2014 KTM 1290 SU­PER DUKE R

John sets about DIY valve clear­ance check and slap­per-tam­ing steer­ing damper fit­ment

Performance Bikes (UK) - - CONTENTS -

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

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