2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R First Look

October 4, 2013
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

This week KTM revealed official photos and spec sheet for its 1290 Super Duke R. The new street brawling Duke is long-expected, with KTM having already teased a prototype concept and confirming its production status during last year’s EICMA show in Milan. Now the official production specs are in, and they’re eye-bulgingly robust – the new KaTooM boasting 180 horsepower and a 189 kg (416.6 pound) dry weight.


Not all news is so grand, as the production Duke’s styling shows some alterations from the stripped down prototype. Foremost is the abomination of a license plate holder hanging out the back end, and the megaphone exhaust practically enshrouding the single-sided swingarm. But, alas, this is a road-legal bike after all – even if it’s promised 180 horsepower make it a traffic scofflaw’s dream.

The 1290 Duke builds off the 75-degree liquid-cooled V-Twin powering the RC8 Superbike. Displacement bumps up to 1301cc – a 106cc boost as the 108mm bore and 71mm stroke grow by a respective 3mm and 2mm from the Superbike powerplant. The 180 peak horsepower claim rings in at 8870 rpm for the 1.3 liter mill, with peak torque at 106.19 lb-ft. KTM promises plenty of pull down low too, with 73 lb-ft available right off the bottom at 2500 rpm.

Ride-by-wire throttle controls the 180-hp brute, and KTM’s press lingo on the Duke’s microsite (www.1290superduker.com) describes the RBW in terms too poetically to not quote directly: “The 1290 Super Duke R intelligently translates rider’s commands at the throttle twist grip into electronic opening of the throttle valve. And always in the way that makes best sense. This means, for example, that the engine accelerates more smoothly. And hence that the rear wheel only rotates as much as is just about still healthy. Incidentally, the rider notices none of this assistance. Only that everything always makes optimum forward progress.”

Just about still healthy… KTM, when do we get to ride this thing?!

The electronics package includes different drive modes, traction control and ABS. Details on the Duke’s TC system are still wanting, but there’s no direct mention yet of the Moto Stability Control (MSC), which the Austrian marque developed with Bosch and recently announced for its 1190 Adventure. The 1290 Duke’s ABS, also from Bosch, will offer variable settings – with KTM specifying a Supermoto mode that restricts ABS to the front, thus allowing rear wheel slides.


A chromoly tubular steel trellis frame and single-sided swingarm anchor the chassis. The WP suspension components show easy adjustment clickers atop the beefy 48mm fork, with a remote-reservoir shock in the rear. Braking components are top-shelf Brembo, with radial-mount M50 monobloc calipers pinching 320mm discs up front.

Other odds and ends highlights from the spec sheet and PR material include a slipper clutch for the six-speed transmission, 15,000-kilometer service intervals and a 0-200 kmh claim of 7.2 seconds. For us Yankees that’s 0-124 mph in 7.2 seconds… Ai yai yai!

More details on the new Duke are forthcoming, with KTM doing a slow roll out tease on the microsite. For now peruse the pics and video below. And if you want to hear how the 1290 sounds click here.

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