Author: Roland Brown Posted: 06 Feb 2015
It says a lot for KTM’s confidence in the 1050 Adventure that the Austrian firm launched its new entry-level V-twin in Gran Canaria just a day after unleashing the top-of-the-range 1290 Super Adventure on the same sunny Spanish island.
There must have been a risk that the smaller, less powerful and glamorous Adventure would be overshadowed. After all, not many bikes could follow a 160bhp, feature-packed flagship like the 1290 without seeming severely outgunned.
But after a morning spent rumbling round Gran Canaria aboard the 1050 Adventure, KTM’s confidence is easy to understand. The 1050 might be the smallest, least powerful and high-tech of their range of V-twins, but by most standards it’s tall, torquey and sophisticated.
In some ways we’ve got EU politicians to thank for the 1050, or at least for its precise specification. KTM wanted to create a cheaper Adventure model that could be ridden in restricted form by A2 licence holders.This meant not only offering a restricted, 35kW version (which equates to 47bhp), but that the full-power bike could make a maximum of 70kW, or 95bhp.
So that’s exactly what the 1050 does. KTM’s engineers reduced the 1190 Adventure engine’s bore and stroke to give capacity of 1050cc, and also tweaked the dohc, 75-degree unit’s valve timing and lengthened its inlet trumpets to improve low-rev performance. The result is a flat torque curve, an impressive peak of 79ft.lbs, and a maximum power output of 95bhp at 6200rpm.
The 1190’s tubular steel frame and aluminium swing-arm are retained, but the WP forks are narrower, non-adjustable 43mm units with slightly reduced 185mm travel, and the shock has only preload and rebound damping adjustment to control the unchanged 190mm of wheel travel. Wheels are slimmer, and cast rather than wire-spoked like the other Adventures’.
Rider’s view is similar to the 1190’s, as the one-piece handlebar is slightly wider but clocks and switchgear are shared. There’s a bit less choice in standard form because the 1050 gives three instead of four riding modes – Sport, Street and Rain – with an Off-road mode available as an optional extra.
Fuelling was very smooth and refined in Street mode, and notably sharper but not remotely snatchy in Sport. In either mode the 1050 pulled with a lovely, long-legged feel and very responsive, flexible delivery that made it not just quick but also very easy to ride.
As the revs increased it gradually picked up the pace, feeling utterly unstressed. But the power curve goes very flat at 6000rpm, so there was not much point in revving the Adventure to its 8500rpm limit through the six-speed box. I was generally better off changing up early, and using the midrange grunt that gave just as much performance with less effort.
On the open road the 1050 cruised effortlessly at around 90mph, well short of a top speed of about 130mph, while I sat feeling fairly well protected by the screen, which like the 1190’s is adjustable by hand, though not on the move. In its highest position this did a good job of diverting the breeze, although I’m tall. Shorter riders will fare even better and will also benefit from the 1050’s seat, which at 850mm is 10mm lower than the 1190’s, though still on the high side for some.
Cornering was also outstandingly easy, even on a twisty mountain road like the ones in Gran Canaria. The 1050 steered superbly, feeling a bit like a slightly lighter, more agile version of the 1190, thanks to its narrower wheels and tyres and slightly wider one-piece handlebar. At 212kg without fuel, it also has a 5kg weight advantage.
Suspension was very well controlled, especially given its generous amount of travel.
Despite being quite narrow the Metzeler Tourance tyres gave plenty of grip, even on
damp or slightly gravelly surfaces at various points during the ride. There was plenty
of braking power too. The Brembo blend of 320mm front discs and four-piston radial
calipers is identical to the 1190’s although this bike has no lean-angle sensor, so its
ABS system is a conventional Bosch set-up rather than the 1090’s cornering ABS.
The traction control system is more basic, too, though still worth having.
Sadly there was no opportunity to ride off-road on the launch, but when fitted with the
optional Off-road function (which costs £197 and can be retro-fitted) the 1050 should
be pretty handy despite its cast wheels and lack of bash-plate. The route was too short
to give much indication of comfort but the seat seemed fine despite being thinner than
the 1190’s, and can be replaced by that bike’s adjustable seat as an accessory. Bars
and footrests have some adjustability, as with the 1190.
The tank’s unchanged 23-litre capacity should give a range of about 200 miles under
normal riding, although the hectic launch pace brought consumption below 40mpg
and range to around 170 miles. The 1050 is respectably practical, and comes with
built-in luggage rack plus fittings for panniers from KTM’s Power Parts catalogue.
This Adventure is a fine all-rounder that goes a fair way to offering the performance
and versatility of the mighty 1190, in a more accessible and potentially A2-legal form.
Perhaps its only real drawback, unless you’ve got short legs, is a price of £10,999 that
looks a bit steep (especially compared to Triumph’s £1500 cheaper Tiger 800XRx).
But if ever there’s a novice-friendly bike that can hold its own with more glamorous
machines – from its own and rival firms – it’s KTM’s entry-level V-twin.
212kg (without fuel)