Lightweight and exceptional handling: two focus points for a track-inspired naked bike that is built for the street. One like the 2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R—also aptly dubbed the “Beast 3.0.” For 2020, KTM improves the 1290 Super Duke R’s handling with a new chassis and frame that utilizes the refined LC8 engine as a stressed member to optimize torsional stiffness. And everyone wants to unleash this beast’s 1,301cc V-twin—a powerplant that we claimed was “the most powerful LC8 twin KTM has offered to date, all while meeting the challenge of tighter Euro 4/5 emissions regulations.”
Tech aficionado Kevin Cameron dissected the 2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R’s revised LC8 engine and its history stating, “KTM’s LC8 V-twin has evolved through its 20-year history with increased compression tied to greater sophistication of engine fuel and ignition management.”
Don Canet attended the Beast’s press launch to test the highly updated machine and found, “The LC8 smooth meaty low-end torque delivery allows a choice in gear selection pulling out of most corners with very linear delivery from basement revs to its 10,500-rpm rev limit. The twin’s inherent tractability combined with a responsive predictable nature that instilled rider confidence in the slick conditions.”
Shootout-worthy adversaries include the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100, Yamaha MT-10, Suzuki GSX-S1000, Ducati Streetfighter V4.
The KTM 1290 Super Duke R sees updates to the chassis, engine, and electronics. The chrome-molybdenum steel trellis frame has larger sectional diameters and thinner walls to enhance rigidity. The aluminum/carbon composite rear subframe is new as well, as is the single-sided swingarm with linkage system and new WP Apex rear shock absorber with an external reservoir. The engine is fitted with lighter engine cases with linkage mounting, titanium valves, 56mm throttle bodies with additional top-feeder injectors, more powerful engine coils for improved combustion, optimized crank cases, and a smoother-shifting Pankl gearbox. Changes to the electronics include latest-gen lean-angle-sensitive traction control with six-axis IMU and updated functions in all ride modes. Premium stopping power is had with the new Brembo Stylema four-piston Monoblock calipers and two 320mm brake discs.