KTM 890 SMT (2023) – Review

Technical Review: Ben Purvis (24th April 2023)


Price: £12,499 | Power: 103bhp | Weight: 206kg (wet) | Overall BikeSocial Rating: 4/5


Back in 2009 KTM created the concept of a supermoto tourer with the KTM 990 SMT – essentially a stripped-back adventure bike with a focus on fun. Now, a decade after that original machine was discontinued, the idea is back with the 890 SMT.

Combining elements of the 890 Adventure and 890 Duke, the 890 SMT splits the difference between them with the high-riding stance of an adventure bike and the Tarmac-focussed running gear of a streetfighter.


Pros & Cons

  • Since most adventure bikes never leave the asphalt, the SMT’s sticky rubber and 17-inch wheels make a lot of sense
  • SMT-specific fuel tank and ergonomics, plus street-oriented suspension, make for a better on-road proposition than the Adventure
  • High level of kit includes cornering traction control
  • Offers a fun and exciting ride very much like the original SMT
  • A reasonably comfortable adventure bike that, with a few clicks of the suspension adjusters, can cut it in mountain passes or even on track
  • Excellent handling and feedback
  • Lacks the dual-purpose appeal of an 890 Adventure or the out-and-out on-road focus of an 890 Duke
  • There’s a new LC8c engine coming soon, so the 890 might be superseded in the next couple of years
  • After 1500km you must decide if you want the Tech pack (MSR, Cruise Control, Q/Shift and Track pack) if so that’s an extra £854
  • Brakes are good but lack bling and top-end feel when pushed hard
  • Questionable styling. But it does look better in the flesh with a rider onboard
KTM 890 SMT First Ride Review (2023)
Back in 2009 KTM created the concept of a supermoto tourer with the KTM 990 SMT – essentially a stripped-back adventure bike with a focus on fun. Now, a decade after that original machine was discontinued, the idea is back with the 2023 KTM 890 SMT. Combining elements of the 890 Adventure and 890 Duke, the 890 SMT splits the difference between them with the high-riding stance of an adventure bike and the Tarmac-focussed running gear of a streetfighter.
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Review – In Detail

Price & PCP
For and against
Engine & Performance
Handling & Suspension (inc. weight & brakes)
Comfort & Economy


2023 KTM 890 SMT Price

Given the close relationship that the 890 SMT has with the rest of the ‘890’ range – the engine and chassis are essentially shared, with some spec differences – it’s unsurprising that all variants fall within a relatively narrow price window (with the notable exception of the sold-out, track-only, £35k RC 8C). The cheapest 890 Duke starts at £10,049, the most expensive 890 Adventure R is £13,299, and the SMT will fall between those models with a tag of £12,499.

As with some other KTM models, the SMT comes with the optional Tech pack, which features the Moto Slip Regulator (MSR), cruise control, up-and- down quick-shifter, and Track pack (which features a Track rider mode and the ability to change the TC on the move). After 1500k, owners decide if they want all the gadgets; if so, that will be another £859.84. KTM calls this a ‘Demo’ mode, effectively the opportunity to try before you buy which some potential owners prefer. But it also means the list price of £12,499 isn’t the actual price of the bike you ride away from the showroom as it’s equipped with extras you haven’t yet paid for.

Dealers expect to get the bikes in mid-May.


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2023 KTM 890 SMT Engine & Performance

KTM’s ‘LC8c’ engine only made its debut five years ago but it’s already in its second generation – having been hiked from 799cc to 889cc – and has been the driving force of multiple models from KTM, Husqvarna and CFMoto, with GasGas set to join in later this year with 900 SM and 900 ES machines.

In the 890 SMT, the LC8c is in its 889cc form and makes 103bhp (105PS/77kW) at 8,000rpm and 73.8 lb-ft of torque (100Nm) at 6,500rpm – putting it on a par with the 890 Adventure.

This version of the LC8c has 20% more rotating mass compared to the earlier 799cc design, giving the feeling of more grunt and a greater gyroscopic effect to improve the bike’s stability, and while it’s far from the most powerful variant of the engine – the Duke R has a 119hp version and the RC 8C has 133hp – it promises a broad spread of performance and instant response in any gear to suit the SMT’s supermoto style.

As you’d expect, there’s a variety of riding modes – Rain, Street and Sport, with the option of a ‘Track’ setting that gives more adaptability – and the power is tamed by a cornering traction control system. Another engine-related option is Motor Slip Regulation (MSR) to adjust the level of engine braking on downshifts, as well as an optional quickshifter for the six-speed transmission. Cruise control can also be added at extra cost.

KTM could have slotted in the 119bhp Duke R version but instead opted for the Adventure spec twin with a peak of 103bhp but more torque below 7500rpm. While some owners might prefer the higher performance version, if only to impress their mates down the pub, the more accessible grunt and usable mid-range suits the nature of the SMT.

In fact, the launch venue of Sardinia proved to be the perfect playground for the SMT, with the island's endless twists and turns placing the KTM in its element. Instant, hard-edged drive from 2000rpm shovelled it out of corners and propelled it to the next braking point. Short shifting at 8000rpm using the smooth (though only optional, £361) quickshifter was addictive fun.

The original SMT had wheelie-happy DNA and the new bike is a true chip off the old block. Turn down the traction control to zero in the optional Track mode, or turn it off at a standstill without the mode, and wheelies are inevitable. If you sit back in the seat and crack the throttle, it’s hard to keep the front down in the first few gears.

A key difference between the old and new SMTs, however, is that in town the fuelling is precise and soft, especially in Street and Rain mode, which could never be said of the original and far more aggressive SMT. On the open road, I found the new SMT's optional Track map a little too sharp – it really is for the trackdays, it seems – and preferred to ride in Sport, which blends an urgent throttle response with more everyday usability.

Our test route did include a short stint on the motorway to get a flavour of the touring credentials of the SMT, and 70mph-80mph cruising isn’t a problem for bike or rider. Will 103bhp be enough when the SMT is loaded with luggage and pillion (on the long, passenger friendly seat)? I guess it depends on how much you pack, the size of your pillion and how many miles you want to cover.



2023 KTM 890 SMT Handling & Suspension (inc. Weight & Brakes)

The use of WP suspension comes as no surprise, and the 43mm Apex forks are from the same range used by both the 890 Duke and 890 Adventure. However, they’re not identical. The SMT’s forks and matching WP Apex monoshock provide 180mm of travel at each end. That compares to 200mm for the standard 890 Adventure (the Adventure R has WP Xplore kit with even more travel) and 140mm front/150mm rear travel for the 890 Duke, so once again the SMT falls between the Duke and Adventure. The use of 17-inch wheels front and rear, borrowed from the Duke along with its radial-mount KTM-branded calipers and 320mm discs and clad in Michelin PowerGP rubber, means the steering is sharper than the Adventure. Those brakes have the Bosch cornering ABS that’s featured on many of KTM’s latest bikes, too, plus a supermoto setting to let you lock the rear wheel while keeping the antilock active on the front.

Wet, including a tank of fuel, the 890 SMT clocks in at 206kg, which is some 9 kilos less than the 890 Adventure in the same state.

The test route chosen by KTM in Sardinia, including a closed-road hill climb, not only highlighted the excellent handling of the new SMT but also showed how much confidence KTM have in their new bike.

In standard trim the SMT is forgiving; not soft and squidgy like a pure sport tourer but plush and certainly more suited and set up for touring – brisk touring. You can ride quickly: the SMT is feels light and fluid and far more agile than its 206kg suggest. Its wide bars and a classic up-front supermoto riding stance encourage you to throw the bike around, scruff-of-the-neck style, while the OE Michelin PowerGP rubber warms up quickly before giving great feedback and grip (on our test route's admittedly grippy surface).

Once you start to delve more into the supermoto side of the SMT, you need to tweak the quality WP suspension, fully adjustable on the front, rebound and preload on the rear. The recommend ‘Sporty’ suspension settings are, in true KTM style, under the sat, and it takes less than a minute to dial them in via the damping adjusters on the fork tops and a huge remote spring preload adjuster on the rear, which is easy to access. I added a little compression and rebound damping to the front (3 clicks compared to recommended 5) and a full turn of preload on the rear as recommended.

These easy adjustments tighten the chassis significantly. The rear doesn’t sit down as much between fast and aggressive direction changes, while the steering is a little faster and the front forks' stroke is more controlled. Depending on your weight or if you were to fit stickier rubber for the track, you can dial in the suspension further, but for the road the recommend sporty suspension settings feel spot on.

With the suspension set, you can have some real fun, carving up mountain passes or taking on a track day with confidence.  Ground clearance is plentiful, meaning you can carry oodles of corner speed without worry.

The transformation from comfy and capable adventure bike cum sports tourer to hectic, slightly large semi-supermoto is both slightly disconcerting – you have to re-arrange your brain a bit – and also a stroke of brilliance.  Once set your next decision is how to attack the road ahead: should you ride foot-out Supermoto style or poke a knee out trackday style or just stay seated in that most comfortable seat?

The front brakes pair twin 320mm discs with KTM-branded radial mounted calipers, which are up for the job but lack a little bit of bite on the limit (as well as the Brembo bling the market has come to expect and which is installed on Ducati's similarly priced Hypermotard). Cornering ABS comes as standard as does Supermoto mode, which allows you to remove the ABS from the rear, enabling you to attempt some backing in on the way into corners... on closed roads and track days, of course.


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2023 KTM 890 SMT Comfort & Economy

One of the big draws of adventure bikes, even for riders who never go off-road, is their roomy riding position and tall vantage point. The SMT offers both, and while it falls between the out-and-out street bike that is the 890 Duke and the adventurous ability of the 890 Adventure, which means it can avoid some of the compromises made for those bike’s more single-minded purposes.

At 860mm, the seat is definitely on the tall side – it’s the same as the 890 Adventure in its ‘high’ setting – but still 10mm lower than the Ducati Hypermotard 950’s. It’s allied to low-mounted pegs, the same as those on the Adventure, and bars that can be adjusted to six positions across a 30mm range.

A low, smoked screen provides some wind protection, and while the tail bodywork and headlight are shared with the Adventure, the rest of the panels are new, including a unique fuel tank that, like so much of the SMT, sits between the Duke and Adventure models in its size and design. With a capacity of 15.8 litres it’s shy of the Adventure’s 20-litre tank but beats the Duke’s 14-litre design. However, by using the Adventure’s idea of splitting into two sections, straddling the engine, it manages to remain narrow and allows the rider to sit well forward.

With a claimed fuel economy of 61.4mpg, the tank capacity makes for a range of 213 miles between fill-ups.

On the road the seat is on the tall side but even for short riders like me (I'm 5ft 7in) it’s not really an issue because the bike is relatively light and the seat is soft, meaning I can just about get two big toes on the ground at the same time. If you do add some preload to the rear for sporty riding – and we recommend that you do – there’s less sag in the suspension, so reaching the ground might require the optional lower seat.

The riding position and ergonomics are roomy and comfortable. The seat might not look distance friendly, but it is. The fuel tank capacity is 15.8 litres, smaller than the Adventure's 20 litres, which should be good enough for 200 miles plus. On this test, which was a particularly pacy and included a timed hill climb, I averaged 5.8 litres per 100km or 40.35mpg, which wasn’t bad considering. I’d estimate normal riding will give an average of between 50mpg and 60mpg. The small screen, meanwhile, is more of a token gesture than a serious wind deflector, and owners wanting to cover some serious miles at serious speeds might need to search out an aftermarket alternative.

Sharing a similar rear end to the Adventure enables the SMT to accommodate almost the same choice of hard luggage. This means both a rear top box and hard-side panniers are available in variable sizes. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can easily transform the SMT into a focused mile muncher or, alternatively, get it track-ready with crash protection and a brake lever guard.



2023 KTM 890 SMT Equipment

As well as the engine modes, cornering traction control and cornering ABS, the 890 SMT gets a 5-inch TFT dash and full LED lighting.

There’s phone connectivity, of course, including navigation, and via the KTMconnect app you can access owner’s manuals, roadside assistance and digital versions of the bike’s service record.

Options include an up/down quickshifter, ‘Track’ and ‘Tech’ upgrade packs and cruise control.

As mentioned, the SMT comes with the optional Tech pack, which features the Moto Slip Regulator (MSR), cruise control, up-and-down quickshifter, and Track pack. After 1500km owners decide if they want all the gadgets; if so, that will be another £859.84. Alternatively, once you’ve tried the extra rider aids you can opt not to upgrade. I’d definitely budget for the quickshifter at £361.

The familiar 5-inch dash is relatively uncluttered and easy to read. However, I’m no fan of quadrant switchgear, which does the job and is reasonably easy to navigate and use, but I much prefer the switchgear on the more premium KTM 1290 range.



2023 KTM 890 SMT Rivals

While the idea of supermotos is far from new, there are relatively few machines that directly compare to the 890 SMT in terms of stance, performance and style. Instead, customers are usually going to have to opt either for a road-oriented adventure bike or a lower-slung roadster or sports-tourer. Only Ducati’s Hypermotard ploughs the same twin-cylinder, supermoto-inspired furrow, and with a price tag within a fiver of the KTM’s it’s likely to be the machine most customers consider alongside the Austrian machine.

Its other close rivals come from within its own family, as both the 890 Duke and 890 Adventure must also be potential purchases for any 890 SMT customer.


Ducati Hypermotard 950 | Price: £12,495

Power/Torque: 114bhp/71 lb-ft | Weight: 178kg (dry)


KTM 890 Duke | Price: £10,049

Power/Torque: 114bhp/67.9 lb-ft | Weight: 188kg (wet)


KTM 890 Adventure | Price: £11,999

Power/Torque: 103bhp/73.8lb-ft | Weight: 215kg (wet)


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2023 KTM 890 SMT Verdict

I had high expectations for KTM’s new SMT as, like many, I have fond memories of the old bike. Thankfully, KTM has stayed faithful to the original bike's DNA and produced precisely what it says on the side of the bike, a SMT – SuperMotoTourer.

On one hand, you have a comfortable, adventure-oriented tourer that's easy to live with, is comfortable and roomy, and has a plush all-day ride quality that's slightly soft side but able to cut it should you want to have fun. Backed up by a torquey parallel twin that packs a punch just where you need it and excellent rider aids, a wiggly trip to the Alps beckons.

On the other hand, tweak the adjustable WP suspension, which is easy to do, reduce the rider aids' intervention levels, and the SMT becomes a cornering animal – is so much fun it allows you do things you know you shouldn’t. It will even cut it on track.

Its looks won't be for everyone – should that front mudguard be high or low  – and you wonder why the full suite of rider aids can't be included in the initial price. I also think for some it might fall between two stools, be too much of a compromise between the 890 Adventure and 890 Duke.

That said, expect SMT fans to soon be stampeding to KTM showrooms when the 2023 model arrives. If you want something fun with some practicality, then the SMT is your machine. Its blend of raw excitement, supermoto handling and touring ability are not only unique but also quite special. Just because you sometimes wear a cardigan doesn't mean you don't know how to party.


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2023 KTM 890 SMT Technical Specification

New price

From £12,499



Bore x Stroke

90.7mm x 68.8mm

Engine layout

Parallel twin

Engine details

8-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled


103bhp (77kW) @ 10,000rpm


73.8lb-ft (100Nm) @ 6,500rpm


6 speed, chain final drive, optional quickshifter

Average fuel consumption

61.4mpg claimed

Tank size

15.8 litres

Max range to empty

213 miles

Rider aids

Cornering traction control, cornering ABS, three riding modes


Chrome-molybdenum steel tube frame, engine as stressed element

Front suspension

WP Apex 43mm USD forks

Front suspension adjustment

Compression and rebound

Rear suspension

WP Apex monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment

Rebound and preload

Front brake

320mm discs, four-piston radial caliper

Rear brake

260mm disc, two-piston caliper

Front wheel / tyre

120/70-17 Michelin PowerGP

Rear wheel / tyre

180/55-17 Michelin PowerGP

Dimensions (LxWxH)

2165mm x 893mm x 1271mm



Seat height



206kg (kerb)


2 years

MCIA Secured Rating

Not yet rated




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What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars (three stars for bikes of 125cc or less), based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.