Review of the 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

Rennie Scaysbrook | March 23, 2022

Unlike the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R is a model of sophistication.

By Rennie Scaysbrook | Photograph by Kit Palmer

This kind of craziness is available in all gears except sixth. Let that sink in for a moment.

I remember the first time I rode a KTM Super Duke. We had just gotten one from KTM Australia in 2014 and after about five minutes on board I pulled over and shouted out to my riding partner and good mate, Simon.

“Man, this thing is crazy!” I blurted out a very jealous Simon. The Beast, as it was dubbed, made every other twin-cylinder sportbike engine – except those found in the most high-end Ducati superbikes of the time – run too. instantly. This thing had so much torque, so much performance, it was really hard to believe. It reminded me of how I felt the first time I drove the BMW S 1000 RR to Phillip Island. KTM, like BMW, had advanced the game considerably.

Over the years, the Super Duke has evolved but remained very true to that original hooligan ethos. It’s actually a 1301cc V-twin supermoto, which is why it was so easy for supermoto hero Chris Fillmore to erase the course record on one during the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 2017.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R right side
Refined, but still murderous. The new semi-active WP suspension adds a touch of civility to the package.

This 2017 model was the first time the Super Duke received modifications (you can read our Review Super Duke 2017 here. Shorter intake funnels helped smooth out power below 5000 rpm; electronics now included engine slip regulation and nine-stage traction control; there was a funky new dash and keyless ignition.

the Super Duke 2020 has been further refined. Different injectors, airbox, cylinder heads, crank, gearbox, exhaust and a shorter, lighter and much stiffer chassis – along with aggressive new styling – signaled that the Super Duke was ready for the new decade. So, we shouldn’t be surprised to see that the Super Duke hasn’t changed noticeably for 2022, save for the addition of WP’s semi-active suspension and funky new colors.

Now, if you think you’ve heard that somewhere before, you’re right. Last year KTM released the Super Duke EVO in Europe, which came with the new springs and paint job. We didn’t have this model here last year, but for 2022 we have it. We just don’t call it the EVO. It’s still a Super Duke EVO, but you can’t buy a Super Duke without electronic suspension in America, so the EVO name was dropped.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Engine
This LC8 is one of the best V-twin engines ever made. It has torque for days.

The suspension gives you three modes of comfort, street and sport, each with its corresponding stiffness and damping characteristics. The system allows rear spring preload to be adjusted via the dash with up to 20mm of adjustment in 10 steps from 0-100% or in 2mm increments.

There’s also an optional Suspension Pro setting, which gives you different preload modes for high-speed/high-force braking to keep the suspension from diving throughout its stroke. Here are three settings, Track, Advanced and Auto. Additionally, there is automatic preload leveling at Low, Standard and High. Do you have this?

Front wheel KTM 1290 Super Duke R 2022
New WP fork legs match Brembo Stylema four-piston calipers.

Along with the springs, there are new colors and the throttle uses a new fast-spinning 65° torque tube, similar to a racing throttle, so you get more energy earlier in the twist.

Other than that, everything else is the same as in 2020. In addition to the suspension, you get three ride modes (rain, street and sport) and the optional track mode, which gives you access to launch control , nine-stage traction control , anti-roll, etc.

There were no engine changes, so that Austrian 180 horsepower is still at your disposal, as is the rather ridiculous 103 lb-ft of torque.

Having such a growl in the right hand is a powerful feeling and I never tire of experiencing it. There is so, so much torque that you find yourself pulling fourth gear wheels just because you can, and almost no other street bike on the road today will.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Front
See the little plastic circle just below the correct indicator? It’s the pickup for the proximity key, which has proven a real pain on occasion.

But this engine is probably the most flexible V-twin ever created. You can fall asleep easy with the towers never seeing north of 4000, and Super Duke’s immaculate manners will keep him playing happily.

However, give that new throttle a yank and you better hang on. It’s a prodigious piece of engineering, a V-twin Harley-Davidson and Ducati could only dream of making. The engine is quite tall and with sixth gear a real overdrive, you really only need the first five gears to really get the most usable performance.

Where it gets interesting is the suspension. I haven’t taken the Super Duke to the track (shame on me), but I feel like I’d want conventional suspension if I did. On the road, however, electronic suspension is king, in my book. And WP made it a damn good first for the first time on a Super Duke.

I’ve ridden more Öhlins e-bikes than I can think of, but this was my first time trying WP on a super naked (not including the KTM Super Adventure). The sport setting is indeed very sporty, and not very pleasant on a long journey. It’s fine for true canyon scratching, but most of my rides were done in Street mode, as it offered a much more compliant ride on So Cal’s crappy road surfaces.

Seat KTM 1290 Super Duke R 2022
It’s a firm seat but long days are simple given the Super Duke’s extensive ergonomics.

The suspension, combined with that stiffer, more responsive frame, makes the Super Duke a dynamo in the corners. Load that front Bridgestone S22 rubber, release the pressure on the Brembo brake package and let the chassis spin around the corner. It’s not as telepathic as an Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory, but it’s pretty close. Being a lean V-twin, the Super Duke doesn’t feel as tall as it does in the corners. The Super Duke has lost some of the brutality I fell in love with all those years ago, but the refinement isn’t a bad thing at all.

There’s an extra degree of sophistication with the new Super Duke, but it still uses that annoying proximity key that seems to work when it wants to, and the dash that still doesn’t recognize a full tank of gas until about five miles. the path.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R cornering
Store the Super Duke and maximize the grip of these excellent Bridgestone S22. The Super Duke really is the complete package.

Little technical things like these are super annoying, but the ride is absolutely awesome, so you can’t stay mad for too long.

I bought my 2015 Super Duke race bike and sold it in 2019. I still miss it. And one day, if the financial gods shine in any form, I will strongly consider another Super Duke. It’s a massive supermoto, a killer of a bike the brattiest kids could be proud of. And I want another one in the garage. NC

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Specs

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Specs

MSRP: $19,599
Motor: 75° V-Twin
Shift: 1301cc
Torque: 103 lb-ft at 8,000 rpm
Bore x stroke: 108×71mm
Compression ratio: 13.5:1
Fuel system: Keihin EFI, 2 x 56mm throttle bodies
Power: 177 hp at 9500 rpm
Exhaust: 02/02/2001
Transmission: 6 speeds
Frame: Chrome-molybdenum steel trellis frame, powder coated
Front suspension: 48mm WP fork, semi-active, fully adjustable
Rear suspension: WP shock, semi-active, fully adjustable
Front wheel travel: 4.9 inches
Rear wheel travel: 5.5 in.
Front brake: Brembo Stylema Monobloc 4 piston, radial caliper, 320 mm disc, ABS
Rear brake: Brembo 2 pistons, fixed caliper, 240 mm disc, ABS
Front tire: 120/70 ZR17 in.
Rear wheel: 200/55 ZR17 in.
Head angle: 64.8°
Track: 4.17 inches
Wheelbase: 58.9 inches
Seat height : 32.8 inches.
Fuel capacity: 4.23 gal.s
Weight (dry, claimed): 416 pounds.
Colors:
White/Orange, Black

Click here to read the Review of the 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R in the Cycle news Digital edition magazine.

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