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KTM 1290 Super Adventure S first ride impressions

Published: 24 February 2017

Updated: 19 February 2017

After a hugely enjoyable day in the saddle, what do I think of KTM’s new 1290 Super Adventure S?

In many ways, it’s not massively different to the old 1290 Super Adventure, launched in 2015. Despite making the huge 1301cc motor Euro4 complaint, it still makes the same power and torque as before – 160bhp and 100ftlb of torque. It has very similar rider aids, four rider modes, lean sensitive traction control, ABS (cornering ABS) and even the WP semi-active suspension is lean sensitive as it was before. KTM have made slight improvements, but essentially is still has the excellent rider aids as the old 1290.

However, the new iPad-like full colour dash makes a huge difference; now the 1290 is easier to navigate and personalise than before which means you can take full advantage of all the rider aids at your fingertips even on the fly. The new dash is so easy to use, is idiot proof and attractive. Now you can flick between modes with ease, ad change the bike’s handling characteristics on the move.  

In the afternoon we had torrential rain, which meant selecting the rain mode to tame the power and increasing the rider aids. With excellent cornering ABS and TC I felt completely safe and secure. But earlier in the morning we had the complete opposite, dry sunny roads, and endless switchback mountain passes with countless hairpins. In Sports mode, with full power and supportive semi-active suspension, the big 1290S was transformed. In the dry it really did exceed my expectations, a bike which is so comfortable, adventure styled, and even capable of some light off-road shouldn’t handle this well.

But it’s not all just about the new dash we just got back from a night ride and tried the cornering headlights which are some of the best I’ve ever experienced. The manually adjustable screen is new, cruise control is now selected via the left switchgear, and is easier to use. The steering is lighter, there’s a new iPhone pocket next to the dash, new optional panniers – the list goes on.

The new 1290S has all the great credentials of the old Super Adventure, but it’s now more attractive, easier to use, lighter and more fun, and prices start from £14,299.

Read my full report in MCN on Wednesday (Feb 22) - Buy the digital edition here.

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