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KTM 1290 Super Adventure S in the driving report

The new 1290

The new KTM 1290 Super Adventure S replaces the 1190. An adventurous tour at the foot of Mount Etna should show how it drives – but it somehow went differently than planned.

D.he Sicilian has developed quite interesting rules of the game in road traffic. The right-of-way control works as follows: From an entrance or a side street, everyone, whether car, tractor or truck, initially blindly drives one meter into the main street. Simply to show yourself. Under no circumstances do you look to the left, then slowly and, above all, continuously pull forward in order to gradually merge into the traffic. He evades, sometimes slows down, because everyone knows the game. Very important: go through with it undeterred. If you look to the side, you’ve already lost. A special kind of adventure is the drive in the heavy traffic on the coastal road near Catania at the foot of Mount Etna. But actually other experiences were planned, namely a tour up to Etna in the grandiose lava landscape with its typical blue-white-black color layering. But instead of blue skies, there were lightning bolts and thunderstorms, the white snow on Mount Etna disappeared into a misty gray, and the black lava blurred in the mud of the torrents.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S in the driving report

The new 1290

Full of assistance systems

Difficult conditions on slippery slopes, but actually just right for a test. After all, like its predecessor, the new KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is crammed full of assistance systems and electronics up to the ruff. Semi-active suspension, integral brake system with Bosch MSC – ie cornering ABS and lean angle-dependent traction control – plus, of course, wheelie and stoppie control, cruise control, tire pressure control, cornering lights, drag torque control, hill start aid and quickshifter as an option in the travel pack (682 euros). The list is long and reflects what is currently feasible. In this respect, little has changed at the S..

Mixture of 1190s and previous super adventure

In principle, the individual components from the now stately KTM kit are known. Put simply, educates
the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is a mixture of the previous 1190 chassis and the drive unit of the previous Super Adventure, which remains in the range as a T-model. However, according to project manager Gustav Greiner, there were a number of small modifications and improvement measures hidden away. A small example: There are now fine-meshed grids in the intake ducts that allow any gush of water to drip off when driving in the rain. Visually, the new one is easily identifiable by the split LED headlight front with three-stage cornering light below the main headlights, which adds one step at a tilt of twelve, 18 and 25 degrees. The LEDs sit on an aluminum support that weighs a good two kilograms in order to dissipate heat. If you think it’s heavy metal: At BMW, the whole thing weighs a few pounds more and even needs its own fan just for the LED low beam, says Gustav Greiner.

Navi not integrated in the operating system

Ergonomically, everything stayed the same, the split bench offers plenty of freedom of movement and is comfortably upholstered. The tank is the old one, doesn’t spread its legs like the tank of the T variant. Seat height, handlebar position and footrest height can each be varied in two stages. The lens of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is slightly higher and wider than that of the 1190, but, unlike the T-model, does not affect the field of vision and can be adjusted in height thanks to the new, solid mechanism. However, not really easy while driving, you would have to crank with both hands. Turbulence is significantly reduced compared to the 1090s that roar loudly with tall drivers.

And then the eye falls on the new Bosch dashboard. When switched off, it still looks inconspicuous with its simple, angular shape, like an Aldi tablet. But after you press the ignition button on the right side of the handlebars, which also releases the electric steering lock, a new world opens up. When it comes to clarity, presentation or contrast, the Bosch display sets standards. Whether bright sunlight or deep black night, the recognizability is really impressive. In addition, the driver can configure the variety of information displayed himself. The menu navigation has also been greatly improved. Switching between driving modes or switching on heated grips is now easier, it is now really fun. It’s just a shame that a navigation system is not integrated into the control system of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S – as is the case with BMW.

160 hp make sense?

As with the previous Super Adventure, the semi-active WP suspension is standard and initially annoyed in some situations with a hard response and loud clacking. But WP worked on it. As before, the fork could absorb edges or holes in quick succession more smoothly. The advantages of active suspension and damping interventions are certainly enormous, such as situation-dependent damping and increased stability thanks to the anti-dive effect. The rider on the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S has to adjust the spring base to the load at the touch of a button, while the current Triumph Explorer with WP suspension does this automatically.

Do you have to say a lot about the 1290 engine? Its power is gigantic in all situations, its running smoothness is simply unbelievable given the huge individual cubic capacities. The discussion as to whether 160 hp makes sense in such a vehicle concept is nipped in the bud by the fine throttle response and the gentle thrust. Even at 2,500 revolutions, the 1290 runs smoothly and smoothly, shoveling more than 100 Nm towards the rear wheel, which piles up to a mighty 140 Nm in no time at all. With all the finesse in the throttle response: It’s good that the electronic helpers are always ready. Incidentally, the influence of the driving modes on the throttle response is clearly noticeable. In rain mode, the thick V2 of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S now runs ultra-softly with power reduced to a good 100 hp, in sport mode it jumps very directly, but still easily controllable on the gas.

Case optimized again

As with the Super Duke, small changes are new in the current generation to adapt to the Euro 4 regulations. But that did not represent a serious hurdle, even the exhaust system of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S could remain unchanged. As with the Super Duke, small resonator chambers on the inlet duct smooth the throttle response. The quickshifter, which works very well in both directions, is also one of the innovations, but has to be ordered separately. The cases were optimized again after KTM did not always deliver top quality. The new models are now easier to use, hopefully do not jam as often and hang on the floating brackets on the S and T as standard. These significantly reduce the tendency to swing, as MOTORRAD was able to try last year during test drives on the high-speed oval in Idiada / Spain. Only the wobbly cases look a bit strange from the perspective of the following driver.

Top machine in its segment

The subject of the pendulum, which for obvious reasons cannot be checked in Sicily, should also be a thing of the past for other reasons. Because the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S rolls as standard on cast wheels with better concentricity than spoked wheels, which are still available as accessories for off-road fans. In addition, less sensitive shoulder ball bearings, which were already built into the super sports car RC8 R as standard, are now installed in the steering head instead of tapered roller bearings that are difficult to adjust.

As a further measure, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is equipped with Pirelli Scorpion Rally II tires instead of the previous Conti Trail Attack. What is certainly not a mistake: The Pirellis offer excellent grip on difficult terrain, steer themselves neutrally over the entire lean angle and build a lot of confidence even on slippery terrain. The 1290 Adventure is not fundamentally new, but more than ever a top machine in its segment thanks to improved electronics and a lot of fine-tuning. What KTM can reward accordingly: 16,745 euros are due at least for a 1290, with a recommendable travel package, suitcases, navigation system and a few goodies from the large power parts catalog, this can quickly turn into around 20,000 euros.

Technical data KTM 1290 Super Adventure S.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S.


Water-cooled two-cylinder four-stroke 75-degree V-engine, a balance shaft, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts each, four valves per cylinder, rocker arm, dry sump lubrication, injection, 2x Ø 52 mm, regulated catalytic converter with secondary air system, 450 W alternator, 12 battery V / 11 Ah, hydraulically operated multi-disc oil bath clutch (anti-hopping), six-speed gearbox, X-ring chain, secondary ratio 2.471.
Bore x stroke: 108.0 x 71.0 mm
Displacement: 1301 cc
Compression ratio: 13.1: 1
Rated capacity: 118.0 kW (160 hp) at 8,750 rpm
Max. Torque: 140 Nm at 6,750 rpm

landing gear

Steel tubular frame, load-bearing motor, upside-down fork, Ø 48 mm, hydraulic steering damper, electronically adjustable rebound and compression damping, two-arm swing arm made of aluminum, central spring strut, directly hinged, electronically adjustable spring base and rebound / compression damping, double disc brake at the front, Ø 320 mm, Four-piston fixed calipers, rear disc brake, Ø 267 mm, two-piston fixed caliper, traction control, partially integral brake system, ABS.
Cast aluminum wheels: 3.50 x 19; 5.00 x 17
Tires: 120/70 ZR 19; 170/60 ZR 17

Dimensions + weights

Wheelbase 1560 mm, steering head angle 64.0 degrees, caster 120 mm, suspension travel front / rear 200/200 mm, seat height 860–875 mm, empty weight 215 kg, permissible total weight 460 kg, tank capacity / reserve 23.0 / 3.5 liters.
Guarantee: two years
Colors: Orange, black
Price: 16,495 euros
Additional costs: 250 euro

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