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Old 10-30-2012, 08:44 PM   #1
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950 Adventure vs 990 Adventure

I ride a 690E and I'm interested in adding something to my toy box for the more highway intensive adventure rides with fireroads and big bike firiendly single track. the question is would a carb'd 950 be more reliable than a 990? Are there big advantages to either?

My routes range from elev 0-9000ft so I'm concerned about carb performance at altitude (I live at elev 0'). The 690E has been a little field-service unfriendly and I was lucky to catch the fuel pump failure bug closer to home than I might have been.

Then there's the option of the R1200GS..... what do you think? I hate soft bikes but I hate to be miserable on long highways too. I'm thinking the Aeroflow windscreen setup for the KTM is going to be a winner so I wont have to give up the awesome KTM offroad and twisties performance just to get the GS comfort. Am I deluding myself? Wouldn't be the first time.

r'elise me screwed with this post 10-30-2012 at 08:49 PM
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Old 10-30-2012, 09:36 PM   #2
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IMO - the 2009 and newer 990's are the stuff. Lower suspension works better on pavement and most gravel. I will argue that the newer 990's are more reliable than the carb'd 950's. The 990's throttle response is very good in the 2009-up models and mileage is much improved over the 950 carbs. Follow maintenance schedules and you won't have any issues.

Coming off a 690 will make any of the twins seem like a touring bike. The ONLY long term solution that hasn't been solved IMO is the windshield coverage/noise issue. My solution has been to just cut it off, works just fine in the summer.

Don't plan on taking any twin down a single-track that you don't know exactly where it goes. I don't take mine where a bulldozer hasn't been recently. The twins can navigate some very impressive off-road terrain, but you need room to move. Old, narrow two-track's are just great.

If you think you'll be doing day-after-day of inter-straight roads with occasional gravel, AND will be carrying huge amounts of gear, get the BMW. These carry huge loads with very little impact on how they handle. All other conditions, get the KTM 990.
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Old 10-30-2012, 10:42 PM   #3
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when I rode my 950 through the mountains of Idaho and Montanna a few years ago, I had terrible performance and fuel range over 8'000ft or so.. which we hit several times on our trip. I went from around 170 miles per tank, down to about 120 miles per tank.. you'll get answers on both sides, but IMO, no reason to buy an older 950 unless you find a cherry one.
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Old 10-30-2012, 11:17 PM   #4
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The carbs on a 950 can handle that no problem, assuming they are setup right and have not been messed with. Lots of photos here of guys with them higher.

The early EFI models had iffy EFI. Mostly lacking a smooth throttle response. That was smoothed out on the 2009 on up models.

The 950 had fuel pump issues, but that can be solved with many after market options. The EFI models tend to eat fuel filters for lunch, so expect to replace them (they are in the fuel tank, and not cheap) every now and then. More so if you get bad fuel.

I had my carbed 950 up at 9500 elevation. It was not happy about it with a bit of bog off the bottom, but nothing major. And I have my bike setup rich. Leaning it out a bit would solve that.
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Old 10-31-2012, 11:11 AM   #5
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My 950 ran fine at 12,000 ft. Its just a matter of setup. Carbs tend to be smoother and a decent mechanic can do a roadside teardown if it becomes neccessary. Not gonna happen on an FI bike.
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Old 10-31-2012, 12:40 PM   #6
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I've never rode a FI 990 but I live at almost sea level (banks of the Mississippi in MO) and have rode my 950 SE over a lot of 12,000' passes in CO with no issues at all.

I was kind of surprised at how well it ran after hearing people that live at 5000' say they had issues up high
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Old 10-31-2012, 12:42 PM   #7
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I had both: 950 2004, 990 2006 and 990 2008. I am currently and slowly looking for a 950 2005.

With the 950 I have done some 25000 miles through 15 countries around Europe with a taste of Asia and some Africa.

The first 990 was a second hand with some rust and other problems. I got rid of it after 1000 miles.

The 990 2008 is still with me, it has got over 11000 miles and it is for sale.

This is my experience and opinion:

950 is a more rude and extreme bike. It has been produced from 2003 till 2005 and each year model have some significant recalls, updates and variation compare to the previous year (
It is well known that 2003 and 04 models were "weaker" and had some significant pitfall. The 2005 model was consistently improuved.

The 2006-08 models had the same height specifications of the 2005 models but they had EFI and ABS. They are more realible and more street orientated.

The 2009 onwards models have the same height and a revised engine with more power. Honestly I have never ride this.

I loved more the 950. Why I am not sure. Was higher and the trottle response was more rude and exciting. Riding that bike was really exciting. My one had some consistent line with what reported from majority of people. However I know someone with 85000 miles on the clock of a 03 S model who had all the KTM recall and didn't experience a single problem.

The 990 2006-08 is definitively smoother and more performant on street. It is also more confortable thanks to a better seat. It always start at the firts click and my one has been riding ok so far. Only problem was the fuel filter that had to be replaced 3000 miles away from home.

I am not sure about all this trottle issue everyone is after. I can then tell that the 950 response was easier off road.

You really need to think to few key questions:

1) What do you want it for? Off or on road mainly?
For on road I would definitively go for the 2006 onwards. For off for the 950 possibly a 2005 model.

2)How much can you spend? The newer the more expensive!

3)How realible it has to be? The newer the better.

Keep in mind that the carb model has a 2.5 liters larger thank as the fuel pump is not integrated in the left tank. To me economy is the same, so 990 have shorter range which is ok for street trips. Also I find ABS a pain in the back when off roading. It also weight few kgs and takes a lot of useful space under the seat.

Finally I also ride a 690 enduro R. This is a completely differnt bike, much closer to an EXC than a 990. Be prepare to ride a much bigger bike.



PS. Forget about GS1200. Loads of money for a street bike.
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Old 10-31-2012, 03:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Dr LC8 View Post

I had both: 950 2004, 990 2006 and 990 2008. I am currently and slowly looking for a 950 2005.
I'm with Dr LC8.

Untill recently i had both 2005 950 and 2006 990. In my opinion the 950 is a far superior bike to the 990. Before everibody jump, i used the 950 mostly offroad and not just fire roads and it was a blast of a bike. the only downfall is it's weight. After offroading i could ride 200 miles with the 950 and it was still one heck of a bike. The 990 feels more street oriented and i'm not very convinced about offroading with it. Nevertheless, street tires, akra cans and it is a marvel in the twists. Fuel mileage isn't that great with the 990... my 950 could easily do 45 mpg... now the 990...ohoh... aniway, when riding this bike, i'm not concerned about mileage...

990's EFI higher complexity makes it more easy to work on than the 950, thanks to ECU. plug in, download the map, test, go back to the garage, adjust the map, download again, no more taking carbs out!

Traded in the 950 for a 690ER, it's a blast, but i miss my 950
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Old 10-31-2012, 04:56 PM   #9
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I have a 06 950S
In the US the 06 is carbed. I looked for some time for this bike and traveled some distance to get it.
I did not want the FI for many of the reasons above.I also liked the idea it was a lower price than a 990FI, after all I ride my bike and it will get beat.

Ive had the luxury to have many different bikes and without a doubt this is the best bike I have ever owned, it will never be for sale. and I go threw bikes like some go threw underware.

If you know how to tune a carb I see no reason to pay more for less. For me the 950 is better than a 990
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Old 10-31-2012, 06:28 PM   #10
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Selling my beloved 05.5 Jonah Street eddition 950 was a huge mistake!!! I tried replacing it with an 08 990. That thing had more snatch then my first wife!!! Yes I had G2 throttle, every throttle cable adjustment under the sun.........Etc, I think I sold it on the same tank of gas that it came with. That 08 had some of the worst fueling Ever. I just recently picked up another 05.5 and things are as they should be.
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Old 10-31-2012, 08:16 PM   #11
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I was just thinking of starting a 950 vs 990 opinion thread and lo and behold I find this!

Good stuff folks, keep the info coming!

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Old 11-01-2012, 09:55 AM   #12
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I have a 2010 990 which I bought new about 18 months ago; it now has 14000 miles on it, and I live in an area with a winter nonriding season. Needless to say, Love the bike!

That said, I ride alone almost exclusively and I do get into some failry remote areas. I have concerns about the 990 EFI and immobilizer issues relagive to the 950; can't really see those coming and there's really no preventative maintenance for the immobilzer....

When in doubt, PIN IT! It may not help, but it'll sure end the suspense...
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Alleycatdad screwed with this post 11-01-2012 at 10:23 AM
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