KTM 890 Adventure R Rally Review

Welcome to the Adventure Motorcycle Traveller Reviews. Here’s a 7,5000-mile review of the KTM 890 Adventure R Rally by off-roader Canzius Pretorius.

KTM 890 Adventure Review


Picture of By Canzius Pretorius

By Canzius Pretorius

Off-road rider from South Africa

Quick info

  • Bike: 2021 KTM 890 Adventure R Rally (limited to 700 units worldwide)
  • Purchased for: : £15,981 (R319,000 South African Rand)
  • Miles covered: 7,500 miles (mostly off-road)
  • Years owned: Bought new in Feb 2021

KTM 890 Adventure R Rally Specs

  • Engine: Parallel-twin, liquid-cooled, 889cc, FI
  • Power: 105 bhp
  • Torque: 73.7 ft-lbs
  • Wet weight: 210kg
  • Seat height: 850mm
  • Tank capacity: 20 litres
  • Tyres: 21 and 18
  • Front suspension: WP Apex forks 
  • Rear suspension: WP Apex Monoshock 


Why this bike?

It was a bit of an impulse buy to be honest. I was riding a 2019 KTM 790 Adventure R at the time and absolutely loved the bike. Most 890 Rallys in South Africa were pre-ordered and deposits paid well in advance. When this one became available because someone couldn’t honour their order, I had very little time to make up my mind. In the end, it was the WP Pro suspension which was the deciding factor.

The WP Pro suspension on the 890 Rally is on par with the suspensions found on the KTM factory rally bikes. The other extras included in the package were Rally foot pegs, Akrapovic silencer, rally seat and DID DirtStar tubed wheelset.

KTM 890 Adventure Review


The KTM 890 is mostly used for riding challenging technical terrain. With this in mind, the modifications only add protection or improve handling in these tough conditions. Everything is functional and no unnecessary bling was added. Here’s the list:

  • KTM Powerparts heavy duty wheelset 1,85” from and 2,5” rear
  • Hand guards
  • AXP bashplate
  • Luggage plate
  • Pre-filter
  • Steering damper and mount
  • Camel Adv 1-finger clutch conversion.
  • Protective sticker kit
  • Pannier frames to act as crash protection
  • DoubleTake foldable mirrors
KTM 890 Adventure Review


For day trips I use Nomad Bags tail bag on the luggage plate. It holds all the tools I may need for minor repairs and punctures. For longer trips I add a 25l Enduristan roll bag on the back. I also have Enduristan Monsoon soft panniers if the trip requires more luggage, but these tend to get in the way on a very technical ride.



The 790/890 platform has been plagued by reliability issues which has been well documented on the internet. The only issue I’ve had on this specific bike was a failure on one of the front brake lines due to metal fatigue.

KTM assessed the failure and concluded that the brake line was too short. This caused tension on the brake line every time the forks extended and eventually failure due to metal fatigue. Repaired under warranty without any issues.

KTM 890 Adventure Review


Service intervals are every 15,000km. I do a fluid and filter service every 5,000km due to the harsh riding conditions in South Africa Where temperatures can easily go as high as 40 degrees Celsius and most rides will be fairly dusty.

KTM 890 Adventure Review

Maintenance and parts

Basic maintenance is very easy to do in my garage. Oil and filter changes take less than 30 minutes. The air filter is very easy to access compared to other big KTMs.

Basic service parts have been very easy to source, but plastics and other parts have been a bit of a pain because of supply chain issues during the pandemic. Resetting service warnings is something I’m not able to do.

Long distance comfort

It is not the most comfortable bike over long distances. The screen is small as you would expect from a dirt orientated bike. The rally seat is hard and narrow, again for optimal off-road performance. But I’ll happily sacrifice comfort for off-road ability though.

Having said that, I’ve done a 2,500km trip on the bike in 7 days and can’t recall ever being uncomfortable.

KTM 890 Adventure Review

Good and Bad

What's good?

The KTM 890 Rally is a beast. The combination of engine and chassis is best in class and makes this an unbelievable bike to ride. The WP Pro suspension allows me to do things I never thought possible on a bike this size. It just soaks up everything, no matter the speed carried into or over obstacles.

The electronics package gets the best out of the amazing engine and although it takes a bit of getting used to, I couldn’t do without now that I’ve got the hang of it.

It also has amazing fuel consumption of up to 21km/l and the 890 has oodles of lowdown torque and enough top end to keep you on your toes!

What's not?

  • It’s a very expensive bike. 
  • Reliability is always in the back of my mind.
  • The 890 isn’t the best looking bike, but it’s constantly growing on me…
  • The air box is an issue. KTM seem to struggle with air box design and this is not their first adventure bike with issues around filtration.


Reliability and a better air box design. Other than that, I can’t imagine a better bike than this.


 This bike will appeal to someone who likes to push their limits off-road. The class leading engine and chassis combination paired with WP Pro suspension makes this the best bike I’ve ridden bar none.

Sadly, I would think twice about taking this bike on a RTW trip. I do think that smaller, cheaper and dare I say more reliable options are available for that application.

KTM 890 Adventure Review

About the author

Canzius Pretorius is a 48 year old dentist from Nelspruit in the beautiful Mpumalanga province of South Africa. He enjoys regular weekend rides with friends that challenge his skills and riding. When work and family life allows, he undertakes longer trips to explore South Africa and neighbouring countries like Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Check out Canzius’s impressive videos and awesome pics:

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4 thoughts on “KTM 890 Adventure R Rally Review”

  1. I’m 73 years old and at 70 (Sept. 2019) rode my Moto Guzzi California 1400 from Vancouver, B.C. to Halifax, Nova Scotia. After my wife and I toured N.S. (By car!) I saddled up and rode to Indian Wells, California. Most of my trip was on secondary roads and the Guzzi was magnificent. Just added gas and a odd air top up. In PS I did a full service, replaced tires, and was ready to go.
    I’m now a little older and the Guzzi is quite heavy, thinking about selling old faithful and buying a KTM 890. I won’t be doing much off road but still like to do a few 500 mile days and lots of 200-300 ones. Any comments or other suggestions? Like to here thoughts from people.

    • Hall Grant

      As much as I love the KTM 890, it might not be the right bike for your application.

      The 890 is an offroad tool that excels when things get rough. On road and on easy offroad routes I reckon there are more suitable options available on the market with a more comfortable ride and better road manners.

      In the middle weight class I would seriously be looking at the new Ducati Desert X if I were in the market. All reviews confirm that it is an awesome bike on tar and very capable in the rough stuff. Engine performs very well.

      My brother has a Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro which really impressed me on a recent trip we did.

      Yamaha T7 also an option, although I didn’t like it much due to lack of power and disappointing suspension.

      Good luck and happy bike hunting!

  2. G’day Canzius,

    Great choice of bike, I’m a fellow dental surgeon who rides a KTM 890 R Rally. I can also recommend it for its off-road ability, I competed and completed the Finke desert race last year on my 890, and the best modifications for that event I made were Twin-Pegs foot pegs. I don’t know if you have tried them but they are brilliant and make control of a bigger bike in offroad conditions much easier and with much less fatigue. I’d be interested to here if you have any feed back on them.

    • Hi Mick
      I always watch Finke videos on YouTube with unhealthy amount of envy! Well done!

      I have seen those pegs but no experience with them



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