Fresh Meat | DOIN' TIME

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

WRIST: Zack Courts

MSRP (2014): $16,999

MILES: 4,507

MPG: 35

MODS: None

It was only a matter of months before boss-man Cook realized I was skating by without writing a long-term update. Easy Street has come to an end, though; I’ve got myself an assignment. And what an assignment it is! To say I’m thrilled to have the key to one of the most exciting bikes we’ve tested recently is an understatement, but it’s also a dilemma.

At a cool $17,000 the Super Duke R represents the premium end of the naked-bike spectrum, and the truth is there isn’t a whole lot with which to fiddle—and you know how we like fiddling. However, I do have my eye on some items that came up during testing for last month’s cover story. (And, you know, we could always just ride the thing and see how it lasts.)

The most obvious direction to improve the 1290 is wind protection, so I’ll be researching options. Being thoroughly intoxicated with the Super Duke’s personality will have an influence, though; I want to maintain the brawny aesthetic. Speaking of which, I could use a little more “brawn” from the exhaust note. An aftermarket pipe on this already-hair-raising 1,301cc Super Duke motor? I might have to. KTM’s accessories catalog also suggests light travel-touring is encouraged, believe it or not, and considering I don’t own a car I’ll likely experiment with small luggage possibilities.

I’m hoping I can make some headway with the electronics too. Everyone agrees the KTM controls and user interface are simple enough to navigate, but the system is time consuming to use, and the settings don’t stick after the ignition is cycled. Having to stare at the dash every time you start the bike to get the settings the way you want is frustrating. I understand why KTM did it this way, but I’ll keep my eyes on the aftermarket for a solution.

Front brake drag emerged during our first stint with the bike before becoming an official long-termer. I’m not jumping at the chance to mess with the Brembo setup—because it’s awfully good—but maybe different pads would offer a little less drag while maintaining good bite and feel? Lastly, the speedometer on our 1290 reads quite high, a common complaint among 1290 owners, so I’ll see if there are firmware updates for it or maybe an aftermarket fix. With 92 pound-feet of torque and 150 horsepower at the rear wheel, it’s good to know exactly how fast I’m going.

Ostensibly, KTM has created a practical (and thrilling) bike to ride, and because it’s all new it will be interesting to see how the ownership experience plays out. As usual, I plan to ride this bike in all types of situations—racetrack, sport-touring, commuting—in order to truly explore the 1290 Super Duke’s potential.