2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Is Here

Tickling the technical underbelly of full beast mode.

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
The 2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R has some cool technical innovations and nice convenience features. And more horsepower and less weight. The Austrians have been very busy.KTM

Brash, excessive, and a big middle finger to the zeitgeist, the super naked is the motorcycle that 2020 needs. KTM knows as much, and is marking its territory with an updated version of the 1290 Super Duke R, the original Jekyll-less Hyde. It's lighter, more powerful, and will grace showrooms with an MSRP of $18,699.

The 1290 Super Duke R is joining the brand-new Ducati Streetfighter V4, MV Agusta Brutale 1000, and the Kawasaki Z H2 for what's shaping up to be a raging battle of brawn. Last revised for 2017, the Duke wasn't exactly getting long in the tooth, so the update shows just how much KTM values the reputation of its flagship super naked.

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Engine Updates

KTM is a company made of mad Austrians bent on supremacy through speed, so it hasn’t spared the 1,301cc LC8 motor, which is already one of the motorcycle world’s crown jewels. The updated engine—KTM isn’t quoting a power figure—features titanium intake valves and resonator chambers, and revised fuel injectors and 56mm throttle bodies to improve torque and fuel economy. Fore and aft of that 75-degree V-twin behemoth, KTM repositioned the ram air intake to improve airflow into the combustion chamber, and revised the exhaust headers to optimize exhaust flow. The LC8 is renowned for the slick precision of its transmission, but KTM even set the scalpel to that—hopefully we can muster up some more superlatives to describe it before we get a chance to tangle with the thing.

Engineers chase tenths for streetfighters just like they do for the sportbikes from which they’re frequently derived, but the whole endeavor comes across as less serious. The category isn’t about tenths, it’s about finding the pinnacle of riding pleasure and performance.KTM

Where Did The 2020 1290 SDR Shed The Pounds?

KTM claims the SDR tips the scales at 416 pounds dry. A quick perusal of the CW archives indicates that's about 15 pounds lighter than the previous generation. KTM shed 1.7 pounds off the engine alone by using thinner casings, and another 4.4 pounds come off the frame. The frame itself is all new, and to the naked eye resembles the style of that of RC8 superbike (may it rest in peace). There's also a trick new composite subframe that does away with the exposed trellis of the previous model.

To improve stability and rear end squat under acceleration, KTM moved the swingarm pivot 5mm higher and closer to the countershaft sprocket. The swingarm is also longer to help get all that power to the ground.

2020 1290 SDR
The 2020 1290 SDR comes with a remote key fob. It also has a new TFT dash.KTM

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Suspension Updates

On the suspension side, there is an updated 48mm WP fork up front, and a new WP rear shock out back that features separate oil and gas reservoirs to keep it as compact as possible. A manual preload dial gets rid of the conventional ramp-style adjuster. KTM has dropped the linkless rear suspension design for a new progressive shock linkage that claims to keep on-road compliance while boosting track performance. For light weight and rigidity, the top triple clamp is made of lightweight forged aluminum.

2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Updated Rider Aids

On the electronics side, the 1290 Super Duke R is rife with rider aids to help make the most of its mechanical grip. There’s a Bosch six-axis IMU to manage cornering ABS and traction control, and KTM refined its ride modes to be less intrusive.

1290 Super Duke R
The 1290 Super Duke R comes shod with Bridgestone S22 rubber.KTM

The PowerParts catalog includes a Track Mode, which includes launch control, a nine-level spin adjuster, a track ride mode, and the ability to turn anti-wheelie off (which, in our eyes, makes it “optional” only in that you have to pay extra for it). There’s also an optional Performance Mode, which allows for similar adjustability without subtracting cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity.

new bodywork
The new bodywork is minimalist and aggressive.KTM

All we can say is, reserve some points on your license. You’re gonna need ’em.

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