KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE RR (2021 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Sublime suspension
  • Perfect riding position
  • Feels more like a nimble 890 than a 1290

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £240
Power: 178 bhp
Seat height: Medium (33.0 in / 837 mm)
Weight: Medium (441 lbs / 200 kg)

Prices

New £21,499
Used N/A

Overall rating

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

Only 60 of the 500 new KTM 1290 Super Duke RRs built will make it into the UK. It costs a whopping £21,499, but before you go reaching for your wallet, don’t bother because they’ve sold out already.

That’s a shame because it means performance bike fans are going to miss out on something very special. Not only is the RR a big step ahead of the base 1290 Super Duke R, it’s also one of the best handling road bikes around.

The RR neatly demonstrates how top-quality suspension, lightweight wheels, sticky tyres, perfect ergonomics and set-up can dramatically improve an already fine handling motorcycle.

Riding the KTM 1290 Super Duke RR on wet UK roads

It might have the same engine and chassis layout as the standard model, but the RR is so crisp it somehow feels smaller and more direct - more like an 890 Duke R than a 1.3-ltre super naked.

None of its goodness comes cheap, but no built-to-a-price machine can ever feel as plush, grip so hard or load you with so much confidence and with all RRs already snapped up, exclusivity is already guaranteed.

Ride quality & brakes

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

The standard 1290 Super Duke R is an adrenalin junkie’s dream. It has the spirit of a supermoto an and a view down over the bars like standing on a cliff edge.

It’s rapid, uber grunty, lives for wheelies and corners and in its major update last year enjoyed even more refinement, in a bid to tempt riders away from their Aprilia Tuono V4s and Ducati Streetfighter V4s. 

Rain stopped play during our track test of the RR, so we had to take to the roads instead. As it turns out it’s perhaps more impressive than it would’ve been flat-out in the dry (possibly).

Lighter rims help with the handling package

Plush WP forks and shock not only give a sumptuous ride but find grip where lesser suspension wouldn’t and semi-slick Michelin Power Cup 2 rubber digs in harder in a straight line than they have any right to in the wet.

New 1.5kg lighter wheels help the RR turn easier, too. KTM could’ve used lighter ones still, but they were shelved after former MotoGP god Jeremey McWilliams noticed they flexed in attack mode at full lean.

Brembos have masses of power and cornering ABS, but we didn’t trouble either in the conditions.

The 1290 Super Duke RR is lighter to the tune of 9kg. KTM claim a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio, but that’s based on the engine making 180hp (hp is slightly more than bhp) and weighing 180kg bone dry.

A static view of the KTM 1290 Super Duke RR

More realistically the RR weighs a claimed 189kg ready to go with no fuel and 200kg with its 19-litre tank 90% full. It’s lighter than most of its rivals except the new BMW S1000R (199kg) and Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS (198kg).

With its upright riding position and lots of space between pegs and seat, the Super Duke has always been one of the roomiest of its rivals. The RR keeps that friendliness but locks you in to let you feel more of what’s going on beneath you.

Its new seat is 12mm taller (847mm and can be adjusted down to 837mm via shock length adjustment) and its wide bars are four-way adjustable (and can be moved 22mm from front to rear).

In their standard position your weight is slightly more over the front wheel – a bit like clip-ons, but not as wristy. Tweaks to the fuel tank gives you more elbow room at full lean, too.

Engine

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

KTM’s monster 178bhp, 1301cc V-twin motor is unchanged from the R, but with fewer kilos to lug around acceleration is that bit spritelier, not that it was that easy to hang on to in the first place.

KTM 1290 Super Duke RR V-twin engine

Its extra responsiveness is helped by a quicker-action throttle with a 65-degree opening - seven degrees less than R.

A titanium Akrapovic slip-on can doesn’t make any difference to performance or add extra loudness, but a full racing system will and KTM will sell you one for an extra £2264.28.

Reliability & build quality

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

It can still be a mixed bag living with a KTM. Most owners enjoy a trouble-free experience, but some suffer minor electronic and mechanical issues, so make sure you buy from a reputable dealer.

We have one owners' review for the current 2020-on KTM 1290 Super Duke R, which scores the bike 4/5 stars for reliability - knocking off a point for its fiddly indicator switch.

Watch MCN's 2021 super naked shootout video here:

Value vs rivals

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

With its exclusivity and high level of spec, you need to compare the 1290 Super Duke RR to the special ones, rather than the usual super naked suspects, so that’s the likes of the Ducati Streetfighter V4S and MV Agusta Brutale 1000 RR.

The KTM is the more refined, exciting machine, although its off-road inspired looks aren’t as glamorous or evocative as its Italian counterparts.


Video: 2020 MV Agusta Brutale 1000 RR takes on the BMW S1000R

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

The RR’s Lithium-Ion battery is 2.5kg lighter than the R’s and everything from the front mudguard, brake cooling scoops, ignition lock surround, sculpted fuel tank infill panels, undertray, hugger and chain guard are carbon fibre.

The carbon subframe (with an ali support) weighs just 800 grams. Number plate hanger and indicators (incorporating taillights) can be removed with just four bolts.

Front brake and clutch levers are adjustable and Gilles 12-position CNC-machined aluminium rearsets have carbon heel guards and short, grippy pegs for track work. The rear brake and gear lever (which can be turned around for 'race shift') are three-way adjustable, too. 

KTM 1290 Super Duke RR TFT dash

WP Apex Pro 7746 shock is adjustable for preload, rebound and compression damping, but also length, letting you sharpen/slow the steering and maximise grip. Fully adjustable WP Apex Pro 7548 close cartridge forks are clamped by a 320g lighter CNC machined ali top yoke with the same 32mm offset as the R.

The electronics that you have to pay extra for with the R version are all standard on the RR: nine-stage traction, adjustable engine maps, the ability to disable the anti-wheelie, launch control, an up/down shifter, engine braking control, an adaptive brake light and Performance and Track riding modes to give you more delicate control over traction, wheelies and engine braking.

Specs

Engine size 1301cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, V-twin
Frame type Steel trellis
Fuel capacity 16 litres
Seat height 837mm
Bike weight 200kg
Front suspension WP 48mm USD forks, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Single WP shock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs, Brembo four-piston radial caliper. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 240mm disc, twin piston caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 200/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £101
Annual service cost £240
New price £21,499
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 178 bhp
Max torque 103 ft-lb
Top speed 175 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

2021: Limited edition KTM 1290 Super Duke RR launched. Only 500 made.  

Other versions

There is a mass-production KTM 1290 Super Duke R base model available.

Owners' reviews for the KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE RR (2021 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE RR (2021 - 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 RR (2021 - 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: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £240
5 out of 5 Best naked out there
01 November 2021 by AJ

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £240

Best handling bike I've owned, & my last bike was a 2020 RSV4 RF

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

the tighter and twister the road the better for this bike, way comfier than riding a sports bike.

Engine 5 out of 5

low down grunt is immense the pull out of the corners is just mind blowing quick

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

So far so good 1700 miles in

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

eats rear tyres 800 miles

Equipment 5 out of 5

The Gillies rear sets are fantastic so grippy Tyres are super sticky but don't last long Suspension is the best I've experienced even better than the gold stuff ;-)

Buying experience: Dealer bought for the advertised recommended price

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