The explosion of the big-bore adventure bike segment over the past decade has brought us new releases from nearly every major manufacturer, but few bikes caused the stir that Honda’s CRF1000L Africa Twin did upon its announcement and introduction in 2016.
The new KTM 790 Adventure presents an excellent mix of on-road comfort with sporty handling, and off-road capability. Consider it a slightly more pavement-focused version of KTM’s new flagship bike that is the 790 Adventure R model.
Since its inception in July 2013, the Honda CB500X has proven to be a solid, dependable, multi-purpose machine that does the Honda stable proud. With numerous improvements over the years, it just kept getting better and better - and the 2019 model is possibly as close to a Swiss Army knife a biker can get.
"Hey, Honda....what took you so long?"
If my opening question is toned with tenderness, a bit of emotion is for good reason. Such a long wait for the motorcycle giant to re-enter the booming Adventure Riding & Dual Sport category sure was a test for Honda enthusiasts.
Clinging to scraps of a "better late than never" sentiment, a recent roadside pee-break opportunity between motorcycle tours in Patagonia seemed like the right moment to make this video and share some thoughts about Honda's latest adventure bike. RIDE Adventures is now in our 2nd season of offering the Africa Twin as a motorcycle rental in Patagonia, with largely positive feedback from our Customers and those of us who guide these motorcycle trips. Categorically speaking:
'Tis the season for new motorcycles for the rental fleets in Chile and Peru!
Part of keeping such touring and renting options running smoothly is thereplacement of bikes. While they all get regular inspection and maintenance between Customers, there comes a time and financial juncture when it just makes sense to replace each bike with a new one. Of course we need to break-in these bikes a bit and get them through their initial 1,000km's before they go through a first revision and inspection; and well ... somebody needs to put those first 1,000km's on them. Riding virgin bikes is still one of those simple pleasures that will never get old. I mean, they even smell new!
Great news, adventure riders: Honda's new Africa Twin CRF1000L is coming to Chile! With a scheduled arrival of September, Honda's reintroduction of this adventure riding classic will be available along with our other Patagonia motorcycle rental options just in time for you to head down the Carretera Austral this coming 2016/17 season.
Considering just how "absent" Honda Motorcycles has been from the fast-growing world of adventure riding, early feedback from other riders suggests the new Africa Twin is well worth the wait. With the BMW GS bikes still making up the definite majority of the rentals we offer, Honda sure will have their work cut out for them trying to gain market share. Nonetheless, we're excited to further diversify the options that we offer in Chile, Argentina and of course other locations soon.
Instead of posting an immediate reaction to BMW’s R1200GS Adventure when the updated Liquid-Cooled version of it became available a couple of years ago, I wanted to wait and see how this latest version of the famous “GSA” performed in the rental business for a while. After all, it’s probably not just my personal opinion of how the bike rides & feels that you’re probably interested in. Those of us in the international motorcycle rental business are in a unique position to comment on the overall performance of these bikes and their durability, dependability, etc. over some time. So here we are, about 2 years after the updated, Liquid Cooled “Water Boxer” version of the GSA became available….
My question is simple: "Why isn't Honda Motorcycles putting their race-winning, widely respected, all-around excellent XR650R back into production?"
First, kudos to Honda for bringing back the Africa Twin, the bike that we're all excited to start riding more and integrating into our list of motorcycle rental options after some testing. But really, why wouldn't they start production on the XR650R again, too?
The XR has already been designed, built, proven, and adored by riders with tremendous success. The blueprints are already there, it's not like they'd have to entirely design or redesign a motorcycle, and a slightly-improved XR650R would take a HUGE chunk out of KTM's 690 Enduro dominance in this mid-cc's dual sport category (more on that below.)
So I ask: "Honda Motorcycles.....where have you been, and isn't it about time to start building this possible KTM-Killer again?"
Over the past few years, I'd had a few chances to hop various Kawasaki KLR 650's for an hour or so, although usually only on pavement. Only on recent riding research projects for our new "Best of Northern Patagonia" tour did I finally have the chance to ride the KLR to such an extent that I feel prepared to share my opinion about this motorcycle.
-RIDE Adventures, LLC
I own a 2011 KTM 990 Adventure Dakar Edition & I love it. However, I've wondered why the Austrians never made some simple design improvements that were "discovered" by the aftermarket parts community years ago. I'm a normal adventure rider not a paid professional tester, so how is it that it only took a 3000 mile ride up from Los Angeles to the 9th annual KTM Rider Rally in Bend, Oregon to discover some of these flaws for myself ?
Let me first start with what I consider to be the most clever improvements you can make for the 950/990:
- frame mounted handle to help raise the bike onto the center stand
- bracket to relocate the side kickstand off the gearbox & onto the frame
- bolt-on larger footprint for the side kickstand
- racetrack worthy clutch slave cylinder for improved feel
- bracket to relocate the right side mirror off the fluid reservoir onto the handlebar
- KTM Foot Pegfolding mirrors
- larger foot pegs
- steering damper
- 12vlt. power supply in the "glovebox"
- adjustable hand levers
- tubeless rear tire
- rear swing arm sliders
- 12vlt. battery tender breakout cable & maintenance charger
- hand grip warmers
- metal radiator guard
- heavy duty bash plate
- rear brake reservoir guard
- folding rear brake pedal
I'm fairly certain that if one of the major Teutonic car makers like Porsche or Mercedes found out about a design flaw they would certainly fix it in the next model year or recall the vehicle. So what gives?
KTM 990 Mirror Bracket: I believe there are several factors at work here. It could be that the factory thinks why "give" stuff away with the bike when they can make extra money selling accessories a la carte? Or maybe they believe the bike to be fully tested & at a price point which is good enough for the average rider? Is it that they see the importance in nurturing the aftermarket community because independent suppliers help spread brand awareness. Perhaps they were too concerned with the future 1190 model to address any of the problems on the old 950/990? Or maybe they feel that the Adventure is a bit of a cultish type bike anyway & that KTM customers just really like to customize?
KTM Kickstand Relocator: In my opinion, it's probably a little bit of all of the above. I wanted to talk about it with corporate at the Rider Rally, but to my chagrin there was no representation from Austria. Considering their racing pedigree I'm surprised they don't fit some of these parts standard. My 990 model cost almost as much as the BMW, but bone stock it's relatively pedantic by comparison.
Don't get me wrong folks. I'm not writing this article to be a "hater". I'm a big KTM fan & identify myself as a true orange-man through & through. I just feel like there are a lot of potential customers who would prefer to pay a little more for their new bike to be totally decked out when it leaves the showroom. Let's face it, with several choices of good Adventure motorcycles now available I think it would be wise for KTM to really go for it & make a true uber bike as a way to separate themselves from the other brands.