KTM 1290 SU­PER DUKE R

Performance Bikes (UK) - - Contents -

WHEN KTM’S 1290 Su­per Duke broke cover in 2013, it was given its ‘Beast’ nick­name be­cause, well, it was sup­posed to be a bit of one. And on pa­per it was; claim­ing north of 170bhp made it the most pow­er­ful ma­chine in the su­per­naked class.

But any­one an­tic­i­pat­ing a rau­cous, un­tamed beast of a bike was in for a sur­prise; the Su­per Duke, es­pe­cially with its full suite of elec­tron­ics en­gaged, was way more civilised than ex­pected. It was comfy, for a naked bike, with a rel­a­tively bal­anced rid­ing po­si­tion and a wide spread of power. There was def­i­nitely a lot of poke, but de­liv­ered in a mea­sured, even spread that left some folk want­ing more thrill and less chill. This was a beast you could go tour­ing on.

Of­fi­cially, KTM call the 2017 Su­per Duke R their ver­sion 2.0. And with the sports tour­ing Su­per Duke GT now at­tend­ing to long dis­tance du­ties, the R has gone through a series of up­dates de­signed to fo­cus its at­ten­tion back on the sportier end of the game. The 1301cc V-twin gets a few ex­tra bhp and a lot more revs – up from a claimed 173bhp at 8865rpm to 177bhp at 9750rpm – and, cu­ri­ously, less peak torque at lower revs: 103lb.ft at 7000rpm, down from 106 at 7750rpm. KTM say the spread of torque is wider than be­fore, and the re­sult of sub­tle changes to gas­flow in the valve train, head and ex­haust – as well as ti­ta­nium in­let valves, re­shaped com­bus­tion cham­bers, more com­pres­sion, shorter in­take trum­pets and a com­pletely new ex­haust sys­tem that in­cludes a flap­per valve (and is also mostly re­spon­si­ble for the 6kg weight in­crease).

Still in place is the old steel tube frame and swingarm, car­ry­ing the same steer­ing ge­om­e­try as be­fore but with up­rated WP front and rear sus­pen­sion us­ing re­vised spring and damp­ing rates for more

con­trol in sporty ex­tremis. The rid­ing po­si­tion is more ag­gres­sive; same footrests and seat height, but with wider, lower bars putting more weight over the front end.

For a bike that was gen­tly crit­i­cised for hav­ing maybe too much elec­tronic con­trol, the 2017 Su­per Duke gets even more, but this should also al­low more fun. Trac­tion con­trol and cor­ner­ing ABS are all Bosch’s lat­est sys­tems, and now come with more cus­tomis­able func­tions than be­fore, plus a new ‘Su­per­moto’ set­ting that al­lows ABS at the front but for the rear wheel to lock up.

The up­dated KTM also gets cruise con­trol and a new dash with full smart­phone Blue­tooth in­te­gra­tion, al­low­ing call and track info on the screen.

Top­ping the new Su­per Duke off is a key­less ig­ni­tion sys­tem, plus the oblig­a­tory styling tweaks: we reckon the new split LED head­light is a big im­prove­ment, and KTM saved a few bob by leav­ing off the tail unit pan­els, ex­pos­ing the bony sub­frame like a flayed arse. Put some bloody clothes on, fer­chris­sakes.

KTM gets styling up­grade, revvier mo­tor and more leccy con­trol

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