It’s been a few years since I’ve ridden KTM’s flagship Adventure bike, the mighty 1290 Super Adventure R. Not much has changed since then besides a highly revised navigation update and a few other minor changes. Either way it is still one of the most dramatic motorcycles money can buy, for many reasons…
Firstly that 1,301cc, 75-degree, DOHC, 4-valve, 160hp@9,000rpm, and 138Nm@6,500rpm, engine is a modern day masterpiece of engineering. So it should be as KTM have been fiddling and refining their big V-twins for several years now, and predictably this is the best one ever found inside its big Adventure bike range. ‘They’ say nothing has changed over the last few years, which raises an eyebrow, because it’s the smoothest and most refined version I’ve had the pleasure of unleashing to date.
Some people say what’s the point in a 160hp Adventure bike, but have they actually ridden one? To myself it’s more about the outrageous torque it produces, everywhere. Torque is acceleration and horsepower is top speed, so we have more than ample of both. Just twist the throttle and you’re instantly rewarded with relentless drive and a top speed of well over 250km/h in case you’re wondering. But it’s more about the way it gets there.
At first I thought it doesn’t feel too fast, until you look down at the huge 7-inch TFT display and see an effortless 200km/h in places where you shouldn’t be going that fast, if you know what I mean? While you’re on the way to those speeds you’ll enjoy the updated quick-shifter through the six-speed gearbox, again, the best I’ve felt on the 1290 engine. Not forgetting it goes both up and down the gearbox.
Obviously the Super Adventure R is riddled with electronic rider aids, more so than ever now. Traction control, lean angle sensitive slip control, power modes (Sport, Street, Rain, Off-road), ABS modes and this bike had the necessary Rally Mode (additional cost), to unlock its full potential, but I just left it on that setting all of the time. Now you can wheelie at will and enjoy the most aggressive throttle response. Click here www.ktm.com for more detailed information on these class leading electronics.
All of these rider aid settings can easily be seen on this 7-inch TFT superb display, without doubt one of the best out here. Using the left hand switchgear it’s also very easy to access your desired choices, unlike some I don't care to mention. On the right side you can also set the cruise control for relaxed long distance riding.
Now being the ‘R’ version it has the best suspension KTM can offer, in the form of WP XPLOR, and quite simply it’s exemplary. All manual to adjust and not electronic like found on the 1290S, and I prefer it. Simple clicks, here and there, on the huge 48mm forks improved damping for my liking, as in softer for road use. At the rear we have a hefty looking XPLOR shock with similar adjustability. Even when I ventured off-road, where it excels, you really do notice the quality of the ‘springy’ parts. Putting a large amount of power down has never been so easy and rewarding. You can ‘clip’ the power to 100hp in off-road mode, if you like, I just left it on full power delivery, because it only goes as fast as you twist the throttle anyway, right?
Even though it’s a big bike at 221kg (dry), with a tall 880mm seat height it’s very easy to live with on a daily basis. Interestingly KTM do offer 11, yes 11, different seat options to suit any type or size of bottom, which is considerate. This stock one was fine for myself as I wrapped my legs around the 23-litre tank resplendent in this new matt white colour option. I also appreciate the way the air-filter can easily be pulled out from the top of the petrol tank, by removing just a couple of screws, an absolute stroke of genius from the KTM engineers.
Doesn’t it look splendid though? At first I thought this new tactile paint wouldn’t stand up to South Africa’s riding terrain, I was wrong, because this bike had recently been on the KTM Rally Raid (hard core), with no sign of paintwork damage, very impressive that. All protected by the stock fitting of hefty crash bars.
I primarily rode the Super Adventure R on the road though where it makes a terrific touring bike for both rider and pillion. It eats up the kilometres in a ridiculous fashion and then you can revel in its sporty attributes through twisty tarmac bends, and embarrass many sports bikes tying to keep up with you (even though it has a 21-inch front wheel). While doing this those large 320mm Brembo fed brakes never complain and you can adjust ABS settings to suit your aggressive, or not, riding style.
I think that’s the raw beauty of the Super Adventure R, you can either go soft, mild, or hard and it’ll adapt with ease and no complaints. Now the big question, is it the best large capacity Adventure bike on the market? I’d have to say yes! Sure it’s over R360,000 with the Rally Pack and Akrapovic exhaust (which was way too quiet by the way), but with 160hp it certainly makes it an awesome Earthmover of note.
Visit www.ktm.com for dealer locations and to book a highly recommended test ride.
If in Gauteng go to www.radktm.co.za who have one waiting for you to try today.