KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype being tested

KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype in the driving report

Explosive mix of thump and speed

With the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, the Mattighofer are setting new standards: There has never been a displacement of thirteen hundred cubic centimeters in a high-performance two-cylinder. MOTORRAD tasted the explosive mixture of thump and speed.

"Whenever you come, we have nice weather, last week it was three degrees and rain! ”, Philipp Habsburg greets me. The head of development himself insists on introducing me to his latest machine. Whereby it always works like this: He drives with a monkey tooth ahead on routes that he can probably drive backwards in his sleep. And the expectant journalist who doesn’t know the track or the motorcycle and, in the case of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, also doesn’t know the tires, should try not to let it tear off. After all, you can enjoy almost all operating states of the respective KTM to learn, from bloody town through-roads to hearty gasping on Philip’s house route.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype in the driving report

Explosive mix of thump and speed

1290 Super Duke R at the exhibition in Milan. Although only a prototype, the readers of our sister magazine PS voted it Sport Motorcycle of the Year. Right? Times sit up. The high tank feels as if there is already a tank bag on it, but otherwise the handlebars, levers, pegs and seat are perfect for me. We’ll soon read whether very long guys also sit well. Nicely positioned and the front wheel well under control, we poke through Mattighofen. 

A two-cylinder bull under the bum

Striking: the big engine of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R runs the smoothest of all KTM V2 cylinders. Gently on the gas, from a good 2000 rpm without heeling, pushing cleanly. Slightly long shift travel feels unusual, it doesn’t take much force to change the six levels. The engine actually only needs two gears: one for starting and one for the rest. I’ve never had such a two-cylinder bull under my bum. The stove is pushing forward in a way that I never thought possible. "From 2000 rpm we have over 100 Nm and at the top 140 …", explains Philipp. I can see.

The bad thing is: I haven’t turned over 6000 rpm at all. What happens about it? Ojemine! A long straight, possibly on a free German autobahn, and we’re giving everything. The previously dull thud changes into lighter drums, 200 km / h are exceeded in a flash, 250 have already been shaken from the sleeves, the airstream tugs brutally on the helmet. That’s enough for now. Sheer madness, literally. The 1301 cm³ V2 of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R makes 180 hp – that seeps through later. Philipp does not want to reveal this on site. “Do you want to drive without regulation?” I do not want to. I am really happy about all the electronic helpers that prevent me from falling on my nose when braking (ABS), when accelerating on my back (wheelie control) and when accelerating in curves on my collarbone (traction control). 

Buy the KTM 990 Super Duke R on markt.motorradonline.de

KTM 1290 Super Duke R drives almost perfectly


The engine is a drilled out 1190, like the one found in the Adventure.

The TC masters a small section of gravel with gentle regulation, on asphalt it reliably but hardly noticeably takes away when it becomes too much for the rear wheel. Here, too, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R drives almost perfectly. How they managed to teach the large piston engine (108 mm diameter) such manners, Philipp explains: "We do a lot of research on thermodynamics, have dual ignition and the smallest possible channels in the cylinder heads." who applies Panigale. Their V2 has the largest channels in motorcycle construction so far.

The KTM engine doesn’t have to hide from that. Quite the opposite: Compared to the loud Bologna twin, it is downright a cultivated and yet more powerful representative of its genre. There was little time for the chassis and brakes. Positive: stable in curves, new Dunlops with grip in all positions and only a little set-up moment when braking. Comfortable spring / damper set-up with still good feedback. Negative: not the most handy at higher speeds, despite the 205 kilograms of full tank that the KTM 1290 Super Duke R is only supposed to weigh.


From behind you can see how narrow the 1300 Ballermann is. Pure motorcycle, no frills, evil

After a good hour of driving, the tank is half empty and the KTM factory halls appear on the horizon. Should the Austrians actually have built one of the best naked bikes in the world, as it feels after the first ride with the prototype? The MOTORRAD tests will show. One thing seems clear, however: the 1200 twin-cylinder engine is now the moment of truth. And it’s called thirteen hundred. Welcome to a new world.

Technical specifications

75-degree V-two-cylinder engine, 1301 cm³, bore / stroke 108/72 mm, 180 HP at 8870 / min, 140 Nm, steel space frame, screw-off rear, single-sided swing arm, upside-down fork 48 mm, double disc brake at the front 320 mm, Rear disc brake, ABS, traction control, wheelie control, three driving modes, weight with a full tank of 18 liters approx. 205 kilograms, price approx. 15,000 euros

Interview with Stefan Pierer


KTM boss Stefan Pierer: "You can’t produce competitively in Italy".

KTM boss Stefan Pierer continues to expand. Since October 1, 2013, he has not only taken care of his extensive company network, but is now also officially in charge of the Husqvarna brand. He tells MOTORRAD editor-in-chief Michael Pfeiffer what he intends to do with it and how Husqvarna is to present itself on the market together with KTM.

Mr. Pierer, on January 30th, motorradonline.de announced the purchase of Husqvarna by Pierer Industries. How far have you come with Husqvarna in the past eight months?
Very far! We will present a completely new generation of Husqvarna enduro and motocross at the Eicma trade fair in Milan. But of course it was not possible in the short time to develop completely new motorcycles. Naturally, Husaberg was the inspiration for this in the enduro segment. For the motocross area, however, it was necessary to use the existing modular system of the successful KTM models. Our KTM base here is modern, stable, state of the art. Or do you think that our off-road models are bad motorcycles?

Certainly not. But how will the new Husqvarnas then differ from the KTMs??
Visually very clear, Husqvarna is getting its very own line, so you have to attach great importance to it. Every brand needs its own profile, otherwise it is interchangeable and unsuccessful.

Who designed the new Husqvarna line?
Gerald Kiska with his people, of course. He is now the largest independent designer in Europe with 120 employees. They can do it.

How did you come to join Husqvarna? The takeover was probably not planned, was it?
No of course not. But you talk to each other. You see, I’m one of the longest-serving managers in the motorcycle world, and you know your colleagues there. To Dr. I had good contact with this one from BMW, as well as with his successor, Mr. von Kuenheim. And then you just talk about a lot, and I said that when the time comes, I would be interested. BMW and we have common interests in many areas, just think of the suppliers. In short, we have had a very good relationship here for a long time, we were also able to continue this with Mr. Schaller and reach a meaningful agreement together.

And then it had to be quick? So fast that you didn’t even get your co-owner Bajaj on board and initially took it over yourself?
It all happened in close coordination with Bajaj. We maintain a very open and cooperative relationship. Bajaj is run by an entrepreneur, and so are we, you understand each other. Husqvarna is now integrated into KTM, everything was approved and decided at the supervisory board meeting. We have now also secured the trademark rights for 15 years, which belong to Husqvarna AB in Sweden, which today produces lawnmowers, chainsaws and the like. However, Bajaj had one condition of us: no production in Italy.

why this?
Some time ago, two companies in Italy were bought in the Bajaj supplier area. For example, very negative experiences have been made with a manufacturer of spring elements. We were able to take a closer look at the situation from this, and I would also like to say here: You cannot produce competitively for the world market in Italy today. Times can change, but it’s not working right now.

So you will close the Varese site?
No. The production has stopped. We have resigned the workforce, everything is done. The location is also in good shape. In any case, we will now freeze the plant so that nothing happens. After all, we have a capacity there for 30,000 to 40,000 motorcycles a year. And maybe we can use it to cover capacity peaks later, depending on the demand of our machines. Now we will first organize the sales with ten to twelve people from Varese. In addition, the spare parts department, which was previously located at BMW in Verona, will move. Then there will be around 35 jobs in Varese.

How do you intend to sell Husqvarna alongside KTM?
We will set up a second, completely independent sales structure. In Germany, for example, we would have given notice to some KTM dealers who are not so much at home on the road. We can now offer them Husqvarna.

Did you offer that to a Husqvarna veteran such as Josef Zupin??
Mr. Zupine is very valuable to us, of course we want to work with him. Zupin knows how to sell and that is important to us. We want to move forward. We want to take all Husqvarna heroes with us into the new era. In the USA, where the brand still has an incredibly valuable tradition, men like Mark Blackwell and Torsten Hallman, Jacky Martens for example. We partly use our former racing drivers in management. We have seen a lot together in motorsport. That welds together, you know what you have in each other.

But what will distinguish Husqvarna from KTM in the long term, especially since the basis is the same?
We will build Husqvarna as a strong off-road competition brand. In addition to its essential off-road role, KTM will continue to develop more towards the road. In Germany, for example, we now sell 80 percent of street-legal motorcycles. Who would have thought that a few years ago? And we will continue to invest. Setting benchmarks, for example through the collaboration with Bosch, an excellent company that presents a world first with the first lean angle-dependent ABS. Our competitors here are Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki, that’s a long way. And our new 1290 engine doesn’t have to fear anyone anymore. We have come a long way here in terms of engine management, power delivery and regulation. Our people around development manager Philipp Habsburg are still young, but already very experienced to deliver top performance. This is where our consistent youth work pays off. We train up to 100 new employees each year, and we even give a guarantee of employment here. KTM now employees 1900 people with an average age of just 35 years.

Is this way of working typical for Austrian companies?
Our market is small, we have to export more than 90 percent. That is why only dynamic entrepreneurship helps us: speed, experience, willingness to take risks and clear branding. That is typical for the region here. We call this the "hidden champions": brands like Palfinger, world market leader in crane construction, or from our Pankl division, world leader in the field of racing engine components. It’s a great feeling when even Honda buys connecting rods from us for their Moto3 racers.

In the Moto3 class, the KTM machines are now overwhelmingly superior. Don’t worry about that?
Why that? We’re honored to beat Honda. That promotes our sales. Especially in markets like Indonesia and Malaysia, where young people are absolutely passionate about motorsport. And maybe Husqvarna will be racing in Moto3 in the future?

In off-road sports and motocross, KTM and Husqvarna will compete against each other?
For sure! That’s the strategy. And that will run through to management. We want both teams to rock themselves up. So they get better and better and can hold their own against the big four Japanese. Then we’ll see what the offroad market looks like in a few years. Overall, it must be about strengthening the off-road market in the long term in every respect.

One last question on the subject of KTM Freeride. When will the electric version Freeride-E?
Next year. The batteries are now stable and we want to build three variants: a Supermoto for urban mobility, a Close Course, which is even suitable for indoor activities, and an Enduro. We are in a special market as an off-road manufacturer. In some countries a lot is forbidden. For this we need electrical engineering. And we already have them.

Related articles

Related articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *