KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R
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