One of the most pronounced strengths of the KTM development department is the close networking of the different project groups, which ensures that year after year, any model family may benefit from another one. Like the engine of the first Super Duke was formerly based on the two-cylinder of the Adventure, the big twin of the new Super Duke is now descended from one of the most powerful and refined V2 powerplants of our times, the engine of the KTM Superbike RC8 R. But the technicians based in Mattighofen would not be KTM engineers if they just left it at that, if they were the sort of people satisfied to simply pick different elements from the KTM construction kit and call it a new development. Perfection is in their DNA. This means they have left not a single component untouched in adapting and developing the Superbike engine "Made in Mattighofen" and pulled out all the stops of the art of engine design.
The technicians increased the displacement of the LC8 powerplant from the 1,195cc of the 1190 RC8 R to 1,301cc for the 1290 Super Duke R. And not by a simple bore job either, but by balancing the bore enlargement (from 105.0 to 108.0mm) with a longer stroke (up from 69.0 to 71.0mm). At only 62 kilos, the extremely narrow four-valve engine is among the lightest Big Twins in the world, developing no less than 180hp of maximum power and 144Nm of maximum torque with its electronic engine management, ride-bywire function, dual ignition and selective mapping. Thanks to lots of low-end torque, plenty of mid-range punch, an extremely quick response and breathtaking maximum power, combined with remar kable refinement and unusually low vibrations, the upgraded engine covers the complete bandwidth expected of a sporty naked bike, from enjoyable cruising to all-out mayhem. In addition, although the bike has significantly more power, the 1290 Super Duke R consumes noticeably less fuel than its predecessor, which means it is not just easier on the budget but also achieves an impressive range with its 18 litre tank. Service intervals stretched to 15,000 km also contribute to saving costs.
Borrowed from Formula 1, the ‘box-in-a-box’ piston design gives the 1290 Super Duke R’s pistons maximum resilience despite an extremely low and lightweight design. Even though they have a three millimetre larger diameter than the pistons of the 1190 RC8 R, the ones of the Super Duke R are another 47 grams lighter per piston. This minimizes the oscillating masses, achieving optimum engine response. In addition, the piston skirts carry a high-tech, hard-anodised surface coating which not only minimizes friction but is also especially tough, thereby enhancing durability.
The 1290 Super Duke R's highly modern DOHC four-valve cylinder heads with dual ignition deliver a significant contri bution to the outstanding performance of the LC8 engine. Via separate mappings, the dual ignition controls the sparks of the two spark plugs per cylinder head independently from each other, achieving a more efficient combustion as well as a smoother combustion cycle. The results are more power, more torque and more refinement, lower fuel consumption and fewer emissions. Controlling the charge cycle through flow-optimised ducts, the four valves of each cylinder head are actuated by two overhead camshafts via DLC-coated finger follo wers. Now lighter because they are now single-piece, the precision-cast camshafts have the same valve timings as those of the super sports bike RC8 R. Harder exhaust valve seat rings and nitrified exhaust valves minimize wear and extend the valve play inspection intervals – one of the prerequisites for lengthening the new Super Duke R's service intervals to 15,000 kilometres.
The electronic Keihin engine manage ment system with ride-by-wire throttle valves controls the stateof-the-art electronic fuel injection with a main focus on maximum power, combined with predictable engine characteristics as well as an instantaneous but perfectly controllable response. For the 1290 Super Duke R, the throttle bodies have been enlarged to a valve diameter of 56mm instead of 52mm in order to optimise the power delivery.
The 1290 Super Duke R's slipper clutch automatically reduces the pressure on the clutch discs whenever the torque feedback toward the engine becomes too great. This way, rear-wheel chatter under forceful braking is efficiently eliminated. In addition, it increases pressure on the clutch discs in proportion to the engine torque, so softer clutch springs can be used. This in turn means that less force is necessary to operate the hydraulically actuated clutch – it now has a sensitive single-finger.
The very low flywheel mass of the 1290 Super Duke R's crankshaft delivers a decisive contribution to its instantaneous and free-revving engine response. In addition, the flow-optimized crankweb shape supports the especially low-loss operation of the crank gear sustained by a third oil pump for evacuation of the crank case.
The 1290 Super Duke R’s elaborate, newly designed exhaust system is manufactured in Mattighofen completely from stainless steel. Containing a three-way catalytic converter within its pre-silencer, hundreds of dyno runs and complex calculations ensure that the exhaust system delivers a decisive contribution to the highly uniform torque delivery and the exceedingly clean emissions of the powerful twin cylinder engine.