KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE GT (2019 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Punchy 1301cc V-twin engine
  • Sportiest model in its class
  • Impressive two-up levels of comfort

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £420
Power: 175 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.9 in / 835 mm)
Weight: Medium (461 lbs / 209 kg)

Prices

New £16,799
Used £11,000 - £16,800

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The KTM 1290 Super Duke GT is so astonishingly good, it could be the best road bike you can get. Punchy performance, poise, cultured handling, adjustable comfort, easy, effective electronics – we could’t criticise any in our first ride.

All the updates are welcome, effective and good value – particularly the TFT screen, which was derived from the Super Adventure range. At its launch, the BMW R1250GS and Ducati Multistrada 1260 S both cost more than the KTM Super Duke GT, too. On paper it’s perfect – if only it had the Ducati’s looks, kudos and class or the BMW’s reputation, residuals and dealer experience…

Riding the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT at its launch


But what's the KTM Super Duke GT 1290 like to live with? Your questions answered:

We've been living with a 2020 Super Duke GT since late February and, in that time, have covered over 4000 miles of countryside, motorway, commuting in almost all weather conditions. The bike remains unchanged from the 2019 model, with an updated version likely inbound for 2021 taking cues from the latest KTM 1290 Super Duke R.

In that time, it's been largely faultless - delivering never-ending, thick dollops of torque in every gear for months of fast, practical performance. That said, there have also been some quirks to contend with - including phantom warning lights and an unresponsive key fob. Check the video below to get a flavour of our progress thus far.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Being a V-twin, the GT is manageable and respectably light – far less imposing and intimidating than a comparable four such as Kawasaki’s Z1000SX or Versys 1000BMW’s S1000XR or the big boxer R1250GS. Neutral and 'just right' in fact. The layout of the engine also helps shorter riders gets a firm footing, with the bike being physically narrower than its four-cylinder competition.

Add the that a supermoto-style attitude (the GT is a development of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R), protective fairing, top notch electronically-adjustable WP suspension and race quality Brembo M50 brakes, plus some of the most intuitive and effective electronics in the business, and the GT adds up to a brilliantly handling and truly versatile – and comfortable – street bike.

Even the tank range and Pirelli Angel GT tyres are faultless - allowing us to cover countless hours of endless motorway and twisty back roads in all weathers as part of our long-term testing. This comfort and ease of use is likely to be improved further by the optional ergo seat.

Riding the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The familiar LC8, 1301cc V-twin now boasts lighter titanium inlet valves which help raise the rev ceiling by 500prm, in turn boosting peak power a smidge to around 173bhp (not that it was exactly lacking before).

Though on face value a gruff and fearsome beast, open the GT’s taps and it’s immediately revealed as incredibly rapid and effective – and surprisingly refined, too.

The Super Duke GT features a 1301cc V-twin

Street mode delivers the full ponies but with the response softened a touch from the more instant Sport mode. Rain mode knocks it down to 100bhp. But all impress thanks to perfect fuelling and slick delivery.

After 4000 miles of extensive testing, having both the power and suspension in Sport have become the favourite combination - dropping the springs to Street on more rutted roads for a little more cushioning.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

At the launch of the Super Duke GT, tester Phil West was left impressed by the build-quality, however was unable to comment on the reliability.

Suffering the same fate as some Italian exotica brands, the KTM comes tarred with a brush of questionable longevity from birth. We've been running a GT as part of our long-term test fleet since February 2020 and for the first 3000 miles, almost all negative allegations proved false - barring a couple of phantom warning lights.

Unfortunately, a short while after this, the bike broke down in a petrol station during a groupo test - the key refusing to communicate with the bike after refuelling. Undoing then reattaching the battery re-set it all, but it’s not something we’d expect from a five-month-old bike costing £17,200.

We've got one KTM Super Duke GT 1290 owners' review on the site, and it's a 5 stars out of 5 score. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

At its launch, the second-generation GT was not cheap - but a Multistrada or BMW GS with the same spec was actually more. For a £500 hike over the old machine you also got a TFT display, LED lights, improved screen, new quickshifter/auto-blipper and slight performance improvement. Not bad at all. It literally wanted for nothing – it even has heated grips – and, on paper, was beyond criticism. 

By 2020, the price had risen to £17,199 - making it still marginally cheaper than the £17,395 Ducati Multistrada 1260S, but slightly more than a BMW R1250GS TE, which begins at £16,655. It's also more than the BMW S1000XR TE, which starts at £16,220.


How does it stack up against the 2020 BMW S1000XR?

The BMW S1000XR and KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

The Super Duke's closest rival is arguably the XR, which was updated for 2020 to incorporate a 162.7bhp version of the current S1000RR superbike engine minus its ShiftCam variable valve timing. There’s also a revised chassis, fresh electronics, less mass and a new look.

Unlike a big GS, the XR is fully road-biased, with 17in rims like the KTM. We tested both bikes together to see which came out on top.

Both are capable of touring two-up with luggage, as well as sticking it to the power rangers on a back road or trackday - making them some of the most versatile long-distance bikes on the market today.

With its superbike-derived engine, superior refinement and newer switches, the BMW is the one to go for if you are wanting a more well-rounded, practical package with hair-raising oomph. Plonked alongside rivals like Kawasaki's Versys 1000 it feels explosively fast too, but if sporty riding is a priority, you cannot beat the KTM.

Although slightly rougher round the edges, it pulls harder than the XR and is more engaging through the bends. Many buyers want more than just savage power though and – despite the KTM offering greater seat comfort – questionable reliability and less refined suspension mean the XR must take the overall crown.

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

An all-new front cowling/fairing holds not only a flashy new 6.5in colour TFT dash derived from that used on the KTM 1290 Adventure S but also an improved, enlarged, adjustable screen, uprated LED headlight plus keyless ignition and a couple of surprisingly useful cubby holes. 

The backlit switchgear has been uprated to work in tandem with the new dash while KTM have also taken the opportunity to sensibly reposition the cruise control onto the left bar (being awkwardly on the right was among the criticisms of the old bike).

A view of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT switch gear

While the quickshifter now operates up and down with dramatically more aplomb, there are also mapping and suspension tweaks, a new optional Track mode (not on our test bike), USB charging point, plus a conspicuous improvement in fit and general finish.

There are even heated grips as standard - although these are activated through the TFT menu, which can draw your eyes away from the road for an unnecessarily long period.

Specs

Engine size 1301cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v 75º V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 23 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 209kg
Front suspension WP 48mm forks semi-active, electronic damping adjust
Rear suspension WP 48mm forks semi-active, electronic damping adjust
Front brake 2 x 320mm Brembo front discs with Brembo 4-piston radial calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 240mm Brembo rear disc with Brembo twin-piston caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 43 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost £420
New price £16,799
Used price £11,000 - £16,800
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 175 bhp
Max torque 104 ft-lb
Top speed 180 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 215 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2016: GT introduced as a sports-tourer based on Super Duke but with fairing and luggage options. Phenomenally potent and well-equipped.
  • 2019: Updated version gets new fairing with revised adjustable screen, new TFT display, revised switchgear (now with cruise control on left bar, LED lights, subtle engine and electronics improvements and more.

Other versions

There are no other versions of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT, it is largely based on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R super naked. 

Watch our 2017-2019 KTM 1290 Super Duke R review here

MCN Long term test reports

Powerhouse packhorse: Bolt-on extras unlock a more practical side to the Super Duke GT

Powerhouse packhorse: Bolt-on extras unlock a more practical side to the Super Duke GT

Equipped with a 1.3-litre V-twin and tipping the scales at a measured 236kg, you could be forgiven for thinking the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT would be a bit of a handful around town. Based on a Super Duke R and stuffed with more torque than a Ducati Panigale V4, I was just as surprised as you migh

Read the latest report

Owners' reviews for the KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE GT (2019 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE GT (2019 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE GT (2019 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £420
5 out of 5 Orange, the new Red, (Going from Ducati to KTM and also now MotoGP hahahaha) )
26 August 2020 by Bill

Year: 2019

Had the 2016 GT doing over 40,000 ks and loved it but did have a few niggles which this 2019 GT has fixed.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

bloody magic brakes. full stop..... Wife absolutely loves being a pillion, comfy mode (helps when upgrading bikes) we tend to do over 250 k's before coffee stops when touring. Used to always have two road bikes, one for touring 2 up, eg Triumph Tiger 1050 and a sports bike, Aprilia's, Ducati's, KTM Super Duke 990, Now the KTM GT does both extremely well.

Engine 5 out of 5

Bloody awesome, just cant get enough of that bigggg V twin. Tend to have it on "Street Mode" as it smooths out the power delivery but retains full HP power. I'm an old fart now....

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Like the 2016 GT, had the fault warning light come on the odd time when starting the bike but reset instantly on the 2019 GT were the 2016 stayed on and the dealer had to reset. (long story)

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Services were quite reasonable, but eats tryes, hahaha but by comparison my 2014 Ducati 1200S Monster services was shocking $$$$$ and kept going into "Limp Mode"

Equipment 4 out of 5

Small things really, like the Pannier bag metal logo getting hooked up and bent it. The petrol liters usage gauge on the screen is crap, drops 20 to 30 k's at a time and the Auto blinker turns off to soon.

Buying experience: Traded 2014 Ducati 1200S Monster for the new 2016 GT (wife was not a fan of being pillion on the Monster but totally loved the GT as a pillion, then traded up to this 2019 GT, great dealings with Boyd's Hamilton NZ KTM dealers and give magic service on all aspects, parts, tyres, service, chin wags n coffee etc and will more than likely upgrade in 2021 to the updated GT, hmmmm i hear the wife saying.

5 out of 5 It does it all.
20 August 2020 by G33KeH

Year: 2019

I love the whole thing - Performance, Aggressive looks Capability - go to the shops, carry the Mrs, hoon about, tour Europe, it does it all. Definitely recommend the bike as a 'does all' but it wont suit everyone, if they have a specific need, for say, 'serious touring' or 'off-road' or 'pose down the seafront'

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Brakes are fab, only niggle is the odd squeak and the rear calliper got a little winter corroded and one of the pads stuck a bit (I'm an all year round rider) Passenger - The only thing i worry about is losing the Mrs off the back with the acceleration!.. could do with a sissy bar for her to lean back on.. but that wouldn't look right. Great road presence - Bright lights and wide front profile get you spotted sooner. The wide profile is great for keeping you dry too, in spite of the 'smallish' screen.

Engine 5 out of 5

This bike is confidence inspiring, it has great throttle response manners when working through traffic or when opening up on a great road. Eats miles - If you need to get from A-B without needing to look at the scenery, you will be surprised how smoothly and efficiently you arrive at B, esp motorways. Fuel economy is great - 23litre tank, 220miles approx per tank.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

A sticky exhaust valve caused warning lights and 'limp home' mode, however, it is fixable by yourself, if you have the confidence. (some winter riding corrosion around the exterior valve components caused the stickiness) Also had a random sticky handlebar lock issue that wouldn't let the bike start. only the once, right outside the dealers (luckily)

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

You buy this bike know it will cost to maintain. However, I get.. Angel GT tyres 7.5k miles per set (on 2nd new set, £220 per set) 54 mpg 'usual UK' riding 59mpg 'Euro, watching for cameras' riding 48mpg 'disgusting blast' mileage :) All pretty impressive for 1300cc 175hp bike. Brake pads changes at 13k miles (£200)

Equipment 5 out of 5

All the kit you could need.. Quickshifter - great when you dont want you Mrs to bang you on the head with upshifting Cruise Control - The biggest positive for me, enables me to rest my right hand for a few seconds, meaning I can ride (potentially) for hours. Panniers are bit odd-shaped inside, could use a better cargo net or something.. but you don't buy this bike for the carrying capacity, right? ;)

Buying experience: Bought from Dealer, a glitch in pannier supply from KTM was the only hiccup. I paid RRP, trading in a Yamaha Tracer 900

5 out of 5
22 July 2020 by TJ515

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £420

Out of my collection ( ST 4, 1000DS, and KLR) it gets picked to do every and anything. Tours excellent and runs to the corner store just as well.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Love the different ride and suspension settings

Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Slight issue with the handle on one bag, I’ll see what happens with a warranty claim.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Canadian $ this was for the first service

Equipment 5 out of 5

So much usable power, passing the large trucks here in Canada is a breeze.

Buying experience: Dealer was easy to work with.

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