In 2002, Cycle World took delivery of the very first KTM 950 Adventure in the U.S. We quickly fell in love with this bike—frame number 100—and we kept it in our long-term fleet for its first 15,000 miles. Then, as CW’s Off-Road Editor at the time, I purchased the 950 because I liked it so much. Now, the bike has 100,000 miles on it, and I still love it.
Aside from regular oil changes and replacing a few parts (starter gears, clutch basket), little work has been needed to keep the KTM running. Some updates, such as the water pump and clutch shaft, were never even installed! The only no-go problems have been a failed fuel pump, a bad starter solenoid (twice) and a stator that quit. At approximately 50,000 miles, I had the top-end done because the rear cylinder was letting oil past the rings. And now, at double that mileage, puffs of blue smoke are telling me the valve guides finally need replacing. While the engine is out, I’m going all in with crank bearings, pistons and valves!
This bike has carried me on adventures across the western U.S., and I suspect more than half the mileage has been in dirt. It’s crossed dunes and rivers, carried gaggles of cameras and been to a few of the annual KTM Adventure Rider Rallies. It even did work at Red Bull’s Dakar Rider Search back in 2005. As a racebike at heart, and more importantly, the motorcycle that gave the adventure movement such a strong shot of adrenaline a decade ago, this is a bike I don’t plan to sell. Sorry.