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KTM 1290 Superduke-r

Matt Strange

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I took one out as part of KTM Didcot's "orange weekend" promotion.

From the off, I'll start by stating this is by far one of the very best, most fun bikes I have ever ridden on a road.

From my initial thoughts, just walking around the bike then to starting it up I knew it would be good and 30 seconds down the road I already had a huge grin on my face. KTM have basically made a 180hp, 190kg naked bike that nearly handles as well as a 450 supermoto but with nearly 4x the power & yet is 70kg heavier . This can only really be described as an astonishing achievement, no matter the fact that I've personally owned several "proper" supermotos and I suppose I consider myself a reasonably good judge in that regard - A drz400E, crf-450 & a cr250 stroker are in that list.

Maybe I'm doing a slight disservice to the bike comparing it to a rough 'n' ready single or stroker, because even in sport mode (with the fully responsive fly-by-wire throttle setting) it is an incredibly easy bike to ride as slowly as a normal walking pace. It has a beautifully progressive throttle & clutch action with absolutely no snatch, the ABS brembo brakes are sublime too. Once you get a move on, the white power suspension is also excellent, soaking up the bumps around Harwell village with ease.

Performance? Dare I say it, a tad muted compared to something like my K6 GSX-r1000, which would be at least a second quicker on the 1/4 mile. I think it's because it's difficult to launch this bike quickly due to the obscene amount of torque, it wants to wheelie constantly LOL. Apparently, roll-on performance is one of the best out of any standard bike on the road, but without timing gear I can't really back that up from the test today as twins are so deceptively fast compared to IL4 engined bikes.

Practicality is surprisingly good, even the tank range isn't that bad apparently, with 130 mile to reserve from an 18 litre(?) tank. There's plenty of room for a tank bag and KTM even do a luggage rack and pannier set!

I'd be happy to tour on the bike, it's supremely comfortable even though the riding position is a bit odd. You sit "in" the bike more than say, a supermoto or a hypermotard, rather like being on a carousel at the fair sat upon one of the wooden horses - my legs are almost straight on the pegs!. O.K., so I haven't got the longest legs in the world for my height, I'm 6'1 in my size 9 boots with a 31'' inside leg. The bars are oddly close too, if you have ever sat right up against the fuel cap on a moto-x seat, that's what it's like :) But I do think this helps with the handling at speed and taking corners quickly - it doesn't keep the front end of the bike down though :wink: :lol: .

Engine vibration isn't that bad for an engine of it's capacity, windblast isn't that bad either seeing as I didn't have the screen fitted. Better than a lot of unfaired bikes I've ridden & today was pretty gusty at times too. It's also shorter than it looks, very compact & easy to Manoeuvre but do be warned - the mirrors do stick out and tight filtering is difficult if you're used to a sportsbike like me.

I suppose to sum this bike up and why it's so good, it's a bike that's been designed from the ground up to be a naked, rather than something that was a sportsbike but has had the faring removed. Oh, and I suppose I should mention THAT throbbing 1290cc twin too, sat right under your nads/foofoo - or both if you're a hermaphrodite :)

Bad bits?

It's not cheap @ £14k for a standard bike, no quickshifter, the switchgear looks a bit cheap. The traction control turns itself back on (after you've switched it off) when the bike is turned off with the key and you restart. It's also bloody ugly!

But that's it (in my opinion), if you've got the money at least go test one. I reckon you'll be wanting to ditch that sportsbike once you do.



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  • 2 years later...

Not sure about the version 2 models looks, prefer the original model....I test rode one a coupe of years ago, stonking engine, quite comfortable and very easy to ride. Of course you now have the Superduke 1290 GT, if I was going for a Superduke this is the one I'd go for...same grunt but re-mapped, fairing, hard luggage, cruise control etc etc...along with the usual multitude of options available from KTM Power Parts.

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