Earlier this year, KTM launched 4 new Adventure models. Two 1090’s and two 1290’s. They have a street-biased version and an off-road model available in the different capacities. Both models were present in the Pirelli Bike of the year contest, and the 1290 Superadventure R walked away with top honours.
The 1290 R is aggressively styled and features a 21” front- and 18” rear tyre. This is how a gravel-munching adventure machine should be dressed. Obviously they are spoked wheels. The real attraction of this bike, however, is the LC8 engine. Harking back to Dakar winning KTM of 2002, the engine has been refined over the years, and now produces 160hp and 140Nm of torque.
Not all of us have the skill and ability of Alfie Cox, so KTM has put some serious restraining electronics on the KTM to channel the massive power to the rear wheel in a controlled manner. There are four different riding modes to choose from. In the off-road mode the power is restricted to a more manageable 100hp and the rear ABS is switched off, so you can still drag the rear wheel to help steer the bike.
ABS assisted Brembo brakes do duty up front and the suspension front and rear are manually adjustable. So too is the gearlever and foot pegs, so you should be able to get comfortable on this bike quite easily.
The instrumentation is a 6.5” TFT display, and from here you can adjust the bike even further. Even the screen’s angle can be adjusted. The Gorilla-glass screen has minimal glare and is very tough. If gravel lands on it, wiping it off will cause no damage, but believe me, on the 1290, the bikes behind you will be the ones covered in dirt. The bike comes equipped with a 12V socket and a waterproof holder for your phone.
Although comfortable, the flat seat had me a bit concerned. The acceleration is savage, and I was scared I was just going to slide off the bike. Fortunately the power delivery is smooth and with the optional “Travel Pack” fitted to the test unit, I had a quickshifter at my disposal. Lean aware traction control, hill-hold assist and cruise control comes as standard.
The Superadventure R is a monumental bike, but shorter riders might struggle as this is a very tall bike. If gravel roads are not your thing, but you still prefer the upright riding position, KTM offers an S version of the 1290 with smaller alloy wheels and adjustable seat. KTM has raised the bar of adventure bikes, and I think there are some worried Germans in Bavaria. – words and pictures Brian Cheyne