First Look: 2023 KTM 890 SMT

Published: April 27, 2023

KTM brings back the SMT name for a new 890

It’s two decades since KTM launched its first large-capacity twin-cylinder road bikes. The 950 Adventure first appeared in 2003, powered by the firm’s 75° eight-valve 942cc V-twin, and would spawn a series of sweet machines, including the 990 Super Duke.

But it was the 950 SM which really floated our boats back in the day.

KTM took the tall, gangly Adventure, cut it down to size with a lowered seat, shorter front suspension travel and 17” wheels rather than the dirtbike wire-spoked rims on the Adventure, complete with superbike rubber. Add in some full-fat Brembo four-piston radial brake calipers, fully-adjustable WP suspension at both ends and sharp styling, and you had a top-spec Tarmac attack tool.

990 SMT
Original 990 SMT

It went just as well as you’d expect: the 98bhp engine was punchy as hell, the riding position put you right in control, and it would wheelie like nothing else at the time. KTM boosted capacity to 999cc for the 990SM, and even sold a touring version, the SMT which came with pannier racks built in.

Fast-forward a decade since the last 990 SM was on sale, and KTM is bringing back the moniker, with an all-new 890 SMT. Based on the current 890 Adventure, the new SMT uses the same parallel twin motor, in a heavily-revised chassis setup, with supersports cast aluminium wheels and Michelin PowerGP tyres.

2023 KTM 890 SMT
2023 KTM 890 SMT

Rather bizarrely, most high-end adventure bikes come with superbike-spec braking hardware nowadays, so there’s not as much change there – you still have dual 320mm discs and four-piston KTM-mounted radial-mount brake calipers.

The suspension is by the in-house WP Suspension brand, and the APEX 43mm front fork is fully adjustable for damping, while the APEX rear monoshock has preload and rebound adjustment. KTM has also had to revamp the frame and swingarm to suit the new SMT: the frame has tighter steering geometry, and the swingarm is longer.

2023 KTM 890 SMT
2023 KTM 890 SMT

That means the rear monoshock mounts have also been moved, putting the shock at more of a forward-tilted angle. This all boost stability and moves the rider seating position further forward too for better control.

The 889cc LC8c engine is unchanged from the 890 Adventure and Duke, keeping the same 46mm Dell’Orto throttle bodies, 285° crank throw to mimic a big V-twin power pulse and compact design. Peak power of 105bhp is nearly 10bhp more than the original 950, and the 100Nm torque figure is more than decent. Add in a wet weight of just 194kg, and it should be a right laugh.

2023 KTM 890 SMT
2023 KTM 890 SMT

One thing that the old bike definitely fell down on was rider aids – because there weren’t any – not even ABS. The 2023 SMT has a full suite though: cornering ABS and traction control, rider power modes, and if you pay for the options, cruise control, up/down quickshifter, heated grips and extra rider power modes. It’s all controlled through a neat five-inch TFT full colour LCD dashboard, which makes the original look like something from WW2.

2023 KTM 890 SMT
2023 KTM 890 SMT

Finally, the new SMT has a completely overhauled set of bodywork. On the face of it, it’s quite similar to the Adventure, but the screen is of course lower, and there’s a proper streetbike front mudguard rather than an adventure-touring design.

But in fact, the tank and panels are all revised, narrowed down to let the rider sit more forward, while sticking with the basic low-slung ‘saddle’ type fuel tank.

The new KTM 890 SMT will be in dealers next month (May 2023), priced at £12,499.00 on the road.

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