2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R First Look Review

An off-road version of KTM’s flagship Super Adventure for 2017

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R sand jump
In this metaphor the sand dune is the global motorcycling scene, and the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is bursting onto it—get it?Photo: KTM

Admit when you're wrong, that's what we say. We showed you spy photos at the end of August (click here for the KTM 1190 Adventure Spy Shots story) that showed KTM testing what appeared to be an updated version of the firm's 1190 Adventure lineup. Now that sheets are being pulled off bikes at Intermot in Cologne, Germany, we see that KTM has debuted a fresh pair of 1290 Super Adventures, both powered by the now-familiar, Super Duke-derived, 1,301cc, 75-degree V-twin. One is the new 1290 Super Adventure T (click here for a First Look at the new T model for 2017), most similar to the current-gen 1290 in appearance and purpose, and the other is an R model.

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R headlight
For 2017 the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R gets an all-LED headlight, split down the middle. There are also auxiliary cornering lights.Photo: KTM

As with the 1190 series, the R model uses bigger wheels (a 21-inch front and 18-inch rear) shod with Continental TKC80 Twinduro rubber and is generally more spec’d for off-road use. A new off-road ABS mode allows rear ABS to be disabled completely while still having the system available and working on the front wheel. Instead of the electronically adjustable semi-active suspension, the 1290 Super Adventure R gets KTM’s Progressive Damping System (PDS) linkageless WP shock and a fully (manually) adjustable WP fork. A 35-inch seat height on the R makes it about half an inch taller than it’s T sibling, as does the 6.1-gallon fuel tank (down 1.9 gallons from the T’s mammoth 8-gallon unit).

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R seat
A 35-inch seat height and 160 claimed horsepower on tap means extracting the most from the 2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R will be for experts only.Photo: KTM

Perhaps the most obvious change is the new split headlight assembly—LED now, and accented with cornering headlights to illuminate the twists and turns ahead. The windshield is adjustable, and KTM made a point to say that it’s easier now, an upgrade which all of the staffers here at MC are very pleased to hear about. Inside the cockpit is a new, 6.5-inch TFT display shows the rider all ride data and info. If you opt for the Travel Pack you’ll get Bluetooth control over incoming calls and audio, as well as the Hill Hold Control option and a quickshifter. The KTM 1290 line will do another nifty trick for 2017, which is offer clutchless up- and down-shifts.

The last bit of tech we think is interesting is the remote keyless system, which means riders will be able to get into the fuel tank, start the bike, and lock the steering of the 1290 Super-A without a physical key. Think BMW is in the crosshairs? The 1290 gets auto-cancel blinkers, too. Pricing is TBA, but what with all of the extra technology laced into the new flagship ADVs from Austria, it's hard to imagine this bike not cresting $20,000, especially once it's kitted with some of the obvious electro-do-dads. As with basically every KTM that has debuted in the past few years, we can't wait to ride it.