The 2018 European KTM Adventure Rally was arranged on the gorgeous island of Sardinia. After the brilliant fun of the 2017 Alps rally I jumped at the chance to partake again. This year I was joined by fellow Scotsmen Nigel on his 1190 Adventure R and Bill on his 690 Enduro R.
With the distance involved and the fact we’d teamed up we decided to save the wear and tear on bikes and riders and packed the bikes in the van and drove over. Two+ days got us down from Glasgow, across to France on the Chunnel and down through France to Toulon where we jumped the overnight ferry to Sardinia.
Chris Birch and the 790 Adventure R
KTM decided to unveil the new 790 Adventure R at the event – and not unexpectedly it was handed over to the expert hands of Chris Birch. Great guy with remarkable riding skills, always good to get some pointers from him (when will you bring your riding schools to the UK Chris?). During day 0 of the rally he demo’ed the bike – and continued using it during the rest of the rally. The 790 looks like the perfect mix of the larger adventure bikes and the mid-range 690, and it raised a lot of interest. Quick video below:
The rally ran over four days across the northern part of Sardinia. Brilliant trails, beautiful scenery, fantastic riding and very good company from about 150 participants and the KTM crew. The trails had been planned with good help from Alessandro Marzi from http://www.exploringsardinia.it and as previous years offered dirt trails of different difficulties – from hardpack to deep sand as well as steep and rocky trails, with a few parts reserved for the pro riders. The weather was fantastic – just a tad too hot for us northern Europeans, with daily temperatures around the 30 degree mark.
Day 0 was the qualifying day for the “Ultimate Race” – a event put on by KTM in connection with the 790 launch, allowing two riders from each Adventure Rally a chance to win a fully factory supported entry to the 2019 Merzouga rally riding the 790. Nigel from the Scotland team jumped at the challenge – and did very well, making it all the way to the final through three days of navigating and riding solo on the pro tracks.
Day 1, 2 and 3 were organised in group rideouts, with 7-12 riders of similar skill levels in each team. I spent the first couple of days having great fun with Riccardo and Group 11 (with entertainment provided by Bill), then teamed up with Gunnar from Norway/Spain and Thomas from Germany for the a fantastic final day. The smaller group gave us a lot more freedom and a lot less dealing with the logistics of the larger group.
All in all though – a fantastic event, was great to meet up with friends old and new for some brilliant riding.
Photos and videos
As last year we had the GoPro’s running throughout the rally – end result as always up on YouTube:
More videos on the playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLTS8sIeOv1DDXD1-3n20M5UrOc69RSpxJ
A few of the hundreds of photos taken:
Bike and kit
Bike and kit remained mostly unchanged from last year. Heidenau K60 Scouts were changed for Motoz Tractionator Adventure – which behaved impeccably and is our new go-to 50/50 tyre, possibly only to be replaced by their Rallz tyre next year for a softer compound. Apart from this levers on the 1190 Adventure R were changed for their shorter versions (KTM OEM and ASV). As always the bike behaved brilliantly – I continue to be in awe of the capabilities of this bike – it takes everything in it’s stride and shrugs it off, with the only limitation being my own riding skills. Be it motorway, fast hardpack gravel, deep sand or heavily rutted and rocky trails there’s just nothing this bike can’t handle, and it keeps putting a smile on my face.
With regards to my own kit I learnt my lesson from the 30-35 degrees we had in the Alps last year, where we really struggled with the heat. Sardinia turned out to be no different, with the same 30 degrees. I added a Kewlshirt evaporating cooling vest to try to keep the temperature down – it does work as long as it’s soaked twice a day and you go at a speed where you get some ventilation through your kit – but it’s not necessarily a comfortable (or fresh smelling…) piece of clothing in the long run. Going forward swapping out the Klim kit (which is very good in the right climate) for full MX jersey or mesh kit will be required.
I also swapped the Touratech / Schuberth flip front Aventuro Mod (E1) helmet for the KTM issue Airoh Aviator 2.2, which again greatly helps with heat, and the helmet is considerably lighter than the modular flip front.
2019 Bosnia rally
At EICMA 2018 KTM announced that next years’ KTM rally will be held in the mountains of Bosnia in June 2019 – and we’re already planning the logistics of getting there. More information will be coming up on https://www.ktm-adventure-rally.com – and I’m really looking forward to meeting up with friends old and new for some brilliant riding.