2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Review, Amazing Beast !

In a world where it seems everything has to be sanitised, it’s a real pleasure to come across bikes as raw as KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R. In my opinion, it’s exactly what a naked bike should be; unadulterated, powerful and brimming with attitude. This is no pussycat, and for that reason it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But I couldn’t ask for more.

2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Review

I love the look of the bike – the styling is bold and unique. The trellis frame draws your eye because of its design, but also thanks to its vibrant orange paint. It contrasts fantastically with the dark and moody bodywork, which is typically sharp in profile and futuristic-looking. The exhausts wrap wonderfully around the big V-twin motor, which really is the heart and soul of the KTM. I’m not normally a fan of drooping headlights or LEDs, but I can’t get enough of the unit fitted to the 1290 Super Duke R. Styling-wise, it works a treat.

And KTM 1290 Super Duke R rides as well as it looks. I came back from my first day with ear ache, having laughed so hard. This bike is a lunatic, and the challenge is to hold it back from unleashing crazy speeds – which it does so willingly. The motor makes 180 HP, but it’s the torque that blew me away the most; it’s relentless, no matter what gear you’re in or where you are in the rev range, although the motor can get a little flustered if dropped under 3.000 RPM, provoking a jerky ride. You get used to that in time, as well as the clunky first gear selection and its exceptionally small gear ratio.

2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Review

In town, I found myself often dithering between using first or second gear, regularly having to work the clutch to balance the gear changes and control the revs. Thankfully, the hydraulic lever is light to operate, else I’d have a few more things to say about the ratios. Bizarrely, sixth gear is epically tall, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to select it if you don’t intend to break the law.

The KTM 1290 Super Duke R's dash is well set in the rider’s eye-line. There are actually two displays, divided with setup info on the left and the riding info, such as speed, revs and gear selection, on the right. It makes good sense and means that you’re never left questioning your core info or setup options. The bike has loads of tech including power modes, ABS and traction control; it’s easy to navigate, but you need to pull over if you want to alter your ABS or traction control, which isn’t ideal.

Priced at a premium rate, I’m a little disappointed that KTM 1290 Super Duke R doesn’t come with electronically adjustable suspension, but even more so because the forks fitted don’t offer any preload adjustment. I personally would expect to have it on a bike costing the best part of £14,000. Likewise, it lacks a quick-shifter. While I’m on a roll, I thought the plastic switch-gear looked cheap, and the side-stand is simply ridiculous – it’s so long that you have to carefully select the camber of ground you pull up on, else you might find your bike’s fallen over when you return to it. The stand’s also a bit tricky to deploy with your foot.

2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Review

Moaning completed, I do rate the handling of this KTM 1290 Super Duke R. It’s a very firm ride and I was amazed at how easily it bounded into bends. I actually had to lessen my input, as the bike proved to just drop into corners. It’s stable, confidence inspiring and you can change your line mid-corner with ease. Great stuff !

The longest period I experienced in the saddle was two hours straight. It wasn’t the most comfortable of rides, but the large amount of leg space and relaxed knee angle make life easier, as do the well-placed wide bars. The seat is a little firm, but it’s bearable. If I owned this bike, I would fit the softer saddle and probably the optional flyscreen, too...

Pillion Perspective

2015 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Pillion

If you’re tall, you’re unlikely to find the climb up onto the KTM 1290 Super Duke R’s pillion seat as challenging as it is for most other people. You are rewarded with a spacious and softly padded perch, plenty of leg room and a good view over the rider’s lid. But what this bike really lacks is decent grab handles, rather than a small strap to dangle from...

KTM 1290 Super Duke R Specs

Engine : Four stroke, 75º V-Twin, DOHC 8-Valve, Liquid-Cooled
Capacity : 1.301 cc
Bore x Stroke : 108 x 71 mm
Compression Ratio : 13,2 : 1
Induction : Fuel Injection
Max Power : 180 HP @ 8.870 RPM
Max Torque : 143.7 N.m
Transmission / Drive : 6-Speed, PASC Slipper Clutch, Hydraulic / Chain

Frame : Chromium-Molybdenum-Steel Trellis Frame
Front Suspension : 48mm WP Upside Down Forks, Fully Adjustable
Rear Suspension : WP Monoshock, Adjustable
Front Brakes : 2 x 320 mm Floating Disc, Brembo M50 Radial Monoblock 4-Pot Calipers, Bosch ABS
Rear Brakes : Single 240 mm Disc, Brembo 2-Pot Caliper, Bosch ABS
Front Tyre : 120/70 - ZR17, Dunlop Sportsmart2
Rear Tyre : 180/50 - ZR17, Dunlop Sportsmart2

Wheelbase : 1.482 mm
Seat Height : 835 mm
Weight : 189 Kg
Fuel Capacity : 18 Litres
Average Mpg : 44.1 Mpg (Tested)

Price : £13,999