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KTM 1290 Super Adventure R in the driving report

160 hp off-road monster

We’re not talking about reason, sense, or understanding here. This is about something completely insane, extremely tingling: a wild trip through the desert of Peru with the off-road monster KTM 1290 Super Adventure R..

Who would like to be in group one with Chris Birch as tour guide? The enthusiasm of the journalists is limited. Because group one means in KTM jargon: Nothing for wimps, this is a professional full of business. Chris Birch is also no stranger: x-time Enduro champion in New Zealand, three-time winner of the notorious off-road competition “Roof of Africa”. So it stands to reason that the bar in this group is set very high. At the end of the day, the author was forced out of hand and there were actually four more volunteers, also called victims behind the scenes by KTM staff. “Say no to slow” – this button can be found on Chris Birch’s homepage. Maybe that’s why KTM named him an ambassador for the Adventure line. Because the vehicle that is to be dealt with here and today fits well: the new one KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is anything but “slow”, the Vmax among enduro bikes. 160 PS strong, 250 km / h and almost 240 kilograms in weight, nothing guaranteed for the faint of heart off-road. As the 1290s, the off-road monster got even more smoke and an electric update.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure R in the driving report

160 hp off-road monster

If it were that easy …

The daily schedule includes a nearly 200-kilometer lap with the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R around Paracas, 300 kilometers south of Lima. It is difficult to describe what the landscape here has to offer. A seemingly endless desert of sand and stone, framed by the blue Pacific and snow-capped Andean peaks. Precipitation 0.9 mm – a year. One of the driest places on earth.

Before starting, there are final tips from the professional. "Just go into off-road mode and nothing can go wrong." Well, if it were that easy. In the off-road mode, the ABS of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is only active on the front wheel, the traction control allows more slip, the engine power is reduced to a "meager" 100 hp, the response to gas commands is less aggressive. Sounds like supervised driving, but today’s electronics can do a lot. Not all, however, as we will learn later. The optional ABS dongle ensures that the setting is retained even after the ignition is switched off. Certainly a tip for real adventurers who drive a lot under changing conditions.

Considerable drifts with the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R.

So for one day we can let off steam in this fantastic sandpit for big boys. It starts with stony gravel roads on which you can let the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R fly properly. Even a throttled 100 hp is enough for this. The smoothly running V2 hangs gently on the gas because it benefited from the current improvements in the S variant. Compared to its predecessor, the 1190 R, the pistons have become larger, but still almost 50 grams lighter, while KTM has increased the weight of the crankshaft by one kilogram. Resonator chambers calm the gas oscillations at the inlet channels.

This results in an extremely cultivated drive that has not lost any noticeable liveliness. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure R can be steered elegantly on slippery terrain using the rear wheel. The traction control allows a full 100 percent slip in off-road mode. This allows considerable drifts on scree, but reduces the risk of being overtaken by your own rear wheel.

Then it finally goes into the dunes, the course becomes deeper, more sandy. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure R just barely climbs up a not particularly steep driveway. "In the sand you have to switch off the traction control, the rear wheel has to be able to shovel properly." Okay, get it, without the slip limiter it works much better.

240-kilo colossus in powder sand

But all of this is of no use if you get caught in this common powder sand, which is called Fesh-Fesh in the Sahara. The wheels of our KTM 1290 Super Adventure R instantly sink into the sand up to the axles; their heavy weight seems to literally press them into the ground. Downforce instead of propulsion, the rear wheel digs into the groundless ground. Whoever has no help here can pack up; In any case, you can’t get the 240-kilo colossus out alone.

Lesson learned, we’d rather stay further down instead of climbing dune ridges. There the ground is firmer, but also stony. It is not so easy to lift the front wheel of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R over an edge in an emergency with a hearty throttle. The throttle response is nice and smooth in off-road mode on slippery surfaces, but a bit slow here. Chris recommends: “Use Street mode, it will react more directly. I even prefer to drive in sport mode in deep sand. But be careful, then there is always a lot of thrust. ”Okay, Street mode is enough for us, and it does react more spontaneously.

At 150 km / h over the smooth sand surface

Let’s let the 160 horses of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R trot. A danger always lurking on speed passages are rib-like, rock-hard waves. You board at 150 km / h over the firm, potty-level sand surface, and then all of a sudden these mean, much too late recognizable washboards come. When driving in, it hits the fork hard until it stops. Although it was designed to be much tighter and more progressive than the 1190, it still has no chance against the vehicle weight of almost 240 kilograms in such situations.

At the rear, a PDS shock absorber works like in the EXC models, which thanks to a second damper piston brings more progression. But in principle the same applies as before: There are limits to physics, you should avoid overly large sets at the crests of the dunes with the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R. As long as the bumps do not significantly exceed the suspension travel of 220 mm , the suspension works very nicely and provides good traction at the front and rear.

Shorter braking distances without ABS – almost impossible

Speaking of unpleasant things: violently banging the handlebars is also part of it. The reason is the stiff chassis that such a brute rush enduro absolutely needs on the road. More flexibility in the field would be desirable. It should be noted that hardly anyone will present this desert speed, simply due to the lack of the necessary exercise. Nowhere in our narrow Europe is there as much space in the terrain as here. Still, it is amazing how well the Brocken does in the desert. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure R appears finely balanced, not as top-heavy and pushing over the front wheel as feared. The ergonomics also fit, the one-piece bench gives freedom of movement. And the wide Rally accessory footpegs make you stand like stepping stones.

There is now little left of the initially recommended off-road mode. We drive with full power, direct response and without traction control. Only the off-road ABS is still there. “With me too,” Chris swears. “We tried it. With the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R I was unable to produce shorter braking distances than with ABS, even on loose scree. "

Full format passed over the handlebars

Finally, wonderful surfing between the steep slopes of high dunes is on the program. There’s a pretty video of this at the top of this article. Unbelievable fun with this power device, the Conti-Grobstoller TKC 80 mill deep grooves in the steep slopes thanks to uncastrated power. It’s just a shame that you have to fly halfway around the globe for such an experience.

In the end, the sand crumbles from the teeth of the participants in group one when they take off their helmets with a grin. And nothing happened, at least nothing worth mentioning. A colleague walked over the handlebars to fill the format; The author also put the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R on its side once the snappy rear brake stalled the engine. Even the savvy enduro pro Chris Birch was enthusiastic: “Thank you, guys. Fantastic trip and a great machine. Certainly nobody needs the 160 HP offroad – but they don’t bother either. ”He’s right.

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