KTM ‘When the others trail off the KTM just keeps going’
1290 Super Adventure R
Let’s start with the negatives. I’m only 5ft 6in, and the KTM 1290 R is as tall as a tree, and pretty much on my limit. It shares the same seat height as the BMW, but unlike the Beemer the seat is firm and once you’ve climbed aboard there isn’t much sag in the conventional fullyadjustable WP suspension, so you feel like you’re constantly riding on stilts.
On the motorway it feels doubledecker tall, while the screen needs to be a tad higher and the thin bodywork doesn’t give much wind protection. There’s questionable stability above 100mph, too, but at least the R is roomy; tall riders will love it.
Any negatives are soon forgotten once the throttle is cracked open as the V-twin engine is outstanding in any gear and delivers superbike levels of performance. This is backed up by a silky-smooth gearbox, which allied to an up-and- down quickshifter makes gear changes effortless and highlights how clumsy the BMW’S is.
As Michael put it: “It just keeps giving and giving. There’s decent mid-range then when the others trail off the KTM just keeps going.”
The power delivery might be slightly intimidating for some – it can make the front flighty and light in the first four gears – but it received high praise from our sporty test team.
The conventional WP suspension is arguably more impressive than the semi-active suspension on the other two as it coped with everything we could throw at it, even some hard off-road riding. I’ve ridden the 1290 R extensively in previous tests and was blown away by the adaptability of the standard setup. Even its off-road biased 21in front wheel doesn’t hinder its road handling; in fact the KTM felt the lightest with the quickest steering too.
The full-colour 6.5in TFT dash is a huge improvement over the old digital clocks, though the new BMW’S TFT has moved the game on again. While the styling is a little Marmite, you can’t, disagree with the bike’s functionality and those central-mounted cornering headlights are mightily impressive and the best of the bunch on test here.
Sadly the KTM doesn’t have the effortless touring ability of the other two bikes. In fact, the 1290 R is raw, slightly intimidating, and not as sophisticated as the BMW, but with the correct tyres fitted it is outstanding off-road and certainly the most fun of the three.
‘The KTM is certainly the most fun’
Good both on- and off-road, the Super Adventure R is the weakest tourer