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KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE R (2017-2019) Review

Published: 16 December 2016

Updated: 19 December 2019

The Super Duke R’s electronics take centre stage

Cornering on the 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

The Super Duke R’s electronics take centre stage

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The beastly KTM 1290 Super Duke R was chiselled and tweaked in 2017 with slightly more power, suspension and styling updates. But its new electronics took centre stage with more refined rider aids and a new Track riding mode, which lets you choose differing levels of throttle response and allows you to turn anti-wheelie off with the traction control still active.

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

Revised WP suspension had new internal damping settings and heavier fork springs - up from 95 to 100N/mm. On the road it offers a plusher ride and on track there’s lots of more control, agility and feeling through the tyres. It now comes with Metzeler M7 Sportec RR sports rubber as standard.

The riding position is more aggressive, but still comfy, thanks to new bars that are 20mm wider, 5mm lower and 18.5mm further forward.

Engine 5 out of 5

KTM have given its 1301cc V-twin motor the Euro 4 treatment for 2017, so it’s quieter and emits 10% less CO2. But the Austrian supernaked was never conceived to stop the ice caps going liquid and the good news is the KTM is still as unhinged as ever, even if it has gained nearly a stone in weight (6kg) thanks to those meddling Eurocrats.

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 let the 1301cc V-twin rev an extra 500rpm.

It would be tricky to notice the modest power hike unless you rode old and new Super Duke Rs back-to-back, especially with the extra weight it’s carrying, but it’s still a corker of an engine that oozes grunt. Even as low as 2750rpm it’s making 74ftlb of torque.

Fast cornering on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R

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 neck like Popeye.

But despite the motor’s savagery when you poke it with a stick, it’s docile and friendly at normal speeds with a beautiful on/off throttle response.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The Super Duke R is built with impressive attention to detail and top quality parts, but it’s no secret they’ve had their problems with quality and reliability with some machines. But the Austrian firm are constantly developing and improving their machines and most riders have had nothing but trouble-free ownership.

We don't currently have any 2017 KTM Super Duke R owners' reviews on MCN.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

This machine is right at the priciest end of the super naked scale, especially when you start adding accessories. Yamaha’s brilliant MT-10 is the undoubted class-leader in the value stakes, costing a whopping four grand less than the KTM.

A side-on view of the 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

You now get keyless ignition and cruise control in standard trim, along with quality WP suspension, Brembo calipers, three riding modes, traction and wheelie control and ABS. Pay extra and you can also specify the extra Track riding mode, a quickshifter, autoblipper, heated grips and any number of sexy KTM Power Parts accessories.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2017
Year discontinued 2019
Original price £13,999
Used price £10,700 to £15,500
Warranty term (when new) Two years
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £91
Annual service cost £300
Max power 177 bhp
Max torque 104 ft-lb
Top speed 165 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption -
Tank range -
Engine size 1301cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 195kg
Front suspension 48mm, WP forks adjustable for rebound and compression damping
Rear suspension Single WP rear shock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2x320mm discs with Brembo four-piston radial caliper
Rear brake 240mm single disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

  • 2014: KTM 1290 Super Duke R hits dealers, replacing the 990 Super Duke.
  • 2017: Second-generation Super Duke R has Euro 4 engine with 4bhp more, styling, electronics and chassis tweaks.

Other versions

Although there is only one model of 1290 Super Duke R, the platform also birthed the creation of the 1290 Super Duke GT sports tourer, which is essentially the same bike with slightly more wind protection and practicality.

Owners' Reviews

1 owner has reviewed their KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE R (2017-2019) 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 (2017-2019)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

25 December 2019 by Jason

This bike makes me grin ear to ear every time I ride it, and I've owned for 2 years! Poke it and it's a monster, be easy and it's a docile commuter and actually comfortable for 150mi rides. It's wondrous in the mountain twisties. With the full akra at 10k rpm it sounds like a dream. It flatters riders with it's capabilities. I have several motorcycles but this one will remain in the stable for a very long time! Best feature is the motor! Worst feature is stock sound (easily fixed).

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
For what it is the comfort is fantastic and it is a great all around bike. If im going over 150miles or need to take more than a backpack I'll take my Super Adv S, but I'm no iron butt. For me, the SDR is at it's best on the mountain twisties (im not a track rider). Will never put someone on the back of it, not what it's made for!
5 out of 5
Power everywhere from low, mid, high - I've never had a better, more flexible, more balanced powertrain on any vehicle..from slow to on the pipe, there are no weak spots. I did put the full akra kit with PCV, AT, Dyno tuned it, but not because it needed it, just because I could, wanted better sound and investing in such a fantastic bike is a no brainer.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Only issue was a weeping break resivour...10k miles! Excellent build quality all around, no issues with paint, trim, anything!
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
The 18k service is approx $1k I believe - eg for valve adjust, etc...
4 out of 5
Must have Power Parts accessories include: heated grips & comfort seat. I added CRG Arrow mirrors to cleanup the front. Stock tires and brakes are fantastic, stock exhaust heavy, ugly, poor sound. Dash functionality is effective. Ride modes, cornering abs/tc, all the electronics are awesome! Track mode let's you hang it out there as you desire!
Buying experience

Bought new in late 18 so got a good discount from the dealer.

Photo Gallery

  • Cornering on the 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
  • 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R front wheel
  • 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R clocks
  • Cornering on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R
  • 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R trellis frame
  • 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R headlights
  • Fast cornering on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R
  • Road riding on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R side view
  • Left turn on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R
  • Popping a wheelie on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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