Review: KTM 990 Adventure R gets the Twisted Throttle Accessory Buildout

Words: Neil Johnston and Kevin Miklossy Photos: Kevin Miklossy

Adventure bikes aren’t just about the core competencies of the beast itself, but the accessories you bolt to it.  What’s a KTM 990 Adventure without big boxy luggage?  Just another highly capable but impractical motorcycle.  Slapping a couple boxes to the side and you go from a fire road terror to continent crosser in travel capabilities.  Except it’s more complicated than that.  There’s engineering considerations to make, design to be done and practicalities to consider, which is where companies like Twisted Throttle come in.  So here’s our thoughts of the Rhode Island firm’s offerings, as the KTM 990 Adventure gets twisted.

Engine Guards:

The installation of the SW-MOTECH Crashbars/Engine Guards was straightforward, as all the instructions were clear and all parts went together smoothly.  The bars are fitted exactly to the shape of the gas tanks, providing excellent tipover protection without encumbering the bike with extra width. Also, the crossover bar at the front provides extra strength.  The process of mounting them, however, shows some shortfalls.

The clasp for the rear mountpoint to the frame is frail and doesn’t secure the bar well, and instead of silicone padding to protect the frame, like with KTM’s bars, a small stick-on piece of felt is provided. This setup seems a bit flimsy and has allowed one of the bars to vibrate out of position, rubbing the paint off the frame and leaving wear marks on the rear of the tank.  That said, while the rear mount point may shift in a drop, it will still distribute force into the frame serving its purpose.

The other concern with the bars’ design is that they impede servicing of the 990 as the lower bars also position directly over the fairing bolts in a couple places.  The design could have taken the upper bar a little higher or a little lower to make roadside repairs or services requiring the removal of the tanks/fairings a lot easier.

Appearance wise the guards fit well with the 990’s looks, and the black powder coating has stood up well to the constant sandblast of gravel road riding without showing any signs of pitting through to the metal or rust.

SBL.04.488.100 SW-MOTECH Crashbars/Engine Guards (KTM LC8 Adventure 950 & 950/S, 990 & 990/S)

Skid Plate:

Right off this is a huge improvement over the stock plate, which is an easily shattered alloy.  Installation is relatively straightforward too, and doesn’t require the relocation of the regulator/rectifier like Touratech’s similar offering.  We opted for the black powdercoat option, complimenting the 990 Adventure R’s black on black motif.

Recessed flat mounting bolts protect against breakage once the going gets rough, and the guard drops easily for oil changes. The plate is nicely machined and all edges are smooth.  The rivet construction has born out on regular dirt road riding, and we’ll update the report as the 990 is taken further into bushwhacking territory.  One thought, is if you’re planning on being really rough you may want to go for the plain-jane aluminum plate, rather than scratching up a pretty black powder coated one.  That said we’ve had no issues with fade or scratches over the course of gravel road usage.
What is a bit lacking is the side coverage provided by the plate. The top of the reg/rec is left exposed (although recessed) on one side, a cluster of battery wires on the other, just waiting for the first major tree branch to reach in on the single track.  The coverage on the sides would be better if extended further up and further back.

If your preferred way of getting the 990 over logs is popping the front wheel up, dropping the bike on the skid plate and letting the momentum carry you over, you might be better of with the Touratech plate which has a tubular subframe mount for extra strength. For anything short of such abuse this plate will do very well, while saving considerable weight over other offerings on the market.  Indeed, there’s something to recommend going for good workable protection that isn’t the equivalent of strapping a cast iron cauldron to your beasts belly.

MSS.04.250.100 SW-MOTECH aluminum engine guard/skidplate (KTM LC8 Adventure 950 & 950/S, & LC8 Adventure 990 & 990/S, ’06-)

Barkbusters Hand Guards:

Handlebar mount points for the Barkbusters hand guards on the 990 R pretty much need to be exactly where the brake and clutch lines are, which if you like the location of your controls is a problem.  The Barkbuster might work out if your controls are at a rakish angle for standing off-road, unfortunately these delicious bits of hand armor went back in their cases in favor of the stock guards.  We’ll have to try and not bounce off of too many stumps for now.

1 x BB.S4 Barkbusters Storm S4 handguard with full-wrap aluminum backbone
1 x BB.BTC.02 Barkbusters mounting kit

TraX EVO & Quick-Lock Sideracks with Drybags:

Some 10,000kms in with the TraX EVO case and frankly, these rock!  These cases are considerably easier on and off the bike than the Touratech Zega Pro cases that Kevin has been testing on the 990 Dakar, thanks to a quick lockable latch that is more robust than the previous generation.  Water resistance is also greatly improved over the generation we tested in the Baja on the Honda Varaderos.  Having learned a valuable leason from those bikes I selected the narrower 37L sidecases, to improve maneuverability and lane splitting capabilities.

Conceptually, I like the ability to ditch the Quick-lock racks at the campsite or hotel for more aggressive dirt riding, in practice I never have.  It’s worth mentioning that the locking Quick-lock fasteners take a different key than the latches and locks on the TraX EVO bags, which necessitates an extra seldom used key on the ring.  Also, the locks for the bags are relatively low quality, one out of the set of four turns well. What across the board has improved is the quality of the bags, latches and fitments. The latest generation of latches have stood up well and are much more robust in design, with the latches completely covering the mount point rather than being a loop around them.

Where the previous generation’s latches corroded badly, neither bags or latches have shown environmental effects; though they’ve not been exposed to the horrible corrosives sprayed on Baja road-works to keep the dust down.  Anything intended to suppress dust in the Baja fights an uphill battle and must be powerful stuff indeed.

The TraX cases have the advantage over Touratech’s Zega Pros in a couple of quarters.  For one there is a broad seal between the lid and case, so in the event of a drop, the seal has a chance of being maintained.   This is in comparison to the Zega Pro’s close tolerance fitted edge, which is compromised and resists latching closed if the bag is deformed in a drop.  Secondly, hinged on one side, the angle of the  TraX bags’ open lid ensures it stays open, in comparison to the Touratech’s Zega Pro whose lids are restricted by a too-short safety wire. The result is the Zega Pros have an irritating tendency to drop closed on your unsuspecting hands, not so the TraX bags.

One design element, that may look like form, but is actually function is the 45-degree angle in the lower portion of the bags outside face.  It might seem like a minor thing, but when crawling between rocks, this provides an extra couple of inches clearance making all the difference in the world when the immovable boulder encroaches on a quite movable adventure bike.  Indeed combined with the plastic corners one can scrape the TraX EVOs through some very tight spaces.

The drybags? Well, we swear by them. The TraX Brybags for make packing, loading and unloading multiple times easier.  Plus, should the seals break on the cases, a second line of defense against the encroaching elements is mandatory.  Let’s face it, there is no joy in shaking sand or draining river out of your MacBook Air.

If there are stars of the TwistedThrottle line up the TraX cases and dry bags are they.

1 x KFT.00.152.200 TraX Adapter kit for SW-MOTECH Quick-Lock EVO sidecarriers
1 x QLS.00.046.10100.B SW-MOTECH Keyed Locking Quick-Lock Fasteners (pair)
1 x KFT.04.262.200 SW-MOTECH Quick-Lock Sidecarrier (KTM LC8 Adventure 950, 950/S, 990, & 990/S)
ALK.EVO.37LD TraX 37-liter EVO ALU-BOX, left, powdercoated black
ALK.EVO.37RD TraX 37-liter EVO ALU-BOX powdercoated black

2 x BCK.ALK.00.165.11000.B Drybag Liner Bag for 37-Liter TraX ALU-BOX sidecase
1 x ALK.00.165.16501 Lock set for 1 TraX EVO ALU-BOX case

Denali D2 LED Lighting 2-Light Kit

Horrible install… no doubt, but worth the effort.  The 990 keeps the battery in its belly and running the cables was a massive pain, taking several hours.  These could use specific instructions for the bike, as it took a few attempts to figure out the steps for snaking the wires through.  One thought is that the connectors could be smaller, which would make them easier to snake through tight places.  Given the low draw is a harness this thick and heavy needed?  The results though are absolutely brilliant.  Almost had to take my father-in-law to emergency when he directly looked into them.  We ended up fudging the mounts for an under the “grill” rather than off the sides or fenders where these will get ripped off, which looks damn good.

New is a switching option to have the switch act eithewr as a normal on/off, or to operate the lights in an always-on dim mode to use as running lights, with the highbeam switch activating the full intensity of the beams. While a nice option, this setting is hard-wired at the time of installation, and would be much better if it were selectable on the switch itself.

For more read the full review at:
1 x TT-D2.KIT Denali D2 LED Lighting 2-Light Kit & mounts
1 x TT-D1.020.M6 Denali LED Lighting Fender Mount Kit for 6mm fender bolts

Light Saver Headlight Guard

Taking a rock to the headlight of your KTM 990 Adventure is a costly proposition, so the Light Saver Headlight Guard is a good bit of insurance, but this little piece of vinyl is a tremendous pain in the ass to install.
The Lightsaver’s 2D shape doesn’t map well to the rounded and peaked 3D surface of the 990 headlight.  It took about 7 tries to get vaguely right, and so pretty much looks like it was applied by a five year-old, that’s probably more a testament to my co-ordination than the product its self.  The documentation would benefit from diagrams, rather than vague hand waving descriptions of the best install strategies.

Tip: Use a hot hair dryer to soften the plastic and make it more malleable.

On the up side, when Kevin’s 990 Dakar’s back tire chucks rocks I’m not quite as worried.  Indeed my headlight’s damage free after 10,000km and a good portion of gravel road in Kevin’s roost.
1 x JMH.KTMMC-01 Light Saver Headlight Guard

Detachable Vibration-Damped GPS Holder:

A shameful admission here, I’ve never used this with our Zumo GPS, but instead have bodged it for use with a $120 LG Optimus V Android phone that is a lot more expendable as a GPS.  That’s not really by choice, it’s just with one Zumo to go around and Kevin being more navigationally savvy it pays to be sensible with our resources… or in short he’s been hogging the GPS.
That said the GPS Holder is a simple install, features great placement locating the GPS between the bars, is solid and vibration free, and has none of the futzy ready to fill with dust and die mechanism of the Touratech’s mount.
1 x GPS.00.646.10400.B SW-MOTECH Detachable Vibration-Damped GPS Holder
1 x GPS.00.085.10000.B SW-MOTECH GPS adapter kit for the Garmin Zumo 660 and 665 cradle

SW-MOTECH On-Road/Off-Road Footpegs

Larger than the original pegs, these provide extra leverage and surer footing off road, and more comfort on road. The real bonus here, for those long-legged amongst us, is that the pegs are adjustable and can be lowered by 15mm, easing the ergonomics on the KTM 990 Adventure R.
The removable rubber pads don’t seem to absorb vibration as well as the stock pegs, but they mute the engine’s throb well enough.  Nor does the rubber resist wear as the stock rubber.  As a refinement, if rubber didn’t come so flush to the peg’s serrated edge, then the weight of your standing could splay the rubber a bit obviating the need to remove the pads off-road.
The added control and the additional ergonomic adjustment make these pegs a good consideration for on road and mild off-road.
1 x FRS.04.011.10100.S SW-MOTECH On-Road/Off-Road Footpegs




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