2018 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE
Making Austria’s handiwork look smarter with some Brit-made bolt-ons
2018 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R CHRIS NEWBIGGING
I FITTED SOME of Evotech’s accessories to PB’s GSX-R1000R last year. They were really well designed parts with obvious thought in the little details as well as a quality overall finish. They were mostly fine, but I had some grief getting an oil cooler guard to fit, and I reported as much. Not uncommon, but also nothing major. To me, anyway: the boys from Lincs were mortified their goodies didn’t go straight on. They got a GSX-R in straight away to check their design over and be sure it was right.
When I requested some gear for the KTM, they were eager to prove it was a one-off. “Come up and see us, we’ll show you round and fit them.” Offer accepted; anything for a morning out on the 1290.
I got the obligatory factory tour. I’ve done a number of these: generally, they’re pretty dull. One of my first jobs as a junior writer was a brake pad factory visit: I nearly signed on the dole after that trip of ‘enlightenment’. And in fairness, much of Evotech’s industrial gear went over my head: I don’t pretend to be an engineer, and the merits of a five-axis whatsit over a twin-head hoojamaflip is lost on me.
The thing that struck me, however, was the thought that went into the whole process: in the kindest possible sense, these fellas are nerds, and somewhat obsessive. From the initial sheet metal or machining work, right through to bagging it up to mail out, they’ve considered how to make it faster, simpler or better. Or all three. Which has the likely benefit of cutting their costs, but it also means they’ve got control over the design and manufacturing: from the 3D modelling process onwards, they do just about everything. Just about the only outsourced bits are nuts and bolts (they’re looking to change that) and the LEDs for numberplate lights.
‘So-bloody-what, sounds like another dreary factory tour,’ you might say. Well, sort of, but their enthusiasm for the detail pays off when the Super Duke is wheeled on to their workbench, it takes a matter of minutes for a tail tidy, crash protectors, lever protectors and a dry sump shield to go on. I just watched and drank their tea, but there was no fighting, swearing or messing with parts to make them fit. The parts look good enough to be original equipment: the tail tidy doesn’t just cram a plate under the tail light, it mounts everything in a considered way that complements the lines of the bike. The crash bung mount uses three fixings to spread the load, and the bracket blends seamlessly with its surroundings. The lever guards don’t foul anything and sit right. The sump guard was their suggestion rather than a personal desire, but it’s neat and should help maintain the bike’s finish.
Whether you’re a flag-waving patriot or not, it’s good to see stuff made and designed here, and the end results look great on the bike. The parts on the GSX-R remain in good condition, and I’ve every faith those now on the KTM will continue being an enhancement, too. I’ve stated before that the 1290 is close to perfect for my needs and desires: it’s even closer now.
But there’s still a little bit more I want to try. It’s now rolling on a set of Dunlop Sportsmart TTs: on track, it’s never felt quite right in high-speed corners, especially at the front. I’m hoping these will help it feel a bit more plugged in, and maybe dial in a bit more suspension work. I’ve also got KTM’s track seat kit to try: it’s about the cheapest performance enhancement they offer, and I’m wondering if the glassfibre pan and thin seat foam can help relay just that little bit more information to my rear end, and give me just a little extra confidence to lob it into fifth gear corners.
‘In the kindest possible sense, these fellas are nerds, and somewhat obsessive...’
Crash protectors are just the tip of the iceberg
Evotech’s 3D modelling ensures correct tolerances and fit