2017 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R launch update: An electronic evolution

Published: 06 December 2016

KTM has chiselled and tweaked this beastly 1290 Super Duke R for 2017. It has slightly more power, suspension and styling tweaks, but as we discover at its world launch on roads and track at Qatar, its new electronics take centre stage.

Like the out-going model the new £13,999 machine has a full armoury of riding aids, but now there’s cornering ABS and more sophisticated traction and spin control, for extra safety on the road and speed on the track. For the first time on a Super Duke R, you also get keyless ignition, a tyre pressure monitor and cruise control as standard.

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The KTM’s three Rain Street and Sport riding modes remain, but now there’s a fourth: ‘Track’. It lets you turn the anti-wheelie off, while retaining traction control and remembers the settings after you’ve turned the bike off an on again - a frustration for anyone who wanted to have fun on the out-going model. You can also set the nine-stage traction control system on the move, adjust levels of throttle responsiveness and there’s launch control.

Setting the electronics is still overly fussy with too many menus and sub-menus. You have to pay £283.24 extra for the new riding mode (called the Track Pack), too, as well as the other electronic goodies fitted to our test bike.

A £445.50 Performance Pack includes an up and down quickshifter, electronic engine braking control and Bluetooth system (they can also be bought separately). These goodies push the cost up past the Super Duke R’s number one rival: Aprilia’s £14,636 Tuono V4 Factory.

Electronics aside the new KTM is plusher, friendlier and now has a Euro 4-friendly motor, so it’s quieter and cleaner.

The revised motor makes a claimed 177bhp, up 4bhp over the previous model, thanks to a new crank, cylinder head, titanium inlet valves, a higher compression ratio and 10mm shorter inlet trumpets, which lets the 1301cc V-twin rev an extra 500rpm.

Those extra horses are barely noticable, especially with an extra 6kg to lug around, thanks to its heavier Euro 4 exhaust, but on track the KTM is nothing short of sensational. It leaps out of corners, even in lazy gears and demolishes the straights in a thunderous gush of superbike-like lunacy. With no fairing it’s hard to hang on at such high speeds and after a day spent on track you’ll leave with arms and a neck like Popeye.

But despite the motor’s savagery at the top end, it’s docile and friendly at normal speeds with a beautiful on/off throttle response, making the KTM a cinch to ride for all abilities. 

WP suspension has revised internal damping settings and heavier fork springs. On the road it offers a plusher ride and on track there’s lots more control, agility and feeling through the tyres.

There's a new TFT colour screen and more aggressive, but still comfy, riding position, thanks to new bars that are 20mm wider, 5mm lower and 18.5mm further forward. Styling is tweaked with a slimmer naked back end, longer tank scoops and twin, slim line, predator-style LED headlights.

As well as the Track and Performance Pack there's a huge choice of KTM Power Parts accessories available, too.

The Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory, £9999 Yamaha MT-10 and £11750 (base price) BMW S1000R will still take some beating, but the new KTM will be more than up to the job when it hits dealers in February.

FACTS

Price £13,999

Engine 1301cc 8v V-twin

Power 177bhp

Torque 104ftlb

Dry weight 195kg

Tank capacity 18-litres

Frame Tubular steel trellis

Seat height 835mm

Suspension Fully adjustable WP front and rear

Brakes Twin 320mm discs. Radial Brembo M50 calipers, cornering ABS

Colour Black, white

Available February 

Super Naked Rivals

Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory

£14,636

Ever since its launch in 2011 the sublime Tuono has been at the top of MCN’s super naked tree. It grew to an 1100 last year and moved even further ahead of the game.

BMW S1000R Sport

£11,750

Launched in 2014 the BMW is the closest here to the true streetfighter style: it’s an angry S1000RR with the fairing ripped off and straight bars fitted…and that’s about it.

Ducati Monster 1200 R

£15,250

Launched last year this is the most powerful, high-spec Monster ever produced and every inch the spiritual successor to the now discontinued Streetfighter S.

Triumph Speed Triple R

£11,500

The bike that started the whole super naked party back in 1994, the evergreen Speed Triple has been updated this year with a slimmer, shorter fuel tank. Power and torque is up slightly, too.

Yamaha MT-10

£9999

The new kid on the block. Based on the current crossplane crank-engined R1 the MT-10 is the cheapest of all the hardcore European super nakeds. It’s Japan’s first proper super naked and offers all the unbridles thrills you’d expect from what’s essentially a naked R1.

Read the full story in the December 14th issue of MCN.

Pictures by Sebas Romero, Marco Campelli

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