For years now, the Super Duke name has been synonymous with a mental machine which basically has an engine, wheels, a seat and something for you to cling onto. Monumental power and just sheer lunacy. In 2014 KTM introduced us to the Super Duke R which was even more bonkers. For 2017 they went even darker with the new Super Duke R.
Let’s start with the engine. KTM managed to wring another 7 horses out of the already powerful LC8 engine, bringing the power to 177hp. That is 130kw from the 1301cc engine. The 75 degree V produces around 140Nm of torque. Then they bolted on a lightweight trellis frame, painted a seat on, and let the beast loose.
The 2017 Super Duke has a few subtle design tweaks. Gone are the plastic surrounds around the pillion set, and they sharpened up the already aggressive lines, to make this a truly gnarly looking bike. The new LED running lights make the front looks alien-like, and this KTM can scare cars into retreating to the loser lane. The tank holds 18l of fuel and has a hefty bulge, making you feel as if you are sitting in the bike, rather than on it.
The front shocks are 48mm WP units, mounted upside down and the springs have also been firmed up. The monoshock rear is also from WP. Both ends are fully adjustable.
The seat is a comfortable height at around the 840mm mark and there is plenty of room to tuck your legs in. The ride was surprisingly comfortable for a naked bike. KTM made the bars wider and moved them forward and down, which results in a sportier stance for the rider. Radial mounted Brembo discs do duty to make the Duke come to a stop again. The front has dual 320mm discs and the rear has a 240mm disc, neatly incorporated into the single sided swingarm. ABS is standard.
When I got on the bike, the first thing I noticed was that the big dial from the old Duke was gone, replaced with a small TFT display, no bigger than my phone. Even with it being so small, getting on the bike and not seeing any part of the front wheel is disconcerting, but that also means short wheelbase which in turn translates to joy in the twisties. Throttle response is instant and at full tilt, you can feel the front wheel becoming light however the electronics do a great job of keeping it in check. The electronics tamed the beast adequately, but you can switch everything off if you are an experienced rider.
There are three rider modes to choose from, Sport, street and rain, each with varying levels of assistance. This bike even has cruise control which seems almost out of place for this class of bike.
If you are into shouty bikes that attract attention and that can hold their own on a track, I doubt you will find a better companion than the Super Duke R. If you are quiet and a bit of an introvert, parking away from the crowds, then I suggest you steer clear of this bike and rather look at ride-on lawnmowers.
Price: R214 999
Words and pictures – Brian Cheyne