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KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE R (2020-on) Review

Published: 03 February 2020

Updated: 03 February 2020

The Beast has had its claws trimmed, but its teeth remain nice and sharp

KTM 1290 Super Duke R wheelie

The Beast has had its claws trimmed, but its teeth remain nice and sharp

  • At a glance
  • 1301cc  -  177.5 bhp
  • Medium seat height (835mm)
  • New: £15,699

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The Super Duke’s unique selling point has always been its V-twin motor’s monster amount of grunt. However, previous models were just too abrupt with this surge of torque and it overwhelmed the bike’s chassis and electronics to the point that the ride became too wild and you felt like you were fighting against, rather than enjoying it.

By dialling back this aggression, and refining its chassis and power output, KTM have made their naked bike far more fun to ride while still ensuring 'The Beast' retains a welcome bit of attitude. It’s had its claws trimmed, but its teeth remain nice and sharp…

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

Road riders will certainly spot that the new suspension linkages allow the shock’s movement to be more progressive over a longer stroke, delivering a less choppy ride quality than the previous generation of Duke and helping the bike feel more settled under hard acceleration and over bumps.

On KTM’s suggested settings, both the WP Apex forks (which have spring preload adjustment for 2020) and WP Apex shock (which now has a handy remote preload adjuster) are hard to fault, delivering a compliant ride on the road and more than enough support for hard track riding.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R knee down

Engine 5 out of 5

The LC8 engine still dominates the show, but thanks to a series of refinements and a revised torque curve it feels far less aggressive and is much better for it. You still get that monster hit of torque, but it no longer smacks you in the face and means you can open the throttle with greater confidence, making for a more pleasant riding experience.

You need to treat it with caution though and turning off the anti-wheelie results in the first three gears becoming very exciting very quickly. That said, it feels less like it is trying to simply throw you off the back when you ask it to accelerate and the gearbox is far slicker.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R rear wheelie

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The Super Duke R is built in Austria, not India like some of KTM’s models, however it is no secret that there have been a few issues with reliability and build quality in the larger-capacity Duke models.

KTM have ironed out most of the problems and there is no reason to suspect the new one should suffer from any major issues, as it is now a tried and tested engine.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

At £15,699 (2020 launch price) the Super Duke R sits in the upper mid of the super naked price band, with Yamaha’s MT-10 costing considerably less at £12,245 (or £14,745 for the SP version).

At £11,570, the BMW S1000R and Aprilia’s £13,999 Tuono V4 1100 are also cheaper and so is the all-new supercharged Kawasaki Z H2 at £15,149.

The Tuono Factory is more at £17,199 and so is Ducati’s new Streetfighter V4 at £17,595 (or £19,795 for the S), but PCP deals do tend to narrow this gap to within most riders' reach.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R both colours

Equipment 4 out of 5

The Duke is stuffed with tech and new for 2020 is a six-axis IMU to control its angle-sensitive ABS and traction control. That sits alongside uprated Brembo Stylema monobloc calipers and KTM’s TFT dash, with a new menu structure to boot.

The Duke’s electronics have been uprated for 2020, too, and you get three rider modes; Rain, Street and Sport. There's also been a lot of fine-tuning to the various assists in the dash’s sub-menus, with optional extra Track and Performance modes now available.

Cruise control and a keyless ignition are standard fitment but a quickshifter still sits in the optional extra catalogue alongside heated grips and an adaptive brake light, which feels a bit of an omission.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2020
Year discontinued -
New price £15,699
Used price -
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £91
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 177.5 bhp
Max torque 103.3 ft-lb
Top speed 165 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption -
Tank range -
Specification
Engine size 1301cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 16 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 189kg
Front suspension 48mm, WP Apex forks, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Single WP Apex rear shock, fully adjustable, high and low speed
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs with Brembo Stylema four-piston radial monobloc calipers. Cornering ABS.
Rear brake 240mm single disc with two-piston caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 200/55 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.

2020: A heavily revised third-generation Super Duke R now boasts a new frame, making it leaner, meaner and even more menacing according to KTM.

Other versions

None

Owners' Reviews

No owners have yet reviewed the KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE R (2020-on).

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Photo Gallery

  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R wheelie
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R on the road
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R on track
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R knee down
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R turning right
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R turning left
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R rear wheelie
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R headlight
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R paddock stand
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R pits
  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R both colours
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