Sitting at the very top of the hyper-naked food chain, boasting a menacing collection of high-performance chassis and engine specifications, as well as top-shelf rider enhancements and electronics, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R needs no introduction. But we gave it one anyway. Introducing THE BEAST.
If it ain't broken, don't fix it. But by all means, make it meaner! Boasting 180 hp and 140 Nm, the 1301 cc LC8, V-Twin has undergone a subtle yet impactful development. Optimized to be lighter but retaining its torquey character, this powerhouse is the benchmark of V-twin evolution. And with engine and linkage mounts that add to the overall structure of the entire package - it quite literally is the part that holds THE BEAST together.
Thinner engine casings and revised water and oil cooler mounts have resulted in a 0.8 kg weight saving. Oil delivery has also been improved by way of a lightweight aluminum oil line, eliminating the need for a double wall system. Additionally, the engine carrier bracket and linkage mount have been integrated into the engine case, allowing for a stiffer connection. This has also resulted in a 5 mm higher swingarm pivot for improved stability and anti-squat.
Topfeeder injectors and 56 mm throttle bodies provide an improved air to fuel mixture at high rpms. This results in more torque and better fuel economy throughout the rev range.
You don't always need big changes to make big differences. In fact, when it comes to the PANKL gearbox, we've made a few small tweaks which have resulted in quicker shift times, shorter shift action and lighter lever modulation. Smoother shift action also comes courtesy of an improved spline shaft and bronzed copper coating on the shift forks. Why do all this? Quite simply - quicker shift times equal faster acceleration.
TWIN SPARK IGNITION
When it comes to burning fuel efficiently, two sparks are better than one. The twin spark ignition system makes use of more powerful ignition coils and two sparkplugs in each cylinder head. This makes for an optimized firing sequence, resulting in more power, better control, lower fuel consumption and lower emissions.
To perform like a BEAST, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R needs to breath like a BEAST. Thanks to an all-new ram air intake positioned in the new headlight mask, this rip snorting arrangement maximizes flow by forcing air into the combustion chambers. This in turn reduces the chance of low air pressure and increases the fuel burn rate. The addition of a newly designed and easy-to-access air filter box makes for easy servicing too.
TITANIUM INLET VALVES
State-of-the-art, machined titanium inlet valves with chromium nitride PVD coating – how impressive does that sound? These feature a flat design, and weigh 19 grams less than steel inlet valves. When combined with the smaller combustion chamber on the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, offer a compression ratio of 13.6:1, and ultimately, more power.
Thanks to the resonator chambers on the cylinder heads, which have been engineered to increase the torque output in the lower to mid-range rpms, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R power train runs smoother, consumes less fuel and cuts down on CO² emissions by around 10%.
While the pressure lubricated PASC slipper clutch allows for feather-light clutch modulation while accelerating, it's how it handles slowing down that's the really impressive bit. When the engine experiences extreme back-torque during aggressive downshifting from speed, the clutch opens to prevent the rear wheel locking, giving the rider full control and perfect entry speed while hunting apexes.
The Ride-by-Wire on the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R goes the extra mile. It electronically translates the throttle commands of the rider into the best throttle valve positions for the current riding situation. Choking, jolting and involuntary wheelies are a thing of the past. Voluntary ones, however, could easily be a thing of your future.
In the battle of physics and blasting holes in the space-time continuum, lighter is faster. But when you're working with a pure naked BEAST, finding the places to trim fat is often a challenge. Weight has been shaved off the crankcases, by making them marginally thinner, which, when combined with a new water pump and lighter clutch cover, provides a substantial overall weight saving.
Formula1-inspired forged piston technology means we can push the limits of load capacity despite the extremely short and lightweight design. This results in minimized reciprocating weight and maximized responsiveness. The piston skirts also feature a state-of-the-art, hard anodized finish which minimizes friction, adding to the engine's free-revving nature. What's more, the hard-wearing durability of these parts add many years to an already impressive engine life.
This is not a case of "bark being worse than bite" - this BEAST roars! Up to 60 mm of drainpipe-like dimensions at the headers optimize gas flow, while 2 catalytic converters control emissions, without compromising the V-twin engine note or horsepower.
To perform like a BEAST, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R needs to breath like a BEAST. Thanks to a ram air intake positioned in the headlight mask, this rip snorting arrangement maximizes flow by forcing air into the combustion chambers. This in turn reduces the chance of low air pressure and increases the fuel burn rate. The addition of a newly designed and easy-to-access air filter box makes for easy servicing too.
The frame, which uses the engine as a means to increase torsional rigidity, has resulted in the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R being 3 times stiffer than its predecessor. This allows for an effortless, confidence-inspiring riding position which translate into an ultimately faster ride. This is achieved by maximizing the feedback from the chassis and the front tire. The frame also makes use of thicker diameter tubes with thinner walls, which is the single biggest weight saving measure on the bike - saving 2 kg compared to the previous model.
Multi-dexterity is the name of the game when it comes to this BEAST's tail. A lightweight composite subframe combines a number of functions to save weight and increase functionality. The passenger seat, license plate holder and taillights bolt directly onto the subframe structure with no additional brackets or attachments needed.
To increase feel and traction, the pivot point of the single-sided swingarm is positioned 5mm higher relative to the front sprocket for more control when putting the power down. Combined with the repositioning of the engine in the frame, a steeper swingarm angle has been achieved, increasing anti-squat compared to the previous generation.
Think of the suspension elements on THE BEAST as the muscles that work to get the power to the ground in the best way possible. Every component has been considered to improve the handling, adjustability and performance.
Light, fully adjustable WP APEX forks feature split function compression and rebound settings. This allows riders to fine-tune the front end for full-blown apex attacks, or to achieve perfect plushness for long hours on the road. And if that isn't enough to find the razor-edge of handling, adjustable preload settings will help you find the ultimate front-end stance.
Lightweight, forged aluminum triple clamps with an offset of 32 mm have been matched to an aluminum steering column for added weight savings. Essentially, this is the bit that connects the nut holding the handlebars to the front end.
The WP APEX rear shock absorber features separate gas and oil reservoirs, making it lighter and more compact than its predecessor. It is also fully adjustable, with individual high- and low-speed adjusters and a 'no-tools-needed' manual preload dial for the ultimate in rear shock set-up.
Through the power of leverage, the linkage at the rear helps to smooth out rough roads, while still ensuring that full-attack track action remains uncompromised. The progressive damping character also ensures optimized damping and bottoming out resistance.
These wheels didn't just happen by the grace of a designer's pen - they are the product of a sophisticated CAD system, which determines the best shape in terms of strength and lightness. What that means is that these wheels are engineered down to the finest detail, they are lighter than before and look great.
BRIDGESTONE S22 tires - 120/70/17 in the front and 200/55/17 in the rear - are specifically developed for the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. Featuring a fine-particle silica compound, they offer much-improved grip in wet weather conditions, making for exceptional characteristics on the road but also phenomenal handling on the track.
Reigning in THE BEAST comes courtesy of 4-piston BREMBO Stylema monobloc calipers clamping onto 320 mm floating discs up front, and a twin piston floating caliper biting a 240 mm disc at the rear.
Finding the optimal seating position is made easy with an adjustable 760 mm wide handlebar. Riders can tailor their preferred reach with 4 positions over 21 mm, front to back, making it easy to attack corners and crucial for hanging on down the straights.
The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R boasts an intuitive TFT dashboard with multi-functionality. To access this, robust, tactile motorcycle switchgear has been devloped - which incidentally push all the right buttons. Riders can adjust the wheel slip easily via paddle buttons on the switchgear, while in TRACK MODE, or can set two programmable switches for fast access to favored features or setting of their choosing.
Hydraulic brake and clutch levers make for easy one-finger operation, while full reach adjustability ensures they are within easy grasp of even the most reach-challenged riders.
There's no doubting THE BEAST's performance credentials. But that doesn't mean riders have to sacrifice long-distance comfort either. While the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is at home on the track, it's a naked street bike first. This means passenger comfort has been thoroughly thought-out and has been designed to allow for real-world, 2-up riding.
Big lean angles come as standard, thanks to smart positioning of the foot pegs, which also allow for comfort on the road. However, further refinement is also possible with two positions, which lift the pegs higher and further backwards for a more aggressive stance. And as can be expected, the gear shift pattern can be easily reversed to a 5 down, 1 up arrangement for full BEAST MODE track attacks. Shift and brake levers are fully adjustable too.
There isn't much to say about the bodywork of the new KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R as there is so little of it to talk about. But that's exactly how we like it! Aggressive and menacing, the bodywork and panels had to achieve two objectives - tick all the ergonomic boxes and shave weight wherever possible. As such, every panel and plate has been calculated for optimum thickness and minimized where possible. The only thing that remained heavy was attitude.
Almost mantis-like, the LED headlight doubles as a ram air intake, with air being channelled between the lights, keeping them cool, and directly into the airbox, making for a more efficient burn. Besides looking great, the dual-functionality resulted in cleaner, more compact lines and less overall weight.
SHARP REAR END
Thanks to a lightweight composite subframe, the passenger seat, license plate holder and taillights could be seamlessly incorporated into a neat rear end, which keeps a little sting in the tail.
Crafted from steel, the 16 litre fuel tank has been made to bulk up THE BEAST's haunches. Also, the new shape and angle have been designed to support the rider on street and on the track.
There's no mistaking that this is the meanest bike on the block. A high-quality application process has been used to ensure the signature 'R' graphics stay put and never fade, while contrasting colors, tones and textures set the muscled creases of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R off perfectly.
While the headlight mask doubles as an intake snorkel, it's the twin LED headlights that really shine. Sharp, menacing lines enhance THE BEAST's overall look, while providing ample illumination when it gets dark. Daytime running lights also ensure you will get noticed, which not only earns you kudos when it comes to street cred, but more importantly, makes you more visible to other road users.
RIDER PILOT COCKPIT
An angle-adjustable 5 inch TFT screen takes center stage ahead of the rider, featuring a fresh design and innovative new functionality. An updated menu structure gives riders faster access to the various features and allows for more customization of preferred riding setups. The scratch resistant bonded glass display also helps to combat glare.
MORE THAN SAFETY NETS
Many traditionalists might frown at the sight of electronic rider aids, saying they interfere with the purity of the ride. However, when it comes to the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, all electronic features have received an update, providing more feedback from the engine, and less intrusiveness from the safety systems. This means improved Quickshifter+ settings, more refined and natural feedback and smoother, more intuitive anti-wheelie functions.
In a bid for ultimate control, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R features highend traction control, anti-wheelie functionality and ride modes.
Rain mode" is the no-brainer setting for slippery conditions, resulting in maximum traction control, ultra-smooth throttle response and less power, keeping the front wheel on the tarmac when you really need it.
Just like it sounds, "Street mode" is made for the daily grind on everyday roads. Full power, default throttle response and limited slip traction control keeps things controlled on the road.
Dialled in for a more spirited ride, "Sport mode" tightens up the throttle control, winds down the traction control slightly and allows the front end to lift under hard acceleration. And of course - unleashes all the horse power.
The optional "Track mode" allows riders to customize wheel slip levels and throttle response to suit their own individual tastes or track conditions. Traction control can be tweaked over 9 levels of slip while MSC is disabled completely. Anti-wheelie can also be disabled completely for those who like to hoist the front wheel across the start/finish line.
An optional "Performance mode" takes the basic concept of "Track mode" but adapts it for the street. Riders are still able to adjust throttle response, wheel slip and anti-wheelie functions, but retain typical street functions such as Cruise Control and KTM MY RIDE.
Motorcycle traction control - or MTC for short - uses two different controllers to keep things in check. The most obvious of which is a wheelslip controller which regulates the amount of spin or break in traction at the rear wheel. A pitch angle controller identifies and regulates abrupt changes in front wheel lift. Each of these controllers work with individual strategies to ensure a seamless "behind-the-scenes" safety net is always in play. While the safety benefits are obvious, this also results in improved straight-line acceleration.
MTC also works when lean angles get tested, reacting immediately if the rotational speed of the rear wheel is disproportionate to the riding situation. MTC reduces the engine output with an extremely smooth, barely noticeable intervention at the throttle valves, reducing slippage to optimum levels for the selected ride mode and lean angle. Depending on the selected riding mode, MTC allows different levels of traction slip at the rear wheel. And of course, MTC can be switched off completely for the full BEAST experience.
Unlike MTC which works when the power gets rolled on, MSR works when the power is wound off. MSR (optional), or Motor Slip Regulation, works with the slipper clutch to balance the throttle, ensuring super-smooth deceleration in the harshest conditions without any unwanted rear wheel lockup. This is deactivated in "Track" and "Supermoto ABS" modes, to allow riders to back the bike into corners - as you would expect.
Three things happen when riders select "Supermoto ABS". First, all ABS functionality is disabled on the rear wheel, allowing the riders to lock up the brakes and slide into corners. Secondly, the ABS system does not interfere in the event of the rear wheel lifting off the tarmac, allowing for stoppies. And thirdly, cornering ABS is disabled, allowing riders full control when barreling into fast corners with maximum brake pressure.
All in all, the deactivation of these functions in "Supermoto ABS" gives the rider more control in extreme track scenarios and allows advanced riders to brake much harder for maximum apex-hunting sessions.
Long motorway journeys are easily dispatched with the SUPER DUKE R’s cruise control system. Easily activated and controlled by a switch on the left hand side of the handlebar, riders can set cruise control in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th gear, between 40 km/h and 200 km/h. That’s one way to save energy for the twisty bits.
As its name implies, the TPMS monitors tire pressure and warns riders of potential tire damage in the event of pressure loss on the TFT display. An added convenience when you want to spend more time on the road and less time checking air pressures.
Auto-cancelling turn signals are a big improvement in terms of safety, as it is now impossible to for forget that they are activated and flashing into infinitum. Indicators stop flashing after 10 seconds and in 150 meters.
KTM RACE ON SYSTEM
Forget about ignition keys and mechanically locked fuel caps, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R features KTM RACE ON! All you need is the transponder key in your pocket and you can unlock THE BEAST.
KTM MY RIDE puts you in control of your smartphone, without losing control of the bars. By using a mobile app. KTM MY RIDE syncs to your smartphone giving you turn-by-turn navigation and access your music library and allows you to make and receive phone calls on the fly.