KTM 1290 Super Duke R | DOIN’ TIME

Long-Term Update: Rain-testing new tires and saddlebags.

WRIST: Zack Courts
MSRP (2014): $16,999
MILES: 12,184
MPG: 36
MODS: Metzeler tires
UPDATE: 9

After stretching my arms and wheelying my brains out at a local trackday, the KTM 1290 is back to street clothing and commuting duties. The Blaze bags from SW-Motech (see Doin' Time here) went back on, but I left the MRA windscreen off, and I haven't missed it. Naked-bike purists wagged their collective finger at me for tarnishing the idea behind the Super Duke, and in this case they were right. I think the windshield detracted more from the 1290's looks than it added in comfort or functionality, and I suspect most other screens would do the same.

The Blaze bags from SW Motech don’t claim to be waterproof, nor are the zippers sealed, but check out how the water beads up on the nylon exterior. Waterproof liners are provided to make dry certain.

Finally getting some sporadic rain in California meant waterproof testing of items was underway; first up, these Bags Connection Blaze saddlebags. To compare techniques I stuffed both bags full of brown packing paper—one in the waterproof liner and one not—and set off. After about an hour of riding in steady rain the paper packed in the roll-down, waterproof liner was dry. Surprisingly, even though these Blaze soft bags don’t have waterproof zippers, the paper stuffed in without protection was also largely dry. The system checks out, and it seems a shower here or there would be no sweat for the Blaze’s ballistic nylon exterior.

After a little less than 3,000 miles of day-to-day riding and one thoroughly abusive trackday, the Bridgestone S20 Evo tires were down to the wear bars, so I went looking for a replacement. Metzeler had an obvious choice in its new Sportec M7 RR supersport tire (metzeler.com; $426/set). The M7 RR slots into the Metzeler line at the most aggressive end designed for street use and occasional track riding—though you might assume otherwise seeing how prominent the treat cuts are. The M7 RR uses a single compound front and a dual-compound rear, with the center 20 percent (about 45mm) of the tire using a harder compound for more longevity.

Metzeler claims excellent wet traction due to high silica content, and the first thing I did was put it to the test with a sopping commute on fresh M7 RRs. After being very careful for the first few miles, I experimented with traction and was deeply impressed. Lifting the front wheel under acceleration and the rear wheel under braking on soaked pavement is a testament to the tire’s wet grip. In the few hundred miles since that first ride I’ve been impressed with the M7 RR’s short warm-up time and general ride quality. Still many miles to go, of course.

Next up for the 1290 is a service at the dealer, and, when it returns to our shop, I’ll probably put the KTM bags back on. Provided we don’t go through another epic drought, I’ll be testing the OEM panniers for waterproofness too.

The Blaze bags from SW Motech don’t claim to be waterproof, nor are the zippers sealed, but check out how the water beads up on the nylon exterior. Waterproof liners are provided to make dry certain.