Posted: 27 Oct 2011
KTM’s 990 SM T is one of those bikes that slips under most people’s radars. The Austrian manufacturer is more commonly associated with off-road machinery and as such isn’t the first stop for anyone looking for a new road bike, which is a shame because while Ducati’s Multistrada steals the headlines, the SM T is a chunk cheaper and a superb alternative.
With KTM’s you get the feeling that they are bikes built by people who ride themselves, not faceless computers, and as such every orange bike comes with a huge amount of inbuilt ‘fun factor’ as well as practicality. The SM T is no exception.
While the 999cc V-twin engine isn’t the most powerful around, it delivers its performance in a smooth and reassured fashion with a feeling of control about it. It’s more than happy to play the fool (it wouldn’t be a KTM if it wasn’t capable of a decent wheelie) but it’s also a friendly engine and not one that is likely to scare you senseless. And the handling is the same.
The SM part of the name stands for Supermoto, something that KTM are also renowned for producing, and while the 990 take its styling cues from this type of machine the ride is less extreme. With a large padded seat, inbuilt pannier mounts and front fairing the SM T can easily soak up the motorway miles on a touring holiday, however show it some bends and the 17-inch wheels and decent chassis allow it to hustle through with a surprising amount of agility while the ABS provides a welcome safety net should it be required.
Ducati’s Multistrada is certainly the more advanced machine, but don’t write off the SM T, it’s a charming bike to ride and packed full of soul. It also has a wicked side just waiting to be released…
+ points – Fun to ride, comfort
- points – Slightly down on power
Power: 114bhp, 71ft.lbs
Seat height: 855mm
Colours: Orange, black, white
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