2016 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT | FIRST RIDE

2016 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT | FIRST RIDE
They say: Touring the KTM way!
We say: Saddlebags and a supermoto mode…oh yeah!

This might be the least surprising KTM of all. From the introduction of the 1290 Super Duke R, an astonishing motorcycle that earned this magazine’s Motorcycle of the Year award in 2014 (see 2014 Motorcycle of the Year), you could see experienced riders imagining a more travel-oriented version. More comfortable, perhaps a bit more fuel capacity, some weather protection. But you could also hear them think: Please, KTM, don’t make it any less potent.

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KTM fans have their way with the 2016 1290 Super Duke GT, which I was privileged to ride at the factory as one of the few outside the company to try it in late-prototype form. In developing the GT, KTM paid close attention to feedback from its test riders and customers, as Vice President of Street Development Sebastian Sekira explains. “We started work on this bike in the summer of 2013, and it came about almost accidentally when we were making the last test rides with the normal 1290 Super Duke R just before it was launched,” he explains. “These showed us the versatility of the bike because we realized that besides making really fast laps on the race track on it, you can go riding with friends over a weekend or even make a holiday trip with it. So, based on our experience with the prototype Super Duke R, the idea was born of making a GT version with a frame mounted fairing, some space for luggage, a bit more tank capacity, and even a little more performance as a more exclusive high-end model.”

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That last statement should make Super Duke R owners a little jealous, as the 1,301cc, 75-degree V-twin is something of a hybrid between the Super Duke R and the new 1290 Adventure, using the latter’s revised cylinder heads and ports for improved midrange torque. But where the Super Adventure is limited to 160 hp, the GT has the same 180-hp peak as the Super Duke R—plus more midrange torque, if that’s even believable—all while meeting the tough, new Euro 4 emissions regulations.

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The result is the best of both worlds in delivering a noticeable hit of extra midrange performance that’s maintained all the way to the 10,200-rpm limiter, along with little vibration at any engine speed. Switching on the stock cruise control to run at 80 mph along a four-lane highway delivers effortless mile-eating that’s free of any tingles. It’s evident that what KTM has done here is to extract extra performance from the V-twin engine over and above the Super Duke R’s already impressive numbers while at the same time making the bike easier to ride.

To create the GT, KTM has taken the Super Duke R’s tubular-steel trellis frame and, while retaining the same geometry, has strengthened it to accommodate a frame-mounted upper fairing that delivers greater protection via an eight-position-adjustable windscreen. There’s also a longer, stronger, new rear subframe to give the passenger extra room as well as to facilitate fitting specially designed hard panniers alongside the integrated luggage rack that’ll come as standard. Finally, KTM’s has boosted the SD’s tank capacity from 4.8 to 6.3 gallons.

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Since the GT is something of an amalgam of Super Duke R and 1290 Super Adventure, it’s no surprise to see WP’s new semi-active suspension here. As on the Super A, it has four modes, only here called Soft, Street, Sport, and Touring, that work independently of the four ride modes that set throttle response, ABS and TC thresholds, and brake combining. These are labeled Street, Sport, Rain, and Supermoto. (Supermoto allows for total rear-wheel lockup under braking—the KTM way!) Suspension action is firm but well controlled and never harsh.

All I can say after sampling this pre-production GT is that I can’t wait to be let loose on the finished product. The more upright riding stance with plenty of legroom for taller riders, coupled with the wider, flatter taper-section aluminum handlebar makes the GT brilliant. It has as much performance as the Super Duke R with a lot more versatility.

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TECH SPEC

EVOLUTION  
Developed from the 1290 Super Duke R with longer-distance travel in mind at no cost in performance and attitude. Only slightly grown up.
RIVALS  
Aprilia Caponord 1200, BMW R1200RS and S1000XR, Ducati Multistrada 1200 S, Kawasaki Versys 1000, KTM 1290 Super Adventure
TECH  
PRICE $TBD
ENGINE 1301cc, liquid-cooled 75-degree V-twin
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 180 hp @ 8870 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE n/a
FRAME Tubular-steel trellis
FRONT SUSPENSION WP 48mm fork with dynamic compression and rebound damping
REAR SUSPENSION WP shock adjustable for spring preload with dynamic compression and rebound damping
FRONT BRAKE Brembo four-piston caliper, 320mm discs with ABS
REAR BRAKE Brembo single-piston caliper, 240mm disc with ABS
RAKE/TRAIL 24.9º/4.6 in.
WHEELBASE 58.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 32.9 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 6.3 gal.
CLAIMED WEIGHT NA
AVAILABLE April 2016
CONTACT ktmusa.com
VERDICT  
With the power of the Super Duke R and additional refinement, the GT might be the best roadgoing KTM yet.

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