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With the KTM 1290 Super Duke R on the Nordschleife

Perfection training for the rookie

Two days of perfection training on the Nordschleife. A rookie in the "Green Hell". The work tool: the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. What do Duke and to ride achieve?

S.he is a racetrack like no other in the world. 20.8 kilometers, 73 corners, quite a few of them blind, many of them damn fast. A full 300 meters difference in altitude, few run-out areas worth mentioning, instead merciless crash barriers and safety fences. She has produced great names. Caracciola, Fangio, Agostini and Reed brought glory and honor here. It cost some of their lives. “Demanding” and “demanding” are euphemistic attributes that are often used to describe the very real danger that the track harbors not only in racing.

For motorcyclists, the Nordschleife can no longer be used, apart from the notorious tourist trips, where you share the route with delivery vans and coaches in addition to fast Porsches and M-BMWs. Almost, because the “Green Hell” opens its gates exclusively for two-wheelers at a handful of events each year. One of them is the two-day perfection training of the MOTORRAD action team. This offers the right framework for a very special kind of test order.

How is the KTM 1290 Super Duke R doing on the Nordschleife?

We came to find out how the KTM 1290 Super Duke R is doing on the legendary circuit. Officially. Unofficially, don’t tell anyone, I finally wanted to drive the Nordschleife, just like that. No further explanation is actually needed, any occasion would be appropriate. All the better that the combination of the Nordschleife and Super Duke R actually makes sense. A super-naked like the 1290, "Ready to Race", should also work here. Or precisely, because basically the Nordschleife is more of a closed one-way country road than a conventional circuit.

But because the track is so demanding and demanding, the driver must be tested before the material is tested. That means: In order to be able to really feel the KTM 1290 Super Duke R on the tooth, the necessary speed has to be found first. As a newcomer to the Nordschleife, an experienced instructor helps me to approach the limit with respect, because driving errors are mercilessly punished by the “Green Hell”. Anyone who acts like an ax in the forest here shouldn’t be surprised if he later has to be freed from the forest with an ax. It’s good that MOTORRAD top tester Georg Jelicic has countless laps as an instructor under his belt. Schorschi gives the Nordschleife Yoda on his Daytona 675, I the young Padawan.

Road surface like soft soap

Day 1, Monday morning. After a restless night, the view from the window of the hotel room dims the anticipation: rain, stagnant water. Eifel weather. But that doesn’t scare us or the other participants in the training, the impatience to finally be allowed to drive is too great. But while we are still at the technical inspection, the slips are already piling up outside on the guided laps. Some scratched, sometimes bent material trickles into Werner and Werner, the team of mechanics. The Nordschleife makes it immediately and unmistakably clear that it is rightly carrying its reputation. The road surface is “like soft soap” in places, one hears from the route. The first round begins accordingly carefully.

Georg rolls a clean line forward, it is important to learn the route. But that’s more difficult than expected, because the first contact with the consecrated asphalt is simply overwhelming. Antoniusbuche, Schwedenkreuz, Metzgesfeld – signs announce world-famous sections of the route that created either heroes or tragic figures. Uphill and downhill, blind curves, there is some grip in places, almost not in other places. The only reliable constant: the Daytona’s rear wheel. And guard rails. It is already clear: the Nordschleife is a matter of the mind. The Eifel gives me two trial laps before more rain and the tires of the Triumph make it pointless to continue driving. In the paddock there is nobody less than Helmut Dahne, living racing legend, TT winner and holder of the eternal Nordschleife lap record. He still has his RC 30 and the red station wagon with the white stripes and works here as a guest instructor: “Driving fast? Before that you have to do a lot of laps. Learn the route and its pitfalls, then practice, practice, practice. Over time, the speed also comes. But remember: fall here, it really hurts! "

No more slow pace

Around noon, Peter finally got some insight and the asphalt began to dry up. So back out, still tingling in my stomach like on the first date. Now it’s time to get your head in line. After a few laps, you get something like a first feeling for the track. But the conditions are still treacherous, because the asphalt is usually still damp where it is not needed. Still, I’m pretty happy for now. Short breather, maneuver criticism. Schorschi’s feedback brings me back to the bottom of the facts: “Halfway okay, but in places you hit a bump. Find prominent points to turn in. Aremberg, Kallenhardt, Bergwerk, stay outside longer, otherwise it’s going to be tight at the back. The triple right completely liquid, steer with the gas. At the slow pace you are already driving way too weird. Round line, and much more precise! "

He has a lot of tips ready, but the memory of individual sections is still just too confused and fragmented, the whole circuit is blurred in a frenzy of gray and green. So go on, the aim is to stop slowing down, but it just doesn’t want to run really smoothly. Demand and reality do not come together today.

Nordschleife rookie Johannes Muller and the KTM 1290 Super Duke R..

Why, that can be illustrated with the spectacular fox tube. It goes steeply downhill here at great speed. Left, right, left, always just past the curbs down into the valley, heavy compression, and then up blindly over a knoll, behind which the entrance links to Adenauer Forst is waiting. Here Triumph pulls far away from it every time, the gas hand just doesn’t want to stay open. The brain stem clamps off every time. As if to say, "Boy, you’ve already driven almost 200, there is a wall to the left and right, and mine is the instinct for survival. So nice sutsche!" Against tens of thousands of years of evolution, the best resolutions are of no use.

Later, the thinking apparatus lets the day pass in review, in the mental cinema “Green Hell” is shown in widescreen 3-D and Dolby Digital. We have a continuous loop, completely automatically. Although the film always tears somewhere between Hohe Acht and Wippermann, an astonishing number of sections have stuck. In any case, the performance gives hope for better weather and more laps on the following Tuesday.

The flow is finally here

Day 2. Get out early and look out of the window. It’s dry outside, sunshine, perfect conditions, and it will stay that way all day. Rested and with full concentration, it goes very deeply into the matter. Numerous rounds of training complete and consolidate the inner road map. With increasing temperature and increasing rubber wear in the right places, the grip increases considerably from turn to turn. Sometime before noon between Klostertal and Galgenkopf, in one of the really tricky places, it happens. Now it’s there, the flow. Now the inner video player plays the curves before they are there. Then the cerebrum says to the brain stem: “Listen, colleague. I know what’s coming. I’ve got that under control. ”The brain stem parries diligently, lets go. The jerking has come to an end, the constant correcting of the hailed line has turned into planning and laying out curve after curve, managing the road surface and grip.

The instructors say they can see something like that in the driver’s posture. Very relaxed, the view is always ahead. Now the Nordschleife is the fastest roller coaster in the world, and I am right in the middle of it. Adrenaline, endorphins, a wild cocktail of the happiness hormones, Long Island Iced Tea format. Intravenously. Round after round of endless fun. Now finally the KTM 1290 Super Duke R feels really good too. That’s right, there was the story with the Super Duke.

You can rely on the handling

So how is the KTM 1290 Super Duke R doing? In two words: it cuts. How the 1300er burns through the fast passages Flugplatz, Schwedenkreuz, Kesselchen and finally Dottinger Hohe is simply addicting. Not pointedly, on the last few hundred revolutions, but with the coarse displacement scoop, across the entire speed range, the orange duke pounds through the "Green Hell" that almost makes you dizzy. Over the last concrete slab out of the carousel, but not only there, he always lifts the front wheel nicely, simply because it’s so beautiful. But not just the sheer power turns on. Very fine throttle response, the gentlest response, that’s what you need in delicate passages such as Wehrseifen, Breidscheid and Brunnchen, and with that the KTM is not only a joy for ring beginners. The all-important connection between the throttle hand and the rear wheel is wonderfully analog and authentic thanks to the meticulously coordinated ride-by-wire. You can also rely on the handling. Not exactly hyper-handy, but neutral, sufficiently stable in an inclined position and thanks to the wide handlebars with manageable use of force, the Super Duke can be fired around.

The fast alternating curves in Hatzenbach are always a small celebration. The KTM 1290 Super Duke R spreads less party mood through the undulating mine, but especially in the Caracciola carousel. The directly hinged rear shock absorber responds too insensitively, simply rumbles over the concrete slabs. But it’s still an amazing experience. Klostertal, braking hard from high speed. The radial brake system reduces excess speed without complaint, stable and easily controllable. It just works, leaving brain capacity free for more important things. The braking stability of the Super Duke, however, is inferior to that of a supersport motorcycle, with the rear swaying a little again and again. We’ll book it in the "entertainment value" category.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R and Nordschleife – a brilliant combination

Of course, a naked bike has some design-related disadvantages. The heaviest: Because the sitting position is very upright and because there is no weight on the front wheel and no feeling for the same, fast, elongated radii are not necessarily the profession of super naked. You can already feel what is happening, just not as clearly and transparently as with a good athlete. This is particularly evident towards the end of the round, plant garden, swallowtail, gallows head. Then trust is required, the Metzeler will stick. It does, the Sportec M7 RR has been an excellent choice so far. It builds up grip quickly, is handy, precise, has enormous grip, has a limit area and works very reliably for a sports tire even in the wet. The winner of last year’s sports tire test gets the best out of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. And now that the laps are really fast and the thermometer is heading towards 30, he is proud to announce that he has reached the upper end of his temperature window. Now an even sportier tire should be on the rims: A Racetec RR or Pirelli Supercorsa SP should then be.

Either way, when it comes to fun and adventure and not lap times, Super Duke R and Nordschleife are a brilliant combination. The KTM 1290 Super Duke R enables many energy-saving laps for a newcomer. It lets you learn the route in peace without diva-like behavior. And then you can let it fly – it has more than enough power, brakes and, with minor drawbacks, the chassis. Only the last five percent, then there is a bit of a problem. But there is a little lack of feedback and precision, which should perhaps be approached with a real athlete. But on the Nordschleife, especially as a rookie, you can leave it at 95 percent. And up to this point, the Super Duke is hard to beat in terms of experience value.

Magic happens on the final laps

Back in the paddock. I’m finally satisfied, so is Yoda Jelicic. No wonder, because something magical happened on the last of the approximately 30 laps. With each faster pass, the route changes its face again and again. Suddenly bumps appear there that you hadn’t noticed before, waves become bumps, then there is a curve where there was none before.

Only now does the “Green Hell” even begin to reveal its true face. Then next year there will have to be another reason to come here. Anyone who has driven here before knows what it’s about anyway. You have to advise everyone else: drive a ring!

Technical data KTM 1290 Great Duke R

KTM 1290 Super Duke R..

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