Ride review of the 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

In the following text you will read a review and thoughts by Iwan van der Valk from Testmotor.nl, that will share his review of the 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R in Spain.

We are jealous of his experience because he managed to drive this beast on the road and on the track at Ascari. KTM launched the third model of the Super Duke line for 2014, and they have been selling the line since 2005.

The new 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R has a new 1,301 cc v-twin engine and this engine delivers amazing 180 bhp and a torque of 106 lbs-ft. This monster weights 417 lbs dry.


The previous iterations of the LC8 lump were always blocked with a difficult throttle response. The behavior of this part-throttle has been reworked for the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, according to KTM, and we must agree that it is better now, except for a minimal on-off reaction when you will first open the throttle mid-corner.

But we are in love with the driveability of the ride-by-wire system. The huge v-twin sounds incredible and runs smoothly and you can use a broad RPM range in any gear, but you will need to stay above 4,000 RPM.


If you turn the traction control off, it will be impossible to keep the front wheel down on the track in the first three gears. In 4th, 5th or 6th, a little crest on the road will result into a power-wheelie. KTM had definitely been right when the named this bike as “The Beast”, because the 1290 Super Duke R is stronger, faster and wilder than you can only imagine.

However, it is geared too long, and at freeway speeds in 6th, the engine as it sits below 4,000 rpm is lugging, and that isn’t very good. On public roads you really don’t need more than 4 gears, except if you are addicted to prison speeds.


About the electronic, KTM’s state-of-the-art electronics package, a traction control system and a modern Bosch ABS are in. These systems are not the same like the ones on the KTM 1190 Adventure and that means that KTM won’t offer the recently flaunted Bosch MSC stability system on the Duke.

Also the ABS system is different from the other bikes, and that is fine on the street, but on the track it looks like that by disabling the ABS you can get the most out of the brakes. The ABS system comes in too quickly on the truck even in its sports setting. Experienced riders also can choose a ‘Supermoto’ setting for the ABS, and that setting can allow you to slide the rear tire.


What is more fantastic is the Bosch Traction Control. The rough asphalt of the Spanish mountain passes didn’t aspect the 180 HP and 106 lbs-ft bike at all because the system worked overtime on the broken surface. This felt a little awkward, but later you gain full-confidence in the electronics.

On the Ascari track, the system worked brilliantly and we could see the TC light that comes in the 90° left-hander, the Super Duke R stayed perfectly stable, but we couldn’t feel the system working at all.

The only bad thing about this electronics package is the irritating way of turning it on and off. You have to press the button for 5 seconds, while standing, and that means that you can’t make any changes on-the-fly and react fast to changing conditions.

KTM said that this was for safety reasons, but this doesn’t add up to the simple fact of introducing a 180 HP bake and with their ready to race image.


The Brembo M50 monoblocs are also part of the 1290 Super Duke, because they have proved themselves on other bikes (Ducati 1199 Panigale). The braking power is powerful, but you get so much feedback. Without fear of lowsiding, you can execute emergency stops on loose surfaces.

What gives more feeling of total control is the comfortable seating position with a gentle knee-angle to the pegs and great stock seat. Is very easy to shift gears, even though we get a few false neutrals on the rough twisting roads, and that is maybe because of dodgy roads during the test and the hectic racing conditions.

As always with KTM, the all-new trellis frame is suspended by high quality WP elements. The front forks have separate damping controls, and that means that one leg controls the rebound, and the other takes care of the compression damping.

There is more flex in the chassis than you can see on a superbike, and this is not a hot rod RC8 without fairings. When you ride the bike for the first time, it moves around quite a bit and in conditions like these, it is good to have a steering damper as a fail safe.


You will get used to the flexibility, and you will gain confidence after a while. There is a plenty of ground clearance on public roads, but on the track the toe sliders got a great workout. The race version has much more ground clearance.

What gives full confidence are the Dunlop Sportsmart2 tires while lacking grip a little while later. No changes were done to the bikes according to KTM, and we don’t know why the grip and the front-end feedback was so changeable.

The rear suspension is made of a single-sided construction and always feel stable, confident, tight, and perfectly in control. All that thanks to the traction control system.


The KTM 1290 Super Duke R is a product with great quality. The finish looks amazing except for the cheap looking exhaust system. KTM likes you to buy a full Akrapovic system to solve the issue, and that is very expensive but it promises an additional 12 horses.

The headlight is mounted very low on the forks and it is with striking LED daytime running lights. It automatically turns on and off. The rider should control this, but the setup is not as nervous as the headlight of the Adventure.


The 2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R is priced at €17.599 in Europe, and this is a lot of money for a naked bike. For that amount of money, KTM should have added carbon bits and a better race-ABS system.

But the new 1290 Super Duke R doesn’t have any real flaws except from the ABS and MTC controls. This bike gives an insane street-fighter with great power and control for full enjoy.

Maybe you are asking if all this power is needed, but the addictive and huge waves of torque gives you a pleasure while you are riding the bike.

The commanding seating position combined with a wild ride, gives you a nice finish of the bike. So, just try to keep your driving license, as much as you can.


Technical Specifications of KTM Super Duke 1290 R
Engine Displacement1301.00 cc
Engine Type2-cylinder, 4-stroke, V 75°
Engine StartingElectric starter/12V 11.2Ah
Bore108 mm
Stroke71 mm
Engine LubricationPressure lubrication with 3 Eaton pumps
ClutchPASC slipper clutch, hydraulically operated
IgnitionKeihin EMS with DBW, double ignition
Cooling SystemLiquid cooling
Maximum Power180 HP at 8870 rpm
Maximum Torque144 Nm
Transmission6 speed
FrameChromium-Molybdenum-Steel trellis frame, powder coated
Front Brake2 x Brembo four piston, radially bolted caliper, brake disc Ø 320 mm
Rear BrakeBrembo fixed mounted two-piston brake calipers
Front SuspensionWP-USD Ø 48 mm
Rear SuspensionWP-Monoshock
Wheel TypeDie cast alloy wheels
Wheelbase1482 mm
Height835 mm
Weight189 kg
Ground Clearance140 mm
Petrol Tank Capacity18 litres


Pictures of KTM Super Duke 1290 R



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