2014 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R
John sets about DIY valve clearance check and slapper-taming steering damper fitment
AH, THE MEMORIES... My recent Spanish roadtrip was epic, but since returning to Blighty riding in the UK has somewhat lost its appeal. Poorlysurfaced roads, rammed full of cars and roadworks; you get a decent bit of quiet road and it’s over in just a few minutes before it’s back to tailing Dynorod vans or Argos trucks. But that’s the trouble with getting over to the continent; it makes you realise what you are missing.
What with the 2000 miles we covered on that trip, two things were apparent when I returned. One was that the bike needed its 10,000-mile service. The other was that Europe’s twisty roads had revealed that the stock steering damper wasn’t really particularly good at keeping the front end in check under hard acceleration on bumpy surfaces.
There are not huge differences between the 2014 bike and the 2017 update; it’s more a case of revisions than wholesale change. However, one such revision I wasn’t aware of on the 2017 bike is you don’t have to check the valve clearances at 9300 miles any more. This came as a bit of a surprise when I checked the service schedule on my 2014 model. The words ‘shit’ and ‘bugger’ came to mind. I wasn’t expecting a surprise valve check after the trip and I certainly hadn’t budgeted for it. However, as I always said I would tackle the servicing myself there was only one thing for it: roll up those sleeves and
crack out the feeler gauges.
Being a naked, the Duke is easy to strip; I was at the rockers within 15 minutes (those dirt bike origins are particularly apparent in the way it comes apart). I started at the rear cylinder; it’s quite tight with the main loom right over the rocket cover and some pulling and pushing of the loom is required. Once removed, it’s fairly easy to get access to check the clearances.
The exhaust valves were on the limit of being tight and one of the inlet valves was a tiny bit over adjustment on the loose side. The front cylinder was the same story but I’ve decided I’m going to leave it for now as it’s so easy to gain access. I will check again in 3000 miles to see if anything has shifted (which also gives me time to save up as I don’t fancy adjusting them myself just yet).
Next on the ‘to do’ list was the fitting of a shiny gold Scotts steering damper using the newly released Rottweiler damper fitting kit. Now, the stock damper is adequate ( just) but there is always room for improvement. KTM offer a WP kit as part of their Power Parts line-up, but the issue with this is that you lose a few inches of steering lock, which just seems crazy as the ample lock is one of the great things about the Super Duke over its converted sportsbike naked rivals. The Scotts unit also has the added benefit of highspeed damping adjustment, which means the damper will only start to do its thing when the bars start to move quickly (ie, when you’re in danger of experiencing a full-on slapper). At lower bar speeds you can have it with minimal interference, which is great for low-speed manoeuvrability. So you really have the best of both worlds, something the WP unit doesn’t offer. The Rottweiler kit itself is pure class; billet matt black anodised bracketry is gorgeous and it even comes with a choice of top mounts depending on which of the two handlebar adjustment positions you’re using. Fitting it is fairly straightforward but does require an hour or so put aside to do a proper job. The ignition barrel bolts have to be removed and replaced to mount the damper bracket and these are tamper-proof bolts without any heads. Don’t worry, though, as the Rottweiler kit even comes with the required drill bits and bolt pullers needed to remove them. Hell, it even comes with Loctite and anti-seize grease. Basically, everything you need to complete the job with minimal fuss is included within the kit, which makes a bloody change...
The kit looks amazing once fitted, and if you’re going to part with the best part of £500 on a set-up you don’t want it hidden from view under the yokes do you?
Riding the bike, the adjustment is available at your fingertips; there are 20 different damper positions which are easy to adjust while riding so you can find your preferred setting. I’ve settled for having light resistance but have increased the high-speed damping so if things do get bumpy I shouldn’t encounter any brown pants moments.
‘If you fitted the KTM WP damper, you’d lose vital inches of steering lock’
Rottweiler mount requires the ignition barrel’s removal. Thankfully, everything you need to effect this is included in the kit
Want to save yourself a hefty workshop bill? Pretty much all you need is a set of feeler gauges and a biro...
Stock damper’s orphaned lug is extremely conspicuous
Damping can be adjusted on the fly, with 20 levels of interference available