From KTM's press material:
2014 will be another historic milestone for KTM. After the spectacular launch of the 1290 Super Duke prototype, the company follows up with the long awaited premiere of the production 1290 Super Duke R. KTM thus completes the reconstruction and expansion of its street series heralded in 2011 with the launch of the 125 Duke. Crowning their legendary range of Naked Bikes, the Austrians deliver 1290 Super Duke R – a machine that re-defines the very notion of a streetfighter and is ready to raid in all adjacent segments. The 1290 R is the most extreme Super Duke ever and more radical than any of its predecessors. It is nothing short of the ideal embodiment of the KTM philosophy: endless power, the highest precision, perfect ergonomics, the finest ingredients, not an ounce too much weight, ready to race! KTM 1290 Super Duke R – high tech in an aggressive design with unprecedented functionality and razor sharp sporting credentials, reduced to the true essence. A new kind of peg to fit none of the existing holes, it needs not fear any competitor.
The pre-history of the new 1290 Super Duke R began with a double sensation in 2002. KTM CEO Stefan Pierer baffled the world of motorcycles on the Intermot in Munich with the announcement that KTM was going to rise to Europe's best selling motorcycle manufacturer, as well as a project study for a naked bike that enraptured press and trade fair patrons alike – the Super Duke. It took ten years until Stefan Pierer's prognosis came true, to the astonishment of all the experts. But it took only three years to turn the stunning concept into a no less stunning production bike. Even then, the KTM 990 Super Duke underscored how serious the market dominating maker of off-road bikes was when it finally took off to enrich the street motorcycle segments.
Even with the 990 Super Duke of 2005, the defining features were a light trellis frame, an unobstructed view to the mighty engine, a slim waistline with a short rear, and that inimitable stroke of designer Gerald Kiska. The free-revving, 120hp V2 with heaps of torque, the extremely agile suspension, the formidable lean angles and a braking system beyond any shadow of doubt combined the lightness of a supermoto with the punchy thrust of a super sports bike. The 990 Super Duke soon became a preferred choice of sports riders and streetfighters who loved the unmistakable rumble of the 75° V2, who wanted to stand out from the crowd, and who hated watching other bikes from behind.
For model year 2007, KTM thoroughly upgraded the 990 Super Duke and added the even more aggressive sister model 990 Super Duke R with a stiffer suspension and fine racing goodies like a steering damper and carbon parts. With even greater stability and precision, feedback brought to perfection and the response optimised, now everybody could choose between two variants that aspired to rule the twisties but also intended to be key players on the race track. A year later, thanks to its revised engine with now 132hp, the 990 Super Duke reached the peak of its maturity which until today is a benchmark among the naked bikes. It developed into a permanent fixture of the sports and streetfighter scene.
The most potent naked bike in the world
Once again it was a concept bike that finally caused another international sensation, heralding the entrance of a KTM production bike made to put the world of motorcycles into turmoil. On the EICMA 2012 in Milan, KTM unleashed the “Beast” with the engine of the KTM Superbike RC8 R, bored up to almost 1.3 litres, which has since sent eye and ear witnesses into rapture at its few public appearances. Only a year later, KTM now launches the domesticated (meaning: street legal) version of that concept bike. Even the first glance at the new 1290 Super Duke R will tell you that the “Beast” has in no way been declawed in the process.
The aggressive design of the new 1290 Super Duke R betrays it immediately and unmistakably: the KTM development engineers may have stuck to the concept of the typical, delicate-looking trellis frame wrapped tightly around a mighty V2 powerplant. But they have put together a comprehensive package that outshines all previous streetfighters and naked bikes – including those made by KTM itself. The reason for sticking to traditional KTM principles is that there is no better alternative. But it is only the degree of consistency with which KTM presses ahead in the development of these components combining them with high-end technology and the latest electronics that yields a performance like the new 1290 Super Duke R has to offer. At a maximum output of 180hp and only 189kg of weight, the latest Super Duke generation realises a power-to-weight ratio previ ously reserved for maxed-out hyper sports bikes. And with a load of the latest electronic assistance systems, from the disengagable ABS with “Supermoto” mode to the also multi-staged, lean-angle sensing traction control, it defines new benchmarks for streetfighters and naked bikes regarding controllability and safety.
As a baseline for the engine of the 1290 Super Duke R, the KTM engineers decided not to choose the predecessor's twin, although it has proven itself a thousandfold. Instead, they went to the highly potent LC8 engine of the KTM Superbike 1190 RC8 R. The technicians placed the focus of development not so much on increasing maxi mum power, which is plentiful anyway, but on achieving a matchless torque delivery and maximum usability of the engine power. In doing so, they managed to pull off the seemingly impossible by raising the V2's elasticity to previously unattained levels without even slightly impairing the almost proverbial spontaneity of its response. With the stroke lengthened by 2.5mm, the short stroke engine starts heaping immense scoops of torque onto the crankshaft already in the lowest rev range, while its irrepressible hunger for action is only reigned in at 10,050 rpm by the rev limiter. The extremely light four-valve engi ne now sets free no less than 180hp of maximum power and 144Nm of maximum torque from 1,301cc of displacement. Its dual ignition increases the fuel mileage, while lowering the emissions and provi ding a smooth and refined low rev range. The hydraulic anti-hopping clutch prevents annoying rear-wheel chatter under heavy braking and lowers the manual clutch force. The V2 engine with 75° of cylin der angle and an electronic engine management with ride-by-wire function brings breathtaking performance, convincing real-world practicality and straight-razor precision into such perfect harmony that its applications range from urban commuting to the race track, where it has all the makings of a potential Superbike terror.
The chassis of the new 1290 Super Duke R copes easily with the challenges that result from the unique riding dynamics of the new KTM. Besides the ultra-lightweight but extremely rigid chrome-molybdenum steel trellis frame with its excellent geometry and bolt-on rear subframe, the credits for this go largely to the top quality and widely adjustable WP suspension components. The front wheel is guided by a pair of 48mm upside-down forks with separate damping circuits. The rear wheel, mounted within a new, especially stable and ravishingly beautiful single-sided aluminium swing arm, has a central pressurised monoshock with manually adjustable spring pre-load. Forks and monoshock offer wide ranges of adjustment from very comfortable to extremely sporty, so the chassis may be adjusted to the rider's preferences.
The unique package of a husky engine and perfectly balanced chassis delivers boundless riding fun and high levels of safety in all conditions and at every pace. Absolute predictability and top safety is not the least guaranteed by the unsurpassed Brembo brakes, the newly developed Dunlop tires and the assistance systems of the new KTM 1290 Super Duke R developed in close collaboration with Bosch. Among these groundbreaking assistance systems are the combined anti-lock brake system ABS and the ride-mode technology with lean-angle sensing traction control MTC (motorcycle traction control). In addition, ABS can not only be completely disengaged but also has a “Supermoto” mode that allows a higher degree of bike lift-up as well as complete rear wheel lock-up. The motorcycle traction control MTC, which can also be disengaged, adds three different modes, allowing different degrees of slippage at the flick of a switch on the left handlebar.
Besides its breathtaking dynamics, the 1290 Super Duke R therefore delivers captivating rideability, convincing everyday practicality and top safety. Perfectly tuned down to the finest details, the package of engine and chassis combines high functionality with unsurpassed performance in a virtually ideal manner. This means the 1290 Super Duke R is not so much the crowning finish of a long success story but a complete package newly developed without compromise, destined to convert optimum performance into ultimate riding fun at maximum safety. The 1290 Super Duke R will redefine the levels of performance possible with an unfaired motorcycle. More than that, it will write history.