Joaquim's First Aussie Camp-Out Adventure Ride

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Over the weekend I was able to take the KTM 890 Adventure R for an extended ride. Having never ridden for more than a few hours at a time, but having grown up watching Ewan and Charlie on their Long Ways Round, Down, and up, I wanted to start taking baby steps in the global touring trip direction. I grabbed two tarps and a sleeping bag, booked a ticket on the Queenscliff ferry, and aimed to ride the Great Ocean Road as far as Apollo Bay.

Heading out from Traralgon at 4:45am to beat the Melbourne bus tour crowd, I quickly remembered I hadn’t yet ridden in the dark, thankfully the 890’s headlights flooded the road well into the distance and I was confident once more. Soon after, however, came the second realisation -  my hands are bloody freezing. I remembered being shown the heated grips which, with naive Irish thinking, I had dismissed - why would I need heated grips in Australia? Proven wrong, I was able to  get the grips on to maximum heat which I now consider a must have on my future bikes. The KTM kept adding to the ‘must-haves’ when I tried out the cruise control. I was able to take it easy, resting arms as needed, something I’d be even more thankful for on the 3 hour highway stint home the next day.

Fresh off the ferry with the sun up, it wasn’t long before I was into the twisties, somewhat apprehensive about the handling of the off-road tyres and longer suspension travel than the sports bikes I’d learnt on. I needn’t have been worried though as the bike carved through the corners perfectly, inspiring confidence and being an absolute joy to ride. On an occasion or two coming in a touch hot to downhill hairpins I felt the abs kick in and definitely appreciated the technology in the bike, making up for my gaps in skill.

Style wise the bike is a great example of KTM’s signature off-road angles without looking at all out of place on the bitumen. It was turning heads parked outside the cafes and sparking conversations with the other riders out that day. Unsurprisingly the Akrapovic exhaust was great to hear, a powerful note bouncing off the cliff walls along the coast.

With some light left after rolling in to Apollo Bay I cut inland and ended up on some tracks around the Otway National Park. Not pushing it as I was alone, the bike still allowed me to venture along some tracks that I previously would have thought were a bit beyond me. The off road modes on the bike are fantastic. You can precisely dial in how much rider aid you like, or have none of it, adjust how much slide you want in the rear with the rally mode, and disable ABS and traction control on the fly. Despite being an off-road novice I found myself wanting to take it further off the beaten track.

Fairly stiff and a little tired from my dodgy nights sleep in the tarp lean-to, I felt

I had definitely dipped my toes in to moto- camping and am keen for more. One step closer to some border crossing, multi week, proper adventure touring.


Previously I was of the understanding that you couldn’t have proper off-road abilities with great on on-road handling, that there had to be compromise. Having seen the bike tear up rutted-out rock-covered climbs, soak up deep ditches and jump erosion mounds easily, I wouldn’t have believed it could be cutting smoothly through the corners of the Great Ocean Road but there you go; you can have your cake and eat it too.


Credit: Joaquim