Ktm Sm 950 (2005-2006): Maturity test

     Engine: The V-2 , 942 c.c., LC8 engine, is fueled by carburetors. It provides 96 nominal bhp.
     Actually, throttle response is instant, power delivery is linear. The 96 bhp figure seems rather low in theory. However combined with the engine torque, it allows immediate and really powerful acceleration over twisty roads, which is what this bike stands for.
     It is one of the easiest bikes to wheelie around. The same applies to drift at the entry of a bend, although lets not make fuss about it right now.

     Because the engine size should remain small, there is an external oil tank instead of storing oil eg in the frame, as shown in photos just in front and below of the engine. This system is not intended for oil cooling.
     Engine gets hot in southern countries, during summer city rides, cooling fan will often be activated.

     Riding position: The saddle height is really large. The 950 Sm is not suitable for short riders. Average height riders will not step a confident foot on the ground, either.
     The width of the bike is average. The plastic parts on either side of the tank, covering the coolant liquid reservoir on one hand and the horn on the other, do not substantially increase the width of the bike.
     On the contrary, they provide significant wind protection at riderĒs feet.

     Rider is positioned mainly on the motorcycle, sited at the front, upright in a sporty style. Riding position provides decent control, its not tiring, on the contrary, its rather tempting.
     The bike feels relatively heavy, 189 Kg without fuel, nominal, centre of gravity feels relatively low though.

     On the road: Suspension is fully adjustable, firmness is moderate, front and rear. There is no linkage at the shock absorber.
     Tyres fitted are Pirelli Scorpion Sync, with dimensions 120-70/17 at the front and 180-55/17 at the rear. They are a very good choice for the specific bike enhancing handling.

     Town rides are easy, no compromises asked to the rider. Agility is very helpful.
     Filtering is also uncompromised, the height of the handlebar is greater than car mirrors, the height of the bikeĒs mirrors is the same with SUVsĒ mirrors.
     Steering lock is huge, Sm will not face a problem even on traffic congested streets. It will be very rare if the Sm cannot be maneuvered around cars.
     Street imperfections could be absorbed marginally better.

     On B- roads, agility is surprising. In the case that agility could be increased, the Sm would be a real toy. Change of direction is splendidly easy, few motorcycles can match the Sm at this point.
     What comes out of the blue, is that stability is superb also. However rider will need some time to comprehend this fact. The combination of these two elements is rather explosive, rider will be tempted.
     Consequently this is a great bike to wander about, although it was not built for this purpose, nor the rider will usually go sight seeing on the Sm.

     ...At the fast pace, itĒs a full purpose SuperMoto bike. It will be only in the fast forward mode that the character and riding of the bike feel together. Rider will be rewarded then.
     Feedback provided is really good, rider gets an exact idea about remaining traction. The combination of superb agility, very good stability and feedback, creates the conditions for fast uncompromised riding, providing great confidence to the rider.
     In case that rider decides to adopt a street bike cornering style, feedback and confidence will be decent also. Rides will be fast and safe at the same time.

     In an almost racing pace, entry to the turn is naturally fast. If rider wishes to drift at the entry, this will occur very easily, confidence and control are great. At the apex of the corner rider gets a clear view about traction. At the exit, the instant throttle response will compensate if a tenth of a second was lost at the previous section…
     For the majority of the bikes which are perceived to be fast, it will be difficult to follow the Sm on B-roads, on such a pace.

     On the highway, rider will need to compromise. Feet are well protected against air pressure, however the torso isnĒt, due to the upright riding position. At the speed of 160 Km/h air pressure is just tolerable, a travelling speed of 180 Km/h cannot be achieved.

     Braking is powerful. Two disc brakes are used at the front, 4 pistons radial calipers, steel braided hoses. They provide great stopping power, good feedback.
     The rear disc brake is equipped with a 2 pistons caliper. It is powerful, power is usable, feedback is relatively good though. The combination of the front and rear brakes provides superb decelerating power. Calipers equipped are Brembo.

     Reliability: The quality of the components is very good. There arenĒt any reliability problems in general.
     History: In 2007 the Sm was updated with a 990 c.c. engine.
     Comments: Just behind the headlamp, there are wires and connectors which are visible. Arrangement there could be more neatly. There isnĒt any rpm meter on the dash, which is not consistent with the absolute sports nature of the bike. That was rectified in the following model, 990 SM.
     The fact that a 950 cc bike is not suitable for travelling, shows that it is probably a sports oriented motorcycle. This is expected from this bike category, mostly due to the riding position.
     From the other hand its a bike that will help a rider to evolve, making things easy for him. The feelings that are provided during this process are among the most beautiful that a rider can get.
     The only thing that it will be required, is riding maturity. Rider cannot feel and learn all at once ...
Price sm 990 new:

+ Uncompromised sporty sensation

+ Handling

- Travelling

- Absence of rpm meter

More, specifications ( sm 990)

Thanks to the motorcycle shop Tsetselis, tel. +302105737379, Thivwn 103, Peristeri, Greece for the test ride.


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