The Little Bike Capable Of Big Adventures – KTM 390 ADVENTURE

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As I slowly waded my way into the murky 10-meter long crossing, the water began to climb its way up our newest Adventure bike. With a couple of wet footsteps in, it consumed the front axle, then right as I passed the halfway point, the engine cases were submerged along with my boots. My only thought at this point. I am in a world of trouble here.



The day started in the beautiful country town of Dayboro, North West of Brisbane. With a camel pack full of water, a fuel tank full of fuel, I was ready to take the new KTM 390 Adventure, and put some kilometres on it. My instructions for the mission where simple, put one thousand kilometres on the clock, organise its first service and bring it back in tip-top condition ready for the Australian motorcycle media to test it. No worries at all!



With an advertised range of approximately four hundred and thirty kilometres from the fourteen and a half-litre fuel tank, i knew that would get me past lunchtime where I could decide if I wanted to push on for the day or head home if i had had enough. I hit the tarmac and headed South toward Samsonvale where I looked forward to putting the bike through its paces, heading up and over the infamous Mount Glorious range.


I had a hot tip from a well renowned local adventure rider (KTM Marketing Manager, Rosie Lalonde) to take the Goat Track rather than going up the mountain on the blacktop. The Goat Track was a fun, single lane, narrow mountain pass, with a surplus of tight winding turns. The gravel road was a great introduction for the small-bore adventure bike to the looser surface found underfoot. It also allowed me to get up on the pegs and get a feel for the ergonomics.


As I climbed up the mountain pass, creeping up on runners and cyclists alike, I was pleasantly surprised. With the ABS in Offroad mode and the MTC switched off, not once did I feel like the bike was going to do anything out of sorts. The front-wheel felt planted and the engine – when in the right gear – had plenty of punch to pull me out of those tight turns. On occasion – when coerced – the rear end stepped out beautifully in a power slide even Chris Birch would have been proud of.


While standing on the pegs, moving my weight from side to side, the bike felt great. My short, five-foot five-inch stature, was able to move around the machine with no worries at all and it felt incredibly light and nimble. I was a happy camper that’s for sure and my confidence was already building on our newest KTM.


After thoroughly testing the brakes through the twisties on the backside of Mount Glorious – to which I was very impressed with the stopping power at my fingertips. I took the backroads North towards Kilcoy, crossing the Somerset Dam where I had a small encounter where a very large bird on the side of the road. Spreading its wings and thankfully taking off in the opposite direction, my heart rate spiked and trust me when I say this, I would have come off worse. It was huge!



I rolled into Kilcoy looking for some lunch and pondering what to do next. Pulling up at a BP service station in town, I picked up a Snickers, a bag of mixed nuts and did what any one of us would have done while having the time of our lives on a brand new adventure bike. I grabbed a 12-volt phone charger – which plugged straight into the port underneath the dash – a top-up of fuel and carried on North. The only thought in mind at that point was to adventure more.

KTM My Ride App provides turn by turn directions

With no idea where I was going, I thought now was a great time to use the KTM My Ride App. Once set up and connected to your smartphone by Bluetooth, it offers turn by turn navigation, right to the TFT display on the 390 Adventure. It has a boatload of very exciting features which I didn’t use as I wasn’t riding with an in-helmet headset. I typed in my next waypoint which was Jimna and off we went.


My need for adventure had delivered and I was having a blast. I was met by beautiful sweeping roads which I had stumbled upon by complete accident. With the Jimna State Forest on my left and the Conondale State Forest to my right. This little single-cylinder powerhouse continued to put a smile on my face. I learned that if I keep the revs between five and nine thousand RPM it loved it. It did mean my left foot was busier than normal on the gear shifter but once I found its sweet spot, it just kept on singing. The cherry on top for this type of riding would have been the installation of the optional Quickshifter+. A KTM PowerPart that allows for clutchless shifting both up and down gears available at KTM Dealerships.


As I kept spotting the dirt roads into the forestry to my left and to my right, my mind started to wander to a document I had read while putting together a newsletter earlier that week.

The document read “The KTM 390 ADVENTURE is the best, most advanced and cost-effective entry point for riders that have briefly glanced at a path away from the tarmac and wondered ‘what if…?’ ” This fitted my current state of mind to a tee.

Cruising along the open road looking into the dense forestry trails wondering what if. I immediately made an executive decision. The next dirt right-hander into the forestry was mine. I had a few hours of sunlight, a full tank of fuel, some rations, water and a phone charger. She’ll be right, I’m going in. It’s fair to say the bike had provided me with a newfound sense of adventure.



I took the plunge and no more than four hundred meters into the forestry I was greeted with my first signposted intersection. I recognised one of the two names on the sign so I pushed on. No more than 200 meters further, more signs. This time I wasn’t so confident.

A quick photo opportunity before heading into the trails

Since I had left the predetermined path, the KTM My Ride navigation was having a fit asking me to perform a U-turn and proceed to the route. I pulled out my phone, changed some of the map settings and reset my waypoint to the North East of my current location. To my surprise, the map loaded with a marked route, directly through the state forestry, using only dirt roads. Gold! I can continue on my noble mission to not ride home on the bitumen.


As I dove deeper into the forest, the trees closed in and the trail got tighter. My first butt-clenching experience was a short but slippery log crossing to get me across a small body of water. As you can imagine, the logs where spanning lengthways from one side to the other and without planks ontop. I had to position my tyres between two of the logs and pray to the adventure gods that this was going to hold. I figured as a maintained track, my featherweight KTM 390 ADVENTURE weighing in at 158kg dry would be nothing on the vehicles that had previously gone before me. So eyes to the end, feet on the pegs, some consistent throttle and with a little bit of slip and slide, we had made it across.



Another fifteen kilometres of awesome hill climbs and shallow creek crossings, the light was starting to fade. The flicker of my LED headlight was beginning to illuminate the dense scrub either side of me and with no tools and limited phone service, my sense for adventure was turning into a feeling of urgency. I pulled over to double-check my predetermined route and with 10 kilometres until I saw wide National Park dirt roads, I needed to get a wriggle on. I adjusted the forks to suit my new found need of intensity and I wicked it up a gear and took my little single-cylinder up and down some pretty substantial hills with intent. It really is a wolf in LAMS clothing and took just about everything the forestry through at us.


Toolless adjustable compression and rebound dampening as standard

As I jumped across multiple irrigation mounds on the way up yet another hill climb I was having a blast, and as the age-old saying goes “what goes up must come down”. I crested the top and was greeted with the most daunting decent yet. I proceeded with caution down the now quite dark, greasy red clay hill where at the bottom there was yet another blind, slippery left-hander. Luckily, the boggy terrain as I neared the bottom slowed me up a little, and as I peered around the corner there it was. Best described as a small lake, the muddy water spanned the width of the track and approximately 10 meters long.


With no clearly defined path around, I decided now would be a suitable time to dismount and walk my way into the puddle. With the 390 against my hip and a slight slip of the clutch to get us moving, we were off into the water. As I slowly waded my way into the murky 10-meter long crossing, the water began to climb its way up… after a couple of wet footsteps, it had consumed the front axle, then the engine cases were submerged at the half-way point, along with my boots. My only thought at this stage …

I am in a world of trouble here.

As the bike slowed due to the stock tyres sinking in the muddy water, my only option was to push like hell and give it some more throttle to keep my momentum up. Putting on a show for the local wildlife that would rival any Wet and Wild attraction, with water roosting from one side of the creek to the other. We had made it!


With a sigh of relief, I put the side stand down to inspect our brand new motorcycle. With muddy water from top to bottom, my initial mission statement had me slightly worried … “bring it back in tip-top condition” was not quite the current situation. I was going to have to rely on my years as a professional motocross mechanic washing bikes week-in-week-out to get this one sparkling again. With my heart still pounding I set off once more, heading to the top of yet another hill climb where I was greeted by a spectacular view of the open plains ahead of me. Another short ride and I was met by the wide dirt road I was aiming for and I was only a handful of kilometres away from Kenilworth, where I would then take the bitumen South towards home.

The breathtaking view from the top

16:45 – WE MADE IT


On the highway home, I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. I had a newfound sense of adventure and I finally had a machine that I felt completely confident on to take me there and back. The lower seat height on the 390 is confidence-inspiring when the going gets tough and the weight invites you to put it places with ease. I have shied away from the bigger adventure bikes in the past and only since the arrival of the 790 ADVENTURE R and 390 ADVENTURE have I truly enjoyed riding these bigger machines.


As someone that is completely green to the adventure scene but with hundreds of hours logged on motocross and enduro bikes, I can safely say I had a blast. The 390 ADVENTURE is a brilliant stepping stone to those who want a low-cost entry point into the segment with very minimal limitations. The statement that came up in my head before peeling off into the forestry is much more than an advertising spiel. It pretty much hits the nail on the head and I am looking forward to more time on this bike. I am almost certain we will see these bikes on the KTM Adventure Rallye’s when restrictions permit and I look forward to chatting with their owners about their new sense of adventure.


To find out more about the KTM 390 ADVENTURE Click Here.


Until next time. Stay safe and happy riding.


– Kyle Blunden

Marketing and Events Coordinator

KTM Australia and New Zealand

All washed up and ready for the Australian Motorcycling press