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MCN Fleet: KTM 1290 Super Duke GT's instant shove is a real selling point

Published: 06 April 2020

Updated: 06 April 2020

Super Duke GT is the perfect name for KTM’s latest £17,199 sports tourer. It sounds like some sort of aristocratic superhero, and that description isn’t too far wrong. Refined and powerful, it’s as ballistic as long-distance motorcycles come, without sacrificing usability. I’m head-over-heels in love with it.

Posing as a beautifully finished grand tourer, complete with comfortable seat, easy-going road manners and user-friendly motor, the growling KTM transforms into a 173bhp V-twin missile, capable of out-gunning most superbikes, whenever the mood takes you.

After two weeks of daily commutes, weekend exploration and 150-mile motorway slogs, I am smitten, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Here’s how I got on for the first 1000 miles.

0 miles

As a self-confessed flapper and someone who has to check a door’s locked 10 times, the idea of a keyless ignition terrified me. After all, how do I know where the key is if I can’t see it?

It took about a week before I stopped frisking my pockets and can now slip the key in my jacket without fear of losing it completely. The keyless fuel cap means less time messing about at the pumps, too.

Another mild cause concern from the outset was the sidestand. Although flicking down effortlessly and being easily accessed whilst you are sitting on the machine, it stands the bike quite tall and I was worried the KTM could topple over on loose surfaces. So far my fears have proved unfounded, however.

Parked up at Brands Hatch on the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

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300 miles

The first proper maintenance came in late February, during a trip to the Carole Nash MCN London Show. I had travelled from my home just outside Lincoln and following the 147-mile trip, the well-lubed chain had stretched to the point of resting on the swingarm.

Tightening it back up was easily done using a 17mm socket borrowed from the KTM stand at the event and a C-spanner included in the decent onboard tool kit. Simply loosen one bolt and adjust the hub behind the sprocket. Easy.

Adjusting the KTM's chain in a London carpark

621 miles

The running-in period was 621 miles (1000km) and during this time the manual states you must not use full throttle or exceed 6500rpm.

On a smaller capacity bike this could be problematic, but with around 173bhp and 104ftlb of torque, using less than 6500rpm is easy, with motorway speeds (plus VAT) achieved in top gear at little more than 4500rpm. Expect parts and labour to cost around £215 for this work.

A first service on the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

917 miles

With full power unleashed, the following 300 miles were nothing short of amazing. With all the power in the world at your right wrist, muscle car soundtrack, excellent Pirelli Angel GT rubber and oodles of comfort, it did everything I wanted, and I was genuinely excited to see it at every open of the garage door.

That was until an error message pinged up on the TFT dash at 917 miles. Pulling over to a stop and turning the bike on and off saw the message disappear and, having consulted KTM UK about the issue, it hasn’t resurfaced since. My excitement returned.

1000 miles

Since that error message came and went, the Super Duke has been good as gold. Treated to a thorough scrub every weekend and a mid-week rinse to de-gunk the exterior, it has ferried me to and from work, across country lanes and down south to Brands Hatch in perfect comfort. The chain hasn’t needed any further adjustment and there are no signs of surface rust.

You can watch a first impressions video below:


Update one: Exploring the versatility of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Published: 17.03.20

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT side view

KTM’s 1290 Super Duke GT sits at the extreme end of the sports-touring segment. I want to find out if this thumping brute is more than simply a superbike expat’s wet dream; testing its ability as a daily commuter, weekend tourer, town tackler and (of course) trackday scratcher.

The rider Dan Sutherland, Senior Writer, 24, 5ft 6in. Year-round commuter, weekend blaster, riding for eight years. Dan.sutherland@motorcyclenews.com

Bike specs 1301cc | 173bhp | 209kg (dry) | 835mm seat height

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