A Precautionary Tale About Jumping a Big Adventure Bike
How over-exuberance on a KTM 990 Adventure can get you into trouble.
Last month we attended the Rawhyde Adventure Rally at the Overland Expo and had an interesting time participating in the Rodeo event. It all started Friday morning when ADV Pulse contributor Mike Massucco and I met Jim Hyde, owner of Rawhyde Adventures. We were discussing his training program philosophy when he asked, “Hey are you guys good riders? Do you want to be in the Rodeo?”
We’d heard the RawHyde Adventure Motorcycle Rodeo event is a demonstration of what big Adventure Bikes are capable of in the hands of skilled riders. The idea of riding big bikes like hooligans around a motocross track sounded like a blast, so we accepted the offer. Wondering what we had just gotten ourselves into, we headed over to the track to take a look. We could see several jumps, berms and logs lining the course. Most of the jumps looked fairly small, so we felt confident we could handle it.
We followed a group of Rawhyde instructors out onto the course for a practice session. Although this was just practice, a sizable crowd had already formed in the bleachers for the main event about to begin. Nerves started to set in as my only experience on a motocross track was riding a small dirt bike. My KTM 990 Adventure with a full tank was at least 250 pounds heavier than a typical dirt bike.
After a few cautious laps around the course, I began feeling more confident and having a good time. I soon realized it wasn’t that easy to launch the big bike high in the air. You had to preload the suspension and give it some throttle to achieve decent lift. Not happy with the amount of air I was getting, I decided to give it a little extra gas the next time. A few seconds later this happened…
The KTM 950/990 Adventure Bikes have a legendary reputation for being very capable off-road for their size. Somehow knowing this makes you try things you probably shouldn’t do on a big Adventure Bike. A little extra gas on the KTM 990 Adventure turned out to be a little bit too much and I was sailing through the air much higher than my previous attempts.
For a second I thought I nailed it, but I soon realized I completely over-jumped the landing. A full tank of gas made the front start to dive and I was heading for a flat ground landing. I tried to get my weight back, but the forks bottomed out on impact and I was thrown to the ground. Everything that wasn’t securely attached to me or the bike went flying in all directions, as I hit the ground with a solid thud. I could hear the crowd let out a big “Oooooohhh!”
I got up quickly as if to show it wasn’t that bad of a fall, but it was. The other riders looked concerned as they helped me pickup my bike and clean up the various personal items strewn across the ground. I was in a lot of pain, but luckily I hadn’t sustained any serious injury (maybe a few cracked ribs).
I headed to the sidelines to regain my composure while Mike and the rest of the Rawhyde instructors carried on with the event. I tried snapping a few photos of the action as the rodeo got started, but the adrenaline coursing through my veins had my arms shaking too much to hold the camera steady.
After a while I went to go check on my bike. The KTM 990 Adventure was in good shape considering the magnitude of the fall. With the adrenaline still numbing my pain, I decided to go back out and join the rest of the guys on the track as the event was winding down. A few careful jumps and a nice power drift generated cheers from the crowd and I was able to redeem a little bit of self-esteem.
Later that evening over a few beers, I asked one of the Rawhyde instructors if he had any tips for me on jumping a big bike. His advice? “Don’t do it!”