Road to: Villa de Leyva, testing the KTM Super Adventure

What better way to close KTM’s adventure cycle than with the new Super Adventure 1290? in previous weeks we’ve had the opportunity to test the 1050, 1190R an 1190; now we set out in the 1290 and although we expected more of the same, we couldn’t be more wrong. The idea was to leave Medellin at night and head out to Doradal, spend the night and prepare to take the road from Boyacá to Otanche, and then to Chiquinquirá. I tried to research everything I could about the road, but the online information is scarce. Some say it’s heavy off road with tons of loose gravel, others say that cars and buses go through so it must be ok. Nothing is clear.

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So far so good in the regular route to Bogota, the next part is what worries me.

So we head out and my first impressions of the bike are very good, it feels different to the 1190 as the seating position is comfier, with a wider handlebar like the 1190R – I still don’t understand why the tiny one in the 1190 – and as it is dark outside, I see the Turning Led Lights the bike comes with, is an amazing system that lights up the road accordingly as you go into the curve. I appreciated this a lot as my night vision basically sucks.

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The 1290 Super Adventure is the pinnacle of motorcycle technology today, all suited to make trips safer, more comfortable and way easier.

Suspension wise I found something odd in the Super Adventure. Hearing a clanking sound when traveling at low speeds, however as you speed up the sound goes away. It’s a semi active system that works automatically as road conditions and rider input changes. It made for a very comfortable ride. Another gadget the bike comes with is heated seats, not something we are going to use a lot in Colombia, but cool to have nonetheless. For some reason someone turned on the pillion heated seat option, which made my passenger very uncomfortable for a while as she didn’t know why it was so damn hot, hahhaha sorry. Powerwise the bike is something else. The 10 horsepower difference over the 1190 is noticeable and appreciated. And with power comes also handling as the bike is as nimble as you want it to. Passing over trucks is just a twist of the throttle away.

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Any road is fun in the Super Adventure, rocketing through straights, off roading or “knee dragging” in the twisties.

We got to Doradal about 9 pm and stayed in the Campo Verde Hotel. 24 hour food service was appreciated however we didn’t get to rest a lot as trucks keep coming in and out for the same reason. We call it a day an prepare for a long day of riding to come.

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Our route for the weekend.

Friday came and we left sharply at 7 am and looked for the road to Otanche. Again we heard the rumors about how bad the road was, nonetheless we decided to venture on.

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Kilometers and kilometers of gravel roads tested both the Super Adventure and my off roading skills. We triumphed.

For about 20 kilometers everything was OK, a nice pavement road, from there on gravel of all types. I stopped and set the bike for Off Road conditions. ABS, Suspensions and Power output was automatically changed. The gravel road was actually very firm and allowed for a nice cruising speed. The road goes next to a river, and little streams come over the road frequently at first. We make about 120 km. in 2.5 hours according to my Garmin Montana.

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The landscape changes a lot, caves, puddles, rivers, and even plains are all in this road.

We saw a sign in the road the reads that the road is close. I pay no attention to it and keep on going until we get to a barricade. Road workers there tell us that it will reopen at about 1 pm. It’s 10 am. The sign I chose to ignore read “FYI: the road is closed from 7 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 6 pm Monday to Fridays” damn. Also, as part of the work being made on the road, dynamite was being used. Huge boulders and rocks falling as a result of the explosion meant that some heavy duty off roading was going to be necessary to push on. “I’m gonna fall” I kept thinking as I went through this hard patch “I’m gonna fall while riding a loaner bike and rocks are falling from the mountain” Cars honking behind me did not help. I pushed hard on the bike and just powered trough. Yay.

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The not so taken road turned out to be lots of fun. Getting away from it all and seeing new things is the reason we do this.

We finally made it to Otanche, the first of a series of small towns like San Pablo de Borbur and Pauna. Paved roads were the norm now and we could enjoy fun fast twisties. Lots of twisties and closed sharp turns and in my experience so far, the road with the most turns in Colombia. At all it summed up to 5 hours of riding since we left the hotel, for 230 kms to Chiquinquira.

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Although the road is being paved right now there’s still a lot to go so you can enjoy the off road bits for some time still.

Another fun Super Adventure fact is that you can set the visor’s position easily – and according to the manual with one hand – so I went from the low position while riding the slow and very warm roads, to the highest position in the cold and fast roads of Chiquinquira. The motorcycle’s overall aerodynamics are very good as I felt protected from wind at all times. One in Villa de Leyva we set out to search for food.

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It wouldn’t be an adventure if we didn’t explore a little!

Villa de Leyva is famous for it’s gastronomical offer. We head out the the Mercado Municipal a restaurant I already knew  and was looking forward to visit again. It’s currently ranked sixth in Tripadvisor. As most restaurants in Villa de Leyva it’s located in an old town house with a patio in the middle and tables all around it. Before sitting down I went into their pastry shop, “Rosa Cremosa” and glanced as the chef was making on of their signature dishes, “Merengues”. I immediately asked for one but there wasn’t any available as they were custom ordered for an event.

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“Carpaccio de Bife de Chorizo” and a Bloody Mary, yum.

For a small Colombian town the gastronomical offer is quite diverse and rich, full of amazing flavors. After a day of riding I ordered a Bloody Mary and a “Carpaccio de Bife de Chorizo”, for the main course I ordered ribs in BBQ Sauce. Time for dessert! I rushed over again to the pastry shop and asked for the “Merengues” as I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Luckily they budged and made one just for me. I can’t describe the flavor but I hope the photo helps.

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“Merengues” from Rosa Cremosa.

The next day was all about Villa de Leyva and it’s surroundings, the usual photographs in the park, historical buildings and such. Villa de Leyva’s architecture is amazing and really takes you somewhere else, back in simpler times and slower rhythms.

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Villa de Leyva’s main park hosts events like the astronomical festival, the light festival or the kite festival. 

I’m not sure how I got the “mercado”, the local set up shop to buy and sell all kinds of fruit and vegetables. The amount of colors and smells is amazing, only made better by the fact that you can meet up with the chefs from the local restaurants buying fresh produce. You can also grab a bite here as typical food is everywhere to be found. Try the chorizo, sopa de mota or aji boyancese, they will not dissapoint.

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Produce from the local farms and some of the high end chefs meet here, in a local blooming economy.

It was time to pack an head out to Bogota as we had a meeting with our Garmin sponsor in their main offices. We head out through SachicaSamacaPuente de Boyaca and finally Bogota. We stopped in the bridge for the obligatory photograph and then continued to Bogota. At last we got to test the cruise control system, which is great for this type of roads. A very useful system, however there aren’t many places to use it in Colombia.

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Puente de Boyaca is one of Colombia’s independence historical grounds, as one of it’s conclusive battles took place here.

From Bogota and the way home there’s not much to tell. According to the KTM’s on board computer we did a total of 1102,9 km , averaging 69 kph, for a total of 15 hours and 53 minutes of riding.

About the Bike: 

Comfier, faster, easier handling. Great for long distance touring.

The 1290 is cooler than the 1190 and 1050 as the heat issue that plagued it’s first generation was corrected. Some heat remains, but at acceptable levels. The bike’s wide handlebar makes for comfier riding and improved maneuverability, even with it’s added volume. Suspension’s amazing, even with the clanking sound, although we couldn’t tell if it was a problem with the demo bike or if it’s supposed to be that way, a definite improvement over the 1190. An overall great package, a sporty package, and easily the best and most versatile long distance touring bike in the market right now.

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