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KTM 1290 Super Duke R in the top test

Even the neighbors get curious

“And? How does that do? ” Asks the curious neighbor who rushed up to see the KTM Super Duke R. Good question, after all, KTM drummed a lot beforehand and gave the “strongest naked bike in the world” the nickname “The Beast”. So whether it is good must be clarified as soon as possible. In the top test.

The mirrors and cockpit are frozen over, the bench is covered with snow as thick as a finger. And the key encounters insurmountable resistance at the ignition lock. That was just missing now, hardly returned home from the test domicile in the south of France. A hair dryer is needed. Shortly afterwards, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R is freed from the first powdery harbingers of the local winter and the icy night. The ignition key slips into the lock. The right thumb activates the starter – and right away the 1290 responds with a full thump. The Über-Herzog is not at all cold, but masters this final test with flying colors, without any bitches. Has KTM did everything to give the new Super Duke R an untamed, wild aura. Starting with the nickname "The Beast".

KTM 1290 Super Duke R in the top test

Even the neighbors get curious

1290 Super Duke R cite ahead of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. And then these benchmarks: 180 hp, 144 Nm, only 189 kilograms dry. The aggressive, rugged design takes some getting used to.

A shot of sportiness and buttery smooth coupling

If you stand in front of the supposed beast, it looks powerful. An impression that disappears as soon as you sit down. Unusual, but not annoying, arches in front of one of the 18-liter tanks of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. On the contrary, you sit integrated into the motorcycle, the tank is pleasantly narrow. With the 830 millimeter seat height – 40 less than its predecessor – fewer long-legged people can handle it. The seating position is extremely successful: relaxed, casual. The notches, which are slightly set back, provide a touch of sportiness. The first surprise.

The 1301 cm³ twin roars softly and sonorously with a relatively high 1400 rpm idling speed. Like the unit on the 1190 Adventure travel enduro, it is based on the RC8 engine. Two millimeters more stroke and three pistons that have grown to an impressive 108 millimeters in diameter ensure the increase in displacement. Thanks to the shorter connecting rods, the engine is no higher than the 1190. Only the Ducati Panigale, which has been trimmed for top performance, currently has more holes. The KTM-V2 is cut from a different cloth, mechanically runs much quieter, absolutely evenly. The first gear engages with a powerful thump. Then comes the second surprise: the beast starts off. But not angry and almost uncontrollable. The twin pushes forward almost as smoothly as butter from the clutch. So smooth and powerful that you immediately put second gear behind. Fan-tas-tic. Anyone who, in view of the tremendous proclaimed top performance and the experience with its predecessor, expected a twin that just rattles down and hacks on the chain, has to rethink the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. Because there is obviously another way.

Naked bike

KTM 1290 Super Duke R in the PS driving report

A real hammer on wheels

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Naked bike

KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype in the driving report

Explosive mix of thump and speed

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Dominates strolling and burning

Glide calmly through the sleepy southern French villages at less than 3000 rpm? No problem with the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. Constant jerking or a rough throttle response? Nothing. Loose seating position, suitable rear-view mirrors, finely adjustable anti-hopping clutch and the relaxed drumming of the engine take the stress out of city traffic. If the predecessor could hardly keep still, wanted to be constantly driven and pushed, the 1300 behaves piously when strolling. But if the urban barriers fall, the V2 is there like a penny. From 3500 rpm there is really music in the hut. The 1300 catapults man and machine forward effortlessly. How liberated and relaxed the power plant tackles and revs up is a pleasure. Six, seven thousand revolutions are completely sufficient. Push in the next gear in the precise transmission, which operates over a long distance, and enjoy the whole thing again. A look at the mighty torque curve piling up there explains everything. From 3000 rpm, over 100 Nm are always available. This ensures refreshing dynamism, confident acceleration out of tight corners and overtaking maneuvers that are easily shaken from the wrist.

Hectic stirring in the transmission is superfluous, third or fourth gear is sufficient for most cases. Anyone who now fears that the V2 is a bull’s neck trimmed for pulling power and running out of breath is mistaken. From 8000 rpm, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R tears the tachometer needle in the direction of the red area, which begins at 10,000 rpm. It is only marginally of interest that the test stand spits out 172 instead of the promised 180 hp. Likewise, that the sensationally recorded 290 km / h top speed in the papers is reduced to 272 km / h with a practical approach in the wild. She doesn’t need such showmanship at all.

It is rather of interest that the KTM does not irritate its KTM 1290 Super Duke R with a tendency to pendulum at such inhospitable speeds. A bundle of energy that masters strolling and burning, with an extremely wide usable speed range and excellent manners. The engine does not roar its performance excitement, but sounds full and well-muffled, dull rumbling in overrun. The fact that it succeeds in this without the flap in the exhaust that "optimizes" the performance and sound would have to make some manufacturers blush with shame. When tuning the engine with its four spark plugs, each of which has its own map, and especially the ride-by-wire, heads must have smoked a lot. It was worth it. Abruptly close the throttle in the curve and pull it up again at the apex, the V2 takes care of it smoothly, without the power breaking off in a flash or harshly starting again.

Traction control (TC) equipped with lean angle sensors

Three driving modes are on board: Sport, Street and Rain with reduced power. Throttle response and load change work perfectly in both street and sport mode, whereby sport elicits even more direct reactions to throttle commands from the V2. A traction control (TC) equipped with lean angle sensors watches over the rear wheel so that the pilot does not pull too hard on the cable and quickly find himself in the dust. It does this with gentle control processes, even in sport mode, where it allows a little more slip. If the grip conditions are good, it only comes into action with a very determined driving style. Because the KTM 1290 Super Duke R offers plenty of grip on the rear wheel. Probably thanks to the long swing arm. Almost 610 millimeters is a record level. Even for common super athletes.

But if you see yourself wheeling out of the next best corner on the rear wheel, you have to be disappointed. The traction control recognizes the slower turning front wheel and intervenes. So if you are looking for fun on the rear wheel, you have to switch it off. The KTM 1290 Super Duke R does not have a separately adjustable wheelie control such as the Aprilia Tuono. Anyone who changes the ABS and TC functions individually has to do this again each time the engine is switched off. The electronics reset the assistance systems to the factory settings each time. Annoying, but according to KTM not otherwise feasible for liability and licensing reasons. Yet this is really whining at the highest level.


The operation of the on-board computer is a bit cumbersome, illuminated keys à la 125 Duke would be the highlight.

Let us rather be pleased to note that KTM has also done nails with the opponents of the engine power, the brakes. Radially mounted, one-piece Brembo pliers, whose spontaneous, violent gripping may be a bit too snappy for sensitive natures. In any case, a dream for two-finger brakes. Little hand strength, perfectly adjustable and supported by a sensitive ABS with two different modes.

The road mode already allows very good deceleration values ​​and keeps the rear wheel extremely stable on the ground during emergency braking. If the signs point to Supermoto, the ABS regulates more sharply and allows more slip at the front, enabling excellent deceleration with 9.8 m / s². On the other hand, the ABS is deactivated on the rear wheel, which allows transverse drivers to drift into braking. The menu navigation of the on-board computer is logically structured, but its operation demands the driver’s attention a little too much while driving. That should be easier. When designing the control unit of the on-board computer with its four buttons, a glance at the smallest Duke, the 125 series, would have been good. The switches there are lit up. Why not with the KTM 1290 Super Duke R.?

Fahrwerk is an equal play partner


Hammer engine, ingenious brakes and the chassis prove to be an equal play partner.

I beg your pardon? Little things? Picky? Well, let’s turn back to more central issues. The chassis, for example. After all, what use is this hammer motor and the ingenious brakes when the chassis is only halfway down? Just. To anticipate: the chassis of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R proves to be an equal play partner.

While the predecessor was still an uncompromising bone, the new KTM 1290 Super Duke R is far more balanced and harmonious. Not of fidgety, nervous agility, but precisely and directly it implements steering commands. Even though it weighs 213 kilograms and clearly exceeds the 205 kilograms with a full tank, which the factory proclaimed. Numbers games that take a back seat to the fact that the KTM takes its course almost unaffected by the faults in the asphalt as it goes without saying and neutral.

The KTM 1290 Super Duke R takes care of course corrections with nonchalance; at the exit of a curve, all you need to do is press the leg to direct you into a somewhat tighter line. Wonderful, only the handling stiffens at higher speeds. With the new chassis, the technicians have also thrown the hard tuning of the suspension elements of the predecessor overboard. The Super Duke R is much more harmonious, can handle long waves and short hard heels. The balance is excellent, the cushioning is tight, but far from being uncomfortable. The spring elements could only deal with small bumps with a little more care. But that doesn’t detract from the earthy driving experience and the excellent feedback. The technicians already had a good hand with the basic set-up. In any case, during the test drive on the country lanes in the south of France there was hardly any need to turn the adjusting screws.

It is therefore less important that the fork does not have an adjustable spring base. Possibly a redirection would have enabled the shock absorber to work more sensitively. On the other hand, the direct linkage saves weight and costs. The praise for the balanced driving behavior is of course also due to the great tires. The Dunlop Roadsmart 2 harmonize perfectly with the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, offer enormous grip, do not shy away from cold weather and offer a lot of feedback and practically no setup moment. Which underpins the good feeling and trust in the saddle of the KTM.


The notches cannot be adjusted, but the brake and shift levers can.

In general, KTM has done nothing wrong with the equipment: radial pumps with adjustable hand levers for clutch and brake, cockpit with extensive information, single-sided swing arm. There is also a butted aluminum handlebar that can be mounted in two positions on the fork bridge. The pegs are not adjustable like on the RC8 R Superbike, but the brake and shift levers are. The fact that the exhaust has to be removed to remove the rear wheel despite the single-sided swing arm is a minor flaw and can be easily dealt with by loosening two screws.

A bigger one is the considerable thirst. The KTM 1290 Super Duke R consumes an average of 6.3 liters, which together with the 18-liter tank still gives a radius of a good 280 kilometers. The impressive cost price of 15,495 euros is really steep. On the other hand, 15,000 inspection intervals save your wallet a little. Only the insect-shaped headlight is unable to set a highlight. This is worth mentioning because a trip with this fun mobile could quickly take longer than planned. After all, even after a few hours in the saddle, your butt doesn’t pinch. Incidentally, a brightness sensor switches from LED daytime running lights to low beam at dusk. And if the KTM 1290 Super Duke R was just an eager accomplice in cornering, it leaves its driver alone when he wants to make his way home in a relaxed gliding flight. That feels good.

Technical specifications


Water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 75-degree V-engine, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves per cylinder, bucket tappets, dry sump lubrication, injection Ø 56 mm, regulated catalytic converter, 450 W alternator, 12 V / 11 Ah battery, hydraulically operated Multi-disc oil bath clutch (anti-hopping), six-speed gearbox, x-ring chain, secondary ratio 17:38.

Bore x stroke: 108.0 x 71.0 mm

Displacement: 1301 cm³

Compression ratio: 13.2: 1

Rated capacity: 132.0 kW (180 hp) at 8870 rpm

Max. Torque: 144 Nm at 6500 rpm

landing gear

Steel tubular frame, load-bearing motor, upside-down fork, Ø 48 mm, rebound and compression damping, hydraulic steering damper, single-sided swing arm made of aluminum, central spring strut, directly hinged, adjustable spring base, rebound and compression damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 320 mm, four-piston -Fixed calipers, rear disc brake, Ø 240 mm, two-piston fixed caliper, ABS, traction control.

Cast aluminum wheels: 3.50 x 17; 6.00 x 17

Tires: 120/70 ZR 17; 190/55 ZR 17

Tires in the test: Dunlop Sportsmart 2

Dimensions + weights

Wheelbase 1482 mm, steering head angle 65.1 degrees, caster 107 mm, spring travel f / r 125/156 mm, permissible total weight 406 kg, tank capacity / reserve 18.0 / 3.5 liters.

Data service

Service intervals: 15,000 km

Oil and filter change: every 15,000 km / 3.6 l

Engine oil: SAE 10W50

Telescopic fork oil: SAE 4

Spark plugs: NGK LKAR9BI9 / LMAR7A-9

Idle speed: 1400 / min ± 100 / min

Tire pressure: v / h 2.5 / 2.9 (2.5 / 2.9) bar

Guarantee: two years

Mobility guarantee: two years

Colors: Orange, black

Price: 15,495 euros

Additional costs: around 200 euros

Set up

Country road


Rebound: 12 clicks

Pressure level: 12 clicks

Air pressure: 2.5 bar


Rebound: 12 clicks

High speed compression: 1.25 revolutions

Low speed compression: 13 clicks

Air pressure: 2.9 bar



The sheet metal, which has been seared onto the two stainless steel elbows to stiffen it, looks pretty careless.

The turn signal switch is only a tiny detail, but a frequently used one. Therefore, the imprecise feedback is noticed all the more often.

The tool kit offers a decent standard in terms of quality and scope.

The indicator light, that shows the traction control is working could be better positioned in the field of view.

Precisely because the processing The Super Duke R with neatly laid lines, anodized add-on parts and high-quality components leaves a very good impression overall, the sheet metal that has been seared onto the two stainless steel elbows to stiffen it looks pretty careless.

Nice and practical details, that show that KTM enthusiasts are at work is not missing. One example is the semi-circular wear indicator on the chain slide rail. If the chain has worked so deeply into the bar that the rivets are no longer visible, it is worn out.

KTM 990 Super Duke


Edged game: The Super Duke relied on polarizing design right from the start.

As early as 2005, KTM dared to take the road with the first Super Duke with a large-displacement machine. A radically styled edge, with no less uncompromising driving behavior, which stood out from the crowd right from the start. With 120 hp, the Super Duke was on par with the competition at the time. Included from the start: the orange tubular space frame. The V2 turned out to be a fiery, but also very thirsty and rough-hewn companion, who was less born with life at the lower end of the speed ladder. Proper revving, on the other hand, is much more. Basically, he has retained this character even through the 2007 facelift. Only the drinking habits he got better and better under control over the years. His lively throttle response and spirited nature, however, have remained.

Measured against the radical basic data of the last 990 Super Duke R with a steering head angle of 67.3 degrees and only 94 millimeters of caster, the current chassis geometry (65.1 degrees, 107 millimeters) looks almost conventional, especially since the wheelbase has increased by 30 to 1480 millimeters. Perhaps this is a secret for the serene, trustworthy driving behavior of the 1290s.

But the progress in the engine chapter is downright gigantic. Not only because of the enormous increase in performance, which is insufficiently explained by the 30 percent increase in displacement. If the maximum torque of the 990s was just over 100 Newton meters, that of the 1290s practically never falls below it. And that with a much better running smoothness. A development that would certainly not have been possible without the electronic throttle, the ride-by-wire. When it comes to voting, KTM certainly benefits from its involvement in the World Cup in Moto3, where the orange factory racers compete with the shortest-stroke engine and still combine top performance with a wide usable speed range. Only the weight gain of ten kilograms is surprising. ABS, fat front silencer and single-sided swing arm certainly add extra pounds. But as long as the Super Duke conceals its kilos so skillfully and shines with such fabulous handling characteristics, we are happy to accept the small weight transfer.

MOTORCYCLE measurements


Top speed
272 (290) * km / h
0-100 km / h 3.3 sec
0–140 km / h 4.9 sec
0–200 km / h 8.8 sec
60–100 km / h 3.4 sec
100–140 km / h 3.4 sec
140–180 km / h 3.8 sec
Speedometer deviation
Effective (display 50/100) 47/92 km / h
Tachometer deviation
Display red area: 10,500 / min
Effective: 10,200 / min
At 130 km / h: 6.5 l / 100 km
Country road: 6.3 l / 100 km
Theor. Range of the highway: 286 km
Fuel type: Super
L / W / H: 2140/900/1280 mm
Seat height: 830 mm
Handlebar height: 1050 mm
Turning circle: 6000 mm
Weight with a full tank: 213 kg
Payload: 193 kg
Wheel load distribution v / h: 49/51%

Practically from the moment the clutch is engaged, the torque curve rises steeply and cracks the 100 Nm mark at 3000 rpm. Thanks to sufficient flywheel mass and great engine tuning, the engine can also be moved below this mark without rattling and thus very lazy to switch. With a shorter overall gear ratio, even better torque values ​​would be achieved. Impressive: the increase in torque at 6000 rpm.



Notes: The Super Duke R has two different ABS modes. In road mode, the control processes intervene on the front and rear wheels and decelerate the Super Duke R without lifting the rear wheel and with very good braking stability. In the more aggressive Supermoto mode, only the slip on the front wheel is regulated. This enables braking drifts for sporty use on the racetrack. There is also no lift detection in this mode, so stoppies are also possible.


Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS:
V2, 167 PS, weight 212 kg, 0-100 km / h: 3.2 sec, Vmax: 270 km / h, consumption 6.9 liters, ABS 15,490 euros (including ancillary costs).
Triumph Speed ​​Triple ABS:
R3, 135 PS, weight 221 kg, 0-100 km / h: 3.2 seconds, Vmax: 248 km / h, consumption 5.2 liters, ABS 15,440 euros (including ancillary costs).
BMW S 1000 R.:
R4, 160 hp, weight 207 kg, 0-100 km / h: ns. A., Vmax: 250 km / h, consumption k. A. liters, ABS 13,180 euros (including additional costs).



maximum number of points       
KTM 1290 Superduke R.
Draft 40 36
acceleration 40 34
Top speed 30th 27 (measured maximum speed 272km / h)
Engine characteristics    30th 27
Responsiveness 20th 16
Load change 20th 14th
Smoothness 20th 11
coupling 10   9
circuit 20th 13
Gear ratio 10   9
Start 10   8th
total 250 204

You have almost come to terms with the fact that powerful two-cylinder engines are only available with a loss of smoothness in the lower speed range. But the Super Duke 1290 R shows that both can be combined. The wide usable speed range is free of holes, the twin only allows itself a well-dosed amount of vibrations and is pleasantly restrained with load changes. A real model boy who starts reliably even in sub-zero temperatures. The smooth-running, neatly adjustable slipper clutch is also excellent.

landing gear

maximum number of points    KTM 1290 Super Duke R.
Handiness 40 30th
Stability in turns 40 33
Steering behavior 40 31
feedback 10   9
Inclined position 20th 19th
Straight-line stability     20th 16
Suspension tuning in front   20th 15th
Chassis set-up at the rear     20th 15th
Adjustment options undercarriage 10   5
Suspension comfort 10   5
Driving behavior with a passenger 20th 11
total 250   189

And another chapter in which the KTM has made significant progress over its predecessor. Not with handling. But above all in the precision and the naturalness of how it meets and holds its lines, and above all in the feedback that gives the driver the necessary trust. A praise that also deserves the excellent tires. The Dunlop Sportsmart 2 do better in practically every discipline than the older Metzeler Sportec M5 of their predecessor. The successful, not too tight suspension set-up does the rest.

everyday life

maximum number of points      KTM 1290 Super Duke R.
Ergonomics driver 40 30th
Ergonomics pillion 20th   8th
Windbreak 20th   0
view 20th 11
light 20th 12th
Furnishing 30th 27
Handling / maintenance    30th 19th
Luggage storage 10   1
Payload 10   6th
Tidy 30th 16
processing 20th 16
total 250   146

The pilot’s workplace offers no cause for complaint. The backbencher also finds an acceptable place. The rich equipment and proper payload bring plenty of points. However, with attachment options for luggage, this type of motorcycle naturally looks poor. The LED daytime running lights look neat, but the modest low beam of the large headlight is astonishing. The tank is big enough with 18 liters, but the thirst of the engine limits the range.


maximum number of points     KTM 1290 Super Duke R.
Braking effect 40 33
Brake metering 30th 26th
Braking with a passenger / fading   20th 13
Righting moment when braking    10   8th
ABS function 20th 16
Handlebar slapping 20th 15th
Ground clearance 10   7th
total 150    118

Athletes would also be happy about such brakes. Murderous bite, almost a bit too snappy in the first grab, but great to dose with two fingers. In the event of emergency braking, the KTM remains stable on course, even with a pillion passenger. In street mode, the rear of the vehicle remains safely on the ground. The erection moment in curves is negligible.


maximum number of points     KTM 1290 Super Duke R.
guarantee 30th 17th
Consumption (country road)     30th 13
Inspection costs 20th 19th
Maintenance costs 20th   4th
total 100    53

Extended 15,000 inspection intervals at least compensate for the juicy entry-level price. High performance and wide 190 rear tires cost points in terms of maintenance as well as consumption.

maximum number of points     KTM 1290 Super Duke R.
Overall rating 1000 710
Price-performance note      1.0 2.2

The KTM 1290 Super Duke R is not a bargain. But the high number of points and the associated good rating shows that you get something for the money here.


The angular design is certainly a matter of taste. But the qualities of the Super Duke R are convincing. It is better than its predecessor in all respects. The potent V2 combines smooth running and pulling power with fiery temperament and top performance. In the case of two-cylinder engines, almost something like squaring the circle. With a chassis that is practically nowhere to be seen, the bottom line is a harmonious unit with which you can just drive, but also romp around.

Used KTM 1290 Super Duke R in price comparison

1000PS marketplace app

Used KTM 1290 Super Duke R.

The right KTM 1290 Super Duke R is available for everyone on the used market. Inexpensive specimens have a long service life, but almost all used vehicles are already equipped with PowerParts. Here is the current price comparison: used KTM 1290 Super Duke R in Germany.

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