KTM SuperDuke 1290 R


A well-trained monster !

180 horses for 189 kilos and electronic aids for this 3rd generation: docile AND bestial

With 180 horsepower for 189 kilos, the technical sheet of the KTM Superduke 1290 R is enough to give you a cold sweat. This is without counting on the addition ofelectronic driving aids and the enormous work done by the Austrian firm and ex-GP pilot Jeremy McWilliams on the brand new chassis. Docile AND bestial, this third generation of Superduke sets new benchmarks in the sport roadster niche !

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R


At KTM, the Superduke is a bit the cornerstone of its road range, the one that started it all. Admittedly, before it, there was the “small” Duke but for the Austrian brand until then confined to the off-road, the first Superduke of the name marked when it was released in 2005 the kick-off of a global offensive. on the road segment. This test shot was almost a masterstroke with a V2 gorged with torque and lively in the towers inserted in a chassis with formidable efficiency. But the whole was not without flaws either. In expert hands, the Superduke was almost unbearable on a winding road. For the average biker on the other hand, the big KTM could be at best intimidating, at worst a bit terrifying…. Between the ultra-powerful and very biting brakes, the stubborn twin at the bottom and explosive at the top, stiff suspensions and an ultra-incisive front end but tending to guide without warning elsewhere than on billiards, it was better to have a good luggage technical! KTM has understood this and has set out to make its pit bull more frequent on the second generation, unveiled in 2007, leaving experts the choice to fall back on a more radical single-seater R version. In 2009, the power climbed from 120 to 132 horsepower and KTM will wait until 2012 before offering its R a rear loop that can accommodate a passenger..

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R on setting sun


In 2012, rather than presenting a simple evolution of the Superduke, the Austrians took everyone by surprise by presenting at the Milan show a prototype of a big roadster called “the Beast” (a whole program….) Equipped with the engine of the sporty RC8R bored to almost 1.3 L. If at the time, we suspected that this proto would foreshadow the next generation of the big roadster, the real question was to know how far KTM should water down the final product so as not to make her a potential “widowmaker”. Quite wrong, a year later, looking at the final version, it is clear that the orange beast has not put much water in its wine since the Superduke 1290 R is the most powerful roadster in production. In addition, they are pranksters at KTM since they claim not to have looked for raw power during the development of their new V2, preferring to work on the maximum torque and the filling at low load by favoring the increase of the stroke rather than the stroke. as is usually the case. Thus, the bore-stroke ratio goes from 101 mm – 62.4 mm to 108 mm – 71 mm which gives a cubic capacity of exactly 1301 cm3..

In terms of numbers, this Superduke therefore displays 180 horsepower at 8,870 rpm (with a breaker at 10,050 rpm) and 144 Nm of torque at 6500 rpm.

On the technical side, KTM has not skimped by sticking on its twin open at 75 ° all the best: double ignition, ride by wire, hydraulically actuated anti-dribble clutch and dry-sump lubrication is performed by no less than three oil pumps. And for those who are worried about the reliability of such a mill, KTM has set in its specifications a service every 15,000 km.

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R engine

For the frame, Mattighoffen continues to trust the architecture of the chrome molybdenum steel tubular trellis with removable rear buckle. The choice of a single-sided rear arm, which is inherently heavier than a classic element, is not very compatible with the in-house Ready to Race philosophy. KTM is making an aesthetic choice here, but we can only regret that the single muffler is placed on the “wrong” side, both to clear the view and to make it easier to change the tire. Pity.

The suspensions are, as usual, original WP with a solid inverted fork of 48 mm in diameter swinging over 125 mm and adjustable separately in compression (left tube) and rebound (right tube). The rear, on the other hand, offers up to 156mm of travel and is adjustable for (breathe in, it’s going to be long) preload, rebound and compression with the latter separate hydraulic adjustments for high and low speed (blow). Let’s finish with the brakes. In front, there is a double 320 mm disc and radial monobloc Brembo calipers, all coupled to a master cylinder also radial. Behind it is softer with a 240 mm disc and a caliper with two opposing pistons.

Rear brakes and ABS on KTM SuperDuke 1290 R

Dunlop supplies the tires, Sportsmart 2 120/70 front and 190/55 rear.

Electronics: the beast has plenty of chips !

In addition to ride by wire, the Superduke 1290 R has a good dose of electronic equipment including Adjustable ABS, traction control and injection. And all these little people are under the control of an on-board computer similar to the operation of the last Adventure.

The “Ride” submenu offers three modes varying the injection mapping and the level of traction control. Rain tuning softens throttle response and limits power to 100 horsepower while minimizing loss of grip.

In Street mode, we take advantage of all 180 horsepower while benefiting from a traction control setting more focused on performance than safety.

As to Sport mode, it offers a more direct response to the accelerator and the traction control allows a rotation differential between the front and the rear (in short, you can slip under the acceleration and do wheelies).

It should also be noted that this assistance, under the control of a Bosch central unit, is coupled with a gyroscope providing an angle sensor as on the Aprilia RSV4 and other BMW S 1000 RRs. Not a totalitarian for two cents, KTM leaves the possibility to the pilot of disconnect traction control and ABS. Better still, the facetious Austrians have added a Supermoto mode to the ABS, deactivating only the anti-lock at the rear.

Speedometer KTM SuperDuke 1290 R

In the saddle

For the international presentation of the Superduke 1290 R, KTM invited us to Spain, not far from the city of Marbella, for a full day of driving on the road with a track excursion on the sublime layout of the Ascari circuit. While waiting in front of our hotel for the departure of the group of French journalists, we have the opportunity to admire in detail this famous orange beast. The lines, unequivocal on the vocation of the machine, exude aggressiveness and the overall finish is of a very high standard. The rim-single-spoke combination is superb, the high-end engine hardware and the fit of the various body parts as well as the quality of the paint flatter the retina. Despite an 835mm high perched saddle, you don’t have to be too tall to have both feet on the ground. A small meter seventy is enough even if you do not have your heels on the ground thanks to a particularly narrow seat at the level of the junction of the tank. The footrests are relatively high perched and set back, the handlebars narrow but not "on the knees" like the previous generation and the whole defines a position certainly sporting but not really radical, at least for small templates. On the brake pedal and the selector, it is possible to adjust the proximity of the lug and the levers are equipped with micrometric screws for perfect ergonomics.

The dashboard, inherited from the Adventure, is both readable and complete with an analog tachometer and two digital windows, one for classic information (T °, time, fuel level, speed, gear engaged and selected driving mode), the other dedicated to the management of the on-board computer. No need to worry about the driving mode before setting off, it can be changed while driving. On the other hand, it is imperative tobe stationary to deactivate ABS and traction control and they are reactivated as soon as the ignition is switched off.

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R from the side

In the city

The engine snorts with a push on the start and we find the typical sound of the V2 at 75 ° of the brand but in a register a little more muffled than usual.

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R wheeling

The urban exercise in Spain is not always reassuring. Asphalt is often slippery, rarely smooth, and the proportion of trucks is at record highs. In short, there is better for making contact. But the Superduke is doing with the honors despite a V2 lacking in flexibility. In sixth gear, it is impossible to go below 3000 rpm (approx. 80 km / h). It’s hardly better in the intermediate gears, the twin accepting to pick up on a trickle of gas at around 2,500 rpm, but the mechanics fail as soon as you accelerate a little too hard. But apart from this typical big V2 detail, everything is fine. The flexible clutch and the short-travel gearbox know how to be forgotten and the arrival of power and torque is very gradual, even in Sport mode. Even the suspensions, firm but not hard, leave a certain comfort to the whole thanks to their large deflections. And the lightness of the chassis works wonders. Setting the angle is neutral and reassuring, aided by the grip of the Dunlops and at very low speed, you benefit from a steering angle sufficient to ensure a U-turn without maneuvering.

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R

That’s good, especially in case of optimism when accelerating (the crosswalks are very slippery), the actuation of the traction control is as smooth as it is transparent. By caricaturing, we could almost leave it in the hands of an A2 license !

Motorway and expressways

This section is usually reduced to the bare minimum with a roadster, but here too the Superduke is surprisingly at ease. Without fairing, no miracle, the cruising speed varies between 130 and 140 km / h depending on weather conditions. On the comfort side, the long travel takes big shocks without flinching and the angle stability is imperative, even at largely outlawed speeds. In cruising mode at 130 km / h, the V2 purrs below the mid-range bar, well helped by a long final transmission (theoretical max V above 300 km / h) and a sixth type overdrive. Under these conditions, the average consumption drops below 6 L / 100 km for a theoretical range of almost 300 km thanks to the 18 liters of the tank..

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R

The other side of the coin is that you have to downshift to fifth to take full advantage of the amazing revivals offered by the engine! It is impossible to say if the saddle will prove to be comfortable enough over time to enjoy such range. At least its consistency turned out to be significantly softer than KTM standards, oscillating between solid fir and burl walnut. For the more sensitive, there is even an optional comfort saddle available.

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R


In town, we have seen that the twin 1300 can be docile at low and mid-range by being polite with the accelerator. When the ground clears, however, the V2 is downright nasty as soon as you "open wide"! By cutting traction control (which limits wheelies), the Superke is able to rear up in the first four gears (yes, yes, even in 4!). Suffice to say that stunt and freeride enthusiasts will be in heaven. However, the cavalry never disembarks in a disorderly manner. Below the 7000 rpm mark, the thrust is still reasonable. Beyond that, it is better to have a good heart and not to cling too much to the handlebars. In theory, maximum power is 8,870 rpm, but the twin seems to want to regulate only when approaching the switch set at 10,000 rpm. What health !

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R on the road

But paradoxically, it’s the chassis that impresses the most. Well helped by the driver aids (I must admit that I did not dare to disconnect everything on the attack), the Superduke was consistent in all circumstances and the driver will reach his limits before it. Describing its behavior comes down to stacking all the cliches of the motorcycling genre: front axle riveted to the ground, flawless traction, imperturbable suspensions on bumps, impeccable braking, accelerator connection – transparent rear wheel…. Even the corner brakes never disturb the beast. To quibble, one will still cite a slight inertia on large changes of angle (probably the effect of the steering damper mounted under the triple trees) and a selector with the lug much too short which causes some misfires in climbs on the fly. As for driving aids, they know how to be discreet. Most of the time, it is almost impossible to fail the grip of the Sportsmart 2. But the very varied course also took us on portions typical of the ice rink and tested the Rain mode (power limited to 100 horsepower). The management of the skating is bluffing by its softness and it even happens that the light bulb in the switchboard signaling the activation of the system is triggered without feeling any power regulation.

Top view of the KTM SuperDuke 1290 R

On track

For our foray onto the track, KTM had concocted specific suspension settings for us in order to more calmly exploit the potential of the Superduke. And it is clear that on the track, the Austrian is closer to a Superbike without a fairing than to a simple roadster, however muscular. Stalled on the Race mode, the Superduke once again flaunts its talent. Admittedly, it’s a little more physical to take than a real sports car, but for the rest, it’s the same or even better, since here we benefit from a large reserve of torque in the intermediate regimes. Suddenly we can let go to go through the bends with a report too much in difficult sequences without being stuck in the re-acceleration. And the final laps are worth their adrenaline rush, even in fifth where the barely toned down thrust relieves the front end under the effect of the power. This is also where we can fully measure the benefit of traction control, which gently reduces the power for a fraction of a second to prevent you from a high-side as you come out of a bottom curve of 4 with more than 45 ° of angle.

Ex-GP driver Jeremy McWilliams, who helped develop assists, is particularly pleased with the work Bosch has provided. According to him, the system is not yet perfect because it is unable to detect variations in the camber of the road and can therefore still be faulted (and therefore fall) but the most permissive setting is more intended to optimize performance. for an “average” pilot. It’s not McWilliams who wants ….

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R on track

Duo and accessories

You don’t need an above average IQ to understand that the KTM is not for the duo, except when troubleshooting. The surface is limited, but the footrests have the good idea of ​​being anchored low. But it is imperative to hold on to the pilot given the absence of handles.

As always with KTM, it is possible to draw from the thick Powerparts catalog to improve the aesthetics, performance or versatility of this Superduke 1290 R. For sport, the range goes from Wave discs to carbon protections through adjustable footrests and the inevitable Akrapovic line that boosts the power to 192 horsepower.

For the style, we also have the choice: carbon parts galore, anodized aluminum (orange off course) and racing stickers. You can even make up the SD as a false road with optional luggage, GPS support and heated grips. Last but not least, the Radial Roadlock option allows a disc unit to be permanently integrated into one of the front calipers. Ideal given the little space available under the saddle.

KTM SuperDuke 1290 R ready for travel


The KTM Superduke 1290 R is a surprising product because it does so much more than just its role as a bad roadster. To the power of its engine, it adds an easy and homogeneous chassis and even comfortable if one refers to the standards of the genre. And the addition of driving aids makes it not only drivable but above all usable by ordinary people. The approach of KTM (and other manufacturers who will soon unveil hyper roadsters too) is perfectly logical: the sports niche is on the decline and the trend is not about to be reversed. Too radical on a daily basis, rarely usable in view of the increase in traffic and the repression of the road. The Superduke1290 R is therefore placed as a more liveable alternative to the latter, while remaining capable of setting a time on the track. The arrival of the Austrian beast is announced in concession for the second half of December at a price of € 15,690. And against it, the competition is for the moment starved with an Aprilia Tuono V 4R (170 hp – € 14,000) and a Ducati Streetfighter S (155 hp – € 19,400). All this should change soon with the upcoming arrival of a Ducati Monster 1198 and the roadster version of the BMW S 1000 RR in 2014..

Strong points

  • “Perfect” engine
  • Easy and efficient cycle part
  • Driving aids

Weak points

  • Perfectible selection
  • We are still looking ….

Competitors: Aprilia Tuono V4R, Ducati Streetfighter


Related articles

  • KTM 1290 Super Adventure test

    Ultimate adventurer ! After opposing the German reference BMW R1200 GS with a very attractive KTM 1190 Adventure, the Austrian manufacturer is stepping…

  • KTM 1290 Super Adventure S motorcycle test

    Her Serene Adventurer 1290 V-Twin LC8 of 1,301 cm3, 160 hp and 138 Nm, 220 kg dry, electronic suspensions, adaptive regulator, 18,599 euros The ancestor…

  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R motorcycle test

    Feel it ! 180 hp, 189 kg dry, 140 Nm of torque, 18,199 euros The grasshopper and the ant … The flamboyance of the first masks the truth of the ardor of…

  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R test

    V2, 1301 cm3, 177 hp at 9750 rpm, 141 N.m at 7000 rpm, 195 kilos, € 16,690 Ergonomics, ABS, keyless, assistance: the Austrian maxi roadster remains at…

  • KTM 1290 Super Duke GT test

    Vintage 2019! Even better than before ! V-Twin LC8 а 75 °, 1.301 cm3, 175 hp and 141 Nm, 209 kg, semi-active suspensions WP Happy New Year for KTM which…

  • KTM 1290 Super Adventure S test

    V2, 1301 cm3, 160 hp at 8750 rpm, 140 Nm at 6750 rpm, 215 kilos dry, € 16,690 LED lights with turn function, TFT dashboard, advanced electronics for this…

  • Tests of the Yamaha YZF R1 and R1M

    Magic potion for transgenic hypersports The line of R1 is celebrating its 17th anniversary this year. Unveiled in the aisles of the Milan show, the first…

  • Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle test

    High speed phoenix (valid for its tester after a high-side) 4 cylinders in line, 1,340 cm3, 190 hp, 150 Nm, 264 kg, Euro5, 18,499 euros Hayabusa…. this…

  • BMW S1000R test

    Seriously wanton ! The BMW S 1000 R, the “string and tall handlebar” version of its in-house superbike, has strong arguments to make a place for itself…

  • Yamaha MT-09 TCS test

    The MT-09 gets traction control and revised engine maps A new Night Fluo color for this turbulent roadster, from € 8,499 For many years, the mid-size…

6 thoughts on “KTM SuperDuke 1290 R

  1. completely agree … But at the level of the presentation I hope that we can remove this shitty "decal" (1050) which breaks the look.

  2. I had the 2012 model and I have fond memories of it! … except the lighthouse which lit nothing! it sucked to ride at night !

    Triumph had to sort this out I guess.

    I also had a problem with the clutch sticking + dead battery input, when the bike was new (the 2 problems were taken care of by the warranty).

  3. very good article, I love the phrasing, thank you ! wink

    especially as the content titillates desires … to perhaps renew my Tiger 1050 of 2009 … at the end of winter ?

    potash ! to smile

  4. > Grumly

    interesting. And astonishing these worries.

    I agree with you on a few points, including the power.

    On the other hand, go from a KTM, where reliability already seems average, to an Aprilia Tuono V4 … you like trouble you.


    On the other hand, electro / mechanical question, there are no pictures … the APRC is excellent.

    Well, the Japanese also know how to do it now.

Leave a Reply

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