BEN KTM 1290 SU­PER DUKE R

THIS MONTH I HAVE MOSTLY BEEN… “Hav­ing a right laugh on track.”

Fast Bikes - - LONGTERMERS -

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.

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