KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is globe-trotting rally raider

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The KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is the Austrian firm’s assault on the 2021 large-capacity off-road-centric adventure bike class. 

Priced at £15,999, the Euro5-friendly brute is claimed to be the most intuitive off-road 1290 to date, with a lower centre of gravity, revised chassis, fresh electronics package and more. What it won’t have is the firm’s radar guided adaptive cruise control, which only features on the S model.

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Costing £200 more than the previous incarnation and dressed to the nines in licks of blue and white reminiscent of the old 990 Adventure, one of the key changes for 2021 is in the chassis.

Sliding the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R off-road

At the rear, the ‘open-lattice’ swingarm is now slightly longer and the steering head has been moved back by 15mm to induce sharper cornering prowess – making the steel trellis structure slightly shorter.

Shrouding this is new bodywork, punctuated by flashes of orange in the external crash bars and frame.

The fresh look allows the bike to hold its 23-litre fuel load lower down within a new three-part tank – meaning a lower centre of gravity and greater stability in all conditions.

Adding to this is a new subframe – said to be stronger – and a seat height of 880mm, which is down 10mm from before.

Biting the tarmac are adventure- spec Bridgestone A41 tyres, which wrap ALPINA aluminium spoked wheels, which can be run tubeless.

Up front is a pair of four-piston radial Brembos, with reworked manually adjustable WP XPLOR suspension front and rear, both featuring 220mm of travel.

Cradled within the bike is a revised 1301cc V-twin with dual radiators. Much like the out-going R, power remains at around 158bhp, however the whole unit is now a claimed 1.6kg lighter. Alterations include lighter engine cases, new pistons, altered coatings and revised exhaust unit.

Service intervals come every 15,000km (that’s around 9300 miles) with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 49.6mpg.

What’s more, KTM say they have reworked the gear-shift mechanism for faster and slicker changes. A quickshifter is optional though, which is disappointing on a bike starting at £16k.

A reworked airbox means the vertically-ribbed filter is accessible by simply removing four screws, which could come in handy should you get a little carried away on the rough stuff.

Once aboard, a new 7in TFT display, complete with mobile connectivity, displays all the important information and allows you to control a multitude of updated electronic aids, made possible by a new six-axis IMU.

Features include traction and slide control, with everything able to be adjusted or switched off altogether. Alongside four standard modes, an optional Rally setting (available in an optional Rally Pack) allows you to set throttle response and select from nine different levels of wheelspin.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure R highlights:

  • 1301cc liquid-cooled V-twin
  • 157.8bhp@9000rpm
  • 101.8lb.ft@6500rpm
  • 880mm
  • 221kg
  • £15,999

Jumping the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R off-road

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Acting News Editor, sportsbike nut, and racing fan.