2015 KTM 1050 Adventure Review

The KTM 1050 Adventure is the fourth bike in KTM’s travel range. It joins the top of the line 1290 Super Adventure, the 1190 Adventure and the dirt focused 1190 Adventure R. The 1050 Adventure enters the lineup at the bottom of the ladder, being the cheapest and least powerful of  the bikes on sale. So is it at worthy addition to KTM’s already impressive lineup or do their other bikes offer enough as it is?

It’s obvious that KTM sees huge potential in adventure bikes – both soft and dirt focused. That they now have four motorcycles over 1,000 cc in capacity is testament to that and makes offerings from other manufacturers look lacking by comparison. The 1050 Adventure was released at the same time as the 1290 Super Adventure, bookending the two 1190 Adventure models nicely.

Being the cheapest of KTM’s four adventure bikes, it’s also the least powerful as one would expect. Output is 95 hp which while not earth shattering is still plenty for the real world. The bike pulls brilliantly from low in the rev range until the music abruptly stops at around 6,500 rpm where power peaks. It’s an odd sensation to feel from a 1,050 cc twin where you’d normally expect the power to actually start climbing at such revs. The reasoning has to do with KTM shoehorning the bike’s output to meet European A2 licensing rules.

In Europe, bikes can be sold to learner riders (A2 licenses) if they produce no more than 47hp. Bikes that produce more than that can also be sold if their output is restricted – provided that their original output is no more than halved. What’s half of 95 hp? It’s 47.5hp – near enough for a rounding error to make the cut.

Looking at a dyno chart of the KTM, you can see how neutered it is. Power builds nicely all the way up to 6,500rpm and then flatlines. I don’t profess to know better then the market researches at KTM, but it seems unlikely to me that many new riders would be forking out £10,999 for their first bike. Having said all that however, I strangely enjoyed the artificial limit on the bikes power. Generally with literbikes you stick it in third gear and forget about it but with the 1050 Adventure you’re constantly changing gears. It creates an involving ride and given how good the gearbox is, makes sense to make full use of it.

Like the rest of KTM’s travel range, the 1050 Adventure employs a ride by wire system and it’s one of the best we’ve experienced. Throttle response is just about perfect – and coupled with KTM’s various ride modes makes controlling the bike’s output precise. Options of street, sport or rain are selectable. The latter came in handy on our test ride but when things dried out we found sport the pick of the rest – the fueling is so spot on that there’s no need for the slightly milder street setting.

Being the youngest in KTM’s adventure fleet has obvious advantages as the 1050 adventure has received a lot of hand-me-downs from higher in the range. The brakes in particular are a highlight. Up front are Brembo four piston, radially bolted calipers grabbing onto dual 320mm diameter dics. These are the exact same brakes as used on the top of the range 1290 Super Adventure but because the 1050 weighs nearly 20kg less than its big brother, stopping ability is even better. The feedback from the brakes is excellent with a progressive lever action. It’s connected to ABS which has an off-road mode (allows more slippage on the front wheel and the brake pressure regulation on the rear brake is turned off) or it can be switched off completely.


Other nice additions to the bike are a slipper clutch which not only assists on downshifts, but also assists on upshifts – it reduces the lever force required for changing gear, allowing the clutch to be controlled with the little finger – saving you energy when riding. There’s also traction control which comprises five modes (including off) and an adjustable windshield. The dash is also carried across from the rest of the KTM travel range and that’s also a good thing. The dual LCD display provides just about all the information you need and it’s pretty easy to work your way through the settings without having to look up the manual.

The quality of components carry onto the suspension as well. Up front the upside-down WP forks provide 185 mm of travel but don’t offer any adjustability. At the rear, travel is 190mm and both rebound and preload can be tuned. I found the suspension to be excellent which is sometimes a difficult thing for a bike such as this that is trying to have broad appeal. There is a perfect compromise between comfort and handling and never once did I feel like I wasn’t aware of what the bike was doing underneath me. In fact, despite the physical size of this motorcycle, it really begs to be thrown into corners hard so while the ergonomics aren’t sportsbike like, its character definitely is.

And that no doubt isn’t by chance as I’m sure KTM is targeting this bike at the very occasional offroad rider rather than someone who wants to regularly get off the path less traveled. Despite having a 19 inch front wheel, it uses cast alloys instead of spoked wheels. While KTM has an image to maintain with its offroad aspirations, throwing a 17 inch wheel on the front might have been a better option, making this a true soft roader with sportsbike like DNA. The other issue is that there’s just a piece of plastic molded onto the bottom of the engine which really isn’t going to do much to protect the bike should you encounter a log or rock – you’ll instead have to pay extra for a proper aftermarket bash plate.

The KTM 1050 Adventure is a great bike – fantastic even. Everything about it screams quality and fun. There’s just one problem I have with it. The price. Because its engine output has been limited, the 1050 Adventure isn’t just competing with other 1,000cc plus machines, it also has to be compared against smaller capacity bikes which come in a lot cheaper.


For example, Triumph’s excellent Tiger 800 range starts at £8,499 and for that you get a bike with the same power as the KTM and virtually all of the same bells and whistles – plus it weighs less too. Similarly, the BMW F 800 GS also gets a similar amount of kit and retails for £9,650. At £10,999, the KTM 1050 Adventure just doesn’t represent good value.

Which is a huge shame because otherwise it’s a fantastic bike. It’s agile, it’s quick and most importantly it’s great fun to ride. It most definitely is a worth addition to KTM’s travel lineup – it just needs to bean counters to sharpen the price.

2015 KTM 1050 Adventure Specifications

Engine2-cylinder, 4-stroke, V 75°
Capacity1,050 cc
Power70 kW (95 hp) @ 6,200 rpm
Torque107 Nm @ 5,750 rpm
Gear Box6 gears
Front Brakes2 x Brembo four piston, radially bolted caliper, brake disc Ø 320 mm
Rear BrakesBrembo two piston, fixed caliper, brake disc Ø 267 mm
Front SuspensionWP-USD Ø 43 mm, 185mm travel
Rear SuspensionWP-Monoshock, 190mm travel
Front Tire110/80 R 19
Rear Tire150/70 R 17
Dry Weight212 kg
Tank Capacity23 liters/3.5 liters reserve
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