3-29-12: Updated thread to consolidate multiple ride reports...2012 rides will be here as well, if it ever quits snowing...
The path to insanity is varied. It may be short, it may be long; brought on by trauma, environment,
circumstance, or breeding; some are just born crazy. For me, a solid year of 40-50 hour weeks, plus
6, 24 hour call shifts per week, was enough to loosen a screw somewhere in the back of my psyche; a
screw, it seems, that was holding the last shred of moto-reason in place, a screw that held the lid
on the place that screams, "MORE! It doesn't have to work ALL the time! Reliable, sensible bikes
The monster jumped out on a rare day off. I'd driven in the snow to Redding, a drive of about an
hour in good weather, to run some errands and somehow, unaccountably, found myself in the KTM
dealership. I've never been attracted to KTM; it's always struck me as a boutique brand, more
popular for it's perceived exclusivity than any particular inherent value. Japan provides many
bikes that will do anything a KTM will, for less money and with better reliability and less
maintenance than any KTM...I've always viewed KTM as the Harley of the dirt world; popular more
for the "prestige" than any objective measurement of their value or performance...
...and yet, as awareness returned, I found myself wandering the floor of the KTM dealership; seeking
nothing but everything, running my hands over the 690 Super Enduro, visions of "real" dual-sport
rides raging in my feverish brain, envisioning rides that never included the thought, "I'm on the
Dimly, through my fugue state, reason spoke: "You have too many bikes already. You know the RULE."
Ah yes, the RULE. My wife is an amazingly tolerant lady who puts no limitations on bike ownership
save one: I can own no more wheels than she does. She cuts me some slack by claiming that the
truck I drive when I need four wheels is hers, and she grandfathered the Trihawk:
since it was my Dad's, but I'm still overdrawn on the wheels front. She has 12, a Pacifica, the
truck, and her Fiat Spider. I have...lessee...VFR=2, Magna=2, CRF150F=2, WR250F(plated)=2, YSR=2,
the boy's XR50=2, the boy's TTR90=2...14 if I don't look too hard.
No more bikes for me.
Right about then that loose screw, having spent a year working it's way out, lost its final grip and
fell clean out, and the monster whispered, "...If you got a bigger bike, you could sell the Magna,
and the kids could still ride with you..."
And I found myself muttering, "Yeah...I could sell the Magna...." as I turned and spotted the 2010
990 Adventure sitting between me and the door.
Reason was probably shouting about that time, but if it was, I never heard it. I walked around the
bike a few times, and, improbably, left.
Went home. Didn't buy it. Started thinking about big adventure bikes. Thought (briefly) about
BMW, but the simple fact is that I've never met one that pushed my buttons. I've ridden more than a
few, but the BMWs just don't speak to me. Not bad bikes, but....not for me.
At the price of the 990, I had to spend at least a few minutes lusting after an Aprilia RSV4; as a
longtime V4 fan, how couldja not? And, once you spend 990 money, it's not much of a jump at all...
...but it simply won't do what the 990 will. And that ability--to go about wherever I want, without
regard for road surface, is definitely what I want. I understand that it's a big heavy monster, and
that a short guy like me who rides almost exclusively alone would be insane to tackle technical
single track on a bike like this, but I have the WR250 for that; and it does it VERY well. Terrible
street bike, but single track, it'll do.
Plus, there's the jail thing. I'd give the RSV4 a week, tops. :lol3
Mulled it over for a couple of weeks.
...and then, one stressful afternoon at work, found myself on the phone with the KTM shop. Best
price? Geeze, I haven't even sat on it...
Kept calling and the price kept getting better. This is a bad sign. It's a 2010 leftover,
they're hungry, and I've got the wants.
Ran it past the boss; a year of standby gets me a lot of leeway. Maybe "do what you want" really
does mean what I think it does...:clap
Mid-April and the tax refund's back; this means tires for the car and the truck. I take the tires
down in the trailer behind the truck to Redding to get 'em swapped and Tina (my wife) meets me in
the pacifica for hers. Hmmm....got an empty trailer....
Once again, I wake up at the KTM shop...sitting on the 990. I can pretty much forget
getting anything but my toes down, but it's called "riding", not walking. The monster is out in
Excess...she flashes her bass-boat orange flake in the sun.
Wretched....that seat height!
Excess...but think of where she can carry you.
Wretched....all that weight to push up the ramp into the trailer!
Excess....all that weight to push up the ramp into the trailer!
Day 1, Mile Zero:
Day 2, ~390 miles for the day...
All I've gotta say is this:
Oh. My. God.
Shoulda done this years ago and I haven't had the guts to hit the dirt yet. Waiting on crash
This motorcycle, this wonderful, wonderful, motorcycle, with its rough edges and attitude and just
pure competence, was made for what I do. Smooth roads...look through the corner, roll it on. Rough
roads...look through the corner, roll it on. Absolute crap roads, broken pavement, cinders, fricken
aliens attacking...look through the corner, roll it on.
The monster was right.
Wretched...the first oil change.
Excess...the swearing to go along with the first oil change.
Wretched...on/off throttle transitions and surging/hunting at small throttle openings.
Excess...what you get if you ride it correctly--like not at small throttle openings.
So I have this theory that it's not a dirt bike if you can't pick it up. As I got comfortable with
the 990 and began running more in gentle dirt/fire roads, this became a major concern. Nuthin' to
do but drop her on the lawn and give 'er a try.
Wretched....me after picking up the bike.
Excess...What this big girl weighs!
Wretched...slow going over rough trail conditions.
Excess...what she demands in order to work well in the dirt!
Wretched...the inability (on stock scorps) to lift the front on power alone.
Excess...the fact that you get just as much wheelspin at 70 as at 20 in the dirt when you crack the
Back to the story...
After a weekend of this:
Just to remind the VFR that I've not forgotten her, it's back to KTM-ville.
Now, if you hang here (ADV) much, you can't avoid hearing references to the Orange Kool-aide.
Just so ya know? No such thing. Nope. Doesn't exist.
Got a nice GPS with the bike, but no Kool-aide. None. Not a drop.
That said, the bike DOES come with a whole load of MIND ALTERING SHIT! An unlimited supply of
something mind-altering is clearly contained somewhere on/in/around the bike. Maybe it's an aerosol.
But it is SOME GOOD SHIT.
Every spare moment is spent anticipating the next ride. It's been years since a bike has had this
effect on me.
Must. Ride. Now.
My commute to work is four small-town blocks. Four.
It's now grown to include this:
every morning and most evenings. 20+ miles, twisties, dirt, whatever.
Just RIDE! MOOOOOOOORRRRRREEEEEEE!
No idea what I'll do when the snow flies again, which given the spring we've had oughta be about
It's MOTO-CRACK, and I WANT MORE! MOREMOREMOREMOREMORE!
My family no longer waits for me for dinner, in fact sometimes they're in bed when I get home. This
is getting bad.
The UPS driver has taken to pulling up, opening the door, and taking cover while I run into the
truck, grab boxes, and dash, cackling, into the garage.
Bar risers, mirror relocator, sidestand relocator, crash bars, luggage racks, gps, radar mount,
fusebox, TuneEcu cable, exhaust, expensive oil, blah, blah, blah....
Reason asks, "Who in the HELL builds a bike like this? Stuff fits weird, it's fiddly, it requires
constant attention....heck, you even need a freakin' computer to ADJUST THE THROTTLE CABLE!
Who thinks this stuff up? It demands premium gas, gets crap mileage (for a bike), and is GOING TO
SEND YOU TO JAIL!"
Can't hear any of it. None. ZERO. Reason can BITE ME. I'm too busy getting it just. exactly.
Occasional giggles escape unintentionally at the dinner table as I consider my next ride; eyes roll
but no one asks because they don't want to hear about it--again.
Thanks to the Orange Crush, I discover TuneEcu. Now HERE is an excuse to go riding! I devise a
short but effective test loop that brings out the worst in the fueling and spend every slow moment at
work staring at maps, loading them in the evening and testing, making changes into the night and
loading more maps, testing in the morning on the way to work.
This, it is clear, will always be "close", NEVER perfect. It's just to easy to keep screwin' with
Fort Rock Dualsport
You will notice that this next bit is pretty light on pictures. I was busy. Deal with it.
Insanity loves company. 11 days into a 17-day stretch at work (yes, 24-hr call plus 10-hr days), I
visit the Lobos web page (www.lobosmc.com). The Lobos are a club in Oregon who put on some
really fun races in the China Hat area; we've had a lot of fun up there. Good group.
Anyway, turns out that there's an AMA National Dual Sport ride coming up in a week and I've got it
An email and phone call later and I am reassured that this ride will be big-bike friendly, kinda.
The exact quote: "Hell, we had a guy ride it on a KLR...once."
I emailed my least-employed and therefore generally available riding buddy, Harley, who just bought
a plated XRR, and told him that we've got a week before we leave.
I proposed an approximately 900-mile round trip, with as much dirt as we can find. I get a call 10
minutes later: "Are you INSANE?"
I must be doing something right. :rofl
It turns out that Harley, nearly 20 years my junior, has never been on a long ride, nor camped for
more than overnight. As well, the XRR he was bragging on is in pieces in his backyard, and he's
waiting for a new radiator, as his has a leak, and it needs jets, and...
Well, maybe I'll go by myself. Two big problems with this: 1) I can barely lift the bike by
myself and I anticipate dropping it more than once on the organized part of the ride; and 2) My
wife is decidedly NOT on board with the plan as a solo ride.
1) is surmountable as it is an organized ride and someone will probably come along eventually
(although I hate--HATE--depending on the kindness of strangers), but 2) is looking kinda
--OK, REALLY-- bad.:cry
Thankfully, just about 24 hours later, an email arrives:
"Dude, I'm totally in.":happay:wings:rayof
This results in a couple of days of frantically digging in the basement looking for camping gear,
etc. It's unclear what's available for camping in the metropolis of Fort Rock, Oregon, but it's
described as, "I think they mowed a field for camping..."
I find most of what I need and agree to haul all the food, tools, and anything else heavy for
Harley, since he's worried about his aluminum subframe. I don't have sidebags or boxes yet,
but he's got a pair of saddlebags bought at a yardsale and mostly intact that will kinda fit my
bike. It's gonna be ghetto packing, but it WILL work.
It. Is. ON.
The next week is full of projects; not the least of which is finding a roll chart holder in time for
the event. We meet a couple of times, and I am surprised that Harley seems OK with the proposed
mileages. We're looking at 200 on Friday, which isn't bad but a good chunk is interstate and if we
are VERY lucky, we'll get into staging right at or just past dark. He's OK with that. 120 miles/day,
mostly dirt on the dualsport event is a good chunk as well, especially camping out and
200 miles from home and support, but he's OK with that as well. I have visions of spending both
days picking up the beast and am pretty apprehensive, but Harley....he's good with it. Maybe he's
planning on pointing and laughing a lot...:rofl
The trip home is a different matter. I've got the Monday off and plan to make the most of it. This
is my first decent ride in a VERY long time; kids and family life have pretty much shut down the
touring for me and I am READY TO GO! I've got loops from 400 to 600 miles long laid out for the way
home, planning to see how worked over we are on Sunday night to decide how long the trip home will
be. Lots of dirt on the map, too. Looks to be a very long day. Harley's good with it--strangely
so. Ah, youth.:wink:
Now, you gotta understand. I don't ride to talk, I don't ride to smoke, and I don't ride to eat. :deal
Riding time is too hard to come by to waste. You need to stop, say so. You need to fix something,
say so. You need to pee, hold it. You wanna ride with me, you gotta be upfront about what you need
and what your plans are, because I am here to ride. I'm pretty easygoing about changes to the plan
as long as they involve riding, but you wanna stop and watch a movie, you have fun with that,
because you're gonna be alone. I've ridden with Harley enough on day rides to know that he'll be OK
in this respect, but I am a little surprised that the potential of 400 plus miles home, after over
400 in the prior two days, including two of mostly dirt, isn't getting his attention. It sounds
long to me...
Anyway, at the last minute, I get an extra day off. Now we don't have to arrive in the dark. We
spend a little thought on hitting some dirt on the way up to Fort Rock, but decide not to since
we're gonna get plenty of riding in once we arrive.
What? You wanted a riding picture? Not too many of those this trip. Here's one of me that Harley
took when we stopped to see the buffs, though.
Man, look at all that crap.:poser I usually pack better than this, but I'm out of practice and did have
food for four days on board, and Harley may be about 6'5" and, oh, like 150 lbs, but that kid EATS.
And eatsandeatsandeatsandeats. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it...
Anyway, we arrive in fine fettle and are escorted to the nicest lawn I've seen in a long time.
We're the only riders in the event who have also ridden TO the event and are treated like royalty,
especially by the property owner Sherry. She is a great lady and the food at her (event host)
restaurant is excellent, as is the beer. We don't eat much of what I hauled but instead enjoy the
company inside most of the weekend.
The weather is beautiful but windy and that keeps any bugs at bay, so it's just about perfect. We
set up camp and head over to sign up for the ride. We collect our route sheets and realize that
cutting and rolling these puppies in 20 mph winds is gonna be interesting, especially since neither
of us have done this before. We retire to our tents to get out of the wind and figure it out:
I wish I had a photo of the rolling process out in the wind on the bike, but it was basically two
monkeys, one football...:1drink
Saturday started out great--for having never navigated with a rollchart before:
Pavement, about a mile, turn here, look there....nice.
Dirt, wick it up, it's a beautiful morning, 50-55mph, SAND!?!?!??
Holy crap. I could hear the steering stops hitting over the scream.
But...yaknow what? Added a little throttle and she settled right down. 'Course that's a good thing
since now I'm doing 60-65 with the added gas...
Excess....The kind of throttle it takes to get over it.
This, basically, was my day. Every time I figured something out, something else popped up. At this
point, I had just about 60 dirt miles on the bike, a lot of it repeated over the same route as I was working
on tuning the ECU, so I had a lot to learn. I've done significant dirt on the WR250F, but that
ain't no 500 lb, 90 horse bike.
It's a whole new world when you're sniffing the orange stuff!
We saw sand, deep sand, rocks, ruts, loose ball-bearing on hardpack roads, deep red-cinder roads,
big rolling rocks, etc, etc. No mud, though. Good thing, too, since I'm still on the stock scorps,
which are about done.
The only riding pic in the dirt, in about the only place the dust was light enough to take the
photo. Thanks, Harley!
I ate dust all day. Learning to ride the bike in the conditions we saw consumed ALL of my
attention; I couldn't even follow the odometer, much less the route sheet.
Good thing I brought along a youngster! I put Harley in charge of navigation and just rode the
And that's the thing about the big KTM. If you merely ride it, it's just not that good in the dirt,
in fact, it can bite ya pretty hard. RIDE it, however, and the whole world changes!
Excess is the name of the game. Don't give her a little throttle, throw her a handful and let 'er
breathe. Don't weight the pegs; STOMP those puppies into submission. Don't turn the bike, TURN the
bike. Stand up and give her the go, and she'll amaze you with what she can do--and how easily she
will do it. Pussyfoot around, though, and you are in for one long day.
End of day one:
Harley learns about desert nights--yes, that is frost:
Day two is a lot like day one, but far easier for me. I'm much more confident and there's less
sand, which I've now learned how to handle--the course is much rockier, which I am used to from our
home terrain, and I get a chance to at least look around a little and enjoy some of the day. There
were a few challenging-looking climbs, but again, commitment and excess ruled the day, even on those
The part where they warned me about the sand dunes:yikes --which were not actually on the course-- was
pretty funny, though.
A few from day 2:
And some desert pinstripes on the brand-new (not anymore!) 990:
Dust? Nah, wasn't any...
We ended up doing right at 384 miles home on Monday. Ran through the upper Fremont National Forest
on this "dirt" road (that's what the map said):
Which was a great ride, but not dirt!
This is about where we figured out that hi-viz jackets attract mosquitos. Mine does, anyway; we
think it's the additonal UV reflecting off the material...:zilla
Dropped into Bly, OR...
And headed toward Merrill/Tulelake in the backcountry. This road just about disappeared completely
before it picked back up:
And turned into this:
Which dropped us out at high speed near here:
Where Harley suddenly stopped making much sense...
When we got to Merrill, Oregon, Harley was done. Cooked. Fini. Dry and dumb as we've always
called it. Threw some water, food, and rest at him and slabbed it home.
Hit the Shasta Valley just in time to outrun this:
back to the barn.
384 miles for the day. Not bad for an XRR!
She is a flashy, picky, high-strung, high-maintenance broad who lives to be rode hard and dirty and put
away wet. She likes her bling, but wears her scars with pride.
Her name's Wretched. Wretched Excess.
...and that just about covers it!
Nice one Steve!
Thanks. It's my first real "ride" report here....
too busy riding to take pictures!
Excellent job!! I just traded an ST1100 for a BMW R1150GS and am having similar symptoms. Am 50 years old, retired from a 27 year LEO job and now work in private industry (which is just as dysfunctional as any state government).
It's amazing what a few hours on my bike will do. Have ridden 1200 miles in the last two weeks. :D
I live less than a mile from my office but have a ten mile loop ready to go for when I have the extra time.
Keep up the good work. Your wife sounds like a prize and probably deserves a night out...
Ride safe and keep having fun.
That was a great read :clap.
noice report, but you are pretty much dead to all us Dakar fans for forgetting that the KTM 950/990Adventures were built for the desert rallies and for considering them to be the Harley's of the dirt world.
Never forgot that. If you'd have heard the lecture I got at a gas station last week for "allowing such a fine bike to get so dirty", maybe you'd understand how I got there.... :huh
Anyway, I've been schooled now!
:thwak :bash :fishie :whip
Thanks for finally letting me know about the bad links in the first post.....finally....
Hope it's fixed, now.
"Once again, I wake up at the KTM shop...sitting on the 990"
That's great right there! :clap
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