KTM ‘When the oth­ers trail off the KTM just keeps go­ing’

MICHAEL GUY

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Road Test -

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

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