Spied! KTM 790 Adventure

New KTM parallel twin ADV caught testing in Europe.

Prototype KTM 790 ADV spy shots
Maybe it’s just one large Austrian test rider aboard this KTM 790 Adventure prototype, but the bike looks small and approachable, which is good news for anyone wishing for a mid-size ADV from KTM.Photo: BMH Images

When some firms bandy about terms like 'adventure bike' they're really talking about road-going tourers. Not KTM, though. The Austrian company takes its off-roading seriously and won't put label a bike Adventure unless it's got the talent to back it up. With the new 790 Adventure, seen in these shots, it looks like KTM is sticking to that ethos. Powered by the new parallel twin engine that made its official debut in November's 790 Duke Prototype, the 790 Adventure is KTM's forthcoming attack on the middleweight adventure market. Rivals like BMW's F800GS and Triumph's Tiger 800 will have to look out.

Details of the new engine are still scant. While we know it's around 800cc, and it's promised to have some innovative thinking in its design, the exact capacity and power output are shrouded in mystery. Something in the region of 90hp sounds about right, and will put the bike's performance on a par with the current king of the crop when it comes to more serious off-road adventure bikes, Honda's Africa Twin.

The firm’s first parallel twin engine means that the bike can be more compact than KTM’s current V-twin-powered Adventure models, and coupled with the firm’s uncanny ability to build their bikes considerably lighter than the competition the end result promises to be spectacular. New spy shots show that KTM is working on several versions of the new bike. Some—like the one seen here—are very off-road biased. Knobby rubber on 21-inch front, 18-inch rear rims is coupled with suspension from KTM subsidiary WP. The frame is a typical KTM steel trellis design, with the usual cast aluminum swingarm that sports its cross-bracing on the outside instead of hiding it within.

Spy shot of prototype KTM 790 Adventure
The KTM 790 Adventure prototype looks as though it has auxiliary fuel tanks built in, to match the ADV looks and 18/21 rim sizes. Overall the bike looks rugged, but also low and easy to manage, as well as ready to accept factory luggage options.Photo: BMH Images

Not everything is conventional, though. Check out that long tubular fuel filler neck. There’s one on each side and they appear to lead down into twin tanks mounted low down on either side of the engine. There are certainly suspicious bulges down there, in front of the rider’s shins, and KTM has gone to great lengths to hide their design with plastic sheeting and tape. Shifting the tanks down there would free up the normal ‘tank’ area for the airbox while keeping the bike slim. Honda’s Africa Twin uses a similarly innovative layout, although Honda opted to reposition the airbox – splitting it into two parts and moving them either side of the steering head to free up fuel tank space while ensuring a slim-feeling bike. Low tanks on the KTM would also help shift the center of gravity down, making it feel even lighter than it really is and meaning that full or empty tanks won’t alter the weight distribution as much as on a normal bike.

Of course, side-mounted tanks lead to vulnerability concerns, but no doubt protection will be incorporated and modern, thermoplastic fuel cells—as used on many production cars these days—are incredibly resistant to punctures even when crushed in accidents. Versions of the bike that have also been spotted with more road-oriented tires, while others have been seen without the tall screen—giving a lighter, enduro-style appearance.

Although light weight will clearly be important, KTM hasn't sacrificed practicality. The large pillion rails and rear luggage rack suggest that the usual adventure-style side and top cases will be available as options. Every prototype spotted so far has also had a center stand, too. In terms of tech, KTM takes electronics seriously and is usually at the forefront with the latest Bosch kit. Cornering ABS and traction control are likely, and suspension subsidiary WP already has a range of electronically-adjustable, semi-active kit in its arsenal. From the look of the prototype, the project is well advanced so it will be no surprise if the KTM 790 Adventure makes its debut in late 2017, alongside a similarly-powered 790 Duke looking much like the prototype version shown last month.