KTM Super Duke Test Notes...
KTM Super DukeTest Notes+
Aggressive, powerful engine+
Worst seat ever-
Lofty price tag-
Stiff spring ratesx
The Super Duke R begs to be ridden hard, and you probably should-otherwise the seat will kill youSuggested Suspension Settings
Spring preload: 6 turns out; rebound damping: 10 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping: 20 clicks out from full stiffRear
Spring preload: 18mm of thread showing; rebound damping: 10 clicks out from full stiff; slow-speed compression damping: 10 clicks out from full stiff; high-speed compression damping: 2.5 turns out from full stiff
'08 KTM Super Duke R
MSRP: $15, 598
Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 75-deg. V-twin
Valve arrangement: DOHC, 4 valves/cyl.; shim-under-bucket adjustmentDisplacement: 999cc
Bore x stroke: 101 x 62.4mm
Compression ratio: 11.5:1
Induction: Keihin EFI, 52mm throttle bodies, single injector/cyl.
Front suspension: WP 48mm inverted cartridge fork, 5.3 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, rebound and compression damping
Rear suspension: WP single shock, 5.9 in. travel; adjustments for spring preload, rebound damping, high- and low-speed compression damping
Front brake: 2 radial-mount/4-piston calipers, 320mm discs
Rear brake: Single-piston floating caliper, 240mm disc
Front wheel: 3.50 x 17 in.; forged aluminum alloy
Rear wheel: 5.50 x 17 in.; forged aluminum alloy
Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Corsa III
Rear tire: 180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Corsa III
Rake/trail: 22.7 deg./3.7 in. (94mm)
Wheelbase: 57.0 in. (1450mm)
Seat height: 34.0 in. (865mm)
Fuel capacity: 4.9 gal. (18.5L)
Weight: 448 lb. (203kg) wet, 420 lb. (191kg) dry
Instruments: Analog tachometer, LCD panel for digital speedometer, digital coolant temperature, odometer, tripmeter, low-fuel tripmeter, clock, engine maintenance reminder; warning lights for neutral, high beam, turn signal, oil pressure, fuel reserve
Roll-ons: 60-80 mph/3.48 sec.; 80-100 mph/ 4.23 sec.
Quarter-mile (corrected): 10.43 sec. @ 130.3 mph
Top speed: 158.0 mph
Fuel consumption: 41-35 mpg, 36 mpg average
The KTM Super Duke R is a cool bike. Really, it is. I mean, look at it-it just oozes character. But it needs some refinement. For starters, that seat feels like it's nothing more than a board from the local hardware store wrapped in vinyl. That you're sitting on the edge of it doesn't help in the comfort department, either. Next, the throttle is extremely sensitive-like it has a feather-light flywheel. With the slightest twitch of the wrist the bike lunges forward, a trait of the standard Super Duke as well. On the street this makes for a really difficult bike to ride smoothly. Further, the suspension is really stiff, especially in the rear. Even with the clickers set most of the way out this is not a bike you'd want to take over a bumpy road. Find some smooth and twisty piece of asphalt, and it comes alive. You'll first have to figure out whether to go foot-out or knee-down, but it has the potential to rip either way. It's an agile and quick little bike, but its usability is so limited that I'd only own it if my driveway led directly to the Alps or the racetrack.
For a standard bike the Super Duke R is pretty hard-edged, but there is no question it rips down a tight canyon road. My first thoughts after riding it were that the seat is too hard and the suspension too stiff for what I'd want in even a sporting standard-to me these bikes should be just as capable zipping down to the store or across the state as they are in the twisties. To that end, I'd almost prefer the standard Super Duke over the R model because it's so much more user-friendly and as much fun to ride. I say "almost" because the R costs not much more, and the increased performance is easily worth the price. For sure I'd spring for the R model and try to make it more comfortable-or just put up with it-rather than trying to up the performance of a standard version to match.
Although the standard Super Duke was probably the most enjoyable bike to ride in the naked-bike group test we did last year, it never really struck a chord with me for some reason. Sure, the engine was peppy, and there weren't any complaints with its overall handling. But there just wasn't anything that really made the KTM stand out from the rest.
The Super Duke R takes care of that missing aspect. There is literally no comparison in engine performance between the standard Super Duke and the R model; the R basically stomps on the standard version literally from idle on up and pretty much puts the hurt on any other V-twin naked bike. The KTM's quick-revving powerplant is fun to use, but it also requires some deft throttle and clutch work in dense traffic or slow going due to the lack of flywheel. And while the chassis is more than up to the task of handling the speed dished out by the engine, the R's suspension spring rates are more suited to racetrack scratching than everyday riding (as is the upholstered plank of a seat).
Nonetheless, if I were looking for one of the best-performing naked bikes out there, I'd seriously consider the KTM if it were within my means-and look into fixing the slight top-end flat spot, as well as the seat.