CHARACTERS: KTM 1290 Super Duke R

A velociraptor in wolf’s clothing.

The 1290 Super Duke R name tells us exactly what we need to know about this KTM: Its engine is big, it carries the sporty R designation, and nothing named Duke would ever be considered weak, right?

The fact that this lithe naked bike is packing a 1,301cc, 152-hp (at the rear wheel) V-twin, with 93 pound-feet of torque also makes it one of the coolest bikes ever. But specification sheets are boring. Cracking open the 1290’s ride-by-wire throttle (with traction control off, of course) is like sticking defibrillator paddles to your chest just for fun.

Thanks to all that torque in a 417-pound package, wheelies are just part of the Super Duke experience, with the TC/wheelie control constantly intervening to save your ass. With it off, big sweet wheelstands are snapped up with ease in any of the first four gears.

The 1290 is anything but a dumbed-down version of a sportbike. Awesome Brembo brakes, lightweight wheels, excellent WP suspension, and a full electronics suite make this one of our favorite hooligan bikes of all time.

SEAT HEIGHT|32.3 in.
HORSEPOWER|152 @ 9250 rpm
TORQUE|93 lb.-ft. @ 8300 rpm
FUN FACT|That to turn off the heated grips you have to turn the Off indicator on. You follow?!

On-track action shot #1

On-track action shot #2

On-track action shot #3

On-track action shot #4

On-track action shot #5

Static left-side view.

Static right-side view.

Front wheel/brakes.

Front profile.

Instrument panel.

Name badge.


Exhaust pipe.

Rear suspension.

Rear suspension close-up.