2014 KTM 990 SM-T | Doin’ Time

New ContiTrailAttack 2 tires and EBC brake pads

WRIST: Marc Cook

MSRP (2013): $13,999
Miles: 7,759
MPG: 38
Mods: Continental tires, EBC brake pads

Some motorcycles I've owned lent themselves to extensive modifications and came out the better for them. My first-generation Yamaha FZ1 has perhaps the fewest—mostly suspension, carburetion, and convenience items—while my now-departed Suzuki DR650 got the full measure of the ProCycle catalog thrown at it.

This KTM is turning out to be an interesting antidote, a mobile rehab platform for the incorrigible tinkerer. What few mods I've made reflect a desire to improve the bike's throttle response, add some utility, and test new rubber. On that front, the Bridgestone T30 sport-touring tires are still going strong. I measured tread depth down the center of the rear tire just above the TWI (Tread Wear Indicator) bars. The depth ranged from 3.0 to 3.2mm. Considering the tread is approximately 5.9mm deep at the TWI when new, I'd expect the rear T30, which has 4,427 miles on it now, to last 8–9,000 miles easily. The front looks almost new.

Next on the agenda are Continental's ContiTrailAttack 2 tires (conti-online.com; $175 front, $250 rear), the same skins fitted at the factory to the KTM 1190 Adventure. I was blown away by these tires at the press launch of the bike, and the early indications are that the 990 SM-T is just as happy on them. Grip is excellent and the Katoom's steering is lighter and a bit more neutral than on the worn Bridgestones. We're entering the season when a few roads I frequent turn dirty from runoff, so the more open tread pattern of the Contis should be a benefit. Only one way to find out.

One recent annoyance was quickly remedied. I watch the KTM 990 SM-T forum (ktmsmt.com) and noted that many owners complained of a squeaky rear brake. My SM-T began exhibiting the same behavior fairly early in the test but I've been living with it. Until now. A set of EBC FA181X organic brake pads (ebcbrakes.com; $32) have, so far, completely cured the problem without affecting pedal feel or ABS effectiveness. Fist pump.

While I was changing tires, I gave the front rotors a good de-glazing with Scotch-Brite pads. Under very light braking I could feel a pulse from the front; the de-glaze job did the deed. It occurs to me that this is the price you pay for top-line braking capability. Beyond that, the KTM just keeps ticking along, and I resolve to work on my recovery from modification addiction. One boot in front of the other.

Doin Time
Doin Time
Those red backing plates indicate EBC’s organic brake pads, which comprehensively cured the Brembo’s high-pitched squealing. Fortunately, there was no appreciable loss in power or feedback.