American West Road Trip On the Long-Term KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Twisted Throttle’s Erik Stephens takes a turn on our Super A.

ktm 1290 super adventure, adv, long-term
©Motorcyclist

Unlike my long-term BMW R1200GS, which I rode home from California to Wisconsin myself, this Super Adventure was hand-delivered by FoMC (friend-of-Motorcyclist) Erik Stephens, who took the bike on a rambling, week-long road trip around the American West before depositing the big trailie at my garage door. Stephens, who owns a liquid-cooled R1200GS—LC for short—and has ridden nearly every other ADV bike on the market courtesy of his day job as owner of Twisted Throttle, knows a thing or two about what a proper adventure bike needs to do. Here are some of his thoughts after spending a little over 3,000 miles in the Super Adventure's two-level-heated saddle.

“I was truly impressed with the comfort and accessibility of the 1290 Super Adventure. I usually expect KTMs to be part terrifying and part thrilling joyride. This bike can thrill you if you want it to, but it’s equally well behaved if you’d rather settle into long-distance cruising mode. The bike has awesome power everywhere in the rev range, and it handles well everywhere on pavement.

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“I’m 6-foot-2, with a 33-inch inseam and long arms, and this is the first KTM I’ve ever sat on with a truly comfy long-distance seat; the 1190 Adventure doesn’t compare. The only real ergo issue for me was the windscreen—it felt like it was made for a shorter rider. Even adjusted to the highest position, I found myself hunching at highway speeds.” The screen came from Cook mounted to the lower of the two brackets; that might have helped.

“The electronic cruise control was awesome. It did become a little too much of a habit though. After a full day on the interstate, I automatically set the cruise control at 83 mph first thing in the morning on a secondary road in South Dakota and promptly got a ticket. It’s almost too easy to turn my brain off when cruise is on!

“One gadget I was less enamored with was the lean angle-activated turning lights—these seemed more gee-whiz than functional. They seemed to point too much toward the edge of the road, while my eyes were still focusing nearer the centerline. Perhaps they work better at more extreme lean angles than I achieved? I’d rather have an override button to turn these into daytime running lights or replace them with auxiliary headlights.

“Overall, though, I really loved the 1290 Super Adventure. There’s no other 1200-class bike that compares to the R1200GS LC for me, and I especially appreciated the 1,200cc power without the cylinder heads sending heat into my tootsies and getting in the way during technical riding. But if I had to choose between this or my R1200GS LC, what would I do? That’s a tough call. Which one can I have for less money?”