The Super Duke Engine In An Adventure Chassis

Many adventure-bike manufacturers try to cover all the bases with a single model, but Austrian bikebuilder KTM splits its efforts to produce the 1290 Super Adventure S. Released for MY2017, KTM built the “S” to deliver long-distance comfort for riders who are looking for more than they can get from one of the Dukes. Wind protection, storage options and electronic safety systems take care of the usual ride-ability concerns, but this is a KTM folks, so you know it’s going to be very well-endowed in the power department as well, to the point of qualifying as a ’super’ adventure. Think I’m overstating the situation? Read on and find out how wrong you are.

Continue reading for my review of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure.

  • 2017 - 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
  • Year:
    2017- 2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    1301 cc
  • Price:

Design

2017 - 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
- image 786877
Even if you were to remove or cover all the orange, the marque has a definite look all its own, though I must admit the “S” lacks much of the spiky angularity that dominates the KTM lineup.

There’s no mistaking that distinctive KTM look; even if you were to remove or cover all the orange, the marque has a definite look all its own though I must admit the “S” lacks much of the spiky angularity that dominates the lineup, in favor of a bit less dramatic. The result is rather attractive, at least to mine eyes, though it certainly lacks the sex-on-wheels appeal that Ducati brings to the table, as do most things.

The blunt entry has a clipped look in profile, and the visage is dominated by the elongated, dual headlights that sport a generous DRL band on both sides, all to help you see and be seen for improved safety. Standoff LED winkers finish out the forward lighting, though I can’t help but wonder if they’d look better integrated with the handguards and mirrors. Oh well, maybe next year.

An adjustable windshield tops off the front fairing, but the tweak-ability doesn’t end there, oh no. KTM gives you a two-position handlebar, saddle and footpeg so you can mix-and-match the components to get the rider’s triangle shaped to suit. The seat picks up the lines of the side panel for some nice continuity, and typical of the genre it puts the rider in the bike more than on it, even though the fuel-tank hump isn’t quite as pronounced as you’d expect of a six-gallon tank.

A little rise at the break of the p-pad forms a much-needed butt retainer for the pilot with a pair of fold-up footpegs and J.C. rail to serve as the other points of contact for your passenger. Unfortunately, the stock model comes sans dry-storage space, but a small luggage rack at least gives you a place for some open-air cargo capacity.

Back up front, a “phone pocket” holds your mobile device with a USB port to see to the charging action, but you’d better keep an eye on the weather lest your electronics get wet. Right next door is the 6.5-inch color TFT instrument panel with everything you need plus a handful of metrics you probably never knew you wanted.

Chassis

2017 - 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
- image 786874
Pirelli's Scorpion Trail II hoops come with a “ZR” rating, which should tell you something about the performance envelope.

KTM doesn’t exactly use the frame as part of the overall aesthetic as it does so often throughout its range. The Trellis structure uses welded chrome-molybdenum members for strength, yet still manages to keep the weight down at a low 21.6 pounds. Out back, the beam-style swingarm members use webbing to increase strength while helping to limit unsprung weight and give the shock a break with obvious benefits for the integrity of the rear contact-patch.

Back up front, a steering damper mitigates the kickback and stabilizes the forks while WP’s semi-active suspension system delivers a quartet of suspension profiles with electronic damping controls that automatically tune themselves on the fly. Preload is equally flexible with four presets that allow you to switch up for changes in cargo and passenger weight, and all of the above is controlled via a cluster of thumb-toggles on the left switch housing.

Brembo supplies the brake components with a pair of 320 mm discs and a set of four-pot, opposed-piston calipers up front followed by a 267 mm disc and twin-piston anchor, all under the protection of the Bosch 9ME combined-ABS feature. It’s a “lean-sensitive” system that factors in the strain on the contact patches when in a corner, and modulates its levels of intervention accordingly, so go ahead and trail-brake with abandon; the S has your back.

Cast-aluminum rims mount Pirelli’s Scorpion Trail II hoops with a 120/70-19 up front and 170/60-17 out back, and they come with a “ZR” rating, which should tell you something about the performance envelope.

Frame: Chromium-Molybdenum steel trellis frame, powder coated
Suspension, Front/Travel: WP Semi-active suspension USD Ø 48 mm/ 200 mm
Suspension, Rear/Travel: WP Semi-active suspension monoshock/ 200 mm
Steering Head Angle: 64 °
Brakes, Front: 320 mm, 2 x Brembo four-piston radial fixed caliper, brake discs, floating
Brakes, Rear: 267 mm, Brembo twin-piston fixed calliper, brake disc
ABS: Bosch 9ME combined ABS (incl. cornering ABS and offroad mode, disengageable)

Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
- image 786875
What sets it apart from same-old-same-old ADV bikes out there is the absolute freakin' soul-crushing power KTM stuffs into the drivetrain.

Honestly, as nice as everything is so far, it’s not all that different from the rest of the top-shelf adv bikes in the market. What isn’t obvious at a glance, is the absolute freakin’ soul-crushing power KTM stuffs into the drivetrain. The 1,301 cc plant generates a whopping 160 horsepower and 103.25 pounds o’ grunt. Let that sink in a minute, then remind yourself that this isn’t a supersport stoplight-burner; well, it’s not supposed to be anyway.

The layout is dramatically oversquare with a 108 mm bore and 71 mm stroke. Both con-rods terminate on a common throw, and the super-light pistons come treated with a Grafal finish to reduce friction and contribute to the quick-spooling nature of the engine. A DOHC system times the four-valve heads, and the valvetrain itself benefits from friction-reducing treatment in the form of a Diamond-Like Carbon coating.

A ride-by-wire system unleashes more fandanglery with a handful of subsystems that are meant to help you keep all that power under control. The traction-control feature is the chief player here, and it comes with a setting for “Street” and “Offroad” so you can dial in for your preferred surface. Same with the Ride Modes feature that lets you tame the beast just a skosh. Cruise control rounds out the comfort-related details while the “Race On” feature lets you ride key-free; just carry the fob in your pocket and go.

A six-speed transmixxer crunches the ratios with a nice-and-long overdrive top gear that is there for a less-frenetic engine tempo on the superslab, not so you can see if you can turn your local interstate into an American Autobahn. Yeah, definitely not (wink-nudge). A slipper clutch couples engine power to the mainshaft, and of course, it adds yet another level of traction insurance. Fast and safe aren’t words I’d normally consider to be good bedfellows, and of course, the word “safe” is relative, but I can honestly say that KTM did everything it could to give the rider the tools to manage this machine.

Engine: 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, V 75°
Displacement: 1,301 cc
Bore x Stroke: 108 mm x 71 mm
Power: 158 hp (118 kW)
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Forced oil lubrication with 3 oil pumps
Transmission: 6-speed
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: PASC (TM) slipper clutch, hydraulically actuated
EMS: Keihin EMS with RBW and cruise control, double ignition

Pricing

2017 - 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
- image 786879
MSRP puts it right at $18k with the typical KTM color choices.

Looks like U.S. buyers can expect to shell out a total of $17,999 for a 2018 1290 Super Adventure S. Naturally, color choices range between black-and-orange, or orange-and-black with white details. I probably should criticize them for such a basic palette, but I happen to love orange and black together, so party on, Wayne.

Colors: Black, Orange
Price: $17,999

Competitors

2017 - 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
- image 786880
2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260
- image 779491
Yeah, both of these bikes really come out swinging some serious lumber, so you'd better respect them.

Having already mentioned Ducati, I decided to just go ahead and grab the Multistrada 1260 S since it’s bound to appeal to the same sort of buyer. Let’s go ahead and get the beauty contest out of the way. No doubt about it; Ducati equals sexy. The bodywork flows from stem to stern like a one-piece bathing suit over some very interesting terrain, and even the bird’s beak up front isn’t enough to diminish the beauty. I like the hugger, too. As form follows function, the KTM has a certain charm to be sure, but it’s not the bike you’d want to take home to meet mom.

Chassis hardware falls out along the same basic lines, but Ducati’s electronic wizardry provides even more layers of safety webbing with Riding Modes, Power Modes, Wheelie- and traction-control features, cornering ABS and cornering lights. The Italians back that up with almost as much power — 155 to be precise — and that’s just 5 ponies shy of the KTM. Yeah, both of these bikes really come out swinging some serious lumber, so you’d better respect them.

Pricing isn’t quite close enough to suggest conspiracy, but at $18,695, the Ducati is in the same neighborhood as the KTM, and at nearly 20 grand that handful of Benjamins is unlikely to influence a motivated buyer, especially one stuck on the looks of the Multistrada.

He Said

“Sure, KTM makes a helluva machine, and always has, but it can’t compete with the aesthetics of the rest of the world; I mean, even the Tiger is better looking. Call me Shallow Hal, but I just ain’t feelin’ it. That said, it’s a solid machine, and buyers will not regret spending money on one.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I find that folks who buy these adventure bikes are really looking for tourers and there’s nothing wrong with that. Handling on this Super Adventure is very light and responsive, which is surprising considering that it is a fairly big bike. The seat is wide, but not a surprise that it is quite hard; because...you know... it’s KTM. It has the really nice TFT display, which I like. I think if the seat were a bit more comfortable, this would make a nice tourer if you’re tall enough to not have to bounce from toe to toe.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, V 75°
Displacement: 1,301 cc
Bore x Stroke: 108 mm x 71 mm
Power: 158 hp (118 kW)
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Forced oil lubrication with 3 oil pumps
Transmission: 6-speed
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: PASC (TM) slipper clutch, hydraulically actuated
EMS: Keihin EMS with RBW and cruise control, double ignition
Chassis:
Frame: Chromium-Molybdenum steel trellis frame, powder coated
Suspension, Front/Travel: WP Semi-active suspension USD Ø 48 mm/ 200 mm
Suspension, Rear/Travel: WP Semi-active suspension monoshock/ 200 mm
Steering Head Angle: 64 °
Brakes, Front: 320 mm, 2 x Brembo four-piston radial fixed caliper, brake discs, floating
Brakes, Rear: 267 mm, Brembo twin-piston fixed calliper, brake disc
ABS: Bosch 9ME combined ABS (incl. cornering ABS and offroad mode, disengageable)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Ground Clearance: 220 mm
Seat Height: 860 mm
Fuel Capacity: 23 l
Dry Weight: 215 kg
Details:
Colors: Black, Orange
Price: $17,999

References

Ducati Multistrada 1260 S

2018 Ducati Multistrada 1260
- image 779489

See our review of the Ducati Multistrada 1260 S.

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

2015 - 2017 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R ABS
- image 726341

See our review of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: ducati.com, ktm.com, KTM photographer: R. Schedl

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