KTM 1290 GT test ride
WWB test ride KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT
You're probably wondering, why the f*ck do Worldwide Bomber Magazine want to test a touring adventure bike?
Well, in the Bomber office, we've talked a lot about who it is who feels like they need to own this kind of bike, and whether you can use them in any other way than just riding across Europe with a fat lady on the pillion seat? Are they made just for bikers over sixty years of age who don´t have any real life left? Even though we're not huge fans of this kind of high-front-screen bike, we know that they have sold really well for the past few years. So, we figured, there are enough reasons to test this kind of bike, to see if all the cliches are true or false. So, as we like the colour orange, we chose the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.
Text: Leevi Tuomivaara
Stunts: Janne Uskali
Photos: Niklas Jäntti & Leevi Tuomivaara
The Super Duke GT is a totally different bike to its brother, the Super Duke 1290. You can see the different fairings, fuel tank etc but there are also some hidden changes in the motor too. Like the totally new cylinder heads, crank, injection mapping and so on. These are the reasons why this Adventure bike makes a cool 144Nm torque at only 3250rpm! And it is not just paper talk, you can feel it when you open the throttle wide open.
The GT's older brother Super Duke came out in 2005, and you can say that it was black sheep for sure. The 999cc V2-engine wasn't most the powerful engine, but this bike had something new, with its styling and race attitude without fairings. The radical design, race performance, Brembo brakes and WP fully tuned suspension, made this bike one of the best hooligan bomber bikes on the planet! And a couple of years ago this bad ass bike was updated with a real deal 1301cc engine and nice single-sided swinging arm.
This brand new 1290 Super Duke GT has a lot of the same parts as the full fat 1290 Super Duke, but KTM say that you can also do some touring on the same bike that you can use for street bombing. Hence the reason for the electrically operated suspension adjustment, if you need comfortable suspension for a long distance trip without crippling your lower back...
Like we said, the engine has a lot of the same parts as the True Hooligan big brother, but those few differences has given this bike better low down torque than the standard Super Duke, but even so it should still make a potent 173 horses at the crank. Even though the GT looks like a boring adventure bike, it really is something different. When you hit the throttle on the street, the front wheel comes up really easily in the first three gears and it revs really nice too, but the bottom end torque make this bike truly evil. It's an inside joke while trying to drift on a Grand Touring bike, which makes us wonder just what has happened here, because you'd never have thought that this bike can be one of the best (standard) drift bikes on the market!
The brutal torque, plus the great brakes, suspension, and long wheelbase - aided by a headcase sat on the rider's seat - help to drift this big bike from side-to-side on curving roads.
The Super Duke GT has the same suspension as 1290 R-model, with its electric WP shocks. You can easily change the suspension mode from Sport to Comfort. The GT also has a steering damper, so you can push it to the limit without scaring yourself with wrist-snapping tank slappers.
Up front the GT has two four piston radial calipers, and a two piston brake at the rear. The new bike has ABS, of course, but thankfully KTM understand different style riders, so there is a possibility to switch off the whole ABS-system, or ride just the 'supermoto' mode when you have ABS at the front, but not at the rear. So you can do cool supermoto-style slides by locking up the rear wheel.
Like almost every new big bike, the GT has a lot of electronic riding computer shit. You can choose three different riding modes: Sport, Street or Rain mode. The GT also has a quick shifter as stock, helping fast gear changes. And then there is the indicators, that automatically stop blinking 150 meters after the last lean angle... yes, really!
The GT has the same frame as the 1290 R-model, with the same single-sided swinging arm. The subframe looks very similar, but the GT has got locating pegs for panniers. Staying with the touring theme, the fly screen can be moved up or down, depending on whether you're a rider with a short or long neck....
On the road
The 1290 GT's engine is brutal, like we told you before, but somehow KTM has also made it really smooth. If you've ever ridden one of those first RC8 sportsbikes, you'll know what kind of on/off throttle response it might've had.. but, thank goodness, those days seem to be over.
Because this is a Grand Touring bike it is no news that this bike is easy to ride over a long distance without problem. Warm grips and cruise control, make it far easier to do touring trips. Although it's funny that a bike that looks like this can be also so fast on hairy roads and highways. We almost could say that this bike has sleeper blood in its veins.
When we did some stunts on this bike, we found a very interesting problem. When the bike was almost at the 12 o'clock wheelie (balance point), after a few seconds it almost stopped running and the front wheel came down really hard. We tested it several times, and always when the registration plate scraped on the ground for a couple seconds, the engine stop running. Weird?
But if you didn't scrape the plate and did just 'normal' power wheelies, there was no problem with the engine. The same with endos and stoppies, the GT can do those all day long if you like. So we did.
At the end, this should be a some kind of joke test ride, but we have to take our hat off and say, “Wow, what a touring bike KTM has made! We never really thought that we could do some stunts and drifting on a stock touring bike like this.”
We did a small test ride video on this bike for our Youtube BomberMagazineTV channel, check it out:
Engine: 1301cc, twin cylinder vee twin, 4-stroke
Torque: 144 Nm
Wet weight: 228kg
Front suspension: WP 48 mm semiactive USD
Rear suspension: WP semiactive monoshock
Front brakes: Brembo 4 piston radial caliper, 320mm disc, ABS.
Rear brake: Brembo 2 piston caliper, 156mm disc, ABS.
Fuel tank: 23 litre
Seat height: 835mm