2018 KTM 1290 SU­PER DUKE

Mak­ing Aus­tria’s hand­i­work look smarter with some Brit-made bolt-ons

Performance Bikes (UK) - - CONTENTS -

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

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