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Chris Birch: 5 things I love about the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R


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Chris Birch: 5 things I love about the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R

Enduro legend, riding coach and now KTM ADVENTURE ambassador, Chris Birch’s daily steed of choice is the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R. Riding it constantly since its 2017 launch, the New Zealand resident spent 6000 offroad km last month so we quizzed him for his five favorite features on the most enduro of travel enduros.


Chris Birch (NZL) © A. Barbanti

Chris Birch is arguably the man responsible for showing the world the extreme possibilities and agility of the multi-cylinder KTM ADVENTUREs. He’s ridden them all; from 950 to 1290 and everything in between (including the upcoming KTM 790 ADVENTURE R) but his favorite of all time is the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R.

Last month, Chris clocked up an astonishing 6000 offroad riding kilometers on this bike, coaching schools all over the world, attending KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES in Australia, Sardinia and the United Kingdom and shooting this incredible Coastal Adventure video in his homeland of New Zealand.

He’s also competed on the bike in the 2017 Hellas Rally; a seven-day navigation rally in Greece in which he cruised to the M5 (adventure bike) class victory and finishing an amazing sixth overall against more than 150 racers, competing mainly on 450 Rally machines.

Having just added Wales to the list of countries he’s ridden the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R in, alongside Peru, Italy, Ecuador, Panama, Japan, New Zealand, Indonesia, Canada, USA, Australia, Uruguay, Greece, and England, we sat down with Chris at the Sweetlamb complex at the KTM UK ADVENTURE RALLY and asked him for his five favorite features on the 1050cc orange-framed machine.

From 1190 to 1090 …
“Going from the 1190 R to the 1090 R, the latter was everything that I had needed to modify my 1190 R to be,” Chris tells us. “It was like KTM R&D listened to my every wish! Before I’d needed to change the wheels to stronger ones because I’d damage them, and the suspension was also improved, close to how I modify mine.”

“With the stock bike now, all I do is add some flatter EXC bars to suit my standing position as I’m tall, I also use a clutch lever off a KTM 200 EXC as it is a bit shorter, fit some Mitas tires and re-valve the forks to make them firmer on their initial movement. The final thing is to drop it down a tooth on the front sprocket, which makes it really easy in the tight offroad sections and helps save my license on the road as the top speed is reduced!”


Chris Birch (NZL) © C. Wood

1. The engine
“The first thing when you have to talk about on a 1000cc plus motorcycle is the engine! I love how much torque it has got; you can really punch it up climbs and obstacles – like a trials bike! You can also be two or three gears wrong and it will just kinda work it all out for you.”

“As for the ride modes, I leave my bike in street mode all the time and never change it. ‘Sport’ is a bit too aggressive for me and as for ‘Offroad’ without trying to sound like a dick, I like having the full 125hp all the time. The offroad mode is really good and a valuable tool for most people when riding this bike offroad, but I’m greedy for the power.”

“Another reason I never change the ride modes as I like my bike to feel like it does all the time. Like, that’s what it will do and what happens when I crack the throttle in this situation. So, I really know how it will react because I’m so familiar with it. If I play around with the modes too much, it’s like learning three different bikes.”

2. Epic drifts
“A combination of the chassis balance, suspension and engine performance I really love how this bike sits in a corner. My favorite thing to do on this bike is slide on a gravel road from corner to corner doing big, smooth drifts.”

“All the wheelies and jumps and stuff are great for making videos and pictures, but if I’m going out just to play on it for me, I’ll be just going out to make big power slides from one corner to the next.”


KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R © M. Chytka

3. Adaptability
“It’s not really a feature as such, but it kinda is. But the most impressed I’ve ever been with the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R was on a trip to Japan.”

“I’d finished my first batch of riding schools and then my wife, Monica, flew in. We then put the luggage on and spent five days touring around Japan. When we got to the next riding venue, they had an enduro cross track there. So, I kicked her off the back along with the luggage and started riding the track. I could jump the doubles and clear the log matrix on the same bike we’d just been touring around on in complete comfort. That really, really impressed me.”

4. The range of use
“I suppose it merges a little bit into the last feature in a way, but what I mean is the fact that I can leave my house and start having fun straight away; I don’t have to mess around by loading it on a trailer it or putting it in van.”

“From my place, I can connect four of my favorite riding areas all into one loop. Which is really cool. When I leave Wales later, we’ll be looking to find some interesting routes back. It’s just a bike that makes you want to explore and it does that with ease – on and offroad.”


KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R © M. Chytka

5. Noise
“I love the way it sounds. I don’t rip the baffle out of the KTM PowerParts Akrapovič silencer or remove the catalytic converter, like some do. My bike isn’t particularly loud as I don’t want it particularly loud, but I really just love that LC8 twin-cylinder sounds in all situations. My daughter calls my 1090 R ‘Roary’ because when we go for a ride together and I give it some gas it’s the bike that says ‘roar’. So, I like it and she does too!”

Photos: A. Barbanti | C. Wood | M. Chytka


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      The increased technical navigation expected at Dakar 2021 should suit Matthias Walkner.
      PC @MarcinKinRemove the pressure, keep it relaxed…
      “We created the KTM Factory Racing Junior Rally Program with Daniel Sanders to run in parallel with the factory team. The idea behind this is to bring in a new rider without them feeling the pressure of racing for the factory team, and to allow them to enjoy a more relaxed approach to their racing. Part of the idea is to plan for the future, and the junior program will be a feeder team into the factory team. Within this structure there is much less pressure on Daniel, he has time to learn with the goal of progressing step by step and perhaps being able to reach the factory team. He has all the tools he needs, and can learn from our three very experienced and successful rally racers, so his position is perfect for developing his skills, without any pressure. He’s actually learning really fast and we’re very happy with the progress that he’s made since joining the team.”
      Sam Sunderland has a lot of experience in the dunes, which should be a help to him at the 2021 Dakar.
      PC @MarcinKinStep-by-step with an eye on the future…
      “With Daniel, we knew he had great potential. He won the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) on a big bike, so a rally bike wasn’t going to be too difficult for him to get used to. He knows high speeds and his riding skills are very good. As soon as he arrived, he started learning with the roadbook and understood it quite quickly. His first race as a rally rider was the Andalucia Rally and he won a stage there, so everything is really promising with Daniel. For now, though, we don’t put any pressure on him, and we take everything step by step. In the future, I’ve no doubt that he will be a contender at the Dakar Rally.”
      Daniel Sanders joins the KTM Factory Racing Junior Rally Program for his first Dakar in January.
      PC @MarcinKinThe prologue for the 2021 Dakar Rally begins on January 2nd 2021, and the event concludes after 12 stages on January 15th with one rest day on January 9th. There are 108 motorcycle competitors entered into the race, which is being held for the 43rd time. KTM’s four-rider line-up hopes to bring the title back to Austria, but with an event held over 7,646  kilometers, with nearly 5,000 competitive kilometers,  anything can and does happen. The team is based in a bivouac, which is a base that travels to follow the race and is where the rider departs from and arrives to each night aboard his KTM 450 RALLY.
      The team will be aiming for more podium results and victories – here they are celebrating Toby Price’s third place finish in 2020.
      PC @RallyZoneWe at the KTM blog would like to wish the KTM Factory Racing team the very best of luck! Head over to the Racing News on for the latest 2021 Dakar Rally news.
    • De Dementor
      Posted in People, Racing Red Bull KTM classified as 2020 MotoGP eSports World #1 in the capable hands of 23-year old Adrian Montenegro. The Spaniard cleaned-up in the eight rounds of the championship with his ‘virtual’ KTM RC16 so we decided to ask how and why…
      Adrian was proud to represent Red Bull KTM Factory Racing.
      PC @KTMAdrian Montenegro has the same official shirt and arguably the same competitive spirit as the 2020 Red Bull KTM MotoGP quartet of Brad Binder, Pol Espargaro, Iker Lecuona and Miguel Oliveira. The Gran Canarian does however have a different set of ‘controls’ when it comes to the saddle of his KTM RC16. Montenegro registered five wins and two more podiums in the burgeoning eSports version of Grand Prix racing after coming through a series of regional challenges and a Pro Draft to make the cut as one of eleven best competitors with the official MotoGP game.
      Adrian explained how he raced the championship at home.
      PC @KTMAs a member of the Williams eSports team (the F1 squad has gaming representation across a number of motorsports)  and with a MotoGP world ranking of 5th in 2019, Montenegro was selected by Red Bull KTM for 2020 and – happily wearing the number of his favorite racer, KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa – laid waste to the competition.
      “There are a few guys who were already signed up by factory teams but I was pleased to be chosen by Red Bull KTM,” he said in a call from his home. “Since I was small, I always liked watching Dani; so, I raced with his number 26 and I also liked his helmet and used his livery. It was cool how it worked out.”
      The graphics in the game are incredible – it’s also extremely competitive.
      PC @KTMMontenegro’s ability had been spotted by the Williams crew as the world of eSports and competition continues to sprout at a rapid pace and on a wide international scale. In a recent article renowned business magazine Forbes stated that global gaming revenue is set to reach almost 160 billion dollars in 2020 and eSports in particular will top 1 billion, with expectations to rise by another 50% in the next two years. Vast streaming and online viewership is helping to boost numbers while companies and investors are backing elite gaming ‘factions’ to the tune of millions of dollars. Sports like MotoGP and F1 are trying to react to this surging market.
      Adrian is the 2020 MotoGP eSport World Champion.
      PC @KTM“Williams have a good team in Sim Racing and also Gran Turismo and have now started out in MotoGP,” he claims, as one of a large roster of official drivers/riders/representatives. “They provide me with a computer, headset, controller and everything I need to play.”
      Like any focused racer ‘Williams_Adrian’ had to work on his weak points for competition and the eight events in Mugello, Jerez, Red Bull Ring, Sepang, Misano World Circuit, Phillip Island, Silverstone and the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, played out online in 2020. Sadly, the Grand Final couldn’t place at its traditional slot at the ‘real’ Valencia due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
      By live link Adrian was awarded his MotoGP eSport World Championship trophy.
      PC @KTM“I improved a lot this year with my starts and that really helped,” he commented on his rise from mid-top 10 runner to race winner and eventually champion with the prize of a brand-new BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupé to park alongside his KTM RC 390 in his garage. “I was around 7th-6th-5th last year and I found it really difficult to comeback, so I prepared this season to start further forward and it worked.” He won five of the first six races and had two more podiums to head the final standings by 23 points.
      The graphics in the game allow riders to personalize their leathers.
      PC @KTM“It was still pretty nervy to race from home but of course it would be better to have been at the circuit,” he adds. “It would be amazing to win there with things like the trophy presentations and this year would have been the keys to the car! It’s a little ‘colder’ when you’re at home.”
      Montenegro has the reactions and the co-ordination to excel at a game that is played online by hundreds of thousands of fans and a healthy section of the MotoGP grid themselves (as evidenced by the Virtual Grands Prix among the riders during the mid-year pandemic lockdown). Nevertheless, he is not a fanatic and doesn’t spend every waking hour behind the PlayStation. His brother, Williams_Cristian, also competes and has also won prizes in MotoGP eSports.
      Riders from around the world competed for the championship representing the MotoGP teams.
      PC @KTM“We play a few hours a day when it’s competition time but, for example, I’m studying now and the championship is over so I don’t play at all,” he explained. “I cannot sit there connected for hours and hours because it would drive me crazy and I also don’t like overdoing it! If I feel I need to be better at something then I’ll work at it, but I also put the controller down when I get bored or tired of it.”
      Montenegro admits that he only plays MotoGP and occasionally FIFA. It means he has intimate knowledge of the game developed by Milestone. The Italian studio has been curating the official MotoGP title since 2007 and have evolved their portrayal of the sport in that period.
      Adrian runs the #26 like his favourite rider Dani Pedrosa.
      PC @KTM“It’s good but it still has a few things to improve,” assesses Montenegro, a rider himself and very familiar with the sporty performance of the KTM RC 390. “The developers are always improving the game, so that’s a positive thing. An improvement? For my taste the braking time into the corners is really short, very deep. You just brake and turn, and it doesn’t feel quite right. A good thing? The graphics and presentations of the circuits and the bikes are fantastic. I would alter the physics of the game, but that’s just my opinion. Other players might really like how it is.”
      Adrian said his improved starts off the grid were a big improvement this year.
      PC @KTMIn March 2021 Montenegro has to go again and classify among the elite of Europe and make the cut to attempt the Global series and defend his crown. MotoGP eSports will reach a fifth edition next year and the reigning champ believes it is going places. In 2019 the six-round competition logged 20 million video views with more than 3 million engagements and was distributed by 15 broadcasters. Those figures can only increase.
      “I think there is a lot potential for growth,” he opines. “When I won the championship a couple of weeks ago I received so many messages and I still do every day. You can see how much people like it around the world. I think the series has some strong sponsors, like Red Bull, and a lot of interest. I hope it gets a bit bigger next year…and I can still be there to win it!”
      Adrian is the 2020 MotoGP eSport World Champion
      PC @KTMFor more information about MotoGP eSports check out the official website here: