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ADV NewsBlack Dog’s Custom-Built KTM 790 Adventure R That’s Ready To Rip

Black Dog’s Custom-Built KTM 790 Adventure R That’s Ready To Rip

Black Dog Cycle Works gives the KTM 790 R a big performance boost.

Published on 07.27.2021
Black Dog Cycle Works KTM 790 Adventure R Bike Build

The adventure bike class is evolving quickly, leaving riders with some tough decisions to make. KTM’s 790 Adventure, for example, was only around for a couple years before the Austrian manufacturer supplanted it with the 890. Is it worth switching bikes, or would adventure seekers be better off putting the cash into upgrading the 790? 

To each his or her own, but Kurt Forgét, owner of Black Dog Cycle Works, decided to turn his 790 into the ultimate adventure bike by addressing some of its issues with comfort and convenience, protection and performance. The result is a bike that’s prepped for exploring rugged terrain, and a match for the bigger 890 on the dyno. Here’s how he did it: 

Black Dog Cycle Works KTM 790 Adventure R Bike Build
Kurt gives his just-completed KTM 790 Adventure R bike build a shakedown test in the rocks.

Comfort and Convenience

Comfort is often secondary on bikes aimed at single track hard dual-sport use. But adventure riding often means long days in the saddle, on everything from interstates to two tracks. Staying warm, dry and well provisioned is a safety factor on longer excursions. Here’s what Forgét did to improve his 790’s comfort: 

PowerParts Performance Heated Seat

KTM 790 Adventure Heated Seat

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A warm backside seems like a luxury until you try a heated seat on a cold day and realize that adventure doesn’t have to be an endurance contest. If you are miserable, you probably aren’t concentrating on the ride. That’s why Forgét added touches like the KTM PowerParts Heated Seat to his adventure bike. It uses 3D mesh foam and a built-in tunnel form to improve comfort, mimics the look and feel of the stock seat, retains the height-adjustment feature, and adds three levels of heating and quick warm up times. (MSRP $209)

Black Dog Cycle Works Side Stand Enlarger

Black Dog Cycle Works KTM 790 Adventure R Side Stand Enlarger

You’d expect this one to be on the bike given that Forgét owns BCDW, but beyond that it’s just a good idea if you want to keep your KTM upright. For some reason KTM side stands come stock with tiny feet (other manufacturers are guilty of this too), so stopping on soft surfaces such as sand or loose dirt often means scrambling for a rock, stick or piece of trash to place under the stand. BDCW’s Side Stand Enlarger solves that issue, and also makes your bike less likely to dig into hot asphalt and topple over. Plus it’s easy to install and shaped like a dog’s paw, which is just cool. (MSRP $55)

Black Dog Cycle Works Rear/Pillion Racks

Black Dog Cycle Works KTM 790 Adventure R Rear/Pillion Rack

A place to strap down cargo is a must on the KTM 790, and BDCW’s Rear and Pillion Racks are a very stout and sleek solution. Both are made of hard-anodized, one-quarter inch aluminum for strength and a long-lasting finish. The Rear Rack replaces the stock grab rails, while the Pillion replaces the passenger seat to create a 15-inch wide by 14-inch long platform to greatly expand cargo carrying options. It’s pre-drilled for RotopaX gas- and water-container mounts, and also engineered to work with the bike’s stock seat lock mechanism and is compatible with the front seat in the high and low positions. (MSRP $175)

Fuzeblocks FZ-1 Distribution Block

KTM 790 Adventure R Fuzeblocks FZ-1  Distribution Block

Instead of hunting around the bike’s wiring harness looking for points to tap into for accessories like the heated seat, GPS and auxiliary lighting, Forgét installed a Fuzeblock FZ-1. This distribution point not only simplifies the wiring, it also allows installers to choose between a switched or unswitched circuit by simply moving a fuse. It installs with three wires — positive and negative to the battery and a switched trigger wire — and the six circuits are canbus compatible and can handle up to 10 amps each. (MSRP $89.99)

BDCW Traction Footpegs

Black Dog Cycle Works Traction Footpegs

Manufacturers are slowly catching on to the idea that wider pegs provide a more stable place to stand and help control your bike, but the stock pegs on KTM’s 790/890 series could still use an upgrade. Once again, Forgét went to his own catalog and added a set of Traction Footpegs, in anodized black, which are similar to BDCW’s Platform Footpegs with some additions for better wet weather traction. They opened up the void areas so the pegs clear themselves of mud, dirt and snow better, changed the teeth to a pointed style and added threaded “spikes” for maximum grip in the wet. They are also a half-inch lower than stock for added legroom. (MSRP $229)

Rigid Dually Side Shooter Pro Auxiliary Lights Kit

Rigid Dually Side Shooter Pro Auxiliary Lights Kit

Many auxiliary lights offer big lumens, but Rigid Industries took their scorching D2 Pro lights and added two LEDs into the side of the optics of each for a 120-degree lighting field, meaning you can also see what’s in the ditch you’re riding past at night. They put out 7,100 lumens each drawing only 57 watts. That’s an incredible upgrade for those rides that extend past dusk. BDCW’s kit combines the Dually Side Shooters with machined, black-anodized mounts specific to the 790, a Rigid Industries “pendant” switch, wiring harness and amber covers for the lights designed to make you more visible in traffic during the day. (MSRP $504)

Mosko Moto Nomax Tank Bag

Mosko Moto Nomax Tank Bag

Tank bags are great for stashing stuff you need to access quickly and often: sunglasses, coins, extra gloves, snacks, etc. The Mosko Moto Nomax has places for all those things with the added advantage of including a two-liter water bladder, meaning you can take the load off your back if you are used to wearing a hydration pack. Off the bike it doubles as a backpack with the included straps. (MSRP $199)

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers

Mosko’s Backcountry 35L Panniers are made of ballistic nylon and Hypalon for durability and damage resistance, and use inner waterproof bags to keep your gear dry. They feature molle grids for expandability and come with a five-liter, waterproof bolt on pocket storage system. Mosko’s “puck” mounting system adapts to many pannier racks, and their new “Speed Pin” attachment latches keep the bags securely on the bike. (MSRP $750)

Protection

You know the scenario: you’re 60 miles from the last town and 40 miles to the next one when your front wheel kicks up a rock that smacks into an engine cover and suddenly your bike is gushing oil. Better protection would have prevented the damage, but it’s a little late now. Forgét went the ounce-of-prevention route and beefed up his 790 by adding the following:

Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate

Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate for the KTM 790 Adventure

Naturally you will find BDCW’s flagship product on the company owner’s bike. But it would be a good choice on anyone’s 790/890. The Ultimate Skid Plate is made of 3/16-inch thick 5052 aluminum, a material chosen for both strength and its slights “give” under hard impacts, lessening the stress on mounting points. BDCW’s two-piece design eliminates engine case mounting points, strengthens the footpeg mounts by tying them into the center stand mount, covers all major components and simplifies oil changes and other maintenance. (MSRP $379)

Doubletake Adventure Mirrors

Doubletake Adventure Mirrors

Stock mirrors are great until you fall or hit something and break them, or worse, break the master cylinder or clutch perch they’re often attached to. Doubletake’s Adventure Mirrors address both problems by being virtually indestructible, and attaching directly to the handlebars via a RAM mount. Though they fold out of the way, the Adventure Mirrors are designed for bikes that will see them extended most of the time. (MSRP $136)

Rottweiler Performance Transaver

Rottweiler Performance Transaver for the KTM 790 Adventure

The 790/890 Adventure shifter mechanism is lightweight and efficient. But it’s also prone to bending under severe or accidental downshifts, which can put undue stress on the internal components. Rottweiler’s solution is basically a shock absorber for the external shift shaft. You won’t even know it’s there under normal conditions, but when you stomp on the shifter it will absorb some of the force instead of transmitting it to the expensive components down the line. Think of it as cheap insurance for your transmission. (MSRP $69.95)

Fasst Company Simple Solution Handguards

Fasst Company Simple Solution Handguards

Forgét is running Fasst Company Flex ADV Handlebars (see below), which can complicate handguard mounting due to the unique design. The simple solution, as the name implies, is a set of Simple Solution Handguards. Fasst Company uses a threaded anchor to fasten the guard to the handlebar and a 10 mm button to attach the guard to the pivot pin for maximum strength. (MSRP $135.99)

Performance

Perhaps the most compelling reason for stepping up to a fancy new 890 Adventure is the increase in performance. The new bike produces 10 more horsepower at 8,000 rpm than the old model, and eight more foot-pounds of torque at 6,500 rpm. But what if you could match those numbers with your 790 with a few performance additions? Forgét did just that, and addressed some stability issues, with the following: 

Fasst Company Flexx Handlebar Adventure

Fasst Company Flexx Handlebar Adventure

The Flexx series is designed to reduce vibration and absorb impacts while accurately transmitting steering inputs. Those seemingly contradictory goals are achieved by isolating the point where the bars mount to the bike from the riders’ hands via tunable elastomer inserts. The rider doesn’t feel the bar working, but the lack of vibration and improved ergonomics helps reduce fatigue and increase control. Flexx bars come in a variety of bends and heights to fit various adventure bikes and uses. (MSRP $399.99)

Scotts Stabilizer With BRP Sub Mount

Scotts Stabilizer With BRP Sub Mount for the KTM 790 Adventure R

If you’ve ever been on a heavily loaded adventure bike and suddenly found yourself fighting a sickening high-speed weave in a sandy patch you didn’t see coming, you’ll understand the need for a steering stabilizer. They smooth out head shake, absorb hard impacts that can wrench the bars from your hands, and generally add a layer of confidence to a long ride. Scotts is an industry leader, and BRP’s clever Sub Mount puts the stabilizer below the bars leaving the cockpit uncluttered and more room for things like a GPS mount or a bar pad. (MSRP $659)

Arrow Exhaust with De Cat Midpipe

Arrow Exhaust with De Cat Midpipe for the KTM 790/890 Adventure

Arrow’s stainless steel De Cat Mid Pipe eliminates the heat-soaked (and heavy) catalytic converter for a better flowing exhaust that still accommodates any muffler that will fit the stock mid pipe. Forgét went with the Arrow Race-Tech, which features a diamond shape that reduces the exterior dimension, and therefore the weight, of the can without comprising interior volume.  The Race-Tech is also designed to maximize gas flow and minimize back pressure, and getting things flowing is vital to producing more power. (Exhaust: MSRP $549.95; Midpipe: MSRP $240.03)

Rottweiler Rally Edition Full Intake System

Rottweiler Rally Edition Full Intake System for the KTM 790 Adventure

Rottweiler claims an eye-popping 10-horsepower gain at 6,300 rpm to the rear wheel with the installation of their Rally Edition intake system. And that’s with no other changes to the bike; stock fuel mapping, stock exhaust, etc. That number is the result of the intake acting as one, big velocity stack to both smooth and increase airflow to the bike’s OEM intake stacks. They also claim better sealing than the stock unit, peace of mind for KTM owners whose stock intake systems have not passed the “white glove test” in the past. The Rally Edition comes in gloss black carbon fiber, other color and material options are available. (MSRP $649.95)

DynoJet Power Commander V With Rottweiler Map

KTM 790 Adventure R Dyno after performance upgrades.
The combined performance mods result in an additional 10 HP at 6100 RPM with power gains across the board. Torque was also increased by 8.25 ft-lbs at 6100 RPM.

The final piece in the performance puzzle on Forgét’s 790  is the ability to fine tune fuel maps. DynoJet’s Power Commander V allows riders to tailor fueling and other parameters to their liking. Rottweiler simplifies the process by offering free maps that work with the Power Commander for a plug-and-play solution. Some maps retain the stock 02 sensors and emissions mapping, others go wilder for bigger gains. Rottweiler compares the Power Commander to a Swiss Army knife: use one tool, or use them all, it’s up to you.  (MSRP $389.95)

KTM 790 Adventure R Build Parts List

Aftermarket ProductPrice $USD
PowerParts Performance Heated Seat$209.00
Black Dog Cycle Works Side Stand Enlarger$55.00
Black Dog Cycle Works Rear/Pillion Racks$175.00
Fuzeblocks FZ-1 Distribution Block$89.99
BDCW Traction Footpegs$229.00
Rigid Dually Side Shooter Pro Auxiliary Lights Kit$504.00
Mosko Moto Nomax Tank Bag$199.00
Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers$750.00
Black Dog Cycle Works Ultimate Skid Plate$379.00
Doubletake Adventure Mirrors$136.00
Rottweiler Performance Transaver$69.95
Fasst Company Simple Solution Handguards$135.99
Fasst Company Flexx Handlebar Adventure$399.99
Scotts Stabilizer With BRP Sub Mount$659.00
Arrow Exhaust with De Cat Midpipe$789.98
Rottweiler Rally Edition Full Intake System$649.95
DynoJet Power Commander V With Rottweiler Map $389.95

Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

Author: Bob Whitby
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5 thoughts on “Black Dog’s Custom-Built KTM 790 Adventure R That’s Ready To Rip

  1. Pingback: Black Dog’s Custom-Built KTM 790 Adventure R That’s Ready To Rip - ADVENTURE & OVERLAND MOTORCYCLE TRAVEL

  2. Nice. I’m waiting for Rottweiler to get their standard edition intake kit back in stock. Not that I need more power but it is a better system. Would also like the Scotts stabilizer and Doubletake mirrors. Almost broke a mirror in a minor drop recently and certainly don’t want to break a mount.

  3. “But what if you could match those numbers with your 790 with a few performance additions? Forgét did just that”

    Or buy an 890 Adventure then get even higher numbers when you add the RWP airbox, decat, pipe, and power commander.

  4. Nicely done Bob. Love my 790. Similar mods on my 790 with the addition of the WP Pro suspension and some different wheels. Some Ti bolts axles etc. Its the dirt biker in me!

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