2023 KTM 890 Adventure first impressions

Last Updated on: December 15, 2023

2023 KTM 890 Adventure

First ride with the 2023 KTM 890 Adventure

The 2023 KTM 890 Adventure was, and still is, a much anticipated incarnation of the already well established 890 platform. Late April 2023 it was my turn to get acquainted.

Those of you who have browsed this site, will already know where I come from. I did try alternatives in the category or class, last year. Specifically the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro and the smaller capacity Aprilia Tuareg. The Tiger 900 Rally Pro is an excellent motorcycle. I was impressed, after just a few kilometers.

But the Tiger 900 is, among other things, thirstier than my former bike, a KTM 1290 Adventure S. Which has a much larger engine. There are many things to like though. Triumph don’t bother customers with costly options. If you buy a Rally Pro, you get a pretty impressive package of extras included.

As for the Tuareg, well you can read about that experience here.

Why a KTM 890 Adventure?

Guess I wasn’t done with KTM. My first acquaintance with the brand happened as I bought a used 2019 Super Adventure S (SAS). Without test riding it first, during winter 2020. Got a money back and return deal in case it was a total miss.

That acquisition quickly turned into a friendship. Two seasons later I’d done in in excess of 55.000 kilometers (or 34.175 miles) with the 1290SAS. I guess that does account for something.

You can read more about the bike, and my last reflections here. Plenty more and prior posts to be found on and about the large KTM. But in brief; my experiences with both KTM as a brand, the model in particular and service, dealership etc has been good.

Strada dell' Assietta

September 2021, on Strada dell’ Assietta, Italy, with the KTM 1290 SAS

The thought regarding down-sizing has been lurking for some time. A big adventure bike has, for me, some rather obvious limitations. Specifically while riding offroad. Latter was one key reason why I wanted to take things down a class or, if you please, notch.

There is also a considerable price difference between larger and medium sized adventure motorcycles. Plus an equally significant difference with regards to running costs and, at least here, insurance.

Consider which of the two models I quickly ruled out the R (Rally) version. Road/pavement performance being one reason. The R model probably is one of the best in this class when it comes to offroad performance. It has better suspension than the S version. Without that being significant, for me or my needs.

2023 KTM 890 Adventure dash / front

2023 KTM 890 Adventure dash / front. Added GPS and OEM GPS bracket

KTM 890 Adventure, first impressions

The 2023 KTM 890 Adventure has been redesigned quite a bit compared to its predecessor. Way more appealing design-wise. It also comes with improved suspension, and new adjustment possibilities. KTM motorcycles has a bit of a reputation for being hard. Some like them that way.

The stock seat feels, although improved and way better than the 2022 model, still too hard for me. So I ordered the Powerparts Ergo seat with the motorcycle. Glad I did. It’s softer, and the shape fits me better. Big improvement for not a whole lot of money.

The bike came factory fresh with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires. Which I also put on my 1290 fall 2022. So same rubber, different motorcycle. The wind screen is very good. probably one of the better I’ve had. Even without a spoiler. The idea with the hole works in practise too. Hardly any buffeting worth mentioning.

Time will tell if it continues to perform as well. Time, and a bigger variation of wind and weather conditions.

KTM 890 Adventure & Aprilia Tuareg

Out and about with Italian company, the 2022 Aprilia Tuareg

Engine, power & functions

At low RPM the 2023 890 Adventure is considerably less vibey than the older 1290. Plenty of torque as well. The gearing is a bit different but the RPM through the gears is flexible, useful and well tempered. I can waft about in low speed and low RPM in 6th gear, and with a simple, light twitch of the throttle, it picks up speed swiftly and effortlessly.

I would say, while compared to the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro, the 890 Adventure immediately feels considerably quicker. It’s also way more economical. With the Tiger, even if I tried hard, I could not get below 5.3 liters/100km. With the 890 Adventure I’ve managed to ride, if very civilized, down to an impressive 3.5liters/100km on a 250 kilometers ride.

Yeah this is true. It happened while running it in. Even if one factor in inaccuracy it still is impressive. Prior measurements in the range 3.6 – 3.8 liters /100 kilometers seems more the average though.

The quick shifter up/down is excellent. Also like the fact that the cruise control permits gear change without switching off. Very handy for relaxed riding at for instance low speeds. Breaks are ditto excellent and stopping power more than adequate regardless of conditions.

KTM have a knack for good layout and functional display design. Fonts are well proportioned. You get two shortcut options to selected functions, and four preset banks for choosing what type of information you want on the main display, is good. Interestingly, the 2017 – 2019 1290 Adventure has eight definable presets. But also different layout.

Bought the motorcycle with both heated seat and heated grips. Both delivering as expected.

Into the woods on the KTM 890 Adventure

Into the woods on the KTM 890 Adventure. Had to turn because of ice and snow.

KTM 890 Adventure offroad

One reason I wanted a lighter, smaller bike, was to feel more secure offroad or on gravel and dirt. And even if the R model is way better I have to say the S is absolutely brilliant. Less ground clearance than the R, but unless you’re the hardcore sort I seriously doubt you’ll feel you missed out greatly on fun factor.

As is the case with any 21″ front wheel motorcycle, you instantly feel much better control than with a smaller front wheel. There’s a big difference between 19″ and 21″ in that respect. But what’s interesting with the 890 (S) is that you seem to get all the benefits offroad, without at the expense of on-road or pavement behaviour or performance.

I took it out on some really rough and deep gravel / dirt roads. And was immediately blown away. This motorcycle handles things on a stride, while allowing you to stay in control, and confident, even if the speed is high and the surface rough.

The Rally program allows you to adjust slip control, throttle response, ABS and a few other functions. So a lot of customization options, making the program very flexible to use.

In Norwegian woods

In Norwegian woods


There are a some things I don’t like:

  • Turn signals: no left/right indicator. Both arrows blink on the dash when selecting turn signal. Unnecessary item to save money on IMHO, if that was the motivation.
  • Fuel gauge: why can’t they display the actual/assumed remaining distance? The display show > value, e.g >220km etc. I’ve read this is down to the tank design. Might be, but I’d much rather get the facts and numbers, regardless what they are.
  • Mileage display: goes from optimistic to pessimistic. I’ve not ridden enough to determine how exact it really is. Reserve comes on when you still have, it claims, 110 kilometers left to ride on the tank. Then after a little while gets pessimistic. For such a high tech bike I think they could have done better.
  • Cruise control: same as on the 1290, inaccurate. The best part is that you get a cruise control. But speed fluctuates a lot. Especially if you ride uphill. Definitely not comparable cruise control on BMW GS motorcycles.
  • Engine sound: not so much of a dislike but, like the 1290 there’s this rattling KTM sound. One gets used to it. Though it’s probably one reason why some owners put on a slip-on. So not to hear the rattling at low RPM. But it goes away if you rev it up.

Adjustments and additions

I started with the comfort seat at the lowest level. But quickly realized it wasn’t ergonomically optimal for my height (ca 6″3′). In the highest position I get better knee angle. One interesting side effect of that adjustment is/was absence of any buffeting. A combination of screen height, shape and I gather, also air coming through the vent or hole.

890 Adventure S windscreen

The aerodynamic hole in 890 Adventure S windscreen works

The handlebars are a bit too low for my liking. So risers are ordered. The KTM handlebar risers will add ca 17mm extra height. Think that will suffice, but not sure. Of other things I spent money on the OEM additional LED lamps I wasn’t sure about. Fog lights some said.

But they are way better than that. I would not be without them. They increase traffic visibility in daylight riding, and does wonders when in the dark. Small, well camouflaged, but very efficient. They produce 4000 lumen if I’m not mistaken.

Re baggage solutions: I put on the standard KTM pizza box/top case because I had one extra from the 1290. It’s ok but expensive to buy. I won’t be buying the side panniers, but instead use soft bags. I did recently buy soft bags. More on that topic later.

More on the 890 Adventure:

Tech details & specs. | At 5k kilometers | At 10k kilometers | At 16k kilometers

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