Life with Big KTM & Du­cati Su­per­sport S

500 MILES Af­ter just 500 miles, Michael’s says the Su­per Ad­ven­ture S is light years ahead of any­thing he’s rid­den be­fore

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

Just 550 miles in to life with KTM’S flag­ship 1290 Su­per Ad­ven­ture S, and it’s fair to say I’m more than a lit­tle im­pressed. Hav­ing worked at MCN for over 13 years I’ve been in the priv­i­leged po­si­tion of riding and eval­u­at­ing a wide range of the very lat­est bikes, but for me this KTM rep­re­sents the next gen­er­a­tion.

My last two long-term test bikes have been the Kawasaki Ver­sys 1000 and the Honda Africa Twin, both ex­cel­lent mo­tor­bikes. The Ver­sys was ex­tremely com­pe­tent in ev­ery­thing it did, while the Africa Twin was a good­look­ing ad­ven­ture bike with gen­uine abil­ity off-road. But while they were both very good they are bikes moulded out of years of evo­lu­tion, not revo­lu­tion. The new KTM 1290 is dif­fer­ent.

From the key­less ig­ni­tion, ipad-like dash, and two-way quick­shifter to the plethora of elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable riding set­tings, semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion, cruise con­trol and lean-an­gle-sen­si­tive cor­ner­ing head­lights – it feels like the fu­ture has ar­rived.

It may sound like a lit­tle thing, but the key­less ig­ni­tion in­creases the sense of bond with the bike. With the key fob tucked away safely in your jacket pocket you can just walk up to the bike and with a press of a but­ton the steer­ing lock is re­leased and the ig­ni­tion is on. A by­stander might think that the bike has no se­cu­rity and that any­one can jump on it, but in re­al­ity it all comes down to the per­son who’s hold­ing the magic transpon­der key.

The 6.5in flatscreen, an­glead­justable dash is a work of art. KTM were ob­vi­ously keen to progress their old-school clunky screens and GPS sys­tems and they’ve done a fine job. The full-colour dash is a plea­sure to view and work. It of­fers an ex­ten­sive range of in­for­ma­tion all ac­ces­si­ble by a well thought out and log­i­cal nav­i­ga­tional sys­tem.

Elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable and semi­ac­tive sus­pen­sion has been around for a while and KTM’S four op­tions make sense – Sport, Street, Com­fort and Off Road – and are so easy to ad­just on the move I find my­self dialling the sus­pen­sion in for dif­fer­ent parts of my jour­ney to work. Sport for the few twisties as I leave my house, Com­fort for the long stretches of A1, and Street for ev­ery­thing else. So far I’ve been un­able to find a use for the Off-road set­ting on my 65-mile com­mute, but I’m work­ing on it!

The same op­tions are avail­able for the en­gine per­for­mance and trac­tion con­trol, mean­ing that the feel, per­for­mance and fun fac­tor can be tai­lored on the move.

And while it’s easy to get dis­tracted by all the bling, don’t think for one minute that any of this is ac­tu­ally the best bit of the bike. That honour be­longs to the 1301cc 160bhp V-twin.

Boast­ing a claimed 103ftlb of torque, it’s a monster, ca­pa­ble of ef­fort­less speed and grin-in­duc­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion in prac­ti­cally any gear.

It’s de­bat­able whether an ad­ven­ture bike, ca­pa­ble of also per­form­ing off-road, truly needs 160bhp. But my take on it is that the throt­tle works both ways and in today’s ever-more­sani­tised world there is noth­ing wrong with a bit of ex­cess.

Wel­come to the or­ange new or­der Con­tro­ver­sial look but the lean an­gle-ac­ti­vated cor­ner­ing head­light is a real per­former

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