KTM 1290 Super Duke R


When KTM unleashed the beast, aka the 1290 Super Duke R, Motojournalists raved, including us (MCN 3/14). The GT modifies the hooligan R, adding additional touring-friendly features. ENGINE The liquid-cooled, 1301cc 75-degree V-twin engine has only a slight horsepower and torque reduction from the R, maintaining more than 75 lb.-ft. of torque from 3,700 to the 9,800 rpm limiter and ramping linearly to a peak of 145 hp at redline. The engine pulls hard, everywhere. KTM updated the cylinder heads and timing with narrower intake ports, reshaped combustion chambers and mapping, required to meet Euro4 and designed to maintain sport performance with smooth throttle response—no easy task. With 9,300 mile service intervals, maintenance shouldn’t be overwhelming. A new under-engine exhaust system and a stainless steel muffler with a seven-map internal flapper valve moderate noise in every gear. Three ride-by-wire throttle modes include Rain, which cuts power by a third. Street offers a less than one-to-one ratio of throttle, which means more twisting is necessary to achieve the same results of Sport mode—where we spent most of our time. Throttle response is so perfect, there’s little need to dial it back. If throttle control isn’t optimal, the bike still has you covered. Multimode, lean-angle sensitive traction control (MTC) offers three levels of engagement, tied directly to the ride modes, and allows limited rear tire slip and front wheel lift in Sport mode. MTC hampers wheelies, so it can be disabled. Performance settings are maintained through a power-cycle, with the exception of ABS and MTC reactivating if they were disabled—smart. The GT’s available options will fit most rider’s needs.

TRANSMISSION Gears shift near flawlessly, exhibiting an occasional stubbornness shifting to neutral. Sixth gear at 65 mph feels like it’s choking, fifth gear is more comfortable— so is riding faster. The mechanical slipper clutch can be assisted by an optional electronically managed Motor Slip Regulator (MSR), which monitors torque from the engine and matches engine speed with wheel speed for smoother downshifts and reduction in wheel hop. The quickshifter only upshifts, almost as smoothly, but certainly quicker than engaging the clutch.

BRAKES & WHEELS Combined-ABS (C-ABS) ensures the rear brakes are engaged when squeezing only the front brake lever (not vice-versa), and prevents wheel lock. Selectable modes include Supermoto, which allows locking the rear wheel, and disabled. The Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC) module, monitors lean angle so traction control and ABS engage in appropriate quantities, whether leaned over or vertical—overriding limits that skilled riders have trained for years never to test. Brembo’s stellar M50 monoblocks are capable of bringing the bike to a halt rapidly, but ABS performance was a bit inconsistent when trying to achieve the shortest possible stop. The best stops required numerous attempts at threshold of wheel lock, not simply grabbing a handful of ABS and letting the computer work its magic—unlike the other technology. A Hill Hold Control option ($225), keeps the brakes engaged for five seconds after the front brake is released or until the machine moves forward.

ERGONOMICS & HANDLING A longer aluminum rear subframe allows a larger passenger seat and adds integrated mount points for the cleverly engineered 8-gallon hard bags. The bags include key positions for locked, unlocked and one-handed removal. To reduce weight, they are made entirely of plastic, which isn’t molded perfectly, leaving gaps toward the front. They also require attention to latching sounds and mounting points to prevent a mishap, where perhaps the latch or bag comes undone (it happened). Mid-sized helmets may fit inside either bag, snugly. Cockpit ergonomics were improved for touring by lowering the rider and passenger footpegs and adding a 1-inch wider and 3/8-inch higher handlebars. The four-way adjustable handlebar riser is reversible; bringing the bar ends 1/2- inch closer. Rotation in the clamp allows even further customization. The new 32.9-inch high seat is larger and more padded. Our test mule came with the optional comfort seat which measured at 33.75 inches. The narrow profile of the bike and remarkably low

SUSPENSION The GT includes a three-mode semi-active Suspension Control Unit (SCU), originally on the 1290 Super Adventure. Comfort mode is soft, but firms slightly when the bike leans. Street offers tighter handling and maintains comfort mode’s anti-dive programming, which keeps the front end level when braking. Sport mode allows the suspension to dive under braking, enabling quicker turn-in. All modes are dynamically adjusted within milliseconds; depending on various active electronic measurements. The 48mm WP USD fork offers 4.9 inches travel. A steering damper keeps the front wheel tracking straight when things get light up front, which is easy to do. The single rear WP shock offers up 6.1 inches of travel. Rear preload can be set electronically when stopped to adapt to various load configurations. April 2017


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