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Advice please

Posted: Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:19 pm
by Cicsy
Hi guys, allow me to introduce myself, I'm Scott and I'm looking for owners advice on the merits of making an SMT my next bike. I'd like honest opinions with as much detail as you can please on the pros and cons of the bike. If you don't usually reply to newbies please take the time to reply to this because I'd really appreciate as many opinions as possible from the people who actually own them.
A little bit about me, what I like and don't like and why I'm currently looking for a new bike. I'm currently laid up in plaster with a broken foot following an accident on my Tiger 1050. Long story short I was on the famous N260 in northern Spain when I came round a bend and came face to face with an Audi A4 who clearly preferred my side of the road to his own. With nowhere to go other than down that's exactly what happened. Consequently I'm left with a broken foot and a bike that's just been declared a total loss by my insurance company. Needless to say after 3 weeks off work I'm bored to death and looking for a suitable replacement for my bike.

I've always really loved both the looks and the note of the SMT but I have to confess I've never been convinced by the reliability of the brand. I'm hoping that's just ignorance on my part and you guys can help educate me but I hasten to add I'd like the warts and all versions please because I know no bike is perfect. I've had a big twin before in the shape of a Cagiva navigator and loved the characteristics of the TL engine. In the end however reliability issues (non engine ) convinced me to get rid. it was murder to get parts and spent too much time off the road for me to make it a keeper.

I'd heard Good things about the Triumph regarding reliability which has proved accurate in the 3 years I've had it. With the suspension sorted it handles really well which suits me because I do like to ride the thing quickly if truth be known. If it's lacking anything it would be a little of the X factor if I'm being critical. That said I'm considering another so I obviously rate the bike. Anybody who's had both would obviously be perfectly qualified to make a comparison so I'd be especially interested in your opinions.

Both the SMT and the Tiger make around 115 hp I believe but I'd also like to know what you can squeeze from the engine without affecting reliability. Is it good over distance? Does it make a good tourer? Is it expensive to run/ service? Everything and anything you can think of guys with detail. Much appreciated for those who take the time to reply.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 12:35 am
by Gimlet
How do Cicsy. You're in the wrong section really mate. You'd do better in the Orange, silver or black section of the SMT forum. Maybe the mods can move your thread.

Anyway.. I've had an SMT for two years and 9000 miles. First off, don't worry about reliability. A well maintained 990 of any variety is as tough as they come. They can rack up huge mileages. Keep up with oil changes and valve clearances and there's little to worry about. Silly things go wrong: clutch slaves, water pump gaskets, minor oil seals, o rings and sensors. Head stock bearings are often poorly greased and short-lived. The swinging arms fill with water and need drain holes drilling in them. Cut-out switches (clutch and side stand) can play up and cause mystery electrical gremlins.
Basically these are mostly service issues that are easily and inexpensively fixed, and some of them date back to the 950 engine and are less common an later SMTs. Almost every nut and bolt is still available as a spare and there are stacks of aftermarket parts.

They are simple bikes that are easy to work on. Service intervals are short (4500 minor/9000 major) but they are inexpensive to service and very DIY-friendly. Older per-2012 models use oil by design. They don't smoke but they do need topping up and its not a sign of anything untoward.

The finish is generally good if well cared for but the fasteners do tend to corrode. The Torx head bolts are pigs for holding water in the Torx cut-out and often show cosmetic rust. Instrument panels can be susceptible to damp (though mine has been fine in 16000 miles) but they can be dismantled and resealed (there's a thread about that on here) and new ones are nearly half the price of most European alternatives.

The SMT is in its element as an agile back road scratcher. The chassis is a thing of joy with weightless steering and housefly reflexes considering its a litre bike. The suspension both ends is very good quality though depending how hard you intend to push them they sometimes take a bit of setting up to get them just right and I found mine was quite tyre-sensitive. Perseverance is rewarded and mine is completely sorted now and the handling is faultless. And it doesn't need a steering damper. You can easily get them scraping the pegs and making fools of sports bikes on nadgery B roads.
Expect an SMT to feel lighter, tauter, stiffer, more urgent and a little more raw than the Tiger. They are by no means sophisticated but that is part of the charm.

I toured round Wales on mine this year with full luggage and camping gear. It did it just fine and never missed a beat. I had no stability issues at all and it handled the load very well. But its not my first choice as a tourer. The seat becomes wooden quite quickly, its not that roomy and they are a little thirsty. But aftermarket seats are available and the fuel range isn't terrible by any means. The engine can feel busy on long motorway journeys but who wants too much of that on tour any way? On the flip side, get to where you're going, take the luggage off and you've got a lovely rorty upright sports bike that is perfect for exploring unfamiliar roads.

Performance wise, they are eager, rev-happy and punchy. They just want to go all the time. But they are a little hamstrung by emissions controls and throttles can be snatchy. They are greatly improved by "uncorking": fitting catless cans, a free flowing airbox, removing the SAS emissions control system and having a custom remap. Budget £1200 for that lot. But you get a smooth throttle, improved power and torque everywhere and a lovely sound. Mines making 120 bhp at the rear wheel and 76 lb/ft of torque.

All in all SMTs and SMRs are rider's bikes. They're keepers with a dependable feel where so many other bikes feel throwaway.
That said I bought mine primarily as a tourer because it was so much cheaper than a true big adventure bike. But its not really an adventure bike or a tourer. It does make a great all-rounder but at heart its an over-sized supermoto-themed scratcher with a (sightly) more comfortable seat. I've got two other sporty nakeds so I'm selling the SMT to fund an 1190 Adv. I want the bigger engine, improved comfort, more space and touring focus. But if I could afford it, I'd keep the SMT as well. They're just fun to ride, simple, faithful and dependable to own and they get under your skin. Buy with confidence.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:35 am
by Cicsy
Hi Gimlet, yeah I don't know how I managed to post that in here so not the best start. Anyway many thanks for you're input mate I found that helpful and very informative. Definitely sounds like the bike would be a good fit for me as 90% of the time it will used as a toy for hooning around on and from you're description it sounds well up for that.

I'll have a look at getting the thread moved to the proper section but for now you have my thanks sir.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:45 pm
by Thirdway
Tiger, big, smooth turbine which makes a good tourer, slightly ponderous handling like an older roadster.

SMT, raw, rough feeling, aggressive nature. Quick handling but needs to be understood in the context of a super moto. It doesn't tip in and out of turns like a sports bike, it needs to be wrestled and then it becomes a weapon. Not so settled at higher speeds. Does tour, but not as comfortable as the Tiger.

They are really chalk and cheese despite looking as if they should be similar. SMT is a practical moto cross bike configured for the road. The Triumph is a Speed Triple on stilts. The KTM isn't trying to pretend to be something it isn't, it's exactly what it would seem to be. The Tiger is more of a lifestyle bike built to look like something 'off roady' but coming off as a compromise.

The KTM is a rally car made slightly more road friendly, the Tiger is a road car with the looks of a rally car.

Reliability is better than people think, but it's not a Honda. Parts easy to get and often cheaper than aftermarket. Finish is reasonably good, but engine screws rust. Uses fuel 40mpg and lower. Typical tank lasts 150 miles and then you get nervous.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2016 2:29 pm
by limeyduffa
Cicsy, regarding reliably reputation. I owned a 990 Superduke from 2006 to 2012 and then the SMT. Yes, I agree, the Superduke (a version 1.0.0 of the 990 engine) has lots of little annoying problems, nothing major, but since parts are hard to get in Australia, this was a set back. The SMT has been extremely reliable. Apart from issues with my coolant pipes last year - which was a fault of the KTM supply system, not the bike - it's been perfect. I've had my SMT for 4 years now, and I will own it for another 4-5 easy. My next bike will be electric ! :)

Re: Advice please

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 1:21 am
by limeyduffa
Thirdway wrote: It doesn't tip in and out of turns like a sports bike, it needs to be wrestled and then it becomes a weapon.
Maybe things have improved, but I found sports replica's very technical to ride (ie: they are designed for a race track and not real world use), even after significant suspension and brake work. It's been a few years since riding them. Technology has probably improved and I am out of touch ?

The SMT has a fairly large wheelbase compared to other KTM's at the time. My old SD has 10cm less wheelbase. Significant IMO !. My SD was more manoeuvrable than my SMT. However the SMT is still agile enough to be a "point and shoot" bike in my opinion. Both my old SD and SMT are able to be corrected in the middle of a corner. This is a must in Adelaide as there is so much gravel, animals, cyclists, rock falls and other objects on the roads. It is why I went back to a KTM, even after long term (but minor) reliability issues with my SD. However, I find that the SMT becomes a slug (ie: you have to wrestle it) when running wrong tyre pressures (for a given tyre) and soften the suspension too much.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 8:57 am
by Gimlet
Agree with Limey re the SMT.
Mine was further improved by lifting the forks in the yokes by 12 mm.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:11 am
by jmh
My smt has always been totally reliable. I've looked after it. And it's never let me down.
Service costs can be a bit expensive with the valves every 9,500. But I do my servicing myself.
I reckon the LC8 engine is a very good engine. There are bikes out there with huge milage on them.

I've done 600 miles motorway days, a bit of a slog but no issue.
I've done 2 up weekends into europe.
I've commuted into london.

For me, I do love it. It does everything I need, without much compromise.
It's real world fast.

I still smile now, like I did when the previous owner started it up and I heard the engine for the first time and rode off on it.

It is a beast. And a hooligan wepon, so much fun.

Try get a ride on one that's been sorted out. And then you can see if you like it. Words won't describe what they're like to ride.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 5:15 pm
by Cicsy
Hi guys, thanks to all who've contributed so far and please keep them coming if you haven't commented yet. It seems to me the general consensus is they are reliable enough if serviced and looked after with great handling and reasonable comfort over distance. As I've stated before I do like to ride quick so the potential hooligan element of the bike actually appeals.

Looking at potential purchases with a budget of roughly 5.5k I'll have to settle for one with 15k miles or more if the current market is anything to go by. Not a deal breaker as long as its been dealer serviced as that's probably as close to a warranty as I'm likely to get. I've had an offer today from my insurers which isn't a million miles away from the valuation I was looking for so been having a look at what I could afford.

I've noticed there are quite a lot of tuning mods open to the bike. I assume these enhancements improve performance without compromising the engine's reliability over time? I upgraded the suspension on my Tiger as it was an obvious flaw but never had the confidence to mess with tune ecu and the like which seems a common mod on the KTM. Any advice on this or anything else guys please give your input, it all helps.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:41 pm
by Gimlet
The tuning options aren't really about increasing inherent performance, just releasing what should be there anyway but which has been blunted by emissions controls and noise regulations. The uncorking mods described above merely release the performance KTM intended for the bike. They are not adding extra beyond design parametres. None of the engine internals are changed and there is absolutely nothing to fear in terms of reliability. If anything it will be improved because the engine will run smoother and if properly mapped it will fuel perfectly at all points in the rev range rather than lurching from rich to lean to satisfy emission testing.

You won't need to upgrade the suspension. It is very good quality. Far better than most OE suspension fitted to bikes in this class. Its just a matter of setting it up correctly and servicing it when required - and in that respect, being WP the fluids are probably better quality to start with than a lot of mass-produced suspenders.

Don't feel bad about a 15K mileage either. That's barely loosened up. Mark Brewin at BSD who mapped mine (and he's done over 400 990 KTMs so he knows a thing or two about them) commented that mine at 8000 miles when mapped was probably still a bit tight. He predicted it would gain a couple of bhp by the time it got to 20,000. The workshop who do my servicing, who are KTM independents and have been working on LC8 engine since they came out, said the same. The LC8, after all, was developed as a Paris Dakar engine. Its meant to be hard as nails.

You won't be disappointed in the hooliganism. The lack of flywheel effect and the revvy nature means it loves big throttle openings and soaring revs. Its very hard not to ride it fast. it gets to about 6K and you feel it tense and tingle and you just have to let it have it. It irresistible.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:22 pm
by Cicsy
Thanks again Gimlet for a full and thorough explanation. Given the enthusiasm everybody has shown I think the best thing I can do is try and organize a test ride. I'm 90% there on this bike it seems to tick all the boxes for me.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:23 am
by limeyduffa
Cicsy wrote:.As I've stated before I do like to ride quick so the potential hooligan element of the bike actually appeals.
How quick is quick ?. 80-120km/h ?, 160ish ?, +200km/h ?.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 8:38 am
by Gimlet
I had a Triumph triple, a 2013 Speedy. I sold it to buy a Ducati 1098 Streetfighter partly because I could never get comfortable on the Triumph - I was constantly fidgeting and pushing myself backwards on the seat - but mostly because I felt the engine lacked top-end. It had a lovely fat linear mid-range but when the engine started to snarl at around 6-7K I always felt it should be topped off by a top-end surge that never came. It was quick but the psychological effect of an expected rush that didn't happened made it feel slower than it really was.

The Duacti had all the mid-range of the Triumph, and then some, albeit with a slight hole at around 5K, but it also had searing, wheel-lifting top-end like an inline four. Best of both worlds. The 990 KTM is somewhere in between the Ducati and the Triumph. It doesn't 'have the thudding brutality down low of the Ducati - which gives it very easy town manners - or quite the howling top-end but it does have a more linear power delivery, akin to the triple but with a very definite increase in urgency form 7K to the limiter. It feels like its going to rev forever and that gives the bike the character of a daft dog with the wind in its ears. It takes off and you haven't the heart to rein it in, you just have to let it go and that's where the hooligan element comes in. The Ducati dares you to go fast; the KTM eggs you on and you will give in and you will become a delinquent and a public nuisance.

The KTM isn't at fast as the Ducati (though it will probably match the Triumph to 100 mph). Its giving away nearly 40 bhp and 15 lb of torque so you wouldn't expect it to be. SMTs are really sub-100 mph bikes. Its quite easy to nudge 120 without really trying but 120 on a lightweight upright will feel a lot faster than it does on a planted Ducati or the solid-feeling Triumph.The SMT isn't really about big speed numbers. Its about the sense of fun which you get form a punchy, characterful engine and an agilie chassis. And after a Testastretta Ducati, I love the silky, mechanical quietness of the 990 engine. None of that terrifying dry clutch clatter which I've never really got used to. I don't get off the SMT and feel I have to explain to bystanders that it isn't fucked, its supposed to sound like that..

Re: Advice please

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 9:45 am
by Cicsy
limeyduffa wrote:
Cicsy wrote:.As I've stated before I do like to ride quick so the potential hooligan element of the bike actually appeals.
How quick is quick ?. 80-120km/h ?, 160ish ?, +200km/h ?.

If you've got time to look at the Speedo you're not going quick enough! Nah only joking mate I honestly couldn't put a number on my average speed. All I can tell you is if I'm enjoying a road I'll generally go as quick as conditions aĺlow.
I've had my share of superbikes over the years from blades to gixers but as is the norm when you get older I now find the riding position on "adventure styled " bikes more suited to my ageing body, especially when doing any distance. I'm no Rossi but what I would say is in over 3000 miles of some of the best twisty bits France and Spain has to offer I can't remember getting overtaken.

There's a good one on YouTube entitled "Kim 990 & Aprilla tuono v4 aggressive climbing Col de Rousset" I'm more than confident I could hang with these 2 guys and the vid is a great example of the type of roads I've just come from on my tiger.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:43 am
by limeyduffa
Cicsy, I saw a bit of the video. Yes, SMT is perfect for this.

I used to live in northern Australia. Up there in the old days (before the railway was built), there was no speed limits. I owned a GSX-R1000 then, and I wasn't having fun unless I was doing over 160km/h. My average speed up there was 200-240km/h. 15 years later, opposite end of Australia, the cops fine you for doing 1km/h over the limit (yes, that is right: 1km/h over and get a $220AUD odd fine and 2 demerit points). So, I have to stick to the 60/80/100 limits here. The Gixxer would be a boring misfit. The SMT is fun on this twisty pot holed roads here sticking to the speed limit.

Re: Advice please

Posted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 9:34 am
by Cicsy
Ha ha what a great analogy "it gives the bike the character of a daft dog running with the wind in its ears" that made me chuckle but yeah I get it . :lol: