What does your typical ride look like? A dull daily commute? A sedate highway cruise? A twisty tarmac road blast? An epic adventure through highways, back roads and rough rural tracks to an interesting destination? A pure off-road attack against a backdrop of wildlife and landscapes?
I like to go to interesting places. Some are far away and reached via difficult roads. Dilemma: you do 200+kms on great tarmac roads and then have to deal with 10, 20 or even 50 km of bumpy, dusty tracks to reach that awesome destination. On a street bike you'll hate that last bit. On an off-road bike you'll not enjoy the first bit.
Somewhere in suburbia, a black cotton soil field that has tracks, ruts, rocks and humps was waiting.
In the metal, the orange and black bike has presence. Its aggressively styled front end divides opinion. It has a predatory look, like it feeds on hapless nduthis when you're not looking. It would make a convincing villain in a movie.
he engine bash plate, wraparound crash guards and mildy dual sport tyres suggest some level of rough road ability. The bright LED lights, TFT digital instrument screen, USD front forks, 12V power outlet and handguards confirm that this is a polished product. At 786k, retail, it is swimming in the deep end.
I hoist a leg over and sit on the bike. Narrowish seat, wide bars. Good riding posture. Being on the shorter end of the spectrum, i'm on tiptoe. But the bike is light and never feels intimidating.
The engine is quite muted. A modest thumper soundtrack. It brings to mind the sound of a tuk tuk. It won't annoy the neighbours, but won't impress them either.
As familiarity increases I gain the confidence to push harder and faster. I seek out increasingly more technical sections and the bike handles them comfortably. Its light weight is a big asset, you always feel in control even on uneven terrain. The throttle is responsive and easy to modulate. Clutch action is light, as is the gearshift. But finding neutral was occasionally troublesome.
The footpegs-to-handlebars position mean you are leaning forward rather than fully upright, but I didn't have any problems.
Before long i'm zooming along the various tracks, getting up to third gear, flicking it this way and that. The bike is agile, turning easily. Its low speed handling is way better than my Dominar street bike! It soaks up the bumps from the uneven tracks quite well, within reasonable limits. It brakes well too, and the rear brake has actual bite (Dominar riders will know what I mean...).
In the interests of completeness I needed to know what the pillion seat experience was like. Biju, the KTM Kenya manager, is a seasoned off-roader and offered to ride. The ride was comfortable, and didn't have that awkward sportsbike pillion feel. The footpegs-to-seat-to-rear grab-rails relationship was fine - no complaints there. This bodes well for long trips with the missus.
Some bikes you ride, give back and don't look back. Not this one. I wanted to keep going. To try new things. Travel further. I REALLY liked this bike.
Part Two will be a test ride on good roads and in traffic to try out the commuter and motorway touring facets of the bike's repertoire...