Launch: KTM 1290 Super Duke GT ridden

Published: 27 February 2016

KTM launched their all-new 178bhp sports touring 1290 Super Duke GT in Majorca, Spain this weekend, and MCN Senior Road Tester Adam Child was there to put it though its paces.

The new GT uses the same LC8 engine platform as the Super Duke R and Super Adventure, with their familiar 1301 V-Twin. The modified fly-by-wire motor now produces a claimed 173bhp, the same as the Super Duke R with a whopping 106ftlb of torque. While the figures match the R, the torque has moved lower in the rev range to suit the GT’s sports touring focus.

Controlling all that power are some very clever electronics including traction control, cornering ABS and WP semi active suspension, which all come as standard. There are also three rider modes (sport, street and rain) to help deliver all that power in the best possible way.

But it’s not all about the headline grabbing performance figures, with a 23l fuel tank, a manually adjustable screen, and relaxed riding potion; the GT has been designed to take on some serious miles in comfort. Additionally there’s heated grips, cruise control, quickshifter (up only) and tyre pressure sensors – all as standard. There’s even integrated indicators and adaptive LED cornering lights, which illuminate progressively dependant on the bike’s lean angle, as fitted to the Super Adventure. The subframe has been strengthened to take the extra weight of the luggage and pillion, there’s a decent grab handle for the pillion too, while optional hard panniers easily click onto the standard rear pannier mountings just below the pillion seat.

Obviously all this comes at a cost, £15,999 to be precise – which is on the expensive side. 

Riding the 1290 Super Duke GT

KTM say that the new 1290 Super Duke GT is designed to extend that racing sensation for longer, giving you the feeling of a sportsbike but for a lengthier amount of time, in total comfort. But the GT hasn’t been designed to simply get to from A to B without needing an osteopath, it’s been designed make that journey fun.

KTM’s motto is ‘Ready to Race’ but surely that doesn’t translate to their new sports-tourer with its adjustable screen, heated grips, cruise control and a huge 23l fuel tank? And if it is fun and can satisfy the company’s hedonistic tagline, then they must have dialled-back the touring aspect of their sports-tourer; you can’t have both, can you?

You can tame the power via the modes and personally I preferred the Street mode, the fuelling was less aggressive, making it perfect for the road. Don’t let the upright riding position and panniers confuse you, this is a ballistic 173bhp V-Twin.

With a full 23 fuel tank the GT initially feels a little top heavy but once on the move, and as the fuel depletes, the handling is impressive. The two road semi-active suspension settings Comfort and Street are designed for road riding, mainly to promote comfort, and safety rather than performance. The semi-active WP suspension works overtime to keep the bike level constantly changing compression and rebound on the move, and it works hard to reduce fork dive under heavy braking. It works really well, and is more than sufficient for fast road riding.

Whilst you’ve having all this fun you have the peace of mind of safety in reserve thanks to the cornering ABS and traction control. The ABS is always constant, doesn’t change via the modes and can’t be changed on the move.  However, the traction control is linked to the rider modes, Sport, Street and Rain. In Street mode the TC will allow a percentage of slip dependant on the lean angle, as remember the TC is lean angle sensitive it doesn’t just calculate the difference in wheel speeds like some basic systems. It’s really impressive, and catches the slide then re-introduces the power quickly but smoothly.

On the motorway the ergonomics feel natural, you’re sat in the bike not on top of it, the bars are wide and comfortable, and they’re also adjustable. The pegs aren’t up near your backside, and at motorway speed there’s little vibration from the big V-Twin. Below 80mph and the screen is fine on its lowest setting, above that and you’ll need to raise it. The clocks are informative for touring with fuel range, mpg and two trips.

Head into town and the GT is more than accommodating. The steering is light and the low down fuelling is excellent for a big V-Twin. Both levers are span adjustable, the radial hydraulic clutch is light and despite its road presence the GT has a small turning circle. There are even self-cancelling indicators.

Looks are subjective, and while the GT is certainly dramatic, I wouldn’t say sexy or good looking. Interesting, maybe. If the GT was on Facebook its profile pic wouldn’t be of somewhere it’s visited, not portrait picture.

MCN Verdict

A sports-tourer that is capable of both requirements, but more so the sports element, which in-turn means fun delivered by the bucket load. Impressive power and torque, versatile WP semi-active suspension, class-leading rider aids, the personality and enjoyment of the Super Duke R, but with added comfort and rider aids with gives greater safety. Getting to your destination in comfort has never been so much fun – but the cost of all this excellence is decidedly steep at £15,999.

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT Tech Spec

Price: £15,999
Engine: liquid cooled 1301cc (108/71mm) V-Twin, six gears chain drive
Power: 173bhp (claimed)
Torque: 106ftlb (claimed)
Wheels: F 120/70X17 R 190/55x17
Brakes: 2 x 320mm discs with four piston Brembo radial caliper. Rear single 240mm disc with two piston Brembo caliper Corning ABS standard.
Suspension: WP 48mm semi-active front forks. WP semi-active single rear shock
Weight: 205kg (dry)
Capacity: 23l
Seat Height: 835mm

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