KTM 1290 Super Duke R | DOIN’ TIME

Overriding default dashboard settings with KTM Powersports’ ECU dongle.

WRIST: Zack Courts
MSRP (2014): $16,999
Miles: 6,122
MPG: 35
Mods: ECU dongle

A handful of KTM’s new models use the same control interface as the Super Duke R—namely the 1190 Adventure and 1190 Adventure R. The system works with four buttons, one each for scrolling up and down, a Back button, and Select, all controlling a screen a little smaller than a playing card. One of our chief complaints about these new KTMs is that the menu items that adjust riding aids are not “sticky.” That is, if you adjust traction control or ABS, the settings will revert back to defaults when the bike is shut off.

It’s an easy enough system to use, but because the suite of electronic options is fairly large, it’s annoying to dig down and make adjustments every time you ride. The settings even revert if the bike stalls, so if your riding buddies are anything like my coworkers, they’ll be reaching for your kill switch at every stoplight. Jerks!

I had a feeling KTM had a more elegant solution, and sure enough it does. Hiding in plain sight on the website, there’s a KTM Powerparts “dongle” (ktm.com; $110) that plugs into the ECU. This auxiliary box was designed mostly for the 1190 platform, where the extra software includes a map for using low-octane gas, should your Adventure take you to such a place. A fringe benefit of the dongle is that it remembers dashboard settings, so I was eager to try it on the 1290.

Install couldn’t be easier: Pop the seat off and there’s a plug waiting. The only downside is the bike will display an installation message on startup until the main ECU is made aware of the part by a KTM technician (I’ll follow up with how that goes). So far, though, it’s exactly what I wanted; ABS and TC settings stay where I want them, whether stopping at a gas station or overnight.

A road trip to Northern California is looming, which will be a perfect opportunity to test some luggage options—not to mention seeing if this bike really is comfortable for many hundreds of miles in a day. I’m also expecting an exhaust for it any day now, which will likely be an immediate install. This is the best engine I’ve ever used, so I can’t wait for it to talk a little more!

Special guest tester The Invisible Man sometimes steps in to help us test passenger accommodations.