News 2010 KTM 990 Supermoto | Reviews

2010 KTM 990 Supermoto | Reviews

SMT & SMR Motorcycles

I remember thrashing up to Big Sur on California Highway 1 a few years ago on a KTM 950 Supermoto. I reached the Henry Miller Memorial Library, parked up, and got off the motorcycle. Pulling the gloves from my shaking, sweaty hands I flagged down my compadre and begged him to swap bikes; I was worried I was going to die on the KTM.

No, the motorcycle wasn’t bad-it was simply too good. It gave me such insane confidence I found myself pushing harder and deeper into corners than I ever had before. Each turn (some of them blind) on the unforgiving cliff highway was being taken so aggressively I remember actively wondering at one point if I could push the front.

Suddenly jerking out of my trance, coherent thought had made me realize exactly what I was doing-and that I would simply keep pushing and pushing and pushing until disaster. Eventually, I would Geronimo over the edge into the wide welcoming waters of the Pacific, hundreds of feet below. Not good. KTM’s Supermoto was a confidence inspiring motorcycle to the nth degree-it fit me right, it was agile and light, balanced and precise, and I loved it.

Fast-forward to 2010 and KTM has smartly divided the 990 Supermoto into two distinctive models-the Supermoto T (SMT for touring) and the R (SMR for racing). Both motorcycles are fitted with the same brilliant 990cc 75-degree V-twin motor that peaks at a claimed 114 horsepower at 9000 rpm and 72 ft/lbs of torque at an easy 7000 rpm.

These are not big superbike type numbers, but in the sweet spot between 3000 rpm and the maximum output point at 7000 rpm, the KTM Supermoto models provide all the thrilling thrust you will ever have the pleasure of unleashing.

The twin pipes exiting under the seat give the motor a throaty bark and, once aboard, the crisp mid-range response of the quick-revving engine has it leaping eagerly out from turns. Agile handling, WP suspension, and the radial Brembo brakes keep everything well controlled. The riding position is upright and comfortable, and the peg position doesn’t bend your legs like a half-shut pocketknife.

There are more similarities than differences between the two Supermoto motorcycles, but they are still distinct machines. The SMT (T) comes equipped with an abbreviated fairing and smallish windshield that provide a surprising amount of wind protection, and the small bags attached at the rear are not particularly capacious, so you will need to pack light. The WP suspension is relatively softly sprung and offers a surprisingly comfortable ride that does not lose the excited spirit of the genre.

The SMR (R) version of the Supermoto is much more hard-core. The seat is skinny and hard, while the riding ergonomics place the rider much more forward and leaned over the handlebars-all like a dirt bike. The suspension is tightly sprung and, although it never gets harsh, it is a much more tightly focused point-and-shoot machine than its sibling.

Both KTM 990 Supermotos change direction with minimal effort at the bars. They are light, flickable and a blast to ride fast, though the SMT feels more of an all-rounder ready for any situation. The 990 R will deliver if you are an unbridled nutcase with a penchant for backing it into turns or braking deep into a corner with your leg stuck out in deference to the bike’s supermoto name. The KTM 990 T is targeted more towards the real world rider who wants a machine that is torquey, comfortable, and can handle any riding condition with ease. Most of all, the Supermotos are just plain fun.

KTM is making a lot of progress. Its motorcycles have always been high quality and very desirable, and with their minor quirks dealt with so effectively, KTM is poised to take market share from the more dominant manufacturers. KTM’s streetbike excellence is a secret I do not expect to be long-kept.

KTM 990 Supermoto T – Motorcycle Specifications



Twin cylinder, 4-stroke,

V 75°

Displacement 999 cc

x stroke

101 x 62.4 mm (3.98 x




85 kW @ 9000 rpm


97 Nm @ 7000 rpm


Starter/Battery E-Starter/12 V 11.2 Ah
Transmission 6 gears, dog clutch



Mixture Generation

Keihin EFI, throttle

valve Ø 48 mm

Control 4 V/DOHC
Lubrication Pressure lubrication

with 2 pumps



Motorex, fully

synthetic, SAE 10W-50





Cooling Liquid cooled
Clutch Wet multi-disc clutch,

operated hydraulically



Keihin EM

Frame Chromium-Molybdenum trellis frame,


Subframe Aluminium
Handlebar Aluminium, Ø 28/22 mm (1.10/0.87″), tapered
Front suspension WP USD Ø 48 mm (1.89″)
Rear suspension WP mono shock
Suspension travel front/rear 160/180 mm (6.3/7.09″)
Front brake 2 x Brembo four piston fixed-caliper, radially

bolted, brake disc Ø 305 mm, floating

Rear brake Brembo 2-piston floating caliper, brake disc Ø

240 mm (9.45″)

Rims, front/rear Cast aluminium wheels 3.5 x 17″; 5.5 x 17″
Tires, front/rear 120/70 ZR 17″; 180/55 ZR 17″
Chain X-Ring 5/8 x 5/16″
Main silencer Twin stainless-steel silencer with regulated

catalytic converters

Steering head angle 65.6°
Trail 109 mm (4.29″)
Wheel base 1505 ± 15 mm (59.25 ± 0.95″)
Ground clearance (unloaded) 195 mm (7.68″)
Seat height 855 mm (33.66″)
Tank capacity approx. 19 liters (5.02 gal)/3.7 liters reserve

(0.98 gal)

Weight (no fuel) approx. 196 kg (432 lbs)

Don Williams
Don Williams
With 50 years of riding experience, Don Williams is a fan of all kinds of motorcycles. He enjoys sport bikes, cruisers, dirt bikes, touring bikes, adventure bikes, dual sport bikes, and rideable customs. Ask Don what his favorite bike is and he will tell you, "Whatever bike I'm on."

BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy Comes To Europe For 2022

For the first time since its 2008 debut, the BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy competition will be held in Europe. Located above the northeast...

Ultimate Motorcycling Editor’s Letter, March 2021: Vive l’automatique!

Testing the 2021 Honda Rebel 1100 DCT for this issue reminded me of something fundamental—motorcycles need to be accessible to new riders. Although we’ve...

Lieback’s Lounge: FTR—The Savior From Winter Misery?

When I found myself cleaning the tire treads on my Multistrada 1200, I knew the winter madness had returned.

2022 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster First Look: New Fork and More

The 2022 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster gets a more responsive motor with additional midrange power from the vertical-twin 1200HT engine. The powerplant also meets Euro...

Avon Tyres + Blood Bikes = Motorcycles Saving Lives

We’ve all heard of blood banks, but this is the first time we have heard of blood bikes. Leicestershire & Rutland Blood Bikes is...

2021 Moto Guzzi V7 Stone 100th Anniversary First Look

Back in December, we gave you a first look at the new 2021 Moto Guzzi V7 lineup. The big news was an increase in...