Resurrected? KTM 990 Adventure Prototype Spied Out Testing

2025 KTM 990 Adventure spied out testing
Bernhard M. Hohne/BMH-Images/Cycle World

Just days after we reported on a prototype 1390 Adventure R model seen at Erzbergrodeo and teased as having a semi-automatic transmission, a test mule has been spotted that appears to be an all-new KTM 990 Adventure.  

That’s right, it feels like back to the future for one of the most popular KTM bikes of all time. 2013 was the end of the line for the original 990 Adventure models, bikes that superseded the game-changing 950 Adventure S, a Dakar-bred machine powered by the first production LC8 V-twin back in 2003. 

Now, more than 20 years later, we’re looking at a much evolved 990 Adventure employing the latest strain of LC8 muscle, an entirely new 947cc c-series parallel twin already at work in KTM’s 990 Duke. While at its core, it’s an engine that was born as the 799cc LC8c still powering the 790 Adventure and later emboldened as the 899cc mill found in the current 890 Adventure bikes, just about every element of this new-gen 990 powerplant is fresh, including pistons, rods, crank, exhaust, and cam timing as well as bore enlarged from 90.7mm to 92.5mm and stroke lengthened from 68.8 to 70.4mm over the 890’s engine. 

Although likely to be detuned from the 990 Duke’s 121 hp to broaden torque, this new powerplant will provide a sizeable bump in torque and horsepower for a future 990 Adventure over the 890. What’s most intriguing though about the barely camouflaged machine seen frolicking out in the wild might be how different it looks next to any of KTM’s current middle and heavyweight adventure bikes.

2025 KTM 990 Adventure spied out testing
Bernhard M. Hohne/BMH-Images/Cycle World

Firstly, the bike looks more svelte in the lower front portions which usually house bulging twin fuel cells, each carried low and on either side in order to lower the bike’s center of gravity. Instead, this machine seems to utilize dual tanks with mass redistributed higher up. On the test unit each cell bears its own filler cap, though the whole situation is currently exposed and appears far from finished, leaving the possibility the tanks will be joined internally, covered by a traditional tank-like shell and accessed via a single, lockable filler cap. 

It’s a move that changes the whole look of the machine, something sure to be appreciated by the many riders who’ve complained about the bulbousness of medium and large-displacement KTMs that use a low-slung tank design.  Photos also appear to show what could be a third fuel cell under the seat of this prototype, carried like the 450 Rally Bikes, that’s just peeking out above the shock with a concave shape to accommodate suspension travel. The rear tank could be connected to the front tank or  be accessed by a separate filler cap on the aft of the machine, a common feature on rally bikes. 

2013 ktm 990 adventure baja edition
2013 was the end of the line for the KTM 990 Adventure series.

While the fairing on the prototype looks more traditional thanks to the rearrangement of fuel tanks, it’s hardly production-ready, appearing instead to be a 3D print of a likely form — one that would taper down into a still substantial yet far less bulky skid plate, now that that component will no longer be tasked with the extra duty of protecting the bulbous fuel tanks. 

Another huge stylistic change will be a new headlamp configuration. Yes, what we see on the test mule appears far from the finished concept, featuring just one small round lens with small LED strips on either side, but whatever the final shape it looks like it won’t be KTM’s signature Spy vs. Spy look, a change that will be welcomed by many. LED style turn signals on the prototype look like delicate streetbike fare, so might not carry over to the finished bike. 

Situated behind the new 3D printed windscreen, which will obviously be clear on the finished bike, is a huge, Tesla-esque vertically oriented display screen that makes you wonder, especially in light of how we use our smartphones,  why TFTs have been positioned horizontally for so long. We’ve already seen this useful full-screen display on the 1390 Adventure R prototype roosting around Erzbergrodeo, making it all but certain this will carry over to other KTM models in the future. 

2025 KTM 990 Adventure spied out testing
Bernhard M. Hohne/BMH-Images/Cycle World

Also noted is the geometric-shaped mirrors borrowed from the 790 Adventure as well as the low front tire-hugging fender. Wheel choice is a 21/18 inch combo for this off-road pointed machine, with suspension to match. For now that looks like KTM’s go-to WP upside-down fork and shock, though the shock seems to employ a new linkage system. The bike’s swingarm appears to be aesthetically similar to KTM’s racy 990 Duke, an all-new gravity die-cast design intended to optimize stability. 

As Cycle World, which was the  first to report on the spied prototype here in the States mentions, brakes on the 990 prototype resemble the setup currently found on the 890 Adventure, dual 320mm discs up front with radially mounted 4-piston calipers and a single 260mm in back using a 2-piston floating caliper. 

With its potential underseat tank and more traditional silhouette, this future 990, which will likely be offered in a base and off-road enhanced R version, feels like a pleasing balance between old school and new. What it means for KTM’s tightly-packed middle and heavyweight field, especially since it slots in just a nick above the current 890 Adventure in actual displacement, remains to be seen. 

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

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