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
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