Harley-Davidson XR1200 VS. KTM Super Duke 990 R - Opposites Attract

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

2008 KTM Superduke R | Price $15,598
Hard Parts

KTM's signature chromoly-tube skeleton weighs 19 pounds complete with the obligatory orange powder coating. A bolt-on aluminum subframe carries the R-spec solo seat and muffler. Milled triple clamps define geometry steep enough to demand a steering damper.

Inhaling through 52mm Keihin throttle bodies pirated from the RC8 superbike and exhaling through Akrapovic headers, the 75-degree V-twin fits thoroughly reworked heads in between. The result will wallop anybody's naked anything this side of a Suzuki B-King and do mid-10-second quarter-miles at more than 130 mph.

Stiffened considerably from standard Super Duke specs, the 48mm WP fork and shock serve up a cruel ride on all but the smoothest roads. Rear suspension does without a linkage, which would have allowed a more compliant shock.

Four-pot Brembo calipers are a bit short on initial bite, but squeeze a little harder and stop the 448-pound package with the reassuringly linear feel you expect from track-spec brakes. The single-piston rear caliper and 240mm disc are just as good.

Tech Spec
Engine type: l-c 75-deg. V-twinRear brake: Single Brembo single-piston caliper, 240mm discCorrected 1/4-mile: 10.43 sec. @ 130.3 mph
Valve train: DOHC, 8vFront tire: 120/70-ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Corsa 3Top-gear roll-on 60-80 mph: 3.48 sec.
Displacement: 999ccRear tire: 180/55-ZR17 Pirelli Diablo CorsaFuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 41/35/36 mpg
Bore x stroke: 101.0 x 62.4mmRake/trail: 22.7/3.7 in.Colors: Orange, black, white
Compression: 11.5:1Seat height: 34.0 in.Availability: Now
Fuel system: Keihin EFIWheelbase: 57.0 in.Warranty: 12 mo. or 12,000 mi.
Clutch: Wet, multi-plateFuel capacity: 4.9 gal.Contact:
KTM North America, Inc.
1119 Milan Ave.
Amherst, OH 44001
Transmission: 6-speedWeight (tank full/empty): 448/420 lbs.
Frame: Tubular-steel trellisMeasured horsepower: 118.4 bhp @ 10,000 rpm
Front suspension: WP 48mm inverted fork, adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound dampingMeasured torque: 70.4 lb.-ft. @ 8000 rpm
Rear suspension: WP shock, adjustable for spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping
Front brake: Dual Brembo four-piston calipers, 320mm discs

Harley's strongest Sportster favors quality over quantity. Torque production tapers steadily beyond 3750 rpm, but the horsepower curve is about as linear as you'll find. Buell's SuperTT is 8.5 horses stronger, but the XR is much easier to ride.

Pegs ride higher and migrate a bit farther rearward than we'd like relative to your basic Sportster. Good cornering clearance comes at the expense of some legroom for lanky types, though the dirt-track-style handlebar welcomes long arms.

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