Black Dog Cycle Works (blackdogcw.com) covered the 1190 Adventure R with a ton of protection. The BDCW Ultimate Skid Plate offers up huge protection, as does the BDCW radiator guard. The Platform Footpegs are machined from aircraft alloy and measure 2.5” wide and 4.5” long. They are much bigger than stock and if you need a bottle opener, there is one built in.
I really liked the BDCW Throttle Control, which made those long stretches of highway cruising much more comfortable for the right hand. It only requires a 1/8 turn forward of the control ring to engage, and is quick and easy to disengage in emergency situations. A simple BDCW addition to the 1190 Adventure R was the Side Stand Enlarger for the kickstand. It is a necessity if you ride your machine anywhere but on perfectly flat hard ground. Black Dog also installed their Multi-Function Rear Rack, made from 1/4” aluminum, featuring generously sized holes around the perimeter for tie down points. The rack allows mounting of RotopaX fuel and water containers, or a winch. It is compatible with all saddlebag luggage systems.
Wolfman Luggage (wolfmanluggage.com) outfitted the 1190R Adventure with Rocky Mountain Saddle Bags. The included universal saddlebag straps allow the bags to mount on nearly any side rack. Compression straps keep the load inside tight and eliminate flopping around. Included waterproof liners slide in and out easily, keeping gear dry. Capacity is 32 liters for each bag with 3 liters of float room. It is easy to add on many of Wolfman products to the outside of the bags. I was able to carry plenty of gear, clothing and food each day while in Baja. We had a chase truck so overloading the bike with everything I needed wasn’t a necessity. After using the bags a few times I got quicker at opening and closing and I liked the ability to compress the bags depending on the how much stuff I was carrying.
(Above) A Black Dog Cycle Works skid plate does a great job protecting the KTM 1190 Adventure R. (Middle) A good tank bag is nice and the Enduristan Sandstorm 3 is 100% waterproof. (Below) With nearly 150hp, the KTM 1190 Adventure R has plenty of power on tap.
As the only rider out of 30 on a KTM I was easy to spot, almost everyone else was on a BMW GS of some size, shape and year. Highlights of the 1190 Adventure R include impressive electronics. The traction control and ABS work amazing, allowing an average rider to do things with the 1190 R that would normally be restricted to pro riders. My favorite setting in any dirt situation is the Enduro mode with ABS set up only to work on the front wheel, allowing me to lock up the rear wheel to help back the bike into corners and change direction easier. In Enduro mode with traction control on, it allows the back wheel to only spin twice as fast as the front wheel, which equals some impressive power slides through sweeping corners. In super soft terrain, like sand and deeper mud you have to turn the TC completely off to keep the 1190 moving forward, otherwise the TC keeps the rear wheel from spinning fast enough. When the asphalt is dry and traction abundant, switching into Sport mode pumps out power that leaves all other adventure bikes in the rear view mirror. Going through the gears on the throttle hard gets the 1190 up to 130 mph pretty darn quick!
I switched back and forth with Jim Hyde and his big BMW GS1200, both on dirt roads and on the asphalt. The BMW GS is much nicer on paved roads and smooth, hard-packed dirt roads, but the KTM 1190 Adventure R is so much better as soon as the terrain gets bumpy, loose and at all technical. That’s not to say the BMW is bad in off-road situations, it just feels heavier and speeds have to be kept much slower over the same terrain. The KTM 1190 Adventure R is more of a dirt bike rider’s adventure bike.
Before leaving on the seven-day adventure I was faced with the decision between the Klim Badlands jacket and pant, a serious adventure riding setup favoring cooler conditions and the Traverse jacket and pant. The Traverse gear doesn’t feature the built-in impact protection of the Badlands gear, is lighter weight and leans more toward off-road and enduro than adventure riding. I was happy with my decision to wear the Traverse gear because much of the riding in Baja was warm and the lighter weight and well ventilated gear kept me at a good body temperature. The last day of the ride was 12 hours in pouring rain and the Traverse gear kept me completely dry thanks to its Gore-Tex fabric. I was also quite impressed by how clean the gear stayed, even after 2000 miles and seven days. Look for a long-term test on the Traverse pant and jacket soon.
Touratech came to my rescue with the loaning of the Zumo 590 GPS and a Touratech locking mount. They also made sure I had an Enduro Engineering bracket that bolted directly into the handlebar clamps. Install took less than 10 minutes and it made navigating through Baja very easy. I didn’t wire the base unit into the 1190 Adventure R, I simply plugged it into the 12 volt cigarette lighter port. A word of caution, the stock batteries on the KTM aren’t great and I had to jump start the bike after leaving the GPS unit on for just an hour without the bike running. The Zumo 590 unit allows the rider to choose between routes and tracks easily. Touratech also made sure I had the new Aventuro helmet for the trip and you can read all about the helmet here.
Holding my camera close and ready was the Enduristan Sandstorm 3 tank bag (enduristan.com). The main compartment is 100% waterproof, so I was comfortable knowing my camera and other electronics were safe inside. I kept my SPOT tracker and other oft-needed items in the removable map pocket. The quick release buckles allowed me to easily carry the tank bag in at night or when stopping for food.
An item that is essential to survival anywhere, not just Mexico, is a reliable, quality flash light and there has never been a better time to be in the market for a powerful, light, tough and small light. I kept a Clearwater (clearwaterlights.com) Andie 2 LED flashlight handy at all times during my Baja adventure. Its 1000 Lumen output is super impressive from such a small flashlight. It will run 1.5 hours in the high mode and 3 hour in the low mode, which is still pretty darn bright. It runs off a rechargeable battery, two of which are included. The body is CNC machined and very sturdy.
Sena (sena.com) equipped a number of riders on the trip with the 20S Bluetooth communication system and new Prism cameras. Both the 20S and Prism mount to bottom side edge of the helmet and fit easily on most helmets. The 20S lets the rider call hands free with Bluetooth mobile phones, listen to music or voice instructions from GPS navigation. Riders can also have intercom conversations in full duplex with a passenger or other riders. I only used the intercom a little on this ride but have used the 20S quite a bit prior and like the quality and ease of use.
A feature I really like when using the Prism camera paired with the 20S is the ability to start and stop recording of the Prism from the dial on the 20S. A voice prompt through the speakers of the 20S let you know when the Prism camera is recording, so there is no guesswork. If you want, the Prism will record your voice through the 20S so what you say records right to the video footage. No voiceover necessary later. This feature is cool until you forget about it and breathe too heavily or start blabbing things you don’t want recorded. If you are like me, the last thing I want to hear is my own voice.
The quality out of the Prism is pretty good and I’ll be doing a lot more filming and editing with footage in the future. It has a video time-lapse feature that is fun to play with and the photo quality is decent, providing a wide-angle view of the world. There is a Sena Smartphone App for both iPhone and Android smart phones allowing users to adjust the settings on the 20S. The 20S even features a built-in FM radio tuner with a station scan and save function, so you can listen to the radio while you ride even if you aren’t paired to your smart phone.