KTM are riding an accelerating tide of new model development, popularity and innovation. At the same time the Austrian firm are pursuing their long-followed model for platform engineering around existing engines and chassis, and the next bike in that line of development appears to be a fast touring version of the 1290 Super Duke, with a prototype spied undergoing testing in Spain this week.
Likely to be a 2016 model, the quirky looking ‘Beast’ derivative is drawing on the huge capability of the 1290 powerplant, along with its extensive electronics package and compliant chassis, to create a sports-tourer to rival the likes of BMW’s new S1000XR and R1200RS, Ducati’s Multistrada, and the big-selling Kawasaki Z1000.
KTM’s 1290 Super Duke stormed into the market in 2014 filling the hole left by the old 990 Super Duke’s demise, but with a massively more complex bike that, while it has more of everything, hasn’t managed to recapture the visceral enjoyment of the old model. But the new platform is unarguably more complete and versatile than the old, and perfectly lends itself to other applications, this sporty tourer being the most obvious.
The firm has already added a 1290 Super Adventure to the range for 2015, sating the needs of the big-mileage globetrotter, while also adding a 1050 Adventure to plug the spot vacated by the old 990 SMT. This new prototype hints at diversification into a new niche, taking the 1290 motor and chassis away from their usual penchants for naked hedonism and adventure bikes.
One of the bikes spied is endowed with a set of voluminous looking panniers. The lower position for the exhaust enables KTM to fit two equal-sized panniers, without the cut-outs seen on many bikes. These are full-size touring items that look to be around 40 litres each, with mounts engineered into the new subframe and pillion peg designs.
The most striking change is the bike’s face. Gone is the small headlamp binnacle and sharp waisted tank lines, replaced with a clearly unfinished larger front subframe and headlamp unit, featuring an airflow kicker at the top of the binnacle, beneath the screen, creating two airstreams for cleaner air flow past the rider. The tank looks significantly bigger than before.
KTM’s travelling test team couldn’t have done much more to identify themselves as factory riders putting a prototype through its paces, and the factory confirmed that it’s a genuine prototype undergoing testing: “The bike in the picture is a new variant of our LC8 range exploring a new segment for KTM, but more sport touring oriented. More information on the additional LC8-development will be given during the next EICMA show in the Autumn of 2015. A date for serial production is not fixed at this point.”
With what looks like little in the way of significant engineering changes to hone, we’d expect this, alongside a revised series of Duke models, to be a 2016 model.