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The BMW R1200GS vs The KTM 990 Adventure: Which motorcycle is better?


KTM 990 Vs. BMW R1200GS

The BMW R1200GS vs The KTM 990 Adventure: Which bike is better?

Having spent most of 2008 to 2010 riding more than 60,000 miles through much of North and South America on the BMW R1200GS and KTM’s 990 Adventure bikes, we certainly learned about each motorcycle and developed opinions on various aspects of each.  Hoping this review will shed some light for the motorcycle shoppers out there looking for answers, we start with the question “Which is better:  The BMW or the KTM?”

Broken down by category, here we go...

Overall Feel & Character

The BMW – As accommodating as we could ever ask a motorcycle of this girth to be, the R1200GS is perfect for those who like a feeling of tranquility and smoothness when riding a motorcycle.  From the silky gyrations of the powerful 1200cc engine to the way the bike itself turns, everything about the BMW says “easy to ride.”  It’ll follow your commands with ease on pavement and glide down unforgiving dirt roads with authority on multi-day adventure rides.  With great looks, and solid construction, it’s also typically the preferred of the two bikes by passengers.

The KTM – Whereas the BMW sure grabs the title of “smooth & easy,” the KTM will feel more like you’re riding a 470-pound lion with a case of blue balls and some serious anger management issues.  Hang on tight!  Although these motorcycles boast a similar power output, KTM’s LC8 V-Twin engine thrives within the more dirt-bike-like chassis of the two and stands out as the bike of choice for adrenaline junkies.  The way the engine pulls & roars combines with this bike’s athletic shape and cannot be confused with anything called “relaxing.”   If the KTM isn’t the favorite by passengers, it sure does gain points by making you feel younger.

WE RIDE BMW R1200GS's On The "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" Guided Motorcycle Tour


The BMW – The famous BMW boxer engine is still being made for good reasons.  As reliable as one could expect a motorcycle engine to be and packed with power steadily through its range, maybe the only drawback to this engine is the position of the cylinders.  Unless protected with quality crash bars, setting this motorcycle down at any kind of speed can cause significant damage to the cylinder heads, and if your ride involves any kind of legwork and foot planting, you’ll bang your shins frequently on the protruding cylinders left and right.

The KTM – While we’re not seeing as many reports of 100,000+ miles on the LC8 as we do with the boxer engine, if properly maintained, there’s nothing saying you won’t get enough miles out of your KTM to have bug-splattered goggles and permanent grin for years to come.  The LC8 definitely struggles a bit in that sub-3000 rpm range where the boxer engine is still quite playful; however, everything above 3000 rpm’s is pure joy as “the lion” is unleashed, including the engine’s roar which is best enhanced by Akrapovic aftermarket pipes.

In the Twisties and Turns

The BMW – High or low-speed curves are a pleasure on this motorcycle.  With the advantage of the smaller 19” front wheel leading the way, especially on the pavement, the R1200GS follows every curving command with grace.

The KTM – Especially in low-speed turning situations, you’ll quickly realize that this bike was designed to be barreling through the desert at 100+mph.  Hopefully you’re buying a motorcycle with long-distance touring thoughts in mind, and low-speed turns aren’t of concern.  Just thought we’d point out though, that the KTM is a bit awkward on those hairpin turns you’re destined to come across.

Purchase Price

The BMW – The BMW is definitely the more expensive bike of the two, but do your own research here and figure the pricing differences in your market.  One bonus with the BMW is that they retain their value extremely well.

The KTM – So much muscle, adventuring capability, and fun packed into one bike:  One incredible value.  Considerably less expensive than the BMW but still such a great motorcycle, the 990 Adventure’s credibility in the marketplace is well earned.


The BMW – An absolute highlight of the R1200GS is its ability to stop, and the motorcycle excels in this category for two main reasons: 1) The BMW automatically distributes 70% braking power to the front wheel, and 30% to the rear just by using the right hand brake lever.  While this feature sure can make a rider lazy as he forgets how to use the rear pedal brake, there are times when it’s absolutely fantastic.  2) With the R1200GS’s Telelever front suspension system, the motorcycle doesn’t sink forward during braking the way motorcycles with traditional telescopic forks tend to.  By maintaining its stance and not tucking forward, you can grab more brake without doing a somersault with the motorcycle.

The KTM – There’s nothing wrong with the KTM’s brakes, but in comparison to the BMW, they’re just okay.  Both bikes come equipped with ABS these days, which statistically is improving motorcycle safety everywhere.  Both motorcycles are also fitted with twin front-discs and a single rear disc plenty sufficient for stopping these heavy bikes.

Transmission & Shifting

The BMW – Oops, the R1200GS still doesn’t have this quite right.  From the little struggles and wiggles that are necessary to get into 1st gear to the high percentage of “misses” going into 2nd, this fairly clunky gearbox just doesn’t match such an otherwise great machine.  Some blame the shaft drive, but it is what it is.  Add to this situation the smell of the dry clutch reminding you just how long you’ve been looking for a hotel in some steeply graded town and further disappointment of this transmission is inevitable.

The KTM – In contrast to the R1200GS, the KTM’s transmission is a masterpiece.  A joy to shift.  Flawless from our point of view.  Maybe our comments about the BMW appear so negative because we’re comparing it to the fantastic gearbox that KTM has attached to the LC8 engine; but with all the reliability we could ask for it seems as though just thinking about shifting is what it takes to do exactly that.  Even in the full motocross boots, sitting or standing, KTM’s wet-clutch transmission is as easy to ride as any we’ve ever tested.

WHAT ABOUT THE KTM vs. F800GS? See our blog post that compares the 2 more similar bikes


The BMW – Again giving credit for the performance of the Telelever front suspension, keeping your front end from sinking while braking sure is great.  On the open road and through the curves, the R1200GS soaks up imperfections in the road and maintains itself gracefully after having adjusted it correctly for your weight.  By the very nature of having smallish wheels (19/17 inch) the bumps are definitely still there though.  Also worth mentioning here is the downside to the Telelever suspension, in that the front wheel will often feel “lost” a bit in off-road situations.  Navigating ruts and rocks in off-road situations requires great sensibility as to where your front wheel is, and the Telelever design just doesn’t transmit the same sensations back to the rider as traditional forks do.

The KTM - One might expect the KTM suspension to pale in comparison to the elaborate Telelever system on the BMW, but it’s actually a fantastic setup.  The 990 Adventure’s WP suspension sits atop 21/18-inch wheels that help the KTM roll over bumps and potholes just as smoothly as the BMW.  Then take the KTM in the dirt, and you’ll start to notice where greater suspension travel and ground clearance comes in handy (almost 3 inches greater clearance.)  With compression, preload and rebound adjustment options built in, you can tune this bike to your liking and really make an off-road warrior out of it.


The BMW – The R1200GS comes with extremely durable and tubeless rims.  Saving you time in the event of a flat tire and saving space from having to carry spare tubes and tools with you, these are the ultimate convenience.  The tubeless wheels add to the original cost of the motorcycle of course, which helps explain the difference in the two.

The KTM – The 990 Adventure comes with extremely durable rims as well, but also the inconvenience of having to carry spare tubes, tire irons, and all the little goodies that go into an hour-long flat fix on the side of the road.  You can easily save some space by hiding your extra tubes behind the plastic fairings up front, but there’s no disputing that tubeless wheels would be more convenient.

WE ALSO RIDE BMW R1200GS's On The "Patagonia Experience" Tour in Chile & Argentina

Clubs & Community

The BMW – An important part of motorcycle ownership is the connections you make with other people and experiences that stem from riding with them.  BMW is the reigning king here with a wide range of clubs, group rides, and rallies worldwide.  Bring along the BMW’s Owner’s Anonymous Book that helps us contact other owners in countries around the world, and you’ll never feel alone in the case of a breakdown.

The KTM – While KTM ownership doesn’t include as many club & networking opportunities, riders will still find themselves automatically connected to the wide world of racing.  The undisputed king of Enduro and Rally racing across the globe, other KTM riders will instantly lend a hand to their non-racing friends donning orange.

Overall dependability

The BMW – This is a tough topic to tackle, as we should really have some hard, factual statistics to refer to before awarding comments.  Until such a database exists though, let’s just say the BMW appears to be doing very well in terms of dependability.  From its ultra-reliable boxer engine at the center and working your way outward, only a few electrical problems (antenna key-ring and fuel pump module) seem to be talked about in recent years.  In general though this motorcycle will take whatever terrain, temperature, or fuel you subject it to, and year after year keep on running.

The KTM – Another top quality bike overall, but hindered by a few routine issues that don’t seem to be getting any better with time.  Be it on the carbureted 950 models, or the fuel-injected 990’s, owners seem to be burning through OEM fuel pumps on these bikes with regularity (especially in fuel situations of lower quality, like in Latin America.)  The frequent need to change the water pump seal can lead to enormous problems if unattended to, and the clutch pump seems to be an issue year after year for riders.  Set aside those few glitches however, and again, this is an extremely reliable motorcycle. 


The BMW - If you enjoy the challenges of keeping your motorcycle running alone, the BMW will definitely take less of your time.  In the case of valve adjustments, laterally-positioned cylinder heads are practically there in your lap, and extremely easy to get to.  The smaller tasks like air filters and oil changes are quick and easy as well, and shouldn’t require more than a few beers to get through.

The KTM – If motorcycle maintenance is one of your excuses to drink beer, buy a KTM and grab another case of Meister Brau, as the KTM definitely takes more time.  Plan on 4-5 hours (how many beers is that?) to complete a valve-adjustment, and about half that to change the air filter and oil together.  The KTM isn’t more complicated, it’s just more time-consuming……giving you the excuse to be more beer-consuming?

So which is the better motorcycle: The KTM 990 Adventure or BMW R1200GS?

Painful as it is to leave you hanging, the decision is going to be made by each individual and what they value in a motorcycle.  For the wilder, more adrenaline-seeking rider, the KTM is probably the choice.  Looking for smooth, steady, and quiet?  The BMW.  Looking back through the categories above, think about which factors mean the most to you and of course, test ride these motorcycles if possible.

After you’ve ridden either bike, please add your comments to this blog post!


Hi Guys, 
Nice report which hits the nail on the head (for me, that is). 
I have a 2005 carb fed KTM Adventure, and I love it. Even a bit better than the fuel injection 990. But I find myself constantly milking the engine and scraping the pegs (which are waaaay up). 
I've reached the point that I am really afraid I will crash it in view of my limited self control capabilities. 
At age 47, I'm very likely to switch to the BMW for all the points mentioned in your article. 
KTM is fun aggressive challenging and won't let you off the hook. It wants to race, and so do you :) 
The BMW is the better mix. For me anyway. 
THX for the article. 
Peter (LC8 addict, going cold turkey) 
Posted @ Monday, March 07, 2011 1:09 PM by Peter Scheffer
Ha, ha.....surely you'll enjoy the BMW as well, but I feel your pain about the "going cold turkey" bit. Surely an old KTM friend somewhere will help you after a few years with a spin around the block. 
Ride on!
Posted @ Wednesday, March 09, 2011 4:06 PM by Eric Lange
A great comparison. Everything said was true and I should know, I'm an owner of the 2008 R1200gsa. I've also done enough k's on a 950 to know that the suspension is stupendously good for a bike of that weight. Both great bikes. I'm not blind to their up's and downs, though.
Posted @ Friday, June 03, 2011 10:16 AM by SC Pienaar
I had a 2004 KTM 950 Adventure, then changed to a 2008 990 and now just bought the beautiful 2011 Blue Dakar 30th special edition 990, with the R model engine .... just awesome power !!!! 
Very good article. As mentioned, KTM is for racers and is by far the best for off road. I am from Chile and travel to Bolivia and Peru is a real adventure. My only problem has been with bad quality gasoline in Bolivia, and the fuel pump. I always bring one additional, "just in case". Lot´s of beers after taking out the tank, etc.... Any aftermarket fuel pump to consider ???
Posted @ Monday, June 06, 2011 5:54 PM by Sebastian
Hola Sebastian!  
I seem to remember many 990 riders in Chile having regular problems with fuel pumps there (not just during Bolivia trips.) 
This thread talks alot about the 990 fuel pump situation: http://bit.ly/kJVzon 
Likewise, an alternative pump seems to be talked about here: http://bit.ly/jN7sv7 
There are those of us who wish KTM would just go back to the non-EFI version of the bike. Yes, I replaced the $120 fuel pump a couple of times on my 950S while in S. America, but those carburetors never once gave me a problem in 2 years and 40,000+ miles. And with better fuel mileage on carburetors, I can't understand why "emissions" are the reason to stick with EFI. (KTM? Chime in anytime...) 
Congrats on your new Dakar edition! RC8 is next for sure... : )
Posted @ Tuesday, June 14, 2011 10:28 AM by Eric Lange
The KTM is still there. Loads of fun and still haven't really convinced myself deep down to go the Beemer way. May do it eventually but the adrenaline rush is still too powerful to igore. :)
Posted @ Tuesday, June 14, 2011 1:29 PM by |Peter Scheffer
Peter, there's definitely a group of us cheering for you in your quest to stay on the KTM. 
However, having to "settle" for a BMW is not such a bad thing, either : ) At least it gives us the chance to stop talking about fuel pumps all the time....ha!
Posted @ Friday, June 17, 2011 11:00 AM by Eric Lange
Nice report! I ride neither of these bikes, but like both of em. 
Ktm 950 would be it for me if I would choose a big one. (now thumping on a drz400)
Posted @ Sunday, August 07, 2011 7:36 AM by Fokke
I currently ride a 2004 R1150 GS Adventure and I am starting to look for a new ride. I'm 6'8" and 325 LBS. I have a 40" inseam. I have riden the R1200 GS Adventure and it is an OK bike. One of the things I don't like about it is 1st gear is taller than my 04. I haven't been able to ride a 990 Adventure R, so I have nothing to compare, but I like the more norrow look of the 990 over the GS Adventure. Still I would like to ride one before I make a purchace, either way.
Posted @ Thursday, September 15, 2011 2:48 PM by BigDave
I thought Pete Alexeev (blogged about July 29, 2011) was THE GS Giant. BigDave....I think you take the title! 
Wonder if there's a realistic way to change those R1200GS gear ratios you spoke of (chime in anyone if you have experience with this.)  
And if you "settle" for the KTM 990R, it won't be so bad. But watch closely for this news about the new 2012/13 Adventures. Who has the truth already? See one possible photo: http://bit.ly/qmUQRJ
Posted @ Monday, September 19, 2011 2:04 PM by Eric Lange
Had a 05GS. Potholes killed the bike and rider with serious killer viiiibbbbeeesss. Unfixable. Routinely scraped the pegs too. Had to go to street tire to avoid sliding on pavement. Test before buying.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 25, 2011 2:59 AM by Bill Seidemann
If you really want to know the difference watch the video of the KTM 990 Adventure R towing a stricken BMW out of the Masai Mara in Kenya a few months ago. Both KTMs went on to ride across Africa, with one of the riders, a female from China only having 8 months riding experience.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 25, 2011 3:03 AM by Rupert
Just traded my 2007 R1200GS Adventure for a 2011 KTM 990 Adventure. The KTM is so much a lively and exciting bike. The BMW doesn't belong off road quite as much as the KTM whih is a lighter and narrower machine. The 21 and 18 inches wheels make the biggest difference. The BMW is a world traveler as long as the pavement doesn't transform itself into loose gravel for too long.  
Posted @ Tuesday, October 25, 2011 6:23 AM by Serge Fournier
Completely agreed, Serge. Even in the latest 2012 Adventure Bike review by Motorcycle USA, (http://bit.ly/qyH02l) not enough attention is given to the wheel size on all these bikes. A 21-inch semi-knobby front will make any bike's street performance suffer (especially with the long suspension of the KTM, who got hammered in this review.) The rule will always be: The right bike for the right rider, for the right RIDE. Simple!
Posted @ Tuesday, November 29, 2011 3:22 PM by Eric Lange
Our KTM 990 Adventures are still powering us around the planet and we're having a lot of fun. Nothing wrong with our bikes at all, just stupid revolutions, wars, corruption, and red tape holding us back.  
Posted @ Tuesday, November 29, 2011 4:19 PM by Rupert & Fanny
how many kilometers  
what is the duration approx to have to repair one ktm 950 adventure versus one bmw? 
For example if you have one ktm with 80.000kms, this bike is in the middle or advance age, with a normal maintenance. 
If you prepare another trip what are you have to do? Repair bike, motor, pumps, etc…? or you're going ok to trip?
Posted @ Thursday, December 08, 2011 10:40 AM by peter
There is a chapter on our KTM bikes at this website and also some film of them actually crossing Africa.  
Apart from broken starter relay ... no problem at all. Even when fanny cartwheeled the bike several times.  
I guess a lot comes down to preventative maintenance.  
We did see broken down KTMs and BMWs along the way... mostly petrol filter and injector problsm... all preventable. 
Anyway .. hope you enjoy video... a bit of a feel for 21,000 kilometers across Africa. Still got Europe and Asia to go.  
Posted @ Friday, December 09, 2011 6:32 AM by Rupert & fanny
btw... the KTM in the picture has a top box.... that is OK for commuting but useless on an RTW. Would fall off in no time.  
keep centre of gravity low.  
As for long term duration of a KTM 990 Adventure I really dont know. Sold my last one at 60,000 kms and it was absolutely fine, except spokes starting to rust.  
We will have done about 50,000kms on our bikes which will put Fanny's at 68,000 at the end...  
Looking forward to seeing the new KTM 1190 Adventure next year. maybe we will see one when we get to Austria next Spring. 
Posted @ Friday, December 09, 2011 6:39 AM by Rupert & fanny
Hey Peter, terramarext@yahoo.com, the greatest number (without any major overhaul) I've heard of on the KTM LC8 is around 100,000 miles (hello Craig Johnson!) There might be more, so I'm anxious for folks to chime in if they know of any more. My 2004 950 Adventure is around 70,000 miles now. Aside from changing water pump seals, fuel pumps, and regular maintenance, the bike has been a dream come true. 
So how does that answer your question? It doesn't, sorry : )  
We've all heard of these BMW boxer engines up around 200,000 miles, and they are undoubtedly making a high quality bike in general (most specifically the drive train.) Weak frame coating, antenna key ring, and miserable front wheels on the F800GS are the problems that come to mind most for me. Now getting reports of the voltage regulator on the F800GS overheating, and it's cutting off the fuel pump until it cools down. 
Agreeing with Rupert, how a bike was treated in the first 80,000 miles probably has the most to do with what happens after that. Oil was changed on or ahead of schedule? Valves were adjusted? What type of rider(s) owned it? What types of fuel and diesel-pinging situations has it been through? 
Apparently Fanny has proven that the KTM can do cartwheels and keep going, but let's hope she doesn't try to prove that again! 
As we tried to outline in the review of both bikes above, the most important thing might be fitting the rider AND the type of riding to the right bike.
Posted @ Friday, December 09, 2011 2:47 PM by Eric Lange
Ive ridden around australia on 1200 gsa, it handled everthing but in sand it has a mind of its own when it hit deep sand, smoothest bike to ride over pot holes and corrigations, on sealed roads its like riding a harley.Its a top heavy bike, ive only dropped when riding slow when turning but i found the weight helped in the rough it flattened out the bumps. the suspension is unbelievable, rode all day on pothole and rubble and not feel drained says a lot about the bike.There are faults with the bike like the heads are in the way cant put your feet down, the intake is to low for water crossings,seat height is a bit high for me.My son in law is buying a ktm we are going to cape york soon i will find out the difference then.
Posted @ Monday, January 09, 2012 6:08 AM by ian
Ian, thanks for sharing. 
Your "mind of its own" comment sounds just like what we were talking about in the 'Suspension' portion of the article. There's just some disconnect there between what a Telelever system offers vs. traditional forks. 
Likewise on your note about the air intake. Assuming BMW is trying to make a "ram air" effect there for power and efficiency, wouldn't it be great if they could do it a little higher? (Hint to BMW: Ignore this desire for symmetry, and there's room up by the oil cooler. You lost all symmetry anyway with the swingarm and exhaust already!) 
We had to do a quick road side oil change on a tour in April after one of the bikes sucked too much oil.  
Enjoy your Cape York trip and keep us posted on how his new KTM works out!!!
Posted @ Friday, January 20, 2012 2:03 PM by Eric
In fact, you can see the moment where the rider sucked in the water on this video at 0:46 into it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys9faHNYVQc 
The R1200GS was running on 1 cylinder for a while....really struggling to get going again. In the middle of NOWHERE in Patagonia (and we didn't have the support truck on this tour for diagnostics, tools, etc.)
Posted @ Friday, January 20, 2012 2:13 PM by Eric
Hi Eric, 
Coming back to my (the first) post here. The KTM ADV 950 has left met with a very reliable 70k kilometers on the odometer. Super bike en engaging as can be. Which was the problem, because I was scraping the pegs all the time. Too dangerous. So now here is the 2010 BMW Adventure. 
Not as challenging as the KTM, but for longer trips mor comfy and for me: more safe. 
It has taken me a while but there's the desicion. 
New owner went away on "no longer mine" KTM with a grin from ear to ear. Lucky bastard :) 
At least my adrenaline gland gets a bit of rest. 
Posted @ Saturday, February 04, 2012 8:57 AM by Peter Scheffer
Nice article! I've never ridden any of them but I keep on thinking about them as my future bike and often the question remains the same, which one? I'd like to think that the GS is a more rational choice whereas the Adventure is the emotional one. As eletronics evolve perhaps KTM could develop a Jekill&Hydde button for its future Adventure and then we could have a near perfect (at least for me) bike. Cheers and Peace!
Posted @ Saturday, February 11, 2012 10:03 AM by Leandro
Peter, that's kind of a "bittersweet" update, but thanks for updating us on what happened with your decision. At least you have the experience of both motorcycles now. Both great bikes for sure! Surely that boxer engine can still keep the adrenaline glands working, too : )  
Leandro: With upcoming changes (liquid cooling) on the BMW, maybe it's time to buy a 2012 BMW if you're planning on getting a new bike. (When the liquid cooled bike comes out, 1st year models typically have issues to work out.) If you're looking at buying used....most on this list will probably agree: It's unlikely you'll be "wrong" with either decision. They're both great bikes that have their occasional glitches. Make sure to test drive both if possible and see which one "speaks to you."
Posted @ Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:06 AM by Eric
I tried both, but I prefer the KTM and now riding a 2008 990 Adventure around the world. So far 29,000 Kms and no problems. Its good on the road but comes into its own on anything other than tarmac where nothing will touch it. Its also more of a cult bike in China where I come from. People think BMWs are for old laotouzi and golfers.
Posted @ Tuesday, February 14, 2012 11:01 AM by Fanny Fang
"People think BMWs are for old laotouzi ...." 
Lol. True, I guess.... 
Posted @ Tuesday, February 14, 2012 12:35 PM by Peter Scheffer
The BMW is a great bike in most circs but not rocky river crossings where it's top heaviness and height is a liability. If you are unlucky enough to fall off to the right in the water crossing, the GS engine will continue running until is has sucked in enough water to write itself off. BMW need to address this issue to make this a true RTW bike.
Posted @ Tuesday, February 14, 2012 1:15 PM by Richard Pass
And here is the new owner of Peters' KTM950.  
After a bit more than 100.000km on a BMW R1100GS, I am glad to be on board of the KTM now.  
I took out the clutch pack a couple of days ago to check it: it was like new. After 65000km... Very durable bikes indeed.
Posted @ Saturday, February 25, 2012 1:51 AM by DaBit
Well congrats to the new owner! 
Only reason I ever changed the clutch on my 04' 950 was because the separator plates were warped, causing a pretty harsh "shuddering" when the clutch was cold. Anyway, enjoy your (Peter's) RIDE and please keep in touch. 
Hey Everyone, sign up for the RIDE Adventures blog if you want to see an upcoming report we'll have about these 990 Adventures. A recent touring customer has been "tweaking" his Dakar 990 and dyno-testing it along the way. Watch the blog to see what he did for 14 hp gains!
Posted @ Tuesday, March 06, 2012 2:25 PM by Eric
I am currently tearing into the bike to check everything and do some extensive maintenance. 
I like what I see. Everything is quite OK after 65000km. No stretched cam disturbing the timing slightly, swingarm bearings are OK although the grease is a bit dry after 7 years, she suspension needs some freshening but no major work, etcetera.  
Most of the bike only needs touchups instead of repair/replacement. Nice! 
Yep, they seem to be very durable bikes indeed.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 06, 2012 4:44 PM by DaBit
From my experience and hard use I rather stay with my KTM 990 than the 2 previous BMW's I owned (2005 1200gs, and 2006 GSA).  
The Tele/Para isn't good at all if you want to pick up the pace on dirt whereas the WP setup on the KTM makes you think you have 20 years of experience in offroading (which I certainly don't).  
The 2005 1200gs had really bad ABS (actually to the point of being dangerous). The 2006 1200gsa was a lot better in the ABS department but at 20k km a valve came loose and pierced the piston and the 2 cylinders were overhauled under warranty (only 10 days left, I was lucky on that).  
Then, when I got the bike back, the final drive bearings went south, I had enough with that and traded her for a 2009 KTM Adv. It's my dream bike ever since. KTM's also need some farkling to become reliable they need a sidestand relocator kit BAD, for about 80-90$, (as I painfully found out, cracked the case) upgraded slave and master clutch cylinders and be careful on what petrol you put in (when in doubt I use a MrFunnel filter and haven't had problems since. Fuel and water pump seals haven't been a frequent problem for the after 2009 bikes so mine had no problems with almost 50k km now.  
I would go on praising the KTM adventure but if I got tired hearing myself doing so I can imagine you've done the same, so.......
Posted @ Wednesday, March 07, 2012 7:48 AM by Iasonas
Lasonas, it's a bike that is undoubtedly worth praise, so don't feel like you needed to stop doing so! 
DaBit, your overhaul reminds me of the fact that my '04 950 was actually submerged in the Pacific Ocean at one point in 2008. Although it was a brief soaking, this freak occurrence seems to have had no long term effects on the bike. In fact, the bike just sat for a month untouched, and yesterday I choked him and pushed that button. "BOOM".....back to life again immediately, and off riding right away....
Posted @ Wednesday, March 07, 2012 9:33 AM by Eric
Thanks for the review Eric, and to all the following comments. I have been torn in the decision between the 990 and the GS12 for a little while and have seen several fine examples of low mileage used bikes. I think both bikes are great for the riding I want to do. 
And, I love them both but think I'm going to go for the 990 for the following reasons: 
The BM feels huge at first, ok, the weight dissapears as soon as I rode away, the worry is slow speed manouevres with those big pots close to your feet.  
I agree with others that the gearchange can be a little clunky if your not slick, but the KTM is sooo smooth. The power delivery is smooth but does have elements of the characteristic boxer motion and reciprocating lumps. 
The first ride I had on the KTM was fantastic, smooth and easy, even through traffic after 5 minutes on board. I came back to the owner with a huge grin from ear to ear. 
My head says get the Beemer, but for a little less money than a 2007GS i can get a 2010 990 here in the UAE, so it looks like my heart is going to win over and i'll be joining the Orangemen! 
Posted @ Thursday, March 08, 2012 1:35 AM by Sparks
Sparks, that might say it all: "I came back to the owner with a huge grin from ear to ear." - Gut instincts count for alot, and the pricing rational you mentioned just backs up the decision further. Congrats if you go ahead with it. Betting that Tim Trenker (if he's still there?) and the KTM team in Dubai are ready to help you get the bike in your garage.  
Next blog post: The details from Dave Diamond's 14 hp gains on his 990 Dakar!
Posted @ Tuesday, March 13, 2012 5:26 PM by Eric
I looked at some really tidy 990's in the Dubizzle private ads and was down to the final choice of two when I called up Tim at KTM.Yes he's still there.  
He had a sweet 2010 ex-demo, with a deal package and price that I couldn't ignore. He'll be looking for preferential treatment by the sweep team in the AD Desert Challenge in two weeks time! 
So anyway it's now mine. Took it out for an hour or so check out ride this evening. Def. I made the right choice for me! 
Posted @ Wednesday, March 14, 2012 2:35 PM by mark leonard
Congrats on the bike then, Sparks, and have fun with the AD Desert Challenge. Couple of RIDE Adventures customers will be out there barreling through the desert for sure.  
As mentioned before, the blog post about horsepower gains on the 990 Dakar is up. Not that the 990 needs more power, but hey...it's fun to have! (see March 13, 2012)  
Posted @ Thursday, March 15, 2012 8:05 AM by Eric
My wifey thinks the 950 Adv we own is the most comfortable two up bike we have ever owned which includes HDs, FJRs, RTs, 1200 and 1150 GS Adv. I just bought a 990 Dakar and it is substantially faster in all areas than my 1200 GSA. Maybe there was something wrong with the one y'all got or something wrong with my GSA:)
Posted @ Wednesday, April 11, 2012 5:49 PM by Larry Kachadourian
Larry, that's great to hear the Mrs. is 950 Adv-friendly! Please tell us, is that on the original KTM seat, or which one?  
Passengers have typically commented that the 950/990 seat slants forward too much, and they're constantly sliding forward into the driver. That's great if it's working out for you...nothing stands in the way for more trips!
Posted @ Friday, April 13, 2012 1:44 AM by Eric
Hi guys, 
I have a quick question: i am currently an owner of a 2005 950 Adventure since day 1, its in mint condition (low milage). I have now the possibility to upgrade to a 2011 990 Adventure also mint nearly brand new, with warranty, on a reasonable price. 
What would you suggest? How does the EFI version feel? Is it less reliable due to the fuel injection? 
Most of my riding is on paved roads, but i enjoy to go offroad when ever i can. Plant to do even more unpaved adventure in the future.  
Any suggestions, advice? Should i just hang on to my old buddy? Or take a dip into ABS heaven? 
Any help is appriciated. 
Cheers from Europe. 
Posted @ Wednesday, May 02, 2012 10:35 AM by Hps
A very good article I think. We have just ridden 33,000 kilometers on KTM 990 Adventures from Cape Town and now in UK preparing for another 15,000 kilometers to complete our round the world expedition. Our website diary details all the detail about the bikes, preparation and route .. but I can say the only other bike I would have considered for the expedition would have been the Kawasaki KLR with a few modifications (suspension and brakes etc). I think the BMW GS 800 Adventure would also be a good bike. As for the 1200GS .. maybe if I was a film star with two back up vehicles full of spares and tyres or 30 years older (haha).
Posted @ Friday, June 08, 2012 2:46 PM by Rupert Utley
Hps, I think some of us missed your question until now. 
Others will have their own opinion, but I say it comes down to "what kind of travel will you be doing?" 
If you're just going to stay local, enjoy the pavement, and never be far from mechanical or parts support: The ABS/Fuel injected KTM could be a nice upgrade. The engine is a bit smoother....ABS benefits are obvious....and of course, any reliability issues can be fixed quite easily. 
If you envision yourself going out on a multi-country, long distance journey someday through multiple low-grade fuel types and dirty, rocky, sandy off-road terrain: Keep your 2005 with those tough little carburetors and minimal electronic dependency! You'll have the ABS turned off in the dirt anyway, and those carburetors and the $150 fuel pump tend to deal with low-grade fuel better than the more expensive electronic stuff. (Bring extra fuel pumps though, or upgrade to the Facet aftermarket pump.) 
Hope that helps. Like anywhere, there's a perfect bike for each situation, but situations are always changing. Just a matter of forecasting your "majority need" and riding & packing accordingly. 
Posted @ Friday, June 15, 2012 6:16 PM by Eric
Spot on comments about the gear box on the BMW. I've got a new GSA and it's uncanny how I fail to get consistently smooth shifts out of that thing. No missed shifts; but definately clunky at times, with 1st coming depending on how the dogs line up at a stop light. Still, the bike is great. Heavy, but unbeatable on gravel roads and asphalt. I'd like to try one of the 990's though. I've got a 300exc that has that wonderful KTM tranmission. Now, if we could only blend the KTM trans. with the BMW motor. And for you guys who think the BMW is a good buy for true off-roading--Think again. It's a 600lb pig that you do not want to drop, even at slow speeds. Still, I'll take the BMW for the non-agressive, mostly road riding that I do now. I don't think the KTM could hang on the twisties. With the ESA dialed in, and on proper tires, even sportbikes aren't as flickable. Anybody who ownes one will back this up.
Posted @ Friday, June 29, 2012 2:11 PM by Dave Lena
To me it's very simple: 
The GS 1200 is the best bike ever, I owned one for seven happy years. 
But a week ago I got a new (to me) 990 Adv S and I'm not looking back. As long as KTM builds this fire breathing chariot of the gods I will never ride anything else. 
Just hope my BMW buddies will still invite me to their wine & cheese tasting trips.
Posted @ Saturday, June 30, 2012 11:13 PM by Ernesto Grossmann
Ernesto, with lines like "fire breathing chariot of the gods," we could definitely find work for you as a guest blogger on our site! Ha, ha....fantastic description. 
The follow-up about "wine & cheese" has us cracking up, too. 
Dave made a reminder to us that the terrain ahead is hugely important to us in choosing which of these two bikes to ride. In actuality, the BMW is only about 35 lbs. heavier (when dry) than the KTM, according to most listings. But the BMW's 19" front wheel and cylinder heads just don't help tight, rutty, trail situations. 
Both great bikes...anyone else out there think otherwise?
Posted @ Monday, July 02, 2012 8:26 AM by Eric Lange
Great website. I am here surfing the net looking for GSA vs KTM Adventure comparisons and reliability issues on both bikes. I am looking to purchase one soon. This place/site is great. My heart says KTM but my brain says BMW. My wife already owns and rides a GS1200 and most of the riding would be road when together but I want a steed to tear through the Colorado back country. The KTM calls me but I do not like the idea of buying a bike that has known, reocuring issues is off putting. I know, all bikes do but for a well heeled, high priced, high end bike stuff like pump seals should be engineered out of the equation. Looking at a 2008 990 with 15k on the clock, tough call. I will will revisit to confuse my brain some more.  
Posted @ Sunday, July 22, 2012 2:51 AM by Lee Becker
Lee, I think you'll find that the KTM water pump seal issue has been resolved. They finally found the right combination of seal and shaft-coating, so that the new part number (released in 2010 I think?) will last a very long time. And if it doesn't....it's really a small deal to replace it. You'd notice the wavy/warped oil filter fins when you change your oil, and know it's time to change the seal.  
Don't let what seems like a tough decision seem that tough! Try one of them, and make sure you don't commit to either KTM or BMW logo riding gear in case you want to change : ) Pick something neutral, and extremely durable like that fromwww.klimusa.com.  
And keep us posted about what you decide on!!!!!
Posted @ Wednesday, July 25, 2012 5:39 PM by Eric
My 2009 Ktm 990 adventure make me feel like a AAA from germany, each time I go to the desert I finish helping somebody in a BMW stuck all the way to his teeth! If you planing some off road go ORANGE MAN!
Posted @ Tuesday, September 04, 2012 9:27 PM by Jorge
Definitely the more desert/rally/offroad friendly of the two bikes, Jorge. Glad you're enjoying!
Posted @ Wednesday, September 05, 2012 12:24 PM by Eric
As the owner of a 2008 KTM 990 Adventure I agree 100% with all of your comments. While I love my KTM, which I bought used, there are many things about the R1200GS that I actually prefer. On the street, the big GS engine is slightly more torquey, smoother below 3000 RPM as you stated, brakes much better. Oil changes on the LC8 KTM involve taking off two fuel tanks, numerous hoses and electrical connections. Mine has a Renazco seat, but I still think the big GS may be slightly more comfy. I'd take my KTM 990A any day over an F800GS (which feels much slower) and I do like the suspension off road over the bigger GS. For me the used KTM was a fine deal for a great bike that I love. The used R1200GS bikes are not much of a bargain, though with tubeless rims, shaft, easy maintenance you do get what you pay for in this comparison. Many Orange Crush KTM'ers will kill me but they are BOTH great bikes.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 16, 2012 1:48 PM by Kevin
Kevin, such non-brand-partisan commentary seems unfamiliar in this U.S. election season! Very refreshing though...thanks for your comments. 
As a note, I personally rode the Corbin seat on my KTM, and now have the same on my tour-guiding bike (the GS Adventure.) Absolutely fantastic seats for both bikes. 
You sure did make a good point though: Oil change on the BMW takes about 15 minutes, vs. an hour minimum on the Katoom. Little things like that and an oil-check-window sure do add up over time (although it appears the 2013 KTM 1190 Adventure will have an oil-check window.) 
RIDE on, and keep us posted on your adventures! 
Posted @ Wednesday, October 17, 2012 9:01 AM by Eric
As of today I have my second Big GS,the first 1150GSA for 4 years an now the 1200GSA since 2008. Now i am looking for a trustworthy companion to take me around the world in 2014. KTM 1190 ADV R seams impressive. I have no experiance with KTM andI don't know anyone who has one. I recon KTM could assist in defining what spares must be taken with. My trial ride was around the Black Sea and crossing the Caspian Sea. What do you guys out there mean.BMW of KTM. 
Posted @ Sunday, November 25, 2012 2:39 PM by Bjorn Hagen
Bjørn, you just made thousands of aspiring adventure riders across the planet teary-eyed with envy! 
Having lived in South America with my KTM for 2 1/2 years, I say the only problem was fuel and the fuel pumps. That, and the parts network is poor compared to BMW or Kawasaki. 
Check out the RIDE Adventures blog post from today, talking about the advantages your BMW comes with. While the KTM's are fantastic bikes, for world travel, the BMW might still be best! http://www.rideadv.com/ride-adventures-tour-and-rentals-blog
Posted @ Sunday, November 25, 2012 9:27 PM by Eric Lange
Great report, Just like to say I agree with most it. I like to mention again that the resale value of the BMW's appear to be much better than the KTM's. Also the BMW's are more comfortable for long rides.
Posted @ Saturday, December 29, 2012 3:15 AM by Mike A
Hi, thanks for nice review.  
Have been riding both bikes would say that BMW is like big luxury car, you dont really have that much feeling of the road, while KTM gives you more feedback, you know you what is the bike doing.
Posted @ Wednesday, January 02, 2013 7:30 AM by David Vondra
Hi, very nice & objective review, and all of the posting comments are note worthy as well. 
BUT! Here's the thing, there's no such thing as a perfect bike. The review & comments alike refer to either model of bike as setup out of the box. If that's the case then they are what they are, and that's all they will be, but I say that they can be more. 
I'm 5'9"(179cm), fluctuating 175-180lbs.(79-80kg) riding a 2010 GSA in Shanghai, China. The bike is fitted with Olin's suspension (f&r), and is taller then any other ADV that I have ever seen. Also fitted is a Saddleman custom low heated seat (still only one leg on the ground).  
I wish that I could comment more on the seat heating element, and comfort level, but I ride the bike standing up 95% of the time (all day long). 
Once I'm able to wrestle the bike off the kick stand and get moving the bike is nothing short of awesome. 
In this setup the compromising elements are the wheels & tires. Let's face it, the 19" front & 17" rears rims, coupled with a 110/80/19 & 150/70/17 tires is the separation point, and heres why. 
You can't have your cake & eat it too.  
If you really want to go off-roading with this big GS (in my case GSA) the wheels & tires need to be changed (simple as that).  
Tubeless rims & tires may offer the convenience of a quick repair, but as soon as you lower the tire pressure for some serious off-roading the BMW rims become susceptible to bends, warps, and the like. The OEM rim & spoke setup is not strong enough to handle that type of constant abuse. Furthermore, the rims & tires are too wide for real off-roading. 
My solution to this issue is two fold. 
1. I must know where I'm going & what type of riding I'll be doing. 
2. (on order) 21" front rim/90/90/21" tire & 18" rear rim/140/80/18" tire 
It becomes a piece of cake to change the wheels at home for off-roading, and get the luxury of having a true street tire on the OEM rims for normal jaunts.  
My two cents, A.J.  
Posted @ Saturday, January 12, 2013 11:49 PM by A.J. Simpson
A.J., as so many motorcycle tours we offer have such varying terrain, some of us in the biz have often talked about constructing the PERFECT tour where we have multiple bikes to swap out during the different stages of the journey. Your wheel idea is along those lines and FAR more feasible than the multi-bike logistical nightmare! Either could be great features of any trip. 
Enjoy China!
Posted @ Sunday, January 13, 2013 5:06 PM by Eric Lange
Hi all, 
I've ridden BMW R1XXXGS bike for over a decade, and I too, ride for a motorcycle touring company that mainly uses the BMW. 
I now ride a KTM 990 Adventure and love it, but since I've only had it a year, I have not as of now had any problems. The throttle is a little annoying but it is fixable. 
The BMW is a great bike and it saddened me to leave the brand as an owner. I had purchased a new R1200GS and immediately started having problems. First it was the fuel pump o-ring. The rings were bad and let water in the fuel pump which made them fail. Of course BMW denied the problem and told me it was a sensor. They fixed the sensor and the next weekend while on a Long Distance rally the bike failed again in a parking lot at 2 am. Then the transmission seal failed. After that the security ring failed which also left me stranded. When I sold the bike the poor guy that bought it was riding it 500 miles home when the fuel pump failed again. This must have been a melon since we don't have hardly any issues with the bikes in our fleet. 
So far the KTM has proven to be a better off road bike and for me, easier to work on. No cambus system or tons of electronics to worry about. It is a pain to change the oil because you have to remove the tank to get to a secondary oil reservoir but that can be fixed by an after market hose. 
The reason I went to KTM, for me it is more fun and cheaper to purchase and to work on. Except of course for the $120 fuel filter and $15 fuel filter o-ring. 
Posted @ Sunday, January 27, 2013 2:43 PM by Ed Buelsing
Ed, just curious, what year was that R1200GS with all the fuel pump issues? Had never heard of that one before either. Like you said, sounds like a rarity.  
Definitely less "electrical vulnerability" on the KTM, but it still exists! The best adventure bike ever is probably still one that's as close having only a batter and spark plugs as possible.
Posted @ Monday, January 28, 2013 3:44 PM by Eric
I m 50 years old , though quite fit. I own a 990 KTm, and at the begginig foynd it too agresive or sensitive throtle. 
But with after some months or raiding it every day I started to love this bike. 
Its suspensions is really state of the art, the of road behaviour over stones, gravel or bombs , its really surprising. The engine is of course over powered for most off road situations, but while ridding on pavemented route, you cant believe that you are riding a all terrain bike 
The stability and respones is just perfect. 
The quality of the materials , is supreme, each bolt , the clutch, or even the plastics . are perfect. 
Congrats KTm for such a good and simple product
Posted @ Monday, March 25, 2013 8:18 PM by ari dunski
Ari, well said. It almost seems silly that KTM is changing that bike now! Minus a few fuel pump problems, it was such a great bike. I hope they didn't make a mistake with the new one.
Posted @ Wednesday, March 27, 2013 8:33 AM by Eric
I am 62 years old, 6 foot and 200lbs... Traded my 2005 GS1150 for 2007 KTM Adventure 990, traveled to Glacier National Park, Montana twice from Seattle... Love every bits of my KTM! BMW GS1150 was great, but...
Posted @ Thursday, April 18, 2013 3:56 PM by TD (on-the-chin)
I am a Chinese woman and I just rode around world on a KTM 990 Adventure (2008) with my boyfriend on a KTM 990 Adventure R (2011).. well nearly all the world. We rode from South Africa to Europe and then we rode CF Moto TR 650 (joint venture with KTM) for 15000 kilometer across China (including Himalayas, Tibetan Plateau and remote Qinghai). 20 months riding everyday on every surface on the planet. We still have Canada to Chile to do and will probably ride KTM/CF Moto 700 Adventure when it comes out in 2014 or the KTM 690 Onyx. I am not very experienced but my KTM bike was perfect. Only problem in over 40,000 kilometers of riding on mine was that the starter relay broke in the Nubian Desert in Sudan. But it was 54 degrees Centigrade, very very hot, middle of nowhere and we managed to wire in a Chinese generic starter relay from a local tut tut trike until we got to KTM in Sharm El Sheikh in the Sinai of Egypt and they put back in a proper KTM relay. Fuel was a bit of a problem but we filtered all fuel going in tanks and that saved having to change fuel filter which is expensive and time consuming. We did change fuel filter twice and chain and sprockets once and tyres three times. We also looked after oil and took chunk out of our budget to make sure we put in good 10/60 synth oil and use proper oil filters. My boyfriend's KTM 990 Adv R rear WP shock went in Egypt because he was hooliganing about off road in desert with no loading on hardest setting but unlike on a BMW when it goes the KTM was sort of ridable and we got it repaired by KTM Turkey in Istanbul. I dont know how KTM compares to a BMW as I never had a BMW, but we saw lots of broken BMWs on our trip..especially the old 650GS which I suppose were being ridden on a tight budget. We saw lots of BMW GSA1200 on the tar roads of Europe and they looked OK as tourers but I wouldn't want one in sand as too heavy and bulky for me. That said we did see some very good BMW riders in South Africa and they could make bike do anything and go up sand dunes, but most BMW riders we saw were sticking to tar roads. The GS800 seemed better, but people said the clutch has problems. I did watch Long Way Round and Down and they had a few problems with broken frames and needed a back up crew. If you watch carefully the bikes have been replaced along the trip. I am not a film star with BMW sponsorship so I cannot afford that. In fact, we bought bikes from our savings and KTM gave us nothing.. it was all self financed so we wanted the best and most fun. We had no problems with water pump (now fixed on later KTMs), no clutch slave problems and only the fuel filter issue as gasoline in Africa is really crap and full of dust and water and other impurities ...and also low octane .. sometimes below 80 and sold mixed with water and kerosine.. you have to be careful. In fact, as I had little biking experience before trip ...none actually.. I got my licence 3 months before we set off and practiced on a KLR. So, I dropped and crashed my bike a few times.. once a serious cartwheel in Namib desert on gravel and sand at over 100 kph and bike was fine... I was a bit bruised though and luckily wore enduro kit,neck brace and good Arai helmet otherwise I would not be writing this. Touratech panniers had to bashed back to shape... and in Tanzania we found a skilled metal smith to repair them back to as good as new. So I think the KTM is best adventure bike if you want to really go round the world and ride on every surface and even cross rivers and rocky deserts. On tar there are many bike that are better... but we still enjoyed ourself on twisty passes and could do 180kph quite comfortably on highways. That said our average speed seemed to be 80-120kph and slower on gravel and much slower on sand.
Posted @ Friday, April 19, 2013 1:04 AM by Fanny Fang
We can not to compare those different bikes with same adventure name. You just should know where you want to ride one of these bikes. If at least 15-20 per cent of your riding will be good gravel I prefer KTM but if most of the time it will be asphalt I prefer only BMW GS. I have changed my Honda Africa to BMW R1200GS 2008 and happy with that but on gravel Africa was much better and softer. I suppose Honda Africa more or less similar to KTM but KTM of course better just because more powerful engine what will be big advantage on highway with higher cruiser speed. Also using a chain rather then shaft as on BMW is also much softer and not so sensitive when playing with accelerator handle. Driven by shaft is almost maintenance free and especially this is useful when you go long distances and your rear wheel will be always clean. Lot of commentators here not like longer 1 gear on BMW GS. But for me it was one of the reasons why I have bought GS and not GSA because I like long gears what makes riding more comfortable in normal circumstances. If I will start to ride off-road I just will buy normal 650-700 cc enduro or hard enduro and will keep 2 bikes same time. It is not a problem with those cylinders from the sides. My opinion about that is different. My life and health is much more important then those expensive cylinder heads. And in case of BMW it looks for me more safe to ride, nice and in cold weather warm air flow is coming on my and passenger legs.  
So my advice for most of the riders who want to by one of those bikes is: 
If you ride the bike most of the time on highway and normal asphalt 95 % it is better BMW. If 20 % or more on gravel and the rest on normal asphalt I prefer KTM and if 40 % or more on gravel and rest on normal asphalt my chose is something lighter as I really no need so heavy and powerful bikes like BMW R1200GS and KTM 990. 
If most of the time you ride in city my chose will be KTM but prestigious for me looks anyway BMW. I have made my chose and as I said it is BMW. Most of the people who can not to by such expensive bike they just searching for any reason (like no point to by as other is not mush worse and cheaper or this bike is for old man) to reassure themselves  Such problems like fuel pump, water pump or some seals can be in any bikes. Just fix it and forget about that. 
Posted @ Tuesday, July 02, 2013 12:36 PM by Andrej
Great to follow this discussion with a click of a button...I still ride the same bike since my last post here and I stil daydream about both of them. I did some more research though and found out about a 1100GS with an astounding 471k miles on the clock! Has anyone got any idea about KTMs longevity? The reason I'm asking is that I plan to marry (yes, till death do us part) one of the 2...Cheers and keep on ridding in the free world! 
Posted @ Wednesday, August 07, 2013 3:45 PM by Leandro
Morning KTMr's. I recently purchased not only my first KTM but my first bike, Yee Haw!!. It was a hard decision between the BMW 1200 GSA Adventure and the KTM 990. Got the 2013 KTM 990 Adventure "Baja" edition. I have had it 3 weeks, 50 miles total. Had a problem out of the gate with hight temp reading (8 - 10 bars average) and oil light coming on at idle. Have it at the dealer currently trying to trouble shoot the issues. Has anyone experienced these issues? and if so what was the outcome? Any info would be greatly appreciated. 
Best to all!
Posted @ Friday, August 16, 2013 12:58 PM by Dave
Great purchase Dave! Hard to say after just 50 miles, but is it burning oil? Smelling like coolant, blowing smoke, or anything? I suspect it's merely got a bad temperature sensor. Perhaps they can actually test the temperature with another gauge and see if it really is "high."
Posted @ Friday, August 16, 2013 2:00 PM by Eric Lange
Thanks Eric. Checked it top to bottom before taking it to the dealer. Oil level is good. coolant is good, no smoke, no smells. All fluids are clear and clean. That's what's puzzling me. Everything appears good. I know there have been complaints about 990's overheating and that's why I'm asking. Hopefully someone has an anticdote.
Posted @ Friday, August 16, 2013 3:37 PM by Dave
2 tips for the Adventure 990 heat: 
1.-Akrapovic or any other exhaust system that eliminates the original ones with cathalitic converter. 
2.- Install a Second ventilator in the left radiator. www.blackdogcw.com 
Posted @ Friday, August 16, 2013 3:47 PM by Sebastian Vicuna
Sorry, but How come you have to buy an extra ventilator in a motorbike of this category and price, and if it is thus much then that to wish of this brands..
Posted @ Friday, August 16, 2013 10:50 PM by j
If the KTM 950/990 is moving, it should have no problem overheating or need the extra fan. It sounds like Dave's got a sensor or gauge issue. Best to check the actual temperature with a separate thermometer and see if it's really above what KTM intended that engine to run at.
Posted @ Saturday, August 17, 2013 10:47 AM by Eric Lange
Agree with Eric. Although the KTM can run a bit hot, the fans should be able to take care of that. So either they don't engage or there is valve not opening to the radiator. Sensor or thermostate would be my guess if she's not losing cooling liquid.
Posted @ Saturday, August 17, 2013 10:52 AM by Peter Scheffer
The addtional ventilator is not mandatory but is good when you have tough weather conditions, let´s say over 40 celsius in Bolivia at 4000 meters (12000 feet). I think that your bike probably has a problem with the temperature sensor.
Posted @ Saturday, August 17, 2013 8:56 PM by Sebastian
8-10 bars is definitely NOT overheating...the bike will show flashing bars when it overheats...I ride in Greece and all over Europe (currently 50k miles) and my fan kicks in only when the bike is idling in traffic or has been flogged from light to light...it has never overheated (as defined on my above sentence)..there's absolutely no need for a second fan...that's been discussed in Advrider but some say it's normal and others say get the fan...KTM says it's normal and it should be for if it wasn't the display would show 11-12 FLASHING BARS...If oil lamp comes up at idle it means your oil level is low...put some in there and it'll disappear...(maybe the dealer didn't put the correct amount)...the oil level is kinda tricky to check...ride the bike for 15-20 mins then place the bike on center stand and get the oil cap out. Wipe the dipstick and screw it again all the way...take it out and read where you're at....If it's below minimum add about 300ml (min to max is - if I recall well- 300ml)...
Posted @ Tuesday, August 20, 2013 1:50 AM by Iasonas
Also, remember that when the bike is new, engine is tighter (and sound different) than after breaking in...the temps will go a bit down as will the resonating vibration that you may feel in between 3k and 4k RPM after 5-7k miles...All in all I don't think there's anything wrong with the bike...The engine oil light issue though needs to be addressed but like I said it's most likely a dealer blooper on the amount of oil (or even type -synthetic(?) at breaking in) they've used...
Posted @ Tuesday, August 20, 2013 1:59 AM by Iasonas
I have just seen the subject of temperature on 990 Adv. pop up on my emails. My pennies worth after living with the KTM for two years on every surface and condition the planet has to offer. We had no problems at all with engine temperature. At one stage we were riding in over 50 degrees centigrade (125 F) in Sudan and it was blisteringly hot and our KTM 990 Adventures were absolutely fine. We were not and had to cover up against oven like wind touching our skin.. In the center of Cairo we got in some dreadful traffic jams which were not only very hot but had many periods of not being able to move and on one occasion on Fanny's 2008 KTM the flashing mode came on and so we stopped for a few minutes and then carried on after it dropped a few bars. Later I checked her radiator and there was a bit of room for some more water and it never happened again. Recently I did a tour of Scotland, Wales and England (the green beautiful bits) on a KTM 990 SMT which is basically same LC8 engine and it was awesome. On tar like a sports bike, but with familiar power delivery and just peachy. best fun on two wheels ever and I have owned and ridden many bikes. Pictures on latest (and last) chapter of our blog. I had a chance to see and ride the new KTM 1190 Adventure that looks like it ticks all the boxes and jumps a quantum leap ahead of BMW in every aspect ... on tar roads, track and as KTM has always been able to ...off road. Amazing machine.
Posted @ Tuesday, August 20, 2013 2:57 AM by Rupert Utley
Morning all, Thank you for all the great input on my KTM 990 issues. I really appreciate all of the excellent advise. I have forwarded it on to the dealer and my service tech (who is awesome). I haven't given up hope. I am still perplexed though because all of my fluid levels were full and I did check them on the center stand, on a level serface, both cool and when I returned from an hour ride prior to taking it back to the dealer. All appeared to be full. I again welcome any and all comments. I look forward to getting on the road here in So Cal before the end of summer and tearing it up so to speak... Thanks again.
Posted @ Tuesday, August 20, 2013 12:16 PM by Dave
Good Evening Rupert, You said in your recent reply that "At one stage we were riding in over 50 degrees centigrade (125 F) in Sudan and it was blisteringly hot and our KTM 990 Adventures were absolutely fine". Can you define "...absolutely fine"? I am still trying to get a consensus what normal running temp should be. The dealer is waiting for an oil pressure switch "spring" (it wasn't shipped with the switch) and they are pretty confident the switch will solve the problem. I stopped by the dealer today and there it was. I really think it would look much better in my garage. I am patient. Thanks all.
Posted @ Wednesday, August 21, 2013 9:47 PM by Dave
Dave, I think you worry too much about overheating...like I told you above, if the bars don't flash it's NOT overheating...I'm in Advrider for years and this has been clarified countless times...flashing bars = overheating (never seen it in my 2009, I ride in scortching heat 40-45 C), everything without the bars flashing = normal. Your engine is also new so metals are still "tight"...mine run a bit hotter when new, maybe a bar over...keep in mind that some times dealerships want you to worry so that they keep a personal contact with you in order to "bound" you psychologically to them...(for future use)...don't worry...just check why that oil light was flickering and get your bike back...
Posted @ Thursday, August 22, 2013 2:33 AM by Iasonas
Thanks Iasonas and all for your input. After reading numerous threads and manuals I am confident in the temp. I am please to say that the oil problem still exists and is above what my dealer and techs can fix at this time. They are going to replace this bike with a new one. The current bike is going to be shipped back to KTM for diagnostics. I will be glad to get back on the road.  
ADV on !! Thanks again.
Posted @ Friday, August 23, 2013 9:51 AM by Dave
Done 55,000 miles on a 2009 BMW R1200GS Adventure, including all unpaved roads between Arizona and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Totaled it into a cow on the Navajo rez and thanks to its massive protections, walked to tell the tale.  
Logging an average of 15,000 miles per year on a 2011 KTM 990 Adventure Dakar now.  
Bottom line: both bikes 'fail' to be true DUAL sports, if there ever was such a thing. The BMW is the heck of a great touring bike with dirt pretensions. The KTM is the heck of a great dirt bike with blacktop pretensions. Yes, they are THAT different! If your dual sporting includes (like most) 95%+ pavement, get a BMW and have no second thought. If on the other end your dual sporting only tolerates blacktop as a necessary way to get to dirt, then the KTM is your only choice. Think of a considerably beefed up 525 EXC on one hand, vs. a drastically slimmed down 1200 KLT or a raised up 1200 RT on the other hand (which is not such a far-fetched comparison, since I saw one in Cold Foot Camp, AK!).  
Don't know how one would fare after totaling a cow with the 990; there is a lot less metal to protect you, which is yet another angle to look at...  
From a ridding perspective, the two major differences are engine and brakes. Both bikes are heavy! Think torque for the BMW and horsepower for the KTM. Night and day engine behaviors. Yes, really! A question of personal preference, I would say. Do not get on the KTM and need a hard brake after ridding the BMW, you will kill yourself! The 990 brakes are 'sorta, kinda, about OK' on their own and you will get used to giving yourself plenty of braking distance, but they are only about half as effective as the beemer's. Borderline insufficient in my estimation...  
As for the heat issue, no question, the 990 runs hot. You can put a second fan on the right side (Black Dog Cycle Works sells the kit). I did. It helps, but still that thing prefers a lot of airflow going through the radiator... 
Eric is right and he is not teasing when he does not pick a "best bike" between the two. Truly, this is one of these rare cases when you should actually use your head, not only your heart, when you decide which one you buy. Enjoy!
Posted @ Friday, October 11, 2013 7:05 PM by Pascal
Am new motorcycling. Have wanted to do it all my life. At 50 I am finally there. I purchased the 2013 BMW R1200 GSA last Octoberr as my first bike ever. In the beginning, man was it intimidating! A few drop. Well, quite a few. But after taking multiple riding classes. I have come to love my bike, Terra, for all of the reasons articulated above. As I get older, never old, I find myself gravitating to easy. The R1200 GSA is just that. Nothing against any other bike, but it's all I know. And I am extremely satisfied with all of what she is and is not. It would be great to check out other bikes and test the different features, but Terra was my first girl at 50. I can ride others but none like her.😉
Posted @ Saturday, October 04, 2014 6:23 AM by Kevin
Kevin, I can appreciate your sentiment, as the BMW's just tend to have that "easy" and less-aggressive feeling about them. The new KTM 1190 I understand to be closer to the BMW in terms of "ease and comfort," but no doubt...the 990 Adventure was meant to feel a bit more vicious and hard-charging. Ride on and keep us posted.
Posted @ Monday, October 06, 2014 3:45 PM by Eric Lange
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