KTM 990 SM-T | DOIN’ TIME

13K report with a new seat, LED lighting and tires.

WRIST: Marc Cook
MSRP (2013): $13,999
MILES: 13,889
MPG: 37
MODS: KTM seat, LED taillight, and another set of tires!

With all the time this month on the street-biased adventurer-tourer comparison and helping out with the budget-blaster mashup, my poor KTM has been relegated to occasional ride instead of being my main, I-405-strafing squeeze. Even so, I did cross the threshold for the next service (at 13,800 miles), which is essentially just a good inspection plus an oil-and-filter change. I have this task well under two hours start to finish. Next stop: 18,400 miles.

I have spent enough time on the KTM accessory “Ergo Comfort” seat (from KTM dealers; $190) to offer an opinion. Bottom line: It’s an improvement over the stock saddle for longer rides, thanks to it having more surface area under the rider and nicely firm gel support. That altered shape feels odd at first, but it at least gives you a slightly larger platform without adding any apparent seat height. Where the stocker can feel a bit thin after a long, long day, the Ergo saddle has you ready for more. And while the accessory seat is not as slim or as easy to move around on as the stocker, I’d still be inclined to have one and save it for longer trips so I could leave the original item on for commuting and weekend rides. At less than $200, at least this accessory seat is affordable. And it fits the bike beautifully.

While the SM-T’s stock saddle is quite good, the KTM-built Ergo option is even better for long-distance travel. A gel insert gives it firmness, though it also holds heat like some kind of Austrian kiln. Fit is perfect.

I’ve had enough close calls in traffic—though none of the Ari-getting-rear-ended type—that I decided to add some visibility to the rear of the bike. I ordered an accent light module (superbrightleds.com; $7 for the ALM-B-6 Red). It’s 1.8 inches wide by 0.9 inch tall with six amazingly bright LEDs. Wired into the KTM’s brake light and affixed to the fender, the module gives me a little more hope that I won’t become a Prius hood ornament. I love $7 “fixes.”

Not a week after installing a set of Continental RoadAttack 2s I had in the shop, a set of the new EVO version showed up at the office. According to Conti, the EVO has better wet grip than the previous RoadAttack 2, thanks to a tweaked tread design and a higher percentage of silica in the compound. As far as the KTM is concerned, they feel just like the basic RA2s: quick steering, sticky, predictable. Maybe one day it’ll rain again in California…

Finally, I have trimmed another inch off the Givi D750S touring windscreen, bringing its total height to 16.8 inches. (Stock is 13 inches; the Givi started at 18.9 inches tall.) Perfection. At least for me. Now the airflow breaks in a way that minimizes turbulence while maintaining better-than-stock coverage. Sometimes experimentation (and a bandsaw) pays off.

While the SM-T’s stock saddle is quite good, the KTM-built Ergo option is even better for long-distance travel. A gel insert gives it firmness, though it also holds heat like some kind of Austrian kiln. Fit is perfect.