The same dual radial-mount/four-piston...
The same dual radial-mount/four-piston Brembo caliper clamping on the 320mm disc setup from the standard Super Duke is used on the R to good effect. Fork tubes on the R's 48mm WP inverted fork now sport titanium nitride coating for less stiction.
Luckily the same radial-mount four-piston Brembo calipers and 320mm discs from the standard Super Duke are found on the R model, allowing you to quickly and easily bleed off all that extra speed with plenty of feel, power and control. It's also a good thing the slipper clutch from the standard model is included, as the lack of flywheel causes a lot of engine braking that would easily chatter the rear wheel and upset the handling under aggressive stopping from high speeds. The clutch slip apparently is set up fairly tight, as the KTM's engine still bleeds off a lot of speed when you let off the throttle in the lower gears.
The previous version of the Super Duke R was released in Europe last year, and to help promote the new model KTM sanctioned a spec-class race series that ran in conjunction with the British Superbike Championship. We're thinking that KTM was influenced by that race series, because the spring rates on the new Super Duke R are stiff enough that only very hard riding on the street or track use can put enough force on them to work properly. Unless you weigh upwards of 200 pounds, anything less than an extralegal pace on the imperfect pavement usually found on public roads results in a ride harsh enough (combined with the hard seat) to pound you into submission after about 20 minutes.
Ratchet up the pace, however, and the Super Duke R finally comes into its own. The steeper steering geometry afforded by the longer rear shock has noticeably quickened the steering response over the standard Super Duke, providing an even more agile mount to carve corners with. Stability is never lacking with the race-oriented steering numbers, even while running hard and fast over rough pavement; you do need to exercise care in your steering inputs due to the extra leverage imparted by the wide handlebars to avoid upsetting the handling, though. The suspension spring rates that seemed overly stiff during normal street riding gain more compliance as speed increases yet keep the KTM's chassis well under control during aggressive acceleration and braking. Ground clearance is never lacking, and the Pirelli Diablo Corsa III rubber nearly always provides reassuring grip. On a tight canyon road, only an expert pilot aboard a conventional sportbike will be able to keep a well-ridden Super Duke R in sight.
It was only at extreme lean angles that we were left wishing for a bit more sidewall compliance from the Diablo Corsa III tires. Encountering bumps or irregular pavement while keeled over tended to get the Pirellis skittering around a bit, which sapped confidence; playing with tire pressures failed to solve the problem. We also felt that the lack of linkage in the rear suspension forced some compromises in rear-suspension setup. While the rear suspension absorbed most of the big hits at speed well, big dips would use up more suspension travel than we're used to, and attempting to counter this tendency with compression damping only hurt compliance on rough tarmac. These were really minor issues that only showed themselves at a seriously fast pace, however.
With a suggested retail price of $15,598, the KTM Super Duke R definitely isn't for the average naked-bike consumer. As with any thoroughbred, living with the Super Duke R on a day-to-day basis requires some compromise in order to have such serious outright performance at your fingertips. Although there are some four-cylinder naked bikes with more power, the majority of them are much more cumbersome to ride than the agile KTM, and there's no twin-cylinder bike in the naked category that can outrun it. Yes, owning the Super Duke R would be a commitment-but it's one that has some just rewards.