The 2011 KTM 990 Adventure is a high-performance motorcycle that performs well on the pavement and extremely well in the dirt. It is equipped and set up to be much more capable and reassuring when offroad than most of the big, adventure-touring bikes from other manufacturers. It is one of the few large, adventure bikes that really emphasizes offroad riding and can legitimately be called a dual-sport motorcycle. This is readily apparent in the dirt-bike-style wheels. The 990 Adventure comes equipped with spoked wheels, a 21-inch front wheel and an 18-inch wheel at the rear. Many of the other big adventure bikes use a 19-inch wheel in front and a 17-inch rear. Several choose alloy wheels over the more forgiving and repairable wire spokes. The 2011 KTM 990 Adventure began life as a prototype designed to be KTM's open-class Dakar racer. It won the Paris-Dakar rally in 2002. The consumer version of the 990 Adventure was unveiled in 2003 and went into production in 2006. It superseded the 950 Adventure which was produced from 2003 through 2005. Both bikes use the KTM LC8 engine, a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 75-degree, V-twin. In the 2011 KTM 990 Adventure this motor displaces 999 cubic centimeters and is equipped with electronic fuel injection. The 950 is carbureted. The base model of the 2011 KTM 990 Adventure is referred to by some sources as the KTM 990 Adventure LC8. The bike is also available in two other versions: the 990 Adventure R, and the 990 Adventure Dakar.
The 2011 KTM 990 Adventure R is even more offroad oriented than the standard 990. It offers nearly an inch and a half more suspension travel both front and rear. This raises an already-tall seat by about an inch. The 990 Adventure R is more powerful, with 113 horsepower compared to the 105 horsepower of the standard 990 Adventure. And it comes with more aggressive knobby tires for better traction on loose surfaces at the cost of reduced performance and quicker wear on the street.
New this year is the 2011 KTM 990 Adventure Dakar. A tribute to the company's rally racing success, this bike is bolder and a bit more aggressive looking than the standard 990 Adventure. It combines the 500-rpm higher rev limit and increased horsepower of the 990 Adventure R with the shorter suspension and lower seat height of the standard 990 Adventure. This version also includes engine crash guards painted in KTM orange to stand out against the blue bodywork and bold KTM graphics. The seat is upholstered with a more grippy material. The standard 990 Adventure comes in black, white, or orange. All three versions share a unique fuel tank arrangement. In an effort to keep the bike slim and weight down low, fuel is carried alongside the upper frame member instead of above and around it. This means two separate tanks with two separate fuel fillers. A small, lockable storage compartment sits between the tanks.