KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE R EVO (2022 - on) Review


  • WP Apex semi-active suspension
  • Based on standard KTM 1290 Super Duke R
  • Updates aim to give the Evo great usability on a wider range of roads

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Power: 177 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.9 in / 835 mm)
Weight: Medium (421 lbs / 191 kg)


New £17,899
Used £13,000 - £16,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The third generation KTM 1290 Super Duke R burst onto the super naked scene in 2020 with a new frame, suspension components, and a revised 1301cc V-Twin engine.

Still aggressively styled, still finished in orange, and still happiest on one wheel, it is now more refined than ever before – with a claimed increase of 3bhp and less weight to muscle around, yet easy to live with in town and less inclined to chuck you off the back when you twist the noise tube.

With an ant-like LED face tucked between a set of broad jagged shoulders, it looks fast standing still – with 30 seconds of riding confirming it’s even quicker on the move. It may be more grown up than ever, but it’ll still carry you from zero to jailtime faster than you can say 'sorry officer.'

Accelerating out of a bend on the 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo

For 2022, this sophistication has continued with the introduction of a new Evo model. Starting at £1550 more than the standard bike in 2022, it gains semi-active WP Apex suspension for a claimed greater usability on a wider range of road surfaces. It also gets quicker action throttle – decreasing the twist of your wrist by 7 degrees to 65 and allowing you to reach full throttle faster.

The suspension upgrade means less time fiddling in the garage finding your ideal spring set-up, with multiple options for stiffness available at the click of a button – allowing for easy changes whether you’re bimbling into town, tackling the commute, having a B-road tear up, or scratching your way around Donington Park.

There are three modes as standard, with extra settings available if you’re prepared to shed out a few extra readies – including a clever 'auto' setting that changes the damping according to your inputs You can also unlock an anti-diving function to keep the front high under braking to reduce energy transfer.

The 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo gets semi-active suspension

In its standard guise, the 'comfort' and 'street' settings provide a firm but fair set-up for the road that satisfies even the twistiest of lanes, however many will still find the cheaper standard R to be all the bike they ever need. As a lighter rider, the rear preload also needs to be upped in even the most aggressive suspension settings on a trackday to prevent slight weaving under acceleration. Electronic issues can also arise with the rear shock if the bike is started too quickly after a stall.

Ride quality & brakes

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

The Evo lightly dances through bends like a Duke half its size, thanks to its semi-active WP Apex suspension and grippy Bridgestone S22 sports road tyres. There’s also beefy Brembo stylema calipers up that eagerly bite onto 320mm discs without any intrusion from the lean-sensitive ABS.

The standard R features manually adjustable WP units that are far from bargain basement, but flexibility of the new bike allows it to lightly flick from corner to corner without hesitation – only heightened by the optional £252.79 'Suspension Pro' package.

The Evo gets 'Comfort', 'Street', and 'Sport' damping modes as standard, with spring preload also adjustable by 20mm in 10 increments of 2mm. Purchasing the 'Suspension Pro' package will also unlock 'Track', 'Advanced', and 'Auto' options.

Riding the 1290 Super Duke R Evo on English roads

As standard, the two softer spring settings are all you’ll ever need on the road – offering a firm but fair set up for my 60kg frame, but the optional 'Auto' function is where things get really impressive – altering the stiffness of the ride depending on how aggressive your inputs are as a rider. If you're using the bike for daily duties as well as weekend fun, the automatic adjustment is a God send - altering quickly for effortless high mileage.

The result is a circa 200kg 1.3-litre super naked that feels as playful and predictable as a novice-friendly middleweight. It doesn’t run wide in corners and anchors itself to the tarmac under acceleration – never squatting or weaving through the bars with big handfuls of throttle on the road. The same can't be said on track though, with some additional rear preload required to combat some back end squatting and a gentle weave under acceleration. This came to light on our long-term test bike during a visit to Snetterton.

It’s surprisingly good over distance, too. Despite having chuff all wind protection and hunching the rider over the wide bars like the world’s biggest supermoto. There’s cruise control, a nicely padded seat, an easy reach to the bars, and the engine mellows out in top gear to generate minimal vibes through your hands and feet. This is improved again using the optional small screen, which neatens up the area between the headlight and clock brackets and does a remarkable job of keeping the wind off your shoulders and head. It’s a worthwhile add-on for any SDR owner.


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

The 1301cc V-twin is unchanged on the Evo, but that’s quite alright with us. A 177bhp powerhouse crammed inside a glossy orange trellis chassis, it barks menacingly on tick over and aggressively sucks in the tarmac before it with the slightest twist of your wrist.

Winding on the throttle is addictively good, but it’s not all about high-speed antics. Both the R and the Evo get three throttle maps as standard, which are controlled through the colour TFT dash and deliver varied degrees of ferocity.

Sport mode is the most aggressive option – providing the full fat 177bhp and lowering the traction control to allow for front end lift. Street mode is your halfway house for daily riding – giving you full power more electronic intervention. Finally, Rain mode gives less power and full traction control to avoid any slippery mishaps. Other track-focussed settings are available as optional extras.

The engine is unchanged from the standard Super Duke R

I found swapping between Street and Sport to be the best, with a gentle early throttle response in both settings allowing the bike to remain perfectly manageable on even the coldest of early mornings. A gentle tank of fuel also returned a tested 53.4mpg – enough for a theoretical 188 miles from its 16-litre tank.

The Evo will also mellow out into an effortless high-speed mile muncher too; generating next to no vibrations in top gear at constant motorway speeds – only helped by the electronic damping. Drop to 60mph though and you'll need to shift down to avoid any jerkiness. It’s also gentle around town however can feel clattery below 3000rpm if you find yourself in a gear too high.

Despite costing the thick end of 18 grand out the crate, KTM actually charge you £361.51 extra for a quickshifter and auto-blipper. Our test bike came with it installed and whilst perfectly smooth coming down the box, occasionally snagged false neutrals between second and third, and fifth and sixth.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo exhaust

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
2 out of 5 (2/5)

Although the Evo is new for 2022, almost all of it is pinched from the 2020-on 1290 Super Duke R. As such, a quick glance at MCN owners’ reviews of the standard bike reveals an average of 4.5/5 stars for reliability – with only one criticism for an awkward indicator switch.

There’s no reason the Evo should behave any different, however we've had plenty of problems. The bike did throw up a ‘preload error’ warning on our long-term test bike at around 290-miles-old – effectively extending the rear shock to its tallest position and requiring a quick pitstop to switch the bike off and on again. This was due to a quick restart after a stall to safely get off a busy roundabout. Waiting for the bike to cycle through all its pre-flight checks could've resulted in an incident.

From here, we have also experienced a slight oil leak on a trackday in the heat from around the filler cap (only happened once on track), plus a coolant leak from one of the hoses, which was remedied by tightening a clip. All of the switchgear has had to be replaced too after the kill switch began cutting in when you turned the bars left. Finally, the hydraulic clutch's biting point has come back to the handlebar grip twice. Unable to select neutral with the engine running and pulling you forwards in traffic, it was re-bled once for air in the system, however the problem returned around 2500 miles later. KTM then identified a score in a seal, which caused the recurring issue. All of these problems have been fixed under warranty, but none you would expect from a premium motorcycle less than a year old.

There was one electric blip with our KTM test bike

Value vs rivals

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

At £17,899 out the crate, the 1290 Evo is not cheap – with some throttle maps, suspension settings, heated grips, and even an up/down quickshifter coming as optional extras.

Our test bike came fitted with the Tech Pack, which bumps the price up by £1059.18 (2022 prices) and includes a quickshifter and blipper, the 'Suspension Pro' package, an adaptive brake light, and 'Motor Slip Regulation' – which allows the slipper clutch to balance the throttle under harsh deceleration to prevent any rear lockups. It also had the £180.36 heated grips, which provided me with perfectly toasty hands at as low as six degrees on our test.

Some of these extras justifiably cost more cash, as they won’t appeal to all buyers, but at the thick end of 18 grand as standard, having to pay extra for a quickshifter and blipper is not on – especially when it then occasionally misses shifts between second and third, and fifth and sixth. It’s buttery smooth coming back down the box though.

The Super Duke R Evo is expensive, but comes with lots of tech

Outside of salty add-ons, your £17,899 does buy you a beautifully finished motorcycle, with no unsightly wires, minimal plastic, and a glossy exposed frame that contrasts against the understated matt bodywork. Still, it remains £1550 more than the standard R and for some road focussed riders that will be hard to justify.

What’s more, the super naked class is absolutely chock full of options featuring semi-active springs, so the Evo’s got its work cut out to take the top spot. This includes the Yamaha MT-10SP, and Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory – which won our 2021 Best Super Naked MCN Award.


5 out of 5 (5/5)

The KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo is dressed to the nines in tech. On top of your electronic springs, there’s also a lean-sensitive electronics suite, a full colour TFT dash, LED lighting everywhere, chunky Brembo brakes, quality Bridgestone rubber and more.

Paying extra will unlock more electrickery too, including more suspension and throttle settings, quick shifters, blippers, and heated grips. You can also take this modification further with a list of PowerParts ranging from luggage, to race exhausts and extra stickers, to a heated seat.

Suspension and throttle maps are controlled by the TFT dash


Engine size 1301cc
Engine type 8v liquid-cooled V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 16 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 191kg
Front suspension 48mm WP APEX semi-active forks, fully adjustable
Rear suspension WP APEX semi-active shock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs with radial four-piston Brembo Stylema Monobloc calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake Single 240 mm disc with dual piston Brembo caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 200/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 41.8 mpg
Annual road tax £111
Annual service cost -
New price £17,899
Used price £13,000 - £16,500
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 177 bhp
Max torque 103 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 147 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2020: KTM launch the third-generation 1290 Super Duke R, featuring a new frame, Euro5 engine with slightly more power, refreshed WP suspension and slightly less weight.
  • 2022: KTM reveal 1290 Super Duke Evo to sit alongside the standard R, featuring semi-active WP Apex suspension. Both models also gain a quicker action throttle.

Other versions

  • 2021: KTM launch the £21,499 1290 Super Duke RR – a tricked-up version of the standard R, limited to just 500 units. It featured 1.5kg lighter rims, sumptuous WP Apex Pro manually adjustable suspension, fresh paint, swathes of carbon fibre, and Michelin Power Cup 2 tyres. Want one? They sold out almost straight away.

MCN Long term test reports

A year of mixed emotions on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo

A year of mixed emotions on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo

As a fan of one-piece leathers, going fast, and trackdays, a year with the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo should’ve been all my Christmases coming at once. A jagged-edged, muscular brute housing a 177bhp V-twin motor inside a taut trellis chassis, it has pantomime and punch in equal measure. Unfortun

Read the latest report

Owners' reviews for the KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE R EVO (2022 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE R EVO (2022 - 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 R EVO (2022 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
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: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
4 out of 5
31 July 2023 by Jolyon Tack

Year: 2023

Excellent power and handling but a few little niggles regarding the warning pop ups on the dash, TPS and Brake light switch fault code when it gets wet

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
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