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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!

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