KTM’s flagship hyper-naked model has a new chassis, improved electronics, and reworked engine

Austrian bike builder KTM revamped its top shelf naked bike — the 1290 Super Duke R — for MY2020, and it treated the world to a first glimpse at 2019 EICMA. This newest Super Duke R represents a natural evolution and a rather radical reimagination of KTM’s flagship hyper-naked model to include a new chassis, revised electronics, and reworked engine that together deliver more of what made the Super Duke R such a popular machine in the first place. All of this comes with re-imagined aesthetics that adds new visual elements to the unmistakable KTM panache.

  • 2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    1301 cc
  • Top Speed:
    180 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    18699
  • Price:

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Design

  • Angular and aggressive new styling
  • LED lighting
  • Adjustable handlebar
  • Angle-adjustable 5-inch TFT dashboard
  • Adjustable brake and clutch levers
  • Newly restyled steel fuel tank
  • Ram-air vent
  • Adaptive taillight
2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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Form follows function on a machine such as the 1290 Super Duke R, so naturally there is a dearth of body coverings and the very bones of the beast contributes to the overall aesthetic.

Right up front, the vented fender is designed to control the fling from the front wheel while contributing little to the overall drag. It doubles as protection for the front forks, both as a wind shunt to steer the slipstream around the forks and as a grit guard.

A minimal, steeply-angled headlight can establishes an aggressive angle with dual LED headlights to cleave the night and daytime running-lights for visibility and safety under higher ambient-light conditions. It’s easy to miss at a glance, but there’s a slot between the headlights. This is no vanity detail, but a carefully engineered intake port that uses the ram-air effect from the pressure wave at the front of the bike to deliver increased volumetric efficiency a bit. The effect curve is pretty flat until you get up around 100 mph so most riders won’t be able to garner much of an advantage from the system, but it makes a nice conversation piece and proper racers will certainly feel the love.

LED blinkers mount to the top of the housing well out of the danger zone, so you can be confident that they’ll survive a drop. Blackout forks, tripleclamps, risers, and handlebar lend the Super Duke R a custom-homejob air that fits well with its naked-streetfighter build.

A single, five-inch color TFT display handles the entirety of the instrumentation and acts as a rider interface for the higher electronics. Additionally, the KTM MYRIDE app pulls your smartphone into the network so you can use it to field calls and pipe in your tunes under way. You can customize the performance parameters here, and even the scratch-resistant and glare-resistant screen is adjustable so you can dial it in for your height.

The 4.2-gallon fuel tank gives the flyline a dramatic hump ahead of a precipitous drop to the saddle, and though they’re minimal, there’s a pair of forward-swept wing fairings that pick up the angle of the headlight can for that spiky look that is so thoroughly associated with the brand.

A lightweight, carbon-composite subframe kicks the tail upwards for a nose-down/tail-up posture with the usual tucked-under taillight and short standoff to mount the tag, taglight, and rear turn signals. The taillight is what the factory calls “adaptive,” in that it lights up extra bright for hard/sudden brake actions for improved safety from the rear.

You can take a friend with you, ’cause there is a p-pad and fold-up footpegs, but no J.C. handles so the only thing to hang onto is the pilot. If you weren’t “close friends” before, you will be once you’re underway.

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Chassis

  • New lighter weight frame concept
  • Three times stiffer than before
  • All-new, lighter composite subframe
  • Emphasis on agility and flickability
  • Notable amount of adjustability
  • Tires designed specifically for this bike
  • Corner-sensitive and Supermoto mode ABS
2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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The factory opted for chrome-molybdenum steel tubing as the material of choice for the main structure and carbon fiber for the subframe on the 1290 Super Duke R.

Set up for agility and flickability, the steering head establishes a rake angle of 25.2 degrees with the help of a 32 mm offset in the tripletree.

One of the major goals of the revised skeleton is to provide greater stability under cornering stresses, and toward that end, the factory used pipe with a larger outside diameter but thinner walls to boost strength without adding a bunch of weight in the process.

A single-side swingarm articulates for the rear wheel and completes the standing structure with a revised pivot point that rides 5 mm higher than the transmission sprocket for the improved anti-squat properties that particular arrangement provides. Support and damping for the rear end comes from a coil-over WP APEX monoshock that brings an unusual amount of adjustability to the table with a hand-adjustable preload setting and both high- and low-speed damping adjustments. Split-function forks divide the labor with one tube to handle compression and another to handle rebound with the full spectrum of tweaks plus preload shared between them.

A CAD program turned out the 17-inch cast wheels with strength and lightness as the two front-burner considerations. Bridgestone’s S22 hoops make the connection to the pavement in a 120/70 up front and beefy 200/55 out back, and the hoops come with the top-speed Z rating. Not only are the hoops designed for traction in inclement weather, but they have the distinction of having been designed specifically for this particular machine.

The Super Duke R can generate a serious amount of energy. To help you keep it under control, the factory chucked on dual 320 mm discs up front with four-piston Brembo Stylema monobloc calipers to bite them, and out back, a 240 mm disc and twin-pot anchor take care of business. Corner-sensitive Bosch 9.1MP 2.0 ABS comes stock, as does the Supermoto mode ABS feature that disables the rear-end ABS, the anti rear-wheel liftup, and the cornering ABS function up front to deliver the kind of raw control that racers need on the track for controlled slides and such.

Frame: Chrome-moly tubular space frame, powder-coated
Suspension Travel, Front/Rear: 4.9 in (125 mm)/ 5.5 in (140 mm)
Steering Head Angle: 64.8 °
Front Brake: Dual 320 mm discs, Brembo Stylema Monobloc four piston, radially mounted caliper
Rear Brake: 240 mm disc, Brembo twin-piston fixed caliper, brake disc
ABS: Bosch 9.1MP 2.0 (with cornering ABS and SUPERMOTO ABS)

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Drivetrain

  • 1,301 cc LC8 V-twin
  • 177 horsepower
  • 103.3 pound-feet of torque
  • Lighter weight
  • Formula 1-inspired pistons
  • Ride Modes with optional Performance and track modes
  • Traction control
2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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The LC8 V-twin has undergone a myriad of subtle changes, but the total effect is a leaner, meaner powerplant.

The beating heart itself brings a number of refinements to the table. It starts out in the cases that see thinner walls and improved coolant and oil passages to drop 1.7 pounds from the overall weight. A pair of 56 mm throttle bodies deliver low-resistance aspiration, and the new top-down fuel injectors meter the fuel delivery to boost output and efficiency. New dual-spark heads ensure positive ignition and come with resonator chambers that improve the above further yet. Titanium intake poppets reduce reciprocating mass for safer high-rev operation, though it appears the exhaust valves are still made of steel. A pair of 108 mm bores and 71 mm stroke gives the engine its 1,301 cc displacement with Formula 1-inspired pistons that elevate the compression ratio to 13.6-to-1, and this is from whence some of the power increase comes.

A ride-by-wire throttle control conveys your commands to the Keihin ECM, but that’s just the start of it. The Ride Modes feature bundles the variables for quick setup changes. There’s a Track Mode and a Performance Mode that let you further customize the ride-quality controls for track or street use, respectively. Traction Control prevents loss of traction at the rear wheel due to overenthusiastic acceleration, and the Motor Slip Regulator does the same on hard decelerations so you’re protected coming and going. That last item gets backup from the slipper-style clutch to prevent excessive drag torque from making it through the drivetrain up to the engine. This delivers some anti-hop protection for the rear wheel during heavy engine braking.

Power flows through a six-speed transmission then to the rear wheel via a tough O-ring chain drive. At redline, the plant churns out a soul-crushing 177 horsepower backed up by 103 pound-feet of torque for an estimated top speed of 180 mph. That’s plenty fast enough to get yourself in a whole heap o’ trouble.

Engine: 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, 75° V-twin
Displacement: 1,301 cc
Power: 177 hp (132 kW)
Torque: 103.3 lb-ft (140 Nm)
Bore x Stroke: 108 mm x 71 mm
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Forced oil lubrication with 3 oil pumps
Transmission: 6-speed
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: PASC (TM) slipper clutch, hydraulically actuated
Chain: 525 X-Ring
EMS: Keihin EMS with RBW and cruise control, double ignition

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Pricing

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
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MSRP is $18.7k and comes in black or that traditional KTM orange.

No doubt, this is a lot of bike by anyone’s standards, and as such it commands a healthy price with an $18,699 MSRP. It comes in black-over-gray with orange frame members and the traditional KTM Orange with blue graphics that fans of the New York Knicks will appreciate.

Color: Black, Orange
Price: $18,699

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Competitors

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
- image 875599
2017 - 2020 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S
- image 832355
KTM comes out on top, but you pay for that at the checkout counter.

Ducati Monster 1200 S

Nothing but the best will be able to take on the new 1290 Super Duke R, so I went straight to Italian giant Ducati for its own naked superbike, the Monster 1200 S. Even more naked than the Super Duke R, the Monster wastes not an ounce on superfluous body cladding and it relies on a rather industrial look to set the stage. The Monster carries the tiniest little shroud pieces that screen the radiator from view in profile, but that’s it.

The trim tail and generous space below the subframe gives the Monster an all-up-front look that’s sure to appeal to the fiery-eyed pegdraggers out there.

Öhlins suspension products support both ends of the Monster 1200 S with the full trinity of adjustments to fall just a skosh short of the KTM's stems, though in truth, nobody but a bona fide racer will be able to detect the difference.

Brembo anchors and Bosch cornering ABS are both constants across the board, but again Ducati is outdone because the Monster lacks the Supermoto-style ABS that KTM brings to the table. A Trellis frame supports the Duc, and steering geometry is decidedly sharper at 23.3 degrees from the vertical so it’s even more eager in the corners but that comes at the expense of stability at speed by comparison. Not by much mind you, but there it is anyway.

Like the Super Duke R, the Monster packs a liquid-cooled V-twin with dual-spark, four-valve heads, but the Duc’s displacement falls off at only 1,198 cc and that brings with it a concurrent drop in power, to the tune of 147 ponies against 177, and 91 pound o’ grunt against 103 to cede a significant edge to KTM in raw power. The $17,595 sticker makes up for some of that at just over a grand less expensive, and I’ll leave it to you to decide if it’s worth the cheddar for the extra power and control the 1290 Super Duke R brings to the table.

Read our full review of the Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S.

He Said

“Yes indeed sports fans, this is a hell of a machine, but that’s to be expected, yeah? I’ll be honest, if you’re even considering it, you’d better have your skillset in place before you buy it, ’cause no amount of electronic fandanglery will help you keep it dirty-side down if you don’t know what you’re about. Even with my experience, I doubt I’d be comfortable even throwing a leg over it in the parking lot. What about you?”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “KTM calls this “The Beast” and there’s no arguing with that. Euro5 is making it harder to make upgrades on bikes that still comply, but KTM has figured it out. With a whole slew of weight-saving measures, the 1290 Super Duke R is lighter, which translates into faster, more agile and flickable, and easier to reduce speed. The styling is aggressive, and even standing still, it just looks mean. I think my husband is being modest when he says he’d be less than comfortable getting aboard, but it is a serious bike for serious enthusiasts and the price should act as a firewall, of sorts, to keep the entry-level folks at bay.”

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, 75° V-twin
Displacement: 1,301 cc
Power: 177 hp (132 kW)
Torque: 103.3 lb-ft (140 Nm)
Bore x Stroke: 108 mm x 71 mm
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Forced oil lubrication with 3 oil pumps
Transmission: 6-speed
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: PASC (TM) slipper clutch, hydraulically actuated
Chain: 525 X-Ring
EMS: Keihin EMS with RBW and cruise control, double ignition
Chassis:
Frame Design: Chrome-moly tubular space frame, powder-coated
Suspension Travel, Front/Rear: 4.9 in (125 mm)/ 5.5 in (140 mm)
Steering Head Angle: 64.8 °
Front Brake: Dual 320 mm discs, Brembo Stylema Monobloc four piston, radially mounted caliper
Rear Brake: 240 mm disc, Brembo twin-piston fixed caliper, brake disc
ABS: Bosch 9.1MP 2.0 (with cornering ABS and SUPERMOTO ABS)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Ground Clearance: 6.3 in (160 mm)
Seat Height: 32.9 in (835 mm)
Tank Capacity (Approx.): 4.2 gal (16 l)
Dry Weight: 416 lbs (189 kg)
Fuel Consumption: 38 mpg (6.17 l/100 km)
Top Speed: 180 mph
Details:
Color: Black, Orange
Price: $18,699

Further Reading

KTM

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Read more KTM news.

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 More
About the author

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

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