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ADV NewsWatch Chris Birch Rip Thru New Zealand on the Mighty KTM 1290R

Watch Chris Birch Rip Thru New Zealand on the Mighty KTM 1290R

Chris Birch’s ride on the big-bore KTM reminds us we’re all just mortals.

Published on 08.07.2020

There aren’t many people who can put a KTM 1290 Super Adventure R through its paces off-road. At 160 horsepower and 529 pounds wet, it’s a lot of bike, to put it mildly. It has a host of modes and computer assists to help Average Joe turn in a competent performance, but to really make the bike sing in the dirt you’d almost need to be super human. Like Chris Birch.

In a recent  video, “12 Hours With the 1290 Super Adventure R,” Birch flogs the rip-snorting KTM through the glorious scenery of his native New Zealand. For us lesser beings stuck at home, it’s two minutes and 34 seconds of pure, escapist joy.


It begins where many of these sorts of videos begin: early in the morning, pulling out of the garage. We follow Birch down a dirt path and out on the asphalt twisties along the coast on a sun-kissed morning. Then comes a dirt road, a high-speed hop over a tree limb, powerslides and more incredible coastal scenery.

Things get serious with a couple hillclimbs that would give pause to a good rider on a dual sport of half the weight, Birch ripping wheelies and throwing a roost the all the way to the top. Add more log hops, stream crossings, single track and a chasm-spanning jump, shake well and enjoy. In one particularly memorable shot, Birch shoots over the crest of a steep hill, lands the 1290 on its back wheel and wheelies out of the frame as if he were on a trials bike. Don’t try that at home, as they say.

Of course, Birch has the Dakar Rally, Red Bull Romaniacs, the Erzberg Rodeo and a slew of other world-class hard enduros and rallies on his resume. He also travels the globe as a dirt- and adventure-riding coach, and posts cool how-to and big-bike videos on YouTube. You probably can’t ride a 1290 the way he does. But there’s no harm in dreaming.

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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11 thoughts on “Watch Chris Birch Rip Thru New Zealand on the Mighty KTM 1290R

  1. He finished 4th overall a year or so ago in the Hellas rally on a 790 Adventure R against a whole field of enduro bikes. Great rider on a great bike.

  2. What an ass tearing up the ground like he was. He may have skills but ripping ruts in the turf is disrespectful of the land and will cause erosion the next time it pours rain. Total tool.

    • Agreed! New Zealand is a gorgeous country and deserves to be treated better than this. It’s one thing if that’s his own property he’s tearing up, but that appears to be public land he’s destroying.

      • I totally agree. Hate to see the beautiful green vegetation torn up. I am a motorcycle owner (Suzuki DR650 and KTM 250 xc-w) so am not against motorcycles, just against tearing up nature that really contributes to giving motorcyclists a bad name and likely leads to more restrictions on where we can ride.

    • This and others like it should carry the disclaimer “Do not try this on public lands.” I was under the impression that there was a program “Ride Respectively”. Many viewers will try and duplicate all the roosting, jumps, slides and wheelies in their own videos and some dirt worshipping tree hugger will see it or worse yet witness it happening, and contact all their pals down at the tofu bar to write the land managers and congressmen senators etc. and then we are all surprised when there are land closures. I’m not advocating riding like Mother Theresa on an old school trials bike, but there is a happy medium between these. The more fragile and pristine the trail, the more respectfully we have to ride. And NEVER go off the trail and make your own new route….that is the dirt worshippers best weapon for land closures. Ok, rant over, now get out there and ride….respectively.

    • Actually, we kinda do ride like that on a farm that’s been opened to us by a friend – in the sense that we are free to rip it up a bit. This won’t be on public land. And it is a KTM sales video, so we should expect this kind of action.

  3. I, and others, can ride exactly like that. There’s more of us around than the motorcycle press give credit for. Clearly Chris is a talented rider, but then so am I and some of my friends are at the same level – difference is, I’ve not got the time, inclination, backing or otherwise to enter the big rallies. I’m happy doing what I do and have plenty of other commitments in my life. Like some of the other posts here, I don’t like seeing pristine countryside ripped up like that though – I ride mostly in a disused quarry, that’s already completely knackered and no-one goes there, so it’s a win-win – I get to have fun, but am away from people and the actual countryside itself. If anyone wonders how rider get so good, it’s endless time in the saddle. I can guarantee that all the top riders who now promote and offer ‘off road training’ never did any of that type of training themselves – they just worked their butts off and learnt from any mistakes. Save yourself some money and spend it on gas and ride time!


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