KTM Super Duke R: Right royal badass

By Denis Droppa Time of article published Jun 13, 2014

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Johannesburg - It doesn’t come in peace, it comes from KTM. That’s an appropriate catch-phrase for a badass two-wheeler such as the 1290 Super Duke R, latest street bike from the Austrian manufacturer formerly better known for its dirt-munchers.

Powered by a bored-out version of the 75-degree V-twin used in KTM’s 1190 RC8 R superbike, this is the new king of the Duke range of naked streetfighters, if you’ll forgive the mixed royalty metaphors.

With “crouched” styling inspired by the Kawasaki Z1000 , this KTM looks like the typical bully that will steal your school lunch. Bereft of any fairing, it looks very aggressive and “industrial” with its tubular space frame and all its mechanical bits on display, and the single-sided swingarm is a styling delight too.


Beneath all that styling bluster is a lot of electrickery, including ABS and traction control, to help harness the mighty 1301cc engine (nope, it’s not a 1290cc). With 132kW and 144Nm and a dry weight of just 189kg – this bike’s rated with a 0-200km/h sprint time of just 7.2 seconds – some electronic nannying is welcome.

There are modes for street and sport – selectable from a reasonably intuitive control-key system on the left handlebar that adjusts the aggressiveness of the ride-by-wire throttle and the level of traction control intervention. Slight power slides are allowed when exiting curves in Sport mode, while you can switch off the traction assistance completely if you have the skill and cojones for that sort of power-sliding thing. There’s also a rain mode that limits power output to 75kW.

The ABS can be switched off or set to a reduced-intervention Super Moto mode.

A comprehensive instrument panel displays info such as range, fuel consumption, oil and ambient temperature; multiple setting options are also available for the front and rear suspension, and the front forks can be set independently from each other for compression and rebound to find the right setup for track work.

The stoppers are very powerful, with big 320mm discs clamped by four -piston calipers up front and a single 240mm disc with dual-piston caliper at the back.

To complete the Duke’s laptime-chasing arsenal, there’s a slipper clutch to prevent wheel chatter under hard braking/downshifting.

Although we had no track time on the bike, a few days on public roads, including a breakfast run, gave a good feel of its capabilities.

This is a mad, bad bike that grabs you by the lapels.

Yank the throttle open and this KTM accelerates with vicious, superbike-like intensity and it quickly romps to over 240km/h if you can hang on with all that wind rush.

There’s heaps of midrange torque but this is no lazy revver, and it soars to a fairly high 10 000rpm before the limiter cuts in rather dramatically. There’s a typical vee-twin throb on low to mid-range that makes the mirrors shake, but give it more revs and things smooth out. The showroom-spec bike makes a relatively meaningful holler but it will need an optional “angry” pipe to really liberate a tree-shaking roar.

Apart from the lack of any wind protection, which at high speed calls for neck muscles the size of a rugby player’s thighs, riding is a comfy affair. The upright seating position keeps the weight off your wrists, and the bike’s neither too tall nor bulky so even shorter riders will feel at home.


The Duke’s accessible and easy to ride, narrow enough to slip through the traffic, and has well-positioned controls except for the gearlever which seems placed a little too far from the footpeg, even for my size 11 foot.

With its firm ride and short wheelbase the bike has a choppy ride on uneven surfaces, but a very quick-turning supermoto-like nature when the tar’s smooth. A hydraulic steering damper limits handlebar kick-back from road bumps.

In summary, it seems kinda pointless to have a bike with this much speed and this little wind protection, but hooligan streetfighters needn’t make much sense. They just need to be powerful and look badass, and this 1290 KTM Super Duke R truly fits the bill.

Yours for R186 999, including a two-year, unlimited distance warranty. - Star Motoring


Engine: 1301cc liquid-cooled 75-degree V-twin.

Bore x stroke: 108 x 71mm.

Compression ratio: 13.2:1.

Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.

Power: 132kW at 8870rpm.

Torque: 144Nm at 6500rpm.

Induction: Digital electronic fuel-injection with two 56mm Keihin throttle bodies.

Ignition: Electronic ignition system with digital timing adjustment and dual spark plugs per cylinder.

Starting: Electric.

Clutch: Hydraulically actuated multiplate wet slipper clutch.

Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.

Front Suspension: 48mm WP inverted cartridge forks adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.

Rear Suspension: WP gas-charged remote reservoir monoshock adjustable for preload, low and high-speed compression and rebound damping.

Front brakes: Dual 320mm discs with Brfembo M50 four-piston radial-mount monobloc callipers and ABS.

Rear brake: 240mm disc with Brembo twin-pot opposed-piston calliper and ABS.

Front tyre: 120/70 - 17 tubeless.

Rear tyre: 190/55 - 17 tubeless.

Wheelbase: 1482mm.

Seat height: 835mm.

Kerb weight: 189kg with all fluids bar fuel.

Fuel tank: 18 litres.

Price: R186 999.

Warranty: Two years, unlimited distance.

Service Intervals: 15 000km.

Follow me on Twitter @DenisDroppa

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