Ready to retro?

Roland Sands has a reputation. The California-based designer is known to pair modern-day function with yesteryear form. Whether he’s dreaming up apparel or a custom motorcycle, Sands delivers the utmost performance with a healthy heaping of retro styling. Given his extensive portfolio, we didn’t think the builder could impress us anymore. He pulls it off, of course, with a new KTM 790 Adventure custom.

KTM also has a reputation. Sharp angles, off-road prowess, and the color orange quickly come to mind. Known for its dogged pursuit of performance, the brand’s lineup is thoroughly modern. When a customer brought a 2019 KTM 790 Adventure to the RSD shop, the designer unsurprisingly took the middleweight adventurer back in time. Nicknamed ‘Urban Assault’, the project retains the ADV’s capabilities but adds urbane style to the mix.

790 Adventure
Urban Assault: 2019 KTM 790 Adventure - Side, Left

Starting with the gas tank, the team removed the bulbous, underslung fuel cells. A heavily-modified Suzuki GT750 gas tank now rests atop the frame, putting the liquid-cooled, 789cc parallel-twin on full display. Next, Sands vertically mounts the radiator and trims the stock bash plate to achieve a slimmer silhouette. The exposed custom subframe maintains the classic lines established by the retro gas tank.

KTM’s futuristic headlight gives way to a round unit off a Triumph and a metal grill protects the new lantern from flying debris. At both ends, a vintage KTM front fender and rear mudguard provide a fitting VMX touch. A tool bag tucks under the 790’s TFT display and a tail bag adds a modicum of carrying capacity. The metal number plate also doubles as a heat guard for the Akrapovic exhaust can and a Rotox gas can helps recover some of the two gallons lost in the fuel cell swap.

Gallery: Urban Assault: 2019 KTM 790 Adventure

Sands further streamlines the 790 Adventure with trimmed fork guards and streamlined handguards on Pro-Taper bars. Despite all the aesthetically pleasing design decisions, we can’t help but wonder how the KTM handles after the gas tank relocation. Deleting the wind protection is also a headscratcher, but it certainly upholds the Urban Assault’s retro motif. Yes, the RSD team may sacrifice some of the 790 Adventure’s function to “improve” its form, but it still strikes that unique balance we’ve come to expect from Roland Sands.

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