The new KTM 790 Adventure series has gathered all sorts of hype this year, from both impressed journalists and happy customers. Why? Because it offers the best of both worlds to many buyers: adventure-bike power and comfort, and off-road capability. On-street, and off, it’s an edgy machine, with highly usable power and great handling.
This is the formula that the manufacturers have been chasing for years, the mythical high-powered, highway-capable dirt bike. BMW’s HP2 was a famous attempt to hit this market in the mid-2000s, and in 2006, KTM had its own kick at the can with the 950 Super Enduro R.
At that point, KTM already had the 950 Adventure in the lineup; the Super Enduro R (often just called the Super Enduro) was designed to take things even further. Instead of the Adventure’s 22-litre gas tank, the Super Enduro only got 13 litres of fuel capacity. Seat height was 920 mm, taller than any of the 950 Adventure models. Weight was supposedly around 185 kg dry, about 20 kg less than the 950 Adventure. The suspension had roughly the same travel on both bikes, but the Super Enduro was optimized for solo off-road usage.
Steering head angle and rake were more aggressive on the Super Enduro when compared to the Adventure, and it had more ground clearance.
The Super Enduro was very stripped-down, without the “off-road crotch rocket” look of the plasticized 950 Adventure. It looked like a dirt bike on steroids, not an adventure bike.
Although it was an expensive and highly advanced motorcycle of its era, the Super Enduro still ran carburetors instead of electronic fuel injection. That seems old-fashioned now, but it endeared the bike to the fix-it-yourself crowd, who often see carburetors as easier to work with if you’re planning to hot-rod a motorcycle — and many of these machines were hot-rodded. The Super Enduro was a popular rig with desert racers and other offroad hoons.
The Super Enduro’s LC8 engine was basically the same liquid-cooled six-speed V-twin as found in the Adventure and 950 Supermoto, but KTM did some tweaking to make it work better in the role of giant enduro bike. It was rated for 98 hp at 8,500 rpm, and 70 lbs.-ft. of torque at 6,500 rpm. Both numbers are roughly equivalent (slightly higher) to the current 790 Adventure’s claimed output.
The Super Enduro was only manufactured from 2006 to 2008, and only 3,000 machines were ever produced in this series. That wasn’t that long ago, and the bikes are out there, but they’re rare. People who own them tend to hang on to them, and the Super Enduro also tends to see hard duty, if used as intended.
There are a few things you’ve got to look out for on them. Most of it is the standard stuff you’d look for on any bike with the LC8 engine (fuel pump points, regulator-rectifier unit, clutch slave cylinder). The Super Enduro specifically had a rep for problems with the low-mounted front oil tank, for having a wimpy OEM bash plate, for iffy kickstand connections, and for having trouble with the radiator mounting tabs after the bike was dropped a few times.
However, like any other popular motorcycle intended for off-road use, keen owners have figured workarounds for these issues, and if you’re willing to do a bit of jury-rigging and wrenching, you can fix these problems if they occur.
Now, as for this particular bike for sale at a dealer in Quebec: if you want one a Super Enduro, and you’re in Canada, this is an infrequent find. They rarely pop up in the market here. This one wouldn’t have lasted very long if it wasn’t for sale in Quebec, which makes it more difficult for anglophone buyers. It has a healthy amount of mileage at 60,000 km; not so much that it’s worn out, not so little that it will be suffering from lack of use. It also has an FMF can, which may or may not appeal to buyers.
At $6,000, if the bike checks out mechanically, it’s hard to imagine it devaluing much, if kept up. After all, it’s an iconic, rare and high-powered motorcycle. Who wouldn’t want that?