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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I will buy a new adventure bike (Africa Twin or KTM 790) in the near future and sell my DR650. I am 68 years old and live in St George, Utah in the middle of incredible adventure riding opportunities. I am 6'3" , weigh 230lbs and have extensive dirt bike and limited road bike experience in my 50 years of bike experience. My last true dirt bike (WR450) had a Recluse Clutch and I really miss the anti-stall, so the DCT is very attractive. I am getting old for truly challenging offroad but that is where my heart is so I expect my highway miles will always be en-route to backroad or moderately challenging trail riding, and here in the desert SW sand is simply a fact of life.

Pro/Con in my analysis, the KTM is lighter with adequate range, equivalent HP, cruise control, and high end suspension in the R model that will be sand friendly. The jury is out relative to KTM 790 cost, which in my case includes a $650 budget for a Recluse.

The AT has history, DCT and non-current year models can be purchased at significant discount. I believe the AT will need more farkles (example is the ATAS crash bars which are functionally useless other than for mounting lights) so the ready to ride cost may be equivalent.

I welcome any thoughts based on your experience.
 

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I am very similar to you in terms of age, height, and weight. I have owned/own a number of KTM bikes and over all am happy with the company. A couple of months ago I traded my manual '17 AT for a '18 DCT ATAS and love it. It is a little better sprung with a better suspension, larger tank, better seat, better rear rack,and a number of other improvements.

The KTM 790 looks very interesting. However, you will be paying a premium for the bike with assembly and shipping tacked on. They most likely will be hard to find if you do not have a deposit on one. I am not sure I would want to buy a new model in its first year. There are usually a few bugs to work out.

The AT with a DCT works very well. I am surprised how much I like it. With your size, I would suggest checking out a ATAS. I bet a '18 ATAS would cost about the same as a KTM 790. Also, there is not much an ATAS will need - lower engine guards, solid hand guards, and maybe radiator guards.

The AT and ATAS are not light-weights but they do carry their weight very well. You would be surprised where we have taken our twins. Currently, four of us have ATs and I am the only one with an ATAS.

Jon
 

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First the DCT is intuitive. For riding in the sand, well the bike is over 500 lbs. with power to spare. I think you will find the ergos to be better than most bikes with ground clearance to spare. I've ridden mostly high powered sport bikes for 45 years and owned a KLR 650 that I've rode in the sand in Death Valley and Sandy Valley but haven't ridden the ATAS off road yet. I find the Honda ATAS my favorite bike off all time. When it comes to maintenance change the oil lube the chain and clean the air filter. It's Japanese and they tend to keep things simple and durable. However there is a lot of plastic on the bike to break if one chooses to go down. If you want to take a test ride on the bike there is a guy in Vegas that rents the AS. Great Southwest Moto Adventures.
 

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KTM will cost more for what you get. I agree with above comment to stay clear of a new model in it's first year. I've heard many BMW owners warn that it is best to wait until third year of production on a new model or major revision. If you do opt for the KTM 790, I would personally consider an extended warranty.

Plus side of a KTM is it's going to have superior suspension out of the box and be more viscerally thrilling than the Honda. It's going to be more fun and capable offroading. The weight difference will pay major dividends in the dirt. If you don't intend to ride much with a passenger, the extra weight of the Africa Twin might be overkill.
 

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I welcome any thoughts based on your experience.
Be careful what you ask for.


If you have narrowed it down between two models then only extended road testing will be able to differentiate a preference between the two and perhaps give you some kind of idea of which will be more manageable off road. If you are unsure of the capability of the stock suspension off road then take a look at William Gloege (youtube) who did a RTW trip on an AT with stock suspension... and goes off road a lot. If the bike turns out to be a 'keeper' then you can always upgrade as and when necessary for your purposes further down the line. We seem to have been conditioned into believing that stock suspension is always inadequate - this is not always the case. But the only way to find out is to try for yourself and see if it fits your needs, if only over the short/medium term.

I came to the Africa twin after 21 years on the same BMW and in my opinion the weight of the bike.. although higher on paper, actually feels a lot less. I have the 'Sports version with DCT. and all that weight is way beneath the seat - very low down, even with a full tank (over 6 US Gallons) Its just a never ending source of wonder to me how this bike carries its weight and how little effort it takes to lift it off its side stand. In some ways it reminds me a lot, of the F series BMWs that have the fuel tank under the seat.. and likewise feel exceptionally light, I have yet to try lifting it after a fall. Do I have the strength? only time will tell.. Ive watched how its done and as with most heavy lifting there is a method.

I would never buy any bike from either BMW or KTM that was all-new, as they often come with faults from the factory and first owners tend to be "beta testers". Seems to me that BMW in particular spend years getting a bike 'just right'.. or as we say on this side of the pond 'fully sorted' and then promptly replace it and then we are back to square one.. fixing a flawed machine, having to deal with recalls and the painful realisation that keeping up with the extended warranty is absolutely vital to avoid finance crushing repair bills. long gone is the time when BMW would be sympathetic to an owner whose bike suffers a 'from the factory' fault some time after the warranty has expired.

Are KTM similar? I don't know.. they have never figured on my radar.

I like the Africa twin because historically they are from a lineage that is an original "Adventure" bike.. from a time when there were only 3. The BMW G/S in 1980. The Africa Twin 8 years later. And the Triumph Tiger in 1993. All three from a time before "Adventure' was a genre.. these were all "Monster trail" bikes.. with only the G/S and Africa Twin being anything like what we would call today "Dual Sports"

Every other bike since.. and particularly since 2004 has been essentially a copycat. from manufacturers who have watched with envy and an eye on their market share. BMW carve out a whole new genre and go from a relatively small player to the class leader... with more money pouring into their coffers than they know how to spend. Who wouldnt want a piece of that?

I bought my Africa Twin in no small part because of this history. And because i grew tired of pouring.. occasionally comparatively large amounts of money into my GS just to keep it going... the engine just goes on forever.. its a shame that BMW never seemed to concentrate as much effort on the rest of the bike.

Ive watched and waited patiently for Honda to do what they finally did last year.. Bring out an Africa Twin Varient that ticked all those boxes that the standard bike did not. And they did it with the release of the 'Sports.

My patience has paid off.. its a fantastic machine. with a genuine lineage and all the credentials you could ask for. It most definitely is not another copycat. or 'johnny come lately'. Its a "Round the World" bike.. that isn't simply another GS wannabe. Because.. in my opinion the latest GS is itself a GS wannabe. It reminds me mostly of the original 1993 Triumph Tiger. a bike that 'looks' like a 'dual sport' but is in its essence a Tarmac Tourer.

So on comparison videos.. the AT wins (almost) every time, aside from at the end when the reviewers often have 100s of miles of tarmac to cover to get home and they mostly would prefer to be on the GS for that.

That tells me a lot about that bike. It also told me a lot about the Africa Twin.

(as you can tell I have far too much time on my hands)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thanks to all. I am buying a 2018 ATAS DCT. I am impressed by the overwhelming loyalty and love for the AS expressed by such a huge and diverse group of riders. The AS DCT clicks all of my "want" buttons. I am 6'3" so tall is good. My favorite offroad bike was a Yamaha WR450 with a recluse clutch. I know the hard cores out there think auto-clutch is a cop out, but it saved my ass many times when technical challenges almost put me down and the anti-stall feature was there to keep the power on while I was struggling to keep it on two wheels.

The KTM looks great on paper but I agree, a new model comes with too many unknowns. At my age (68) I am in the twilight of my riding days. I want to ride with a smile and no worries. I think the ATAS will be the perfect partner to ride off into the sunset with.

Southern Utah where I live has a huge variety of riding opportunity. The "Arizona Strip" on the North side of the Grand Canyon between the North Rim Lodge all the way West to Interstate 15 is my winter playground with hundreds of miles of remote gravel and jeep roads. Death Valley is about five hours West - haven't been there yet but the ATAS brings it within very comfortable range. Areas around Zion NP, Escalante Grand Staircase, Bryce Canyon NP, Canyonlands NP, and thousands of miles of Forest Service roads are within a days ride from home providing unlimited summer exploration.

Look me up if your riding adventures come my way!
 
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