KTM 890 SMT – Birthday Blast

This very brief ride was unplanned, I had spotted this brand new demo bike outside of the dealer I had taken my Super Adventure to for its first annual service. Well, what else would you do on a Friday afternoon at the start of November? Even if it was your birthday!

Opportunity Knocks

Normally, the dealer provides an 890 Adventure or Duke whilst I get my bike serviced. They do this mainly to stop me drinking too much of their hot chocolate. Riding either is a not a chore, I was hoping to get back on the Adventure for a more productive test ride than last time and riding the Duke is know to be an absolute giggle. However, walking across the car park hiding in the long line up of demo bikes and sale stock was the SMT. Well, it would seem rude to leave it neglected obviously!

How can you ignore a face like that?

A bit less orange than some KTM bikes. The SMT is neat and purposeful to look at

It’s Reputation Proceeds it

What did cross my mind is that the original KMT 990SMT had a reputation for being a bit of wild Supermoto: A full-on wheelie and hooning machine. To be honest that’s not really my thing. However,  I’d be interested to see if this bike was a bit more lively that the 890 Adventure and more like the 890 Duke.

With the paperwork sorted for the service and loan bike, I’m handed the key and as I get kitted up. The dealer briefly runs me through the controls and suggests a quick loop to follow: The rain that rode through on the way in was fast approaching. The seat height was friendly enough for me at 6 foot and my boots flat on the floor and looking back at me were familiar bars, switch-gear and LCD screen of the 890 Adventure.


A familiar ‘KTM feel’ and crisply presented TFT display screen

This is no bad thing as they seem to work on the earlier released bikes. What did strike me was that it was all very black: Black smooth mouldings, black grained mouldings. No real colour at all. Ok, it might be that I had the black version of the bike. Presumably orange is the other obvious KTM colour scheme. Even allowing for this it all seemed a little low rent to me.

Still, the engine sounded good when I blipped the throttle. Adding to this the clutch feel was good; light and progressive as I make my way across the car park and onto the road. Two junctions in close succession and I’m onto the twiddly bit of the loop, a quick glance at the screen to confirm that the bike was up to temperature. The readout says OK rather than being a gauge or a number.

Let’s See How it Rides

Time to engage ‘Demo-ride’ mode! Wind up the motor further until the numbers go red and then quickly snick it into the next gear. This bike is proving to be as much fun as the Duke, just more suited to my physique. Handling is better than my 1290R. I think  because of the smaller front wheel and tighter suspension.

In a bit of a uncomfortably ‘real-world’ situation I discover the brakes are effective at scrubbing off speed! I nearly miss my next junction. But a sharp pull on the lever and little bit of twitching and I make the turn!

A quick glance in the mirrors and up the road ahead tells me that demo mode should still be utilised! The same situation persists for the next couple of miles as I blast through the autumnal sunshine.

At the next junction, there’s a half gap and I’m off into the A-road traffic. The bikes definitely peppy and thankfully hasn’t lifted the front wheel, which would only scare me senseless. A quick blast down the roundabout, gracefully tip it in and blast up the slip road onto the A34 for one junction. I am quickly into threading my way through the moving Friday afternoon traffic. There’s plenty of power and the bike is light enough to flick it into any available gap. The wind protect at elevated speeds is pretty good too considering I am less than aerodynamic.

Time to Give in Back

As the black clouds loom across the sky, it is time to head back via a quick photo opportunity. The bike looks much better off it than on…with the usual KTM colour scheme and decals. They haven’t scrimped on LED lights which is a positive thing but I did notice that there wasn’t a mounting point for a side cases only a top-box. Maybe this bike is not marketed at the commuter and that role is supported by Adventure, this is a hooligan machine obviously.!!

In Conclusion

I have to say, from my point of view, it didn’t really strike me as this type of bike but a very competent bridge between the two existing 890 bikes. The honest truth is that I am definitely commuter and not hooligan, I’m clearly not the target audience. Still, put a top box rack on it and I’d have it over the 890 Adventure pending a proper test ride. In the meantime, I’ll stick with my newly serviced 1290R

Words and Pictures: Stuart Holliday