving most informative.

leighton
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I'm interested in the comparison between the KTM SMT and the speed triple also, so thanks for the insight Kevin.
I currently drive a Honda Hornet 600 ABS, great handling bike but I'm starting to think what next.
I love the way it handles, but I'd like something with a bit more torque. I'm not interested in Sports Bikes.
KTM SMT sounds as though it ticks all the boxes for me and the kind of riding I do. Which is mainly razzing up and down twisty bumpy b roads.

Edit, maybe the triumph tiger 800 would be a better comparison to the SMT for what I want.

From what I have read the SMT is much punchier, but the tiger has better fuelling and better fuel economy.
It doesnt really bother me that the tiger has less power than the smt. My current honda hornet has enough power for my needs, its just not very torquey.
I should imagine the tiger 800 would accelerate just as well the hornet but with a bit more torque.
How would the handling and ride quality on the SMT compare to the tiger 800 over twisty and bumpy roads?

kevash
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With the kinds of things you're looking for, the SM T will be way more fun, and the fuelling's not really an issue either. The Tiger is more economical with better range but has nothing like the punch or the sharp handling of the KTM.

mb4807
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Do you have any experience of the 990 Adventure? I was wondering whether it has better tank range than the SMT (although fuel capacity looks very similar, so I guess it's going to be about the same) and whether the Adventure takes away a little of the crazy-nutter'ness of the SM derived SMT? Is it essentially a slightly toned down SMT with better distance covering ground? (I've been trying to find a back to back review, but not seen any as of yet)

kevash
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It's been a few years since I rode an Adventure, but I checked and the tank capacity is only half a litre more so the range wll be little different - both are on the thirsty side and the SM-T holds 4.2 gallons (19 litres, 5.0 gallons US) so you don't get a very impresisve range. The Adventure is still fun, but your guess is right, it's not quite as vivacious as the SM-T, which is a bit special in that respect. And while the weather protection is better, I think comfort in other respects is better on the SM-T, and I don't think the Adventure is signiicantly better at covering distance in practice. I'd go for the SM-T.

mb4807
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Thanks Kevin. SMT it is then!

Booney
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Very good review Kevin.
I thought I would add some points to consider from someone that owns this bike.
I bought a 09 bike with 5000miles on the clock 6 months ago as a replacement to my old Air-cooled 1100SDS Multistrada. After owning 3 Multis I fancied to move on but couldn't quite run to the new model. So after a lot of research I decided to buy my 2nd KTM, the first being a 620 Duke back in the late nineties.
I had already ridden the machine so had a feel for it's sporting credentials......
However what I was not prepared for was the fuel mileage, that 1st tank went at the rate of 34mpg! OK, I was eager with the throttle, but as you found, this bike just wants to go!
So after that I settled down a little and rode at a normal pace but still have been unable to achieve more than 40 mpg. This coupled with the fact that I'm about to put another rear tyre (the 3rd) on at under 6000 miles on the clock made me seriously re-think things.
There are other issues too, for me being 6ft+ the seat is a little uncomfortable, the sculpturing is such that I sit too far forward. There is no pre-load adjustment on the rear shock. And whilst I agree with the handling being mostly excellent I do find it a little flighty and hard to set up for use on roads that change from race-track smooth to pot-holed and bumpy. Something that the Multi's Ohlins or even Showas seem to be able to pull off. And yes the original KTM panniers that are on my bike are a bit on the small side too.
So I bought another air-cooled Multi to tour on this summer, 56mpg and I've just put it's 1st replacemnt rear tyre on at 6000 miles. I can ride 8 hours+ a day in comfort. Of course there's the wonderful Termignoni sound track too, not to mention the dry clutch!
Yes, I would still like to move on but until something comes along that can do all of this and a little bit more I'm sticking with Old Skool!

Booney

BAN TAR BANDS

patrick916
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Booney, like you, I'm a Ducati man, and while I liked the 1200 Multistrada very much when I test rode it, I too baulked at the nigh-on £15k price tag.

I bought a 2011 SMT and have just returned from a 2300 mile trip to the Italian and Swiss Alps. Travelling with VFR1200s, GS1200s, Pan Europeans and Triumph Sprints, I was worried that the SMTs tank range would be a problem but as we filled up regularly the others didn't have the chance to complain. I've got no idea what the MPG was on the trip but did see 169 miles on one occasion and the reserve light still had not lit up (mainly easy motorway miles in fairness).

Comfort-wise, I'm 5'8" and find the seating position to be perfect for me. I agree that after riding Ducatis the KTM's handling is lively and at first it's a bit of a culture shock, but having ridden the SMT for a couple of months, I'm more impressed every time I ride it. On stock settings the WP suspension manages to be both plush and confidence-inspiring, and with the Dunlop Sportsmarts that I had fitted at the first service the handling and roadholding is brilliant. I set off for my trip straight after the first service but now that I have some time I'll try the sports suspension settings when I get the chance.

The only negative for me with the SMT is the gearbox. Compared to the Ducatis (apologies for another Ducati comparison) it's pretty notchy. Maybe this will improve with more miles but I was slightly dismayed when I mentioned this to my local KTM dealer and his response was to 'change gear like a motocross rider', which roughly translated seems to mean 'give it a hefty boot with a multi-buckled Sidi'.

I received some strange looks from some of the guys on the Alps trip when I turned up on the SMT and while I have no complaints regarding the bike's ability as a long-distance tool, no doubt there are motorcycles that are better suited to covering the miles from Zeebrugge to the foot of the Stelvio.

But once we got there...

Booney
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Hi patrick
We were recently in the Alps too with the Multistrada crew on the EMM tour- FANTASTIC!
And don't get me wrong, I think the SMT is a great bike. It just falls a little short of the mark on the touring expectations. I mean I don't want to have to search out a new tyre
while I'm off on a 2-weeker! Not to mention fuel consumption.....
Anyway, I'm surprised to hear you find the gear change notchy because mine is OK,
at least as good as the Multi's.
The SMT is up for sale because I have another motorcycle that is more for fun and I really
thought the SMT would have been the solution to replace 2 bikes with one do-it-all machine.
Now, I wonder if they could make a Multistrada 800........

Booney

vroum_ninou
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"I received some strange looks from some of the guys on the Alps trip when I turned up on the SMT and while I have no complaints regarding the bike's ability as a long-distance tool, no doubt there are motorcycles that are better suited to covering the miles from Zeebrugge to the foot of the Stelvio.

But once we got there..."

That's the best description of the SMT I have read in a long time.

Gas, tires and oil the KTM SMT consumes in no small amount, no doubt about that... But who cares?? Well, some people do obviously, but not me! :-)
Best road bike I have owned, bar none.

Coming from sport bikes, I don't find its touring capabilities lacking at all. But yeah, it is SPORT-touring with the emphasis on the sport part...
If you love it or find it lacking will depend on the sort of touring you do.
I must admit I could do without the need to have to pack 1 liter of engine oil in the already small cases whenever I go a longer ride, but I am ready to live with it, such is the joy this bike gives whenever I ride it!

Poucher
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I've read every road test going on this bike before I bought one and was most concerned about the fuelling, so I organised a test ride from my local dealers M&S motorcycles in Newcastle.

So I rode the demo bike with a critical eye and specifically looking for problems with the fuelling.
Wow! to say that I was impressed was a bit of an understatement, the first 6 miles or so were through a built up area and the bike would pull 4th gear at 30mph and about 2,800 revs without any problem and then pick up smoothly from there.
Out onto a short stretch of dual carriageway and the bike would cruise very steadily at whatever speed you picked, no "hunting" or snatching, also the pickup out of slow corners and roundabouts was seamless, nice and smooth, no lurching at all - I was totally surprised at how smooth this big twin was.
When you opened the stops it went like the clappers, made a lovely "bellow" as it revved through to 9,000 rpm, definately not short of go and don't forget, I was comparing this to the 954 Fireblade I'd just rode up to the dealers on.
The instant accelleration combined with the tall riding position ( a novelty being able to see over hedges! ) and lovely bump absorbing suspension made this probably just as quick or even quicker point to point than the Fireblade.

So last monthI bought a 2011 SMT abs,and was up in Scotland on a long weekend with a few mates ( 11 of us ) this weekend, went up on Friday and stayed at Pitlochry for two nights.

Had a fantastic weekend on the bike, really getting the feel for it now, that engine is a peach, bags of punch off the throttle when you need it, a few of the guys had a ride on it.
Now these blokes know what they are doing, they include IAM instructors ( the fastest guy I've ever seen in the wet!! ) and also a Nurburgring track day instructor who rides a K1200S, and the one word that was most commonly used to describe the bike when they got off it was "Awesome!"
One guy said it was "Mad as a box of frogs!"

Even my Son in Law who has a rightly deserved reputation for being "careful" with his money, got off it,.. took his helmet off, ..tapped the seat of the bike and said "worth every penny" he also said that it was the best bike he'd ever ridden.
So the bike got a big thumbs up from everyone.

I also kept a log of petrol useage over the weekend, because these bikes have a reputation for being thirsty and over 865 miles of mixed riding, including plenty of flat out "gunning" the bike averaged 40.72 mpg which to be honest, I'm ok with given the performance it delivers.
On one tankfull the reserve light had been on for 18 miles ( 150 miles in total on trip ) and I was getting a bit worried, but when I filled the tank it took 17.2 litres, so I still had another couple of litres in the tank.

Things I don't like about the bike?? well, you get a bit of buffeting off the screen which disappears when you stand up slightly into clean air, so I might trim about 3" off the top of the screen, and the seat is not too comfortable on a 1 hour motorway stretch we did on the way back to try and get out of the rain, so I think I'll have a look at the gel seat KTM do for it.

Talking about rain, I'd just fitted the bike with Michelin Pilot Road 3's - fantastic tyre, by far the best one's I've ridden in the wet, oodles of grip and no twitches at all, in the dry they were really grippy too, no "chicken strips" at all on the rear now, you can feel them just digging in and gripping.

All in all, I'm really pleased with the bike and so was everyone who rode it, one guy said that it just "eggs you on to do bad things" but at the same time it feels really easy doing them, I thought that I might miss the 954 Fireblade that I traded in for this, but so far I'm convinced I've made the right decision, point to point across country on the type of twisty roads we like, it is definitely faster than the Blade.

kevash
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Thanks for that review Poucher, the SM-T has been with us for more than two years now and it's always worth a revisit. I never understood the negative comments about the fuelling, I've just looked back through my own review here and all I say on the subject is that it's absolutely precise and crisp.

You're following a path an increasing number of riders are taking, away from sports bikes into the adventure bike arena, where there's a wide range of machines now to cater for various tastes from off-road ability to touring to sports - they all do all three, the differences comes in the balance that's struck between them.

Do you reckon now you're into these kinds of bikes you might well not return to sports bikes ever again?

Plankton Pete
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Col you bandit, fancy you using Kevin's site as well! Well it is the best.
I can't wait until we finally get together next year to see which we think is best, Multistrada or SMT. At least we agree white bikes are faster.
And Kevin, yes he's done with sports bikes, he is too old and knackered!
Peter

kevash
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Cheers Pete!