R.I.P. KTM Adventure R – You shall be no more.


ktm_adventure_rip_01
(Editor – While not cafe racer content, I’m sure we can all relate to the loss of a favorite motorcycle whether it is from a crash, being stolen, or even self-destruction as in the case of this bike. Back to cafe racers in a bit…)

It is with a fond farewell that I have to say goodbye to my trusty steed of the last 7 years. My KTM Adventure R has died. Not a small death. Not a dead battery. Not a fouled spark plug. Not even a piece of electronics gone south.

This was the sound of metal breaking from within the core of the motor. The heart of the bike, if you will. It had, you could say, a massive myocardial infarction. After the sound of metal breaking, there were more metallic sounds, then some grinding-type noises, then some coasting, then nothingness. Just a period of time when I was free to experience the silence of a mid-morning spent waiting for a ride in the heart of the Central Valley of California.

As I sat waiting for my friend to come pick me up, I thought about my time with this Austrian motorcycle. Some long rides to destinations many states (or even a country) away. Some short rides to work around the the backside of Hoover Reservoir just outside Columbus, Ohio. Manic rides in endurance rallies where 24 hours was measured in 4 digit mileage totals. But all great rides with the massive, thumping music of the 625cc single driving me forward.

There was the first time I saw the KTM LC4 Adventure R, sitting at my desk at Honda R&D as I built a model book back in 1998, cutting and pasting images of bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles, and PWCs into a document that all of the higher ups could go through if they wondered how many cc’s the latest Arctic Cat has. As I built the KTM section, there it was. The 1998 KTM Adventure R with low pipes, massive 7.4 gallon tank, and suspension that would take you from Paris to Dakar and back. I printed out a nice 8.5″ x 11″ color picture of the big single and posted it on my cubicle wall.

There was the first ride home from The Cycle Shed in southern Indiana. Almost immediately, the right-hand mirror fell apart five miles after driving off the showroom floor. Then the front brake master cylinder started leaking just north of Cincinnati. When I stopped to fix that from the little tool kit that came with the bike (take off the MC cap, and use a paper towel to soak up the excess brake fluid), I noticed a puddle of overflowed, excess oil underneath the bike. After a 2.5 hour ride I was home and in love.

There was my first endurance rally two weeks after bringing the bike home. I rode back to Cincinnati for my second Buckeye 1000 (previously done on a VFR750), and took a nearly new single-cylinder dirt bike 1,479 miles through six state capitols (Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and then Indiana). I entered the rally finishing spot (a hotel parking lot) doing my best supermotard impersonation much to the amusement of the rally staff, and finished 1 minute before the disqualification point in this 24 hour rally.

There was my first off road excursion on the bike. I hit mud on a wooden, creek-crossing bridge and slid off the bridge. Well, almost off the bridge. I ended up on top of the bike after the rear axle nut kept it from sliding completely off, and the front end was stuck down below in the mud of the creek bank.

There was the time I disassembled the entire bike down to a large pile of parts, loaded it into the trunk and back seat of my car and drove across the country to my new job. After I reassembled it, I ended up crashing a few days later at about 15 mph in the early morning fog/drizzle where it had dampened a corner covered with redwood tree leaves. Then, we nearly got hit as a Subaru WRX came barreling around the corner at about 40 mph and nearly slid into us on the same slippery leaves.

There was the o’dark-thirty ride into the Gettysberg National Military Park during a BATLDR rally, trying to find an observation tower to write down some obscure fact while the ghosts of the 51,000 who died during this battle had to listen to the thumpa-thumpa of this big single motoring through the early morning darkness. After I climbed to the top of the tower and wrote down the needed factoid (I think it was that the house to the southeast of the tower had been lived in by Eisenhower after his presidency), the sun started to rise. As the darkness made way to light, the battlefield became visible all around me, and in my sleep-deprived state I felt like I was there on the morning of the battle waiting for the fighting to start. After I made my way back down to my bike and started riding away, I realized now that it was a bit lighter than when I had arrived that I had been motoring through campgrounds filled with hundreds of Civil War reenactors. Sorry, guys! My bad!

There was the last ride on the KTM before it died. I took my daughter and her friend to the local OHV area to ride. It was more of a dawdling meander than anything else, as this particular pair of 8-year-old kids doesn’t really scream across the trails. I got a few speedy bursts in, jumping on some of the trail obstacles left after the last hare scrambles held there. But the most fun was getting ice cream when we were riding back to the car and sitting with the kids talking about how much fun the riding had been.

And now the bike is sitting in my garage, waiting for me to dissect the motor and make a decision about whether to fix it or part out the bike. Sad to say, but I suspect that it will cost more to have the motor rebuilt than I could get if I tried to sell the bike after the motor is fixed and reinstalled. I love this bike, but it may be time to move on. Perhaps I can find a gray market Rallye 660. Or maybe it’s time to step up to an LC8 Adventure. I’ve got some thinking to do…
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1 comment so far

  1. Anonymous on

    ya mean the cycle shed in Jennings County, North Vernon to a bit more exact? Im from the good ole NV. ya know that is no longer a “dealership” they still work on em but none to sell.
    I didnt get mine fron there but I love my 02 KTM 520exc(with a 540 kit), the dude I bought it from got all the repairs that he wouldnt do himself done there.
    I didnt even know any one knew about that place. nevertheless, sorry to hear of yer loss(hat held against heart)Im sure that you already have something else but you should look at the newer, like a 08 or 09 530exc, man they really rip.
    right on well.. keep the rubber side down man

    a fellow north vernonite


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