2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo - Performance, Price, and Photos

New electronic suspension and 180 horsepower define the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo

KTM’s big-bore naked bike, the 1290 Super Duke R EVO, rolls into 2022 with an additional electronic gee-gaw in the form of the Semi-Active Suspension Technology feature. This is, of course, on top of all the usual sophistication that was already standard on KTM’s biggest naked-sport offering that made this machine such an apex predator.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R EVO Performance and Capability

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo - Performance, Price, and Photos
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The suspension tech is cool and all, but at the end of the day, it's just another example of KTM's grasp of rider-support electronics thrown into the mix with the rest of the already-impressive safety suite.

Within the stock equipment on the 1290 Super Duke R EVO, we find a ride-by-wire throttle that enables much of what follows. Traction/wheelie/cruise control come standard, right along with Ride Modes that enable quick personality changes on the fly. If you need/want more, the optional equipment includes the Tech Pack that bundles Motor Slip Regulation (drag-torque control) with KTM’s Track Pack and bi-directional quick-shift feature.

As for the mechanicals, this here is KTM’s top-shelf V-twin masterpiece, and it does not disappoint. The decidedly oversquare mill runs a 108 mm bore and 71 mm stroke for a total displacement of 1,301 cc and hot 13.6-to-1 compression ratio that’ll demand plenty of octane, but that’s the price for all that power.

How much you ask? The factory claims 180 ponies and 103 pound-feet of torque, both around the 8,000 rpm mark. Yeah, that’s pretty grunty, but it’s a 75-degree V-twin engine so expect a certain generosity in the torque reserve capacity.

Dual over-head cams time four poppets per head while twin-spark technology helps to develop good flame-front propagation in the combustion chamber. Dual, 56 mm downdraft Keihin throttle bodies feed the beast pressurized air from the ram port up front, though the effect is negligible at speeds below 100 mph, so it’s really just a conversation piece once taken out of a racing context.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Thinner crankcase castings help shed some weight to land at 466 pounds soaking wet while the engine itself displaces a chunk of framing as a stressed member for more built-in savings. Power flows through a PASC slipper-style clutch for another layer of safety at the rear contact patch due to the back-torque-mitigation effect.

The six-speed gearbox comes with a host of tweaks this year that improve shift feel and speed, so you can bang your way through the range, with or without the option quickshifter, even faster than before. Speaking of speed, 1290 Super Duke R EVO top speed is 170 mph, so this is a bona fide racebike whether it ever sees a track proper or not. You can reverse the shifter for a GP-style, five-down/one-up shift pattern if you like, whether you actually need it or not.

Engine & Drivetrain
Engine: Liquid cooled 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, V 75°
Displacement: 1,301 cc
Bore x Stroke: 108 mm x 71 mm
EMS: Keihin EMS with RBW and cruise control, double ignition
Power: 180 hp (132 kW)
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Forced oil lubrication with 3 oil pumps
Clutch: PASC (TM) slipper clutch, hydraulically actuated
Chain: 525 X-Ring
Transmission: 6-speed


2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo - Performance, Price, and Photos
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The epitome of naked sportbike, the only bodywork is the angular cheek fairings that pick up the angle set by the angry-alien headlight assembly.

Tall uprights on the molded front fender of the 1290 Super Duke R EVO give away the long-stroke forks with a foil shape meant to shunt the incoming wind outboard. However, laminar flow with the engine area is pretty much out of the question in the absence of any sort of cowling to smooth out all the bumps.

As for the bodywork, there’s only the angular cheek fairings that pick up the angle set by the angry-alien headlight assembly. LED tech makes ’em bright, and DRLs improve your visibility to the world during daylight hours. It ain’t just about aethetics either. The split in the housing serves as a ram-air inlet port to direct pressurized air from just ahead of the bike straight into the airbox for a low-tech increase in volumetric efficiency.

High-mount led lightbars serve as the front blinkers and come affixed at the top end of the headlights, well out of harm’s way where it won’t be damaged from a drop in the parking lot. A wide handlebar provides plenty of leverage, plus it comes adjustable with 4 positions over a 22 mm range to let you dial in the top of your rider’s triangle. Further tweakage shows up at the brake and clutch levers that come with adjusters so you can set up for your personal hand size and comfort.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo - Performance, Price, and Photos
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A single-color TFT display crams all of the instrumentation display, right along with the electronic controls and cellphone connectivity through the KTM MY RIDE app. Robust switchgear controls on the handlebar control the multi-functionality of the display. It includes easy access to two programmable switches to customize features and settings and dial in your ride.

A tall fuel-tank hump and deep pilot’s seat give it a dramatic flyline in profile. Since this is a streetbike first and racebike second, it comes stock with a nice pillion pad and fold-up footpegs so you can share the fun with a friend — a very brave friend.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo - Performance, Price, and Photos
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The Super Duke rides with its taillight in the typical position, nestled in the tip of the tail, but the rest of the gear in the rear mounts to the mudguard assembly that uses the license plate as part of the spray coverage. A swingarm-mount hugger completes the coverage while keeping the rear end looking clean and sharp.


2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo - Performance, Price, and Photos
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The WP Semi-Active Suspension and Semi-Active rear shock are the highlight of this latest revision.

KTM manages to shave 4.4 pounds from the 1290 Super Duke R EVO frame for this generation through the use of larger-diameter but thinner-walled tubular members, without any loss of strength. In fact, the factory says these bones are three times stiffer, no giggity, than the previous gen, so “yay” for Austrian engineering.

This delightfulness extends to the composite subframe that adds its own lightweight strength to the equation. An engineered swingarm connects to the back of the drivetrain to complete the skeleton with a single-side aluminum construction meant to keep unsprung weight down out back with better anti-squat tendencies overall.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo - Performance, Price, and Photos
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The steering head, and 32 mm offset in the tripleclamps, sets a rake angle of 25.2 degrees from the vertical with 4.2 inches of trail, both of which are about as short as they come and well into nimble territory for the quick flicks and reversals for which most sport riders are looking. It’s race-worthy yet street-legal, to be sure.

WP provides the suspension goodies at both ends. Up front, a new set of 48 mm usd APEX forks take care of business with a monoshock out back, both with Semi-active electronic support that delivers demand-driven damping automatically. The forks come with 4.9 inches of travel while the shock rocks a 5.5-inch stroke, which is pretty generous indeed no matter how you plan on using this machine.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Cast-aluminum is the material of choice for the lightweight, CAD-designed,17-inch wheels that round out the rolling chassis. The hoops are equally typical at 120/70 ahead of a 200/55 in a “Z” speed rating that would be right at home under track conditions, and will handle everything the Super Duke can dish out.

This bike has plenty of go, so it needs plenty of stop, and the factory obliges with Brembo Stylema monobloc anchors in a four-bore layout and 320 mm discs on the front end. A 240 mm disc and twin-pot caliper slows the rear wheel, and all-around anti-lock protection comes courtesy of the Bosch 9.1 MP 2.0 that is corner sensitive with a SuperMoto mode for track use.

Chassis & Suspension
Frame: Chrome-moly tubular space frame, powder-coated
Front suspension: WP Semi-active Suspension USD Ø 48 mm (GEN.2)
Rear suspension: WP Semi-active Rear Shock (GEN.2)
Steering head angle: 64.8 °
Front brake: 320 mm
Rear brake: 240 mm
ABS: Bosch 9.1MP 2.0 (with cornering ABS and SUPERMOTO ABS)

KTM 1290 Super Duke R EVO Pricing

The factory steered away from the usual black/white/orange livery on the 1290 Super Duke R EVO, offering a new Atlantic Blue as the main pigment on one of the color packages. The other colorway is the usual blend of brand colors. MY22 models roll for $19,599 MSRP and the aforementioned Tech Pack adds another nine bills to the total.

Colors: Orange, Atlantic Blue
Price: 19,599


2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo - Performance, Price, and Photos
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2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS
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With no shortage of naked-sport/roadster models from which to choose, I decided to find something else from the European market, and Triumph’s Speed Triple 1200 seems to fit the bill quite nicely.

Triumph’s Speed Triple 1200

2021 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS
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It's a less complicated bike, but that's also reflected in the price.

The Brits take much the same minimalist approach to the design with nothing in the way of superfluous bodywork, only a belly pan that acts as a fairing for the exhaust headers. Clean lines and a less-dramatic flyline leave the Trumpet looking sweeter overall with more social value as far as fitting in with the surrounding traffic and not looking like a racebike that made a wrong turn. I mean that’s fine if that’s what you’re into, but it is what it is.

An 1,160 cc triple powers the aptly-named Speed Triple with 177 ponies and 92 pounds o’ grunt to fall just a skosh short of the Super Duke’s brute strength, but that’s hardly a dealbreaker. The Speed Triple slips again in the stems. It rides on Öhlins suspension goodies, and while they come with the full trinity of tweaks, they must be set up manually, unlike the Super Duke.

Ride-control electronics are also somewhat simpler on the Speed Triple with riding modes alongside cornering ABS and traction and wheelie controls, so they’re adequate, if a bit shy of KTM’s electronic wizardry. Triumph offers its Speed Triple in a couple of rather boring, monochromatic packages, which is a bit disappointing, but the sales start at $18,500 for the British bike, and this is the trade off for the slight shortcomings here and there.

He Said

“It is without reservation that I say this is too much bike for me. Even with my decades of more-or-less cruiser experience, I don’t have the skills for such a bike. I expect that not many really do. This is definitely not a bike for the newer riders, whether that’s new to sport riding or new to riding altogether.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The 2020 SuperDuke R had a significant upgrade that genuinely earned it the nickname ’The Beast.’ This 2022 EVO revision may seem mild but the addition of the WP Semi-Active suspension is meaningful to its handling and ride performance. It’s like the suspension now caught up to the awesome engine upgrades from the 2020 model. The only thing that I’m still disappointed in is that to complete the package you have to add the optional Tech Pack. The toppest-shelfest electronics that go hand-in-hand with the sophisticated hardware are not included in the standard model.”

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
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