BEN KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R
THIS MONTH I HAVE MOSTLY BEEN… “Having a right laugh on track.”
This month, I’ve followed suit with the rest of the termer posse by switching hoops. The standard fit Metzeler M7RRs served me well, covering over 3,000 miles, taking a track day on the chin and a whole shit load of abuse from the 174 raging stallions that I’m relentlessly trying to lay down. But after the mother of all burnouts, there really wasn’t much more potential left to extract, so they’ve now been swapped for some of Continental’s ContiRace Attacks. One key thing to point out about my new rubber is that Conti doesn’t use a release agent for popping these hoops out of their production mold, which made the scrubbing in process bloody fantastic. They’re strategically priced to make them cheaper than the turn to Pirelli and Metzeler options one would typically go for, but can they cut it to an equally high standard in performance?
First impressions are so far so good but what better way to get a feel for a spankin’ new set of hoops than to go throw some abuse at them on track? It wasn’t long before I looked up the No Limits upcoming events list and got myself booked on at Brands. Having ridden on track only a mere handful of times since jackin’ in racing at the end of the 2011, I wasn’t too sure who was in for more of a pounding – the bike, the new tyres, or me.
The ride down to Brands early doors was a bit of a damp one but with the forecast set for sunshine as the day went on, I was eagerly anticipating spinning some laps. I cranked up the heated grips and set about munching some M-way miles. It’s on stints like this that the cruise control comes into its own with its ease of use being the real draw; using a flick of the switch to engage the system along with a consecutive pull of the same switch to select your desired speed.
Having ridden the bike on track in standard guise earlier in the year at Cadwell, when it featured in the Super Naked test, I was as keen as a bean to feel how it’d improved now that it’s laden with some of KTM’s most exotic PowerParts. I remember the big Super D feeling very capable, albeit a tad wallowy, but was quick to reassure myself that it was largely due to its supermoto-esque stance. So I decided to have a twiddle with its twiddly bits and, boy, what a difference it made. I stiffened the suspension up with a click here and there (all the while pretending that I knew what the fook I was doing). TheWP forks up front offer rebound and compression damping adjustment, with each fork independently controlling said values (right rebound, left compression) but with no preload options. While the rear shock, now donning a stiffer (10,0 N/mm) spring for 2017, is fully adjustable.
On track, warming the new Contis took a cautious three laps or so, as I wasn’t running warmers, but once up to temperature they worked beautifully, offering generous and confidence inspiring levels of grip and feedback. The more laps I did on them, the braver I got and it wasn’t too long before the traction control system was becoming a regular feature in my soiree. Honestly, the whole electronics package on this bike is mega. It allows you to push those boundaries while keeping everything in check but all the while retaining the engaging experience that riding a motorcycle is all about. I’d have the thing lit up exiting the likes of Graham Hill Bend while chasing down the racer boys on their thous with a grin slapped across my chops like no other bike has given me before.
This big beastie proved to me that it’s actually much more capable than I had originally anticipated, and all due to exploring it’s parameters; throwing some stickier hoops on and utilising some of the finest parts (PowerParts) on the market that have been developed directly in line with the factory and KTM's racing pedigree.
If I’d had time I would’ve introduced a little more preload on the rear, which I believe would’ve made it almost perfect around Kent’s 1.198 mile circuit., but that’ll have to wait until next time.
THANKSTO… Abig thanks to No Limits for running amega trackday. Ifyou’re after some class acttrack timeon circuits aroundthe UK andEurope, check out theNoLimits website– www.nolimitstrackdays. com –or give them acall on 01525 877087. Ben and the Katoom upset a few riders on track.
Adjustable pegs! How novel!
Nicely scrubbed in, we would suggest.