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Author: noyau

Rear footpegs sliders

To protect the rear, the footpeg sliders from the 790 Duke fits just fine, and provide a sacrificial bit of nylon instead of the expensive aluminium piece. Get yourself some piece of mind for cheap (P/N 61303946044, $13). Thanks Orfeas for the find!

Alternatively, if you have access to a 3D printer, advrider inmate Marchyman made a model to do the same part.

Additional front end support

There is an option to beef up the existing front end of the bike (lights, instrument cluster, GPS): everything is hold in place by four screws and the lower metallic support. There are some (very rare!) case of the posts on the frame breaking away during a fall.

TripleClampMoto developed a contraption to add more support to the front end posts on the frame ($85/£85/€100).

Camel ADV has a similar part as well ($80)

What’s on my bike?

I’ve been asked what I installed on my bike as accessories and modifications. Here is the list. Some of these items were carried over from my previous bikes, or previous trips. Link goes where I bought the articles (I’m in France, so maybe not your best link if you live elsewhere).

The awesome people I do recommend:

  • Ixtem-moto are the best. Michel’s team is always listening, and their service is top notch. I’ve been buying all my non specialized accessories from them for years. Best French distributor ever.
  • Louis, from Enduristan France, is also providing excellent service on their excellent luggage. I buy directly from them instead of going through Ixtem (sorry Michel) because Louis gives me a discount, for no good reason at all 🙂
  • I’ve talked quite a bit with Chris at Motominded, as when he designed their GPS support he used my design as a starting point. He improved it tenfold, and there’s not a lot left from me in their current product, but he was kind enough to give me the printing right for my own ABS cable protection in exchange. So thanks!
  • Perun Moto really do care about the quality of their products. Nikola Maletic, the owner, is very active on the forums, and evolves his products to make them better all the time.
  • Andrew Vanasche seriously care about his products. The design behind his GPS support is the best I’ve seen.

CAN Bus and OBD2

The KTM 790 Adventure is like many other modern motorcycles employing CAN Bus for communications between the ECU, sensors and actuators. And some other devices like the front lights. A CAN bus is just two wires with data flying through it that can be read and written to.

A lot can be done from a CAN Bus, from capturing detailed read of temperatures, to uploading a new map for the engine. Your KTM dealer uses the CAN Bus during service to update the software on various parts of the bike, and to read the diagnostic codes. The risks of uploading software or new maps are high, pushing the wrong values may end up wrecking your engine. Reading or clearing diagnostic codes and monitor motorcycle performance however is perfectly fine, and can be achieved with your phone and a bit of hardware.

The simplest way to get access to the CAN Bus is the diagnostic port under the seat, it’s easy to find, and it’s sealed with a protective cap.

Diagnostic port

OBD2 is originally a US standard, a requirement for all vehicles to provide a standard way to read data and diagnostic codes. OBD2 is nothing else than a CAN Bus and a specification for a diagnostic port. All the solutions on the market do use an OBD2 port. In order to use them you need an adapter from the KTM diagnostic port to OBD2. There are plenty of vendors selling those, just search for “KTM OBD2 Adapter“. One that’s proven to work is this Lonelec adaptor (which comes with all the hardware to use TuneECU on Windows).

Once you have an OBD2 port, it’s just a matter of finding a software solution for you. The picture below have been taken using OBDLink on Android, using a OBDLink MX+ Bluetooth adapter. Just avoid the cheap adapters, they do not work properly most of the time.

Once connected (and bound via Bluetooth, Wifi or USB if/as appropriate), you’ll be able to examine any “thrown codes” and peek at some commonly coded sensors.

Techies that study this stuff may want to dig into an Adventure Rider thread titled “Results from hacking the KTM SuperDuke 1290 CAN bus”, as many of the “secret codes” used on the 790 are likely to be the same as other KTM models.

Many thanks to Scott McCrory for the original idea, some of the text and all the images for this article.

Riding Modes explained

The 790 Adventure come with a very advanced electronic package with features never seen before on production bikes (On the fly MTC tuning anyone?). This makes for a very safe bike, but understanding what the electronics is doing for you is paramount to fully exploit it.

There is a lot of confusion on the various riding modes and what exactly they are changing on the bike. This is not helped by different settings having the same name (“Offroad” can be a Ride mode, a Throttle control setting or an ABS setting for example). The riding modes have influence on throttle response, anti-wheelie, and traction control. ABS is not controlled by changing riding mode at all, and traction control (MTC) can be turned off separately for each mode.

This is not helped by the user manual, which goes in great length to explain how to turn things on and off, but doesn’t explain why you would want to change the settings, and for what purpose. And what exactly is changed by each settings. Be aware that some of the content in this article are educated guesses, until someone reverse engineer the code or KTM fact checks it. The source data for this article comes from KTM literature about the bike and the discussion in this advrider thread.

So to make it clear this entry in the FAQ is all about those three indicators on the bottom right of the dashboard:

The indicator shows the ride mode (one of STREET/RAIN/OFFROAD, the ABS (one of ROAD/OFFROAD/OFF) and the MTC (one of ON/OFF). All of those are freely mixable, you can set STREET/OFFROAD/OFF or OFFROAD/ROAD/ON for example. RALLY is displayed differently, see below.

Before diving into the ride modes, let’s talk about throttle response, ABS, and MTC.

Throttle response

The 790 is equipped with a ride by wire system. Turning the throttle tube just sends a signal to a computer. The computer can then decide how much power to give for a set rotation. Throttle response is just that, controlling the mapping from the amount of rotation to the amount of power.

There are four possible throttle responses available (Street, Rain, Offroad and Rally) but they are no all controllable directly. The various ride modes will select the associated throttle response (Rally mode is an exception).

ABS

The ABS prevents wheel lock. Wheel lock is bad when not controlled, and in an emergency breaking situation ABS can save you. The ABS in this bike is very advanced, and it can regulate the brakes based on the lean angle. There are three possible settings for the ABS:

  • Road: ABS is active on both front and rear wheel, lean angle input is used
  • Offroad: ABS is active on the front wheel, and turned off on the rear wheel. Lean angle input is ignored.
  • Off: No more ABS. Note that this setting is not memorized, if you shut down the engine (or stall) the setting is going to reset to Road.

When on the road, unless you are a supermotard hero who want to slide the rear wheel in turns, you should be in the ABS Road setting. On the other hand, when riding off road it is useful to be able to lock the rear wheel for initiating a turn, or to be able to brake effectively on very loose surfaces, making the ABS Offroad setting useful in those conditions.

Also, comparing Road and Offroad ABS settings on just the front wheel, Road ABS is more aggressive in preventing locking. Breaking on a loose surface with just the front brake there is a large difference between the two modes, Offroad allows for more slip, making the breaking manoeuvre more effective. On the other hand, using Offroad setting on a really hard but slippery surface like ice would be a bad idea, as any slip there can send you flying, and the lean angle input would be useful.

The Offroad ABS is very effective on the 790 Adventure. Doing breaking exercises on the dirt with the ABS off and with the Offroad ABS on, it requires a pro rider to reach the same level of performance without the ABS. For the common folks, you have no hope in hell moderating your braking as effectively as the Offroad ABS mode.

So in short: On the road, use Road ABS. Riding offroad, use Offroad ABS. Turning ABS completely off is not recommended unless you really know what you are doing and you are fully cognisant that it will reset by itself.

MTC (Motorcycle traction control)

The interesting thing about MTC on the 790 Adventure is that it can be fine tuned. It’s not just a on-off switch; depending on the riding mode selected it will be more or less aggressive. The ultimate MTC control being the optional Rally mode, where it can be modulated through 9 different settings, on the fly.

Another interesting point is that the MTC doesn’t act on the engine directly. MTC of old, on less advanced motorcycles, used to just cut ignition to regulate power. On the 790 the MTC acts on the throttle directly. Conceptually the throttle by wire has two inputs: the rider throttle tube position, and the MTC. The lower of the two will be the throttle input for the engine. This makes for a very smooth MTC intervention.

The MTC on the 790 Adventure can also share with the ABS the lean angle sensor to adapt the slip control based on current conditions.

There is a setting in the motorcycle menu to turn MTC completely off, overriding the fine tuning done when changing modes. As with ABS this setting resets itself when the engine stops.

If you have Rally mode on your bike, you should probably never turn MTC completely off, use Rally mode instead. If you have a 790 S without Rally mode, it is useful to turn it off in certain conditions like deep gravel or sand, but most of the time the Offroad ride mode is sufficient to tone down the MTC offroad.

Another last tidbit about MTC: If you are using cruise control and the MTC triggers for any reason, MTC is going to force the CC to turn off. This can happen on a highway when going over bridge expansion joints for example. Be aware.

MSR (Motor slip regulation)

MSR conceptually is the opposite of traction control: it prevents the rear wheel from locking when shifting down. If the driver is very aggressive with their downshift there is a risk of getting to the point of making the rear wheel lock and slide. This would have the same effect as using the rear brake to slide the rear wheel.

To avoid this, on downshift, the MSR checks the rear wheel rotation, and if it detects the issue it will put just enough throttle to keep it turning.

MSR on the 790 adventure is tied to the ABS. MSR is on if ABS is on, MSR is off in ABS offroad mode, and off when the ABS is completely off. There is a message on the display when switching away from full ABS saying “MSR is off”. Now you know what this message means.

Ride modes

The three default ride modes are changing Throttle control, MTC, and anti wheelie. The optional Rally mode is the fun one with on the fly configuration.

Street

  • Throttle control: Fairly direct. Strong response.
  • MTC: Full on, lean sensor input enabled (unless MTC is turned off)
  • Anti Wheelie: On

The default mode to use when on the road. Makes for a peppy fun bike, with the rider’s aids turned on to back you up in case of mishaps.

Rain

  • Throttle control: Very soft. Needs lots of input to get power.
  • MTC: Full on, lean sensor input enabled (unless MTC is turned off)
  • Anti Wheelie: On

For the days where adherence is low, road is boring, or you want to save your tires for a long journey… also you can use this mode to get accustomed to the bike the first times you ride it.

Offroad

  • Throttle control: Less direct than street, and more linear, to give more control in technical areas. Allows the rider to be more precise with the bike power delivery.
  • MTC: on (unless MTC is turned off), but less intrusive, allows for some slip. The lean sensor is disabled to allow the rider to uses a berm, sand dune or rut to lean into a turn.
  • Anti Wheelie: Off

The go-to mode for almost everything offroad. Not ideal on the road as the amount of slip allowed is quite important. But okay for short stints on the road between two tracks. Be aware that the MTC lean sensor is off here, so a big handful of throttle in a turn with off-road tires will launch your bike sideways…

Rally

Rally mode is an option on the 790 S, standard on the R and Rally.

  • Throttle control: can be manually selected from Street, Offroad and Rally. Street and Offroad are the same as in their relative modes. Rally throttle control is extremely direct, the throttle control turns into a virtual on/off switch.
  • MTC: Fully controllable from 9–full on to 1–almost off (Unless MTC is turned completely off). Lean angle sensor is disabled to allow the rider to uses a berm, sand dune or rut to lean into a turn. The amount of slip allowed can be changed on the fly with the up/down button on the handle bar. It is thought that 9 is roughly what Street and Rain mode are calibrated for, and 7 is where Offroad mode probably is. Use 5-6 for sliding around on fire roads, 3 for deep gravel, 2-1 for sand. For a slippery technical climb put it on 7, throttle up and let the bike climb by itself, it’s uncanny.
  • Anti Wheelie: Off

The display changes in rally mode. [Rally] is displayed on top of the speedo, A big number showing the current MTC setting is shown at the bottom (or n/a if MTC is off), along with the current throttle and ABS settings.

Like Offroad Mode, probably not the ideal mode on the road as the MTC lean sensor is off. But, if you know what you are doing, sure. Off road, it’s the ultimate weapon, where you can change the slip level according to your skills and the conditions. Watch out with the Rally throttle control: you will chew your tires in record time, and your mileage is likely to take a hit as well!

Navigation towers

There are options to replace the front end of the bike with a rally oriented tower, mostly to add space for compass, log, GPS and everything you could imagine bolting to the front of the bike. Those are not cheap, but they are very versatile. And might be worth considering if you have wrecked the original front-end in a crash.

Rebel X-Sport (€2800 direct or $2950 from Rotweiller performance) replaces the whole front end, with new lights, new supports, everything. See the video to see how involved the install is.

Rebel X-Sport tower

Another vendor is MST SpecialThings (€1230), with a similar tower, Hella lights and space to put quite a lot of hardware.

MST Tower

Early clutch failures

There has been a few clutch failures recently, at fairly low mileage, and the people affected have been quite vocal as none of the failures have been covered by KTM. The numbers of failures is however very very low: I only found six, which are all listed below (If there is more please let me know by leaving a comment). At this point this is a very rare occurrence. I’ll update this article if I receive more updates.

Reports of failures

The main post triggering the attention to the issue is Quintin Mclaughlin’s report: he had only just run the bike in and had the initial service before setting off on a road trip through France, Spain and Portugal. Clutch failed at only 2,000 miles (3200kms).

On the comments on this FB post there are other report of failures: Uli Schildt picked up his bike in Arizona and rode 3,000 miles back to Washington State. A week later his clutch failed.

JP De Villiers, still on the same FB post, writes, “After my first clutch burnt and the fault was put on me after only 2700 km. I put a [heavy duty] Rekluse torque drive with the hope it will be a stronger replacement. It took exactly 300 km, clutch started taking high and slipping exactly like before.”

Those were simple failures, where replacing the clutch plates and the spring was enough to go back on. Unfortunately some riders experienced more catastrophic failures requiring a 3k “rebuild of the engine”. Bill Cairns was the first one, but Yevhen Karel described a similar failure on this FB post : “the clutch plates were burnt, broken into pieces. Then clutch powder blocked the oil filter, oil pump, etc. and the oil could not circulate as it should (the oil could not be seen in the check window). As a result, some oil has been found in the exhaust. Now the engine needs to be rebuilt, cleaned and new clutch to be installed”.

There is another report from Mark Ferbrache’s of a failure at 9000 kms, still on the same long FB post. But in this case note that Mark uses the clutch a lot: “[offroad] you’re on the clutch the whole time. Plus if you’re on a really narly climb your going to be on the clutch a lot“. As opposed to a small trial bike, slipping the clutch all the time on a big adventure bike is going to cook it in no time.

Alarmed by the news of clutches failing, windblown101 decided to open his, just to check, and found it in working order. He still changed the springs as they were slightly out of spec. So here you go, pics of a good clutch.

I leave the last word on this to gearheadE30: “Clutch failures (unconfirmed). Probably similar to range of experiences people had with 950/990 clutches. From what I have seen, most of these failures have been from abuse. I have only seen one that actually looked like a surprise failure, which appeared to be due to insufficient oil flow. The outermost clutch few clutch plates and fibers didn’t seem to be cooling adequately and showed obvious signs of heat. Seems to be fairly uncommon but we may see that the “meoni clutch mod” from the 950/990 becomes a popular change. One also looked like clearance between the input shaft shaft ID and the clutch release “tension bolt” part number 63532048104 was maybe too tight and not letting oil through to lube the clutch…but that was just from looking at wear patterns in pictures so it is hard to say. I’m calling this an open question, but it’s worth saying that the clutches held up great in Morocco and the only problems we had were due to unusual abuse“.

What we know about the clutch

The clutch on the 790 is a wet design, but instead of just dipping in the oil a feed is instead injected via a jet in the center of the clutch shaft. This jet is on the worklist of recommended work to be performed at every service (See the Service manual, page 414). Note that this is not a new system for KTM, the same overall design has been present on older models like the 950.

Some believe that those failures are due to the jet being blocked by debris in the oil, preventing lubrication of the plates and causing an early failure of the clutch. A KTM dealer even diagnosed it as such. There are suggestions to increase the jet size, and/or drilling holes in the basket, but those are not proven to actually work (The fact that it worked on the 950 16 years ago, doesn’t make it the panacea for a brand new bike). Plus increased oil flow will make finding neutral more difficult.

Recommendations

The #1 recommendation is if you feel the clutch slipping, stop ASAP. From first sign of slippage to unusable bike seems to happen in a very short time.

Check the freeplay. Often. Lack of freeplay at the lever will cook a clutch fairly quickly: make sure to control it (procedure is in the manual). For those using a CamelADV extender, to keep the same freeplay on the clutch you need to make the freeplay on the lever a little longer.

Finally when the traction control intervenes and leads to the engine bogging down it’s important not to slip the clutch to raise revs, instead you should leave MTC to do its job.

Wear item

The clutch is a wear item. As such, like brake pads or tires, those failures are not covered by any guarantees, including the KTM one. For this reason none of the failures above were covered, to the dismay of the owners.

Some believe there is a technical issue with the bike causing the early failures, and if it is the case, the clutch should be changed free of charge, along with the cleanup job to remove bits of clutch material from all the oil passages.

Acknowledgment

I was kicked into gear into writing this article thanks to Tim Cullis. He posted another great post on an UK forum, which served as the original base for this article.

Replacement footpegs

There are a lot of potential replacement footpegs you can use on the 790 Adventure. Bigger, lower, moved back, in aluminium or stainless steel, the choices are multiple.

advrider inmate Kubcat collated all the lowered footpegs he could find and put them all in a spreadsheet. Which is now available for you, until we figure out how to format this in a better form. Maybe.

Lots of info on the spreadsheet.

Rear shock failure

On the R, and only on the R, there are reports of rear shocks failing and needing to be rebuild. It’s hard to figure out hard numbers, but there are a few. Just to be clear the issues are of shock leaking oil, broken seals, not broken shaft or “exploding shock” as you can read online.

There is a theory going around incriminating the catalytic converter: it is really hot, and very close to the shock, so it is possible that it is heating up the oil or the seals, thus causing the failure. Some facts however don’t align very well with this theory:

  • This failure is only on the R, the S model is not affected at all. If the catalysts were in fact “boiling the oil inside the shock” as I’ve read it in place, there would have been failures of the S shocks as well;
  • There is at least one example of a failing shock absorber on a bike with the catalyser removed from day one. Ergo, the catalyser in that case was not to blame;
  • As bikes get more mileage, failure rate should have increased. This is not the case, the bikes with failing shock absorbers are all low mileage (less than 2k, very new).

This seems to indicate that the issue is probably not the catalyser but more likely a default on some shocks with a problem from the factory.

I started a discussion thread about it there to try to gather more facts. Thomas Rosenwirth also recommends cleaning up the seals regularly if you ride off road.

Camel ADV sells a product to protect the shock from the catalyser heat that may help keep the shock working temp to be lower.

Cold start procedure

There are reports of cold start issues. The engine starts, but stalls right away, requiring multiple tries to start and hold idle.

Before looking at anything else, try following this foolproof start procedure:

  • Make sure the kill switch is in the neutral position (Better, when you stop the engine with the kill switch, train yourself to always put it back in the neutral position right away);
  • Put your key in, turn the power on;
  • Listen to the fuel pump building pressure in the circuit. Wait until it stops. Note that this priming will not happen if the kill switch is engaged. The manual recommend waiting until the instrument panel starts, which takes roughly the same time as the priming;
  • Don’t touch the throttle;
  • Tap the start button. Don’t keep it pressed until the engine fires, just give it a tap and the engine will start by itself.

If this doesn’t start the engine every time, or if the engine stalls right away, check your fuel filter for contamination and the pressure at the fuel pump (or ask your dealer to do it). Note: Filters are black when wet, white when dry: don’t assume a dark filter is a dirty one.

If it stills acts funny, talk to your dealer.

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