Due for a bike upgrade or two here... So I went to test drive a KTM 990 SMT and a Ducati Hyperstrada.
This is a tall bike. Surprinsingly light though, as you push it around the parking lot. Tall as in I could hardly reach down with one leg and could not reach to lift the kickstand, had to dismount, lift the stand with my hand and mount it again.Yeah, I am not tall, I know...
I tell you, KTM has no clue how to make kickstands. My 690 has the worst kickstand ever put on a production bike. The shape makes it impossible to lift while sitting on the bike and to lift it you have to lean the bike over so much you think you'll drop it.
Riding he SMT is like riding a bear who wants to eat you. That bear is mean and hungry and ready to snap your head right off as soon as you go near the throttle. The one I tested had two fairly loud Hindle cans making this bear angry too!
Every time you twist the throttle, there is a surge of power, digging you deep into the seat - the shape of the seat actually helps stop your sliding back, very nice!
The brakes: looking at them will stop the bike - touching them will produce a stoppie while if you actually dare apply them, they'd most likely slow down the earth's rotation... or they feel like they would! Careful then with both throttle and brakes...
There is some vibration above 4-5k rpm, but you can cruise at 120kmh below that, without much vibration... much less than my 690 anyways. I will have to use my Roxx anti-vibration bar risers though, should make for a sweet long ride.
Love the thing - I immediately felt right at home. The riding position is perfect, the shifter just like my other KTMs just the touchy brakes put me off but I guess I'll need them :). The fact that it comes with luggage mounting options and fairly cheap KTM cases for it ads to the reasons for getting one...
The windscreen works - there was a bit if buffeting at speed, but not much.
The Ducati in contrast is a mini-bike! I spent the entire test drive wondering if the screen will take my teeth out - and I am short, at 171cm. The flip side is not having any trouble reaching down... well.
The power is there, but not right off the bottom like in the KTM. The handling is nice, but all the time, the bike felt too small... I don't understand how you can fit panniers and a passenger on a Hyperstrada... on the KTM, you can certainly fit a few people and probably tow a caravan as well!
One other difference I noticed was the gear box - the Ducati takes some effort to shift, while the KTM's feels the same as their dirt bikes: very smooth.
The windscreen doesnt really work - it was a windy day and there was significantly more bufetting on the Ducati, at speed, than on the KTM. Looking at the windscreen monting is not hard to see why - the KTM's is actually shorter, but a lot more forward, pushing the air away.
Don't get me wrong - the Ducati felt like a nice bike and they're loaded with traction control and ABS - wish I tested it before the KTM, to give it a fair chance...