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When Aaron Steinmann got on his KTM 500 EXC to ride from the bottom to the top of New Zealand in 2016, he had no idea where the road would take him. Three years later, the likeable Kiwi has completed more than 125.000km crossing 50 countries on all six continents on this planet.



While most motorcycling explorers prefer the added comfort and bigger fuel tank capacity of KTM’s twin-cylinder ADVENTURE machines, for riders like Aaron it is all about the extra fun a light and highly capable offroad bike can offer. KTM Blog caught up with the extreme world traveler after he had finished exploring the relatively unknown trails of Korea.

“I fell in love with motorcycling during a short trip to Laos many years ago. Instead of being stuck in a minivan full of backpackers, I rented a bike and decided to explore the area at my own pace. I always liked having my own freedom to do things and travel and a motorcycle was the perfect tool for me to do so.”

Catching the adventure motorcycling bug during his first trip to southeast Asia, Aaron set his eyes on his first major bike traveling project upon his return to New Zealand.



Why a KTM 500 EXC?
“I’ve lived in New Zealand for a few years and when I decided to move back to Oregon in the States, I thought what a better way to get there than ride a bike instead of dealing with another 12hr plane ride! The next question was which bike to ride…”

“I knew I wanted something light I could ride in the dirt and pick up easily with the extra bags on, even if I was on my own. I wanted something with enough power to keep things interesting and put a smile on my face. I also needed something simple to work on and the 500 kept ticking all the boxes. Besides, I always thought it is a great looking bike, so for me it was a pretty easy choice.”



Picking up a KTM 500 EXC from a local dealer in late 2015, Aaron set off to plan the crucial details of his upcoming trip. “I bought my bike from a shop. I didn’t really consider any other options. The sales guy was trying to steer me towards a KTM 690 ENDURO R when I told him what my intentions were, but I insisted on the 500 EXC. He thought I was nuts but wasn’t going to turn down a sale.”

“I’ve always been telling myself that if I ever stayed long enough in one place to have a dog, I would name it Tess after a working dog my uncle had when I was a kid. Few weeks into my trip, I decided to name my bike Tess.”



Traveling light…
Moving on with his planning and preparations for the upcoming trip, Aaron quickly realized that he had to pack and travel light… “During the initial part of my trip, I was planning to ride New Zealand from the bottom of the South Island to the top of the North Island. While preparing my gear, really it was working out what not to pack. Ever since then, selecting the items I am carrying on the bike is an ongoing process that changes depending on what countries I’m heading towards and what weather conditions I can expect.”

“For example, when I decided to ride solo up to over 5.500m on the famous Sairecabur volcano on the frontier between Bolivia and Chile, I left some of my gear in San Pedro de Atacama and did a day trip there. That was one of the highlights of my trip so far. The view was absolutely amazing, and it was one of the first times I felt I was somewhere very remote and alone. Also, my bike was a true blast to ride in that extreme terrain.”



Every end is a new beginning.
A few months after setting off for his return trip through New Zealand and onto US territory, Aaron finally reached the end of the first part of his trip. Little did the KTM 500 EXC mounted rider know that this was just the beginning of something even bigger.

“Reaching Portland, Oregon was another great moment in my trip. At that stage, I thought I was finished with traveling and the goal I had set was accomplished. I had so many people telling me that I had picked the ‘wrong’ bike, it felt awesome to have reached my goal. Soon enough the ‘Forrest Gump effect’ kicked in and I was back on the road heading north.”



“Another highlight of my trip was reaching Deadhorse in North Slope Borough, Alaska. I was at the very top of the North American continent and it felt damn good. It was a stunning day and I did the turn and burn not staying there, so it was a 720km day on the saddle. I had great conditions and it was just a fun day on the bike.”

“That day I was having a bit of a race with some guys on big Travel bikes and throughout the ride back to Coldfoot I leap frogged them a few times. I would stop to take photos and they would pass me, but soon later I would catch up pass them back. Sitting in a bar in Coldfoot with a beer in hand I saw them roll in. They walked into the bar and one said: “Who’s riding the KTM?” I slowly raised my hand and they came over shook it and we spent the rest of the evening chatting.”



From Alaska to Sahara.
After three years traveling the world on his KTM 500 EXC, Aaron has collected a wealth of experiences riding in some of the coolest places on this planet. “Riding over the last rise and seeing the Sahara Desert was another massive moment in my journey. It is just a stunning view and I had the perfect bike to go play in the dunes. It was also one of those tick of the box moments as I had always wanted to see it.”

“My time in the Sahara Desert was another little milestone at that time. It was as far south as I was going to go before heading back to Europe and crossing Asia, so it was kind of a mental halfway point. Later during my trip, I would find out it wasn’t even close to halfway.”

“For years I’ve been reading stories of people riding in Magadan and the depths of Russia. For me, it took a year longer than I had originally expected but I managed to get there. After coming out of Morocco, I was originally planning to ride to Vladivostok. I had the choice to put in huge back to back days to make it across Russia or throw the plan out the window and take it as it comes.”



“I did the latter, which allowed me to ride the Trans European Trail through the Balkan countries. I stored my bike in Georgia for the winter. I pulled the motor out and pulled it to pieces, taking it back to the States in a couple suitcases to get it rebuilt there. Few months later, I flew back to Georgia to continue my trip. During my time in Europe, I went by KTM’s headquarters in Mattighofen. Pulling a wheelie down the road outside the factory was another highlight. It felt like taking my bike back to its birth place.”

“Throughout my whole trip, there’s a lot of moments I cherish… Waking up to the sound of a hot air balloon while camping in Cappadocia and riding with Dakar Rally racer Serkan Ozdemir in Turkey were some cool moments. Also, riding in Mongolia was awesome. The place is so vast and remote and allows you to choose your own path through the steppes. Riding there was simply fantastic, the food and toilets not so much.

“Of course, I’ve met some great people along the way. I’ve had so many people reach out offering me a place to stay when I’m in their area. The people who walk up to me in a campground and say I bet you can’t carry cold beer on your bike, here have one. I love listening to other people’s stories of their travels.”



Bike maintenance basics
To ensure a problem-free trip, Aaron knows how to properly take care of his machine. “The number one question I get asked is about oil changes. I do a lot of them. I started doing them every 1.500km to 2.000km max, but now I will go for 3.000km without worrying so much. They are so quick and easy on my bike, so I don’t know why people think it’s a big deal. It also gives you a chance to give the bike a quick once over looking for anything loose etc.”

“If I am fully pinned in the desert or in race mode, I do oil changes more often. If I’m clicking some easy miles through a country like Uzbekistan or parts of Siberia – where it’s back to back 500km days with the bike just purring along at 110km/h – I stretch them. I always carry two spare pre-oiled air filters. I carry a front sprocket and I change it as soon as I see the teeth start turning around. Usually it’s around the 5.000 or 6.000km mark and that’s helped my chain and rear sprocket last longer. I use a Supersprox stealth sprocket from the KTM PowerParts catalog and they last amazingly.”



“I do a bit of preventative work also. Before I crossed into Morocco, I replaced the clutch thinking I might be doing lots of sand. Did it next to my tent and it wasn’t that hard. I did my first top end rebuild at 870hrs as the bike needed it. Then I did my second at around 1.300hrs but it didn’t need it. I did it because I did the bottom end and thought while it is all in parts I might as well do it all. At that time, I was heading from Georgia across Mongolia and Siberia so it was good piece of mind to know it was all done.  When traveling alone in those type of areas piece of mind is a massive thing.”

At the time of writing, Aaron is at Port Klang, Malaysia and waiting to get his bike delivered. Expecting to jump back on his bike soon, the extreme motorcycling traveler will continue his trip all the way back to where it all started from three years ago, in the bottom of New Zealand.



You may follow Aaron’s adventures via his profile on Instagram: @braaping_kiwi

Photos: @braaping_kiwi


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      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:
    • De Dementor
      Posted in Bikes, People From the home of KTM in Mattighofen, Austria, to the seaside roads of mainland Greece, here’s a 3,000km trip across three countries, rain, sunshine and even some snow aboard the new KTM 890 ADVENTURE.
      By Paolo Cattaneo – @paolocattaneophoto
      Paolo Cattaneo: “In 2015 I quit my job, sold everything I owned and started riding around the world with my motorcycle”.
      PC @FrancescMonteroIt was a hot and humid summer afternoon in Como, Italy. I remember I was sitting in my backyard, boringly staring at the worn-out tires of my KTM 1190 ADVENTURE, pondering about my next journey. Suddenly, the soothing sound of the crickets was abruptly interrupted by my smartphone chime. With a reluctant but still curious attitude, I opened my mailbox and… almost fell off my chair!
      Travelling South America on my KTM 1190 ADVENTURE back in 2016 (Eduardo Avaroa NP, Bolivia)
      PC @PaoloCattaneoBeing an avid traveler and a KTM owner, I could hardly believe I was reading an email coming from KTM HQ in Austria and asking me if I wanted to take one of their bikes for a trip! I was ecstatic to know more details about the project, but because the motorcycle hadn’t been released to the public yet, the rest of the information had to be kept confidential.
      “It’s key to have the support of a machine that would allow us to push our boundaries even further.” (with my KTM 1190 ADVENTURE on the Death Road, Bolivia, 2016)
      PC @PaoloCattaneoAll this secrecy built up a lot of excitement from my side, to see what kind of bike we would eventually ride. The only thing they told me was that the project involved me and another seasoned traveler, Anna Grechishkina which, like myself, had been riding for the past years aboard KTM 1190 ADVENTURE bikes. 
      Taking the KTM 390 ADVENTURE on a ride through the Austrian mountains together with Anna Grechishkina.
      PC @PaoloCattaneoSome weeks later, together with Anna we landed in Mattighofen and the plan was eventually revealed to us; we were going to ride two brand new KTM 890 ADVENTUREs from Mattighofen to Nafpaktos, Greece. Other than a fantastic opportunity to be able to test these new motorcycles, for me It was finally a dream to visit the KTM HQ, after almost 200,000km ridden with one of their machines.
      It felt like when kids go to Disneyland and finally walk in that fantastic world they have been dreaming and seeing only on TV. For the first few days we got to ride two KTM 390 ADVENTURE bikes. Coming from a big bore machine, it was very interesting for me eventually to try all these different kinds of adventure bikes. Three different machines, somehow capable of similar adventures, but with three completely different engines, weights and sizes. 
      Dreams do come true – visiting KTM HQ and the KTM Motohall in Mattighofen, Austria
      PC @AnnaGrechishkinaWe also had the privilege to take a private tour of the incredible KTM Motohall, their interactive museum. The brand new building is constructed with the intent of involving the audience into a full 360 degree experience, from the conceptual designing of the motorcycle to the “heroes room”, showcasing all glorious actions of the legendary riders that made the brand what it is today. 
      After the project guidelines were explained to us, we finally headed to the Workshop to pick the bikes up. What a beautiful moment that was! It felt like when somebody brings to the table your favorite food. Our two KTM 890 ADVENTURE bikes were equipped with Akrapovič exhausts, KTM PowerParts seats, panniers racks and fog lights.
      Getting a taste of the first snow at Giau Pass, Dolomites
      PC @PaoloCattaneoThe bikes were also pre-configured with Quickshifter+, cruise control, rally mode and KTM’s MY RIDE system, which enables Bluetooth connectivity with smartphones. This last feature allowed us to enjoy the perks of having all GPS info right on the motorcycle screen. Finally, no more cellphone exposed to rain or phone mounts sticking out from the handlebar!
      So, the adventure began and we decided to opt for Italy as our gateway passage to Greece. Because we were riding in autumn, in this part of the world, we had to face some challenges right away. The beautiful Grossglockner Pass, in the south part of Austria, was unfortunately closed for snow, so we had to ride around it. There were also a lot of roadworks on our way to the Italian border so, at first, I found myself testing the motorcycle in heavy city traffic. 
      Quick stop at Lake Misurina, on our way to Cortina D’Ampezzo. The Italian Alps never disappoint.
      PC @AnnaGrechishkinaNeedless to say that the new parallel twin engine behaved extremely well in this “1st-2nd gear” filled environment. The riding position was great and the slimmer KTM PowerParts seat provided also good comfort during our whole trip. Crossing to Italy and reaching the Dolomites, was certainly a change of pace and circumstances. Our days filled up with balmier temperatures, perfectly paved twisty roads and snowcapped mountains, where the KTM 890 ADVENTURE felt like being in her natural environment.
      Giau Pass, Italian Alps. A drone shot that captures the incredible 360 degrees view people get once reached the top of the pass.
      PC @PaoloCattaneoThe lower center of gravity and the smoother delivery at low rpm are great characteristics to have on a motorcycle in this kind of terrain. The bike was also equipped with Avon Trailrider tires, which provided excellent grip and stability throughout the entire trip, even at low temperatures. In my opinion, there’s nothing better for a motorcyclist than riding through some mountain passes on a beautiful sunny day.
      Being born and raised along the shores of lake Como, Italy, I grew up riding these kinds of roads and… I simply love it! After the steep Italian mountains, it was time to test the machine on some proper fast turns. Can’t get more picturesque and challenging for this type of riding, than the beautiful Tuscan Hills. The KTM 890 ADVENTURE behaved splendidly even on wide and progressive turns.
      Val D’Orcia, Tuscany. Endless hilly gravel roads, surrounded by vineyards.
      PC @PaoloCattaneoWith 105 hp and over 100 Nm of peak torque, the engine wanted to be the protagonist of our adventure, once again. The bike is built with state-of-the-art technology and It can be configured while riding. Different ECU mapping options allowed us to control the experience to the very detail. I love it when you can choose to enjoy a nice smooth ride in all safety, taking your time and gazing at the landscapes, or turn the machine into a raging beast and focus 100% on your ride, with the flick of a switch!
      The “Eroica”, the notorious off-road track that crosses Tuscany, was an excellent terrain to test out KTM 890 ADVENTURE on fast gravel roads. Off-Road riding mode and Off-Road ABS settings were absolutely spot on for this kind of surface. I always felt I was in complete control of the motorcycle, even on these unpredictable terrains.
      Amalfi Coast. One of the most iconic coastal roads in the world.
      PC @PaoloCattaneoFrom the glorious Tuscan hills, we rode to the Amalfi coast, in the south part of Italy. As we were running out of time, we had to hit the highway and ride those 350km, which separated us from the Parthenopean shores, in one go. With the help of the tall windshield and cruise control, we were able to make our way through this section with no fatigue at all.
      Fuel consumption was great and the large 20 liters fuel tank also allowed us to propel our machines for over 400 km. Once we reached Naples, we were challenged by some unfavorable weather conditions. Again, having technology at our service, it was easy to tune the bikes accordingly and enjoy even this part of the adventure, with the peace of mind of knowing that the motorcycle was under our control.
      Val D’orcia, Tuscany. Gravel road (and food&wine) paradise.
      PC @PaoloCattaneoCornering MTC and ABS, ride by wire throttle control and rain riding mode, were surely a great help, in managing more than 100 hp on the wet and slippery turns of the Amalfi Coast. Our last stretch of adventure had us catching a ferry from Bari to Patras and arriving in the beautiful coastal town of Nafpaktos, Greece.
      KTM 890 ADVENTURE – the ultimate gravel traveler.
      PC @JamesLissimoreWe were then greeted by the whole KTM team, which was excited to hear our personal feedback about the bikes. We also got to meet the journalists that came from all over the world to test the new KTM 890 ADVENTURE. The riding loop that the KTM guides prepared for the event, was simply perfect. A mix of fast and sharp turns, for the tarmac section, and some muddy and gravel sections for the off-road part. The motorcycle was a surprise to everybody for its abilities of handling on and off road.
      As travelers, we constantly face difficult situations. We move from town to town, from country to country, most of the time on roads that we never rode before, in an ever-changing environment and under all sorts of weather conditions. We often put ourselves in tight spots and we may have to ride out from challenging environments all by ourselves.
      Testing the KTM 890 ADVENTURE stability and brakes on the perfect greek mountain turns.
      PC @JamesLissimoreThis is the feeling of adventure. To move forward and to explore the unknown. To dare to try something new. To get outside of our comfort zone and to do something that we have never done before. That is why it is fundamental, to ride a motorcycle that can assist us the best way possible in overcoming whatever new challenges we may have to face. It’s key to have the support of a machine that would allow us to push our boundaries even further.
      Nafpaktos, Greece. Perfect terrain to push the KTM 890 Adventure to the max.
      PC @JamesLissimoreSpending a few weeks on the KTM 890 ADVENTURE and riding it in various conditions, it was very clear to me why KTM call it the ‘Ultimate Gravel Machine’, it’s a bike that will make every trip more fun, safer and a lot more enjoyable. It’s a bike that will let you ride from right outside your home’s door to the ends of this amazing world…