Ktm SmÔ 990 ABS (2011-current): The joy of riding, becomes safer.The bike tested was equipped with a Traveller screen which is a Ktm optional equipment.
Engine: The V-2 , 999 c.c., LC8 engine, is fueled by injection. It provides 115 bhp/ 9000 rpm and 9.9 Kgm/7000 rpm, nominal values.
Actually, a minimum of 3500 rpm is required to get acceleration without surging. According to the selected gear, from 4000 rpm upwards, adequate boost is provided. Throttle response is instant, the operation of the injection is very good indeed. Power delivery is linear, up to 9700 rpm where the rev limiter intervenes.
The 115 bhp figure seems rather low in theory. However combined with the engine torque, it allows immediate and really powerful acceleration over twisty roads, which is what this bike stands for. Selecting the exact speed then at the six speed gear box is not an issue for the rider. Whatever the selected gear is 2nd to 4th, the oomph provided is really powerful. It is one of the easiest bikes to wheelie around. The same applies to drift at the entry of a bend, although lets not make fuss about it right now.
Because the engine size should remain small, there is an external oil tank instead of storing oil e.g. in the frame, as shown at the photos just in front and below the engine. This system is not intended for oil cooling. Fuelling is excellent.
Engine gets hot in southern countries, on summer city rides, cooling fan will often be activated. An indicative fuel consumption figure is 7.6 liters/100Km, (37 mpg Imperial).
Riding position: The saddle height is really great. The 990 smT is not suitable for short riders. Average height riders will not step a confident foot on the ground, either. The width of the bike is average. It is slightly increased due to the fuel tank.
Rider is positioned mainly on the motorcycle, sited at the front, upright in a sporty style. Riding position provides decent control, its not tiring, on the contrary, its rather tempting. Conclusively rider feels alertness, fun factor is increased, while riding position is considered to be almost neutral.
The bike feels relatively heavy, 198 Kg nominal, without fuel. The ABS makes the motorbike heavier by just 2 Kg compared to the previous model, which is virtually negligible in terms of weight sensation to the rider.
On the road: The 48 mm upside down fork is fully adjustable, providing a relatively firm sensation. The firmness from the shock absorber is moderate, there is no linkage.
Tyres fitted are Pirelli Diablo Rosso ÉÉ, with dimensions 120-70/17 at the front and 180-55/17 at the rear. They consist a relatively good choice for the specific bike. In case of a fast rider, they have to be replaced sooner or later, because they are relatively hard.
Urban rides are easy, no compromises asked to the rider. Agility is very helpful.
Filtering is also uncompromised, the height of the handlebar is greater than car mirrors, the height of the bike˘s mirrors is the same with SUVs˘ mirrors.
Steering lock is huge, the smT will not face a problem even on traffic congested streets. It will be very rare if the smT cannot be manoeuvred around cars.
Street imperfections could be absorbed marginally better. The ABS will be very helpful on urban rides.
On B- roads, agility is exceptional. In the case that agility could be increased, the smT would be a real toy. Change of direction is splendidly easy, few motorcycles can match the smT at this point. What comes out of the blue, is that stability is superb also. However rider will need some time to comprehend this fact. The combination of these two elements is rather explosive, rider will be tempted. Consequently this is a great bike to wander about, although it was not built for this purpose, nor the rider will usually go sight seeing on the smT.
...At the fast pace, it˘s a full purpose supermoto bike. It will be only in the fast forward mode that the character and riding of the bike feel together. Rider will be rewarded then for his purchase. Feedback provided is really good, rider gets an exact idea about remaining traction. The combination of superb agility, very good stability and feedback, creates the conditions for fast uncompromised riding, providing great confidence to the rider.
In case that rider decides to adopt a street bike cornering style, feedback and confidence will be decent also. Rides will be fast and safe at the same time.
At an almost racing pace, entry to the turn is naturally fast. If rider wishes to drift at the entry, this will occur very easily, confidence and control are great. At the apex of the corner rider gets a clear feedback about traction. At the exit, the instant throttle response will compensate if a tenth of a second was lost at the previous section…
In case that the ABS is activated, the Ktm will not drift at the entry, that means that half of the bike˘s character has vanished. Its like eating an apple pie, without apple though…
Of course, the activation of the ABS is recommended in any other case. Tyres mounted on the smT set riding limits. Feedback to the rider and traction could be better in case of … well above the law, riding limits.
For the majority of the bikes which are perceived to be fast, it will be difficult to follow the smT on B-roads, on such a pace. Wheeling at the exit of a bend is really easy as soon as tyres get warm. Even in 2012, there are only a few bikes around, providing such colourful rides.
On the highway, the slight improvement compared to the former model, will be obvious, that is the Traveller screen attached. The air flow starts to build up at 120 Km/h (75 mph), only. Due to the shape of the screen, the torso of the rider is protected, even at 200 Km/h, (120 mph) which is not a comfortable travelling speed though. A normal speed on the highway is that of 170 Km/h (105 mph).
In other words, the torso of the rider is protected sufficiently, the shoulders are wind buffeted, a tight jacket will moderate the effect of air.
The result is the same with the previous smT, without this special screen: The smT is not transformed into a specialized touring bike just because of the screen change. In case that the highway would host a tighter bend, the smT rider would be grateful for that!
On dirt roads, the street fitted tyres will set the riding limits, soon. Suspension provides comfortable rides, the joyful character of the Ktm will be very helpful for the rider then.
The ABS may be deactivated, but each time that the engine is started, the ABS is activated automatically. Brakes are really powerful.
Two 305 mm disc brakes are used at the front, 4 pistons radial monoblock callipers, steel braided hoses. They provide great stopping power and feedback. High speed braking is really effective.
The rear 240 mm disc brake is equipped with a 2 pistons calliper. It is powerful, power is usable, feedback is relatively good though. The combination of the front and rear brakes provides superb decelerating power. Callipers equipped are Brembo. During the intervention of the ABS, a light pulsing may be felt on the levers, although braking feedback to the rider is reduced a lot then. Conclusively this high class braking underlines the sporty character of the bike. The operation of this ABS matches exactly with the smT character.
Model history/reliability/quality build: The sm model was introduced in 2007, featuring a 950 cc engine. In 2007 engine capacity was increased to 990 c.c.. In 2009 the name model Sm was changed to smT, due to a screen and fuel injection that were fitted. In 2011 ABS is installed. No reliability issues reported in general.
Comments: There isn˘t any ABS sticker on the bike boasting the system featured, which is indicative of the factory˘s spirit. This system makes the bike heavier by just 2 Kg. The fact that it can be deactivated and it is activated then whenever the engine is started again automatically, is a great advantage. The operation of the ABS will help the rider at the majority of the rides, although whenever the fun of riding becomes a top priority, it should be deactivated.
The T in smT model name, stands for travel. A 12V socket is provided. A set of panniers, top case, a stand for gps, mufflers are optional equipment.
This Ktm is a bike that will help a rider to evolve, making things easy for him. The feelings that are provided during this process are among the most beautiful that a rider can get. The only thing that it will be required, is riding maturity. Rider cannot feel and learn all at once. Given the most recent prices of the market, the price tag of the smT lies between supersports and superbikes.
Considering the provided engine power strictly as a number, the smT is an expensive bike. However the price asked is directly proportional to the riding pleasure, provided to the rider. Conclusively, the smT is a factory product, no question about it, however a crystal clear character is there, in search of a mature rider.
Price smT 990 ABS: 13990 ¤
+ Uncompromised sporty sensation
+ Increased safety due to the ABS, with a slight only weight increase, compared to the base model
- The display looks plain compared to the bike character
- Not a real touring bike