KTM 1290 Super Duke R | DOIN’ TIME

Long-Term Update: Temporary de-modding for a day at the track.

WRIST: Zack Courts
MSRP (2014): $16,999
MILES: 11,785
MPG: 36
MODS: Stripped!
UPDATE: 8

The time has finally come for some triple-digit fun! I rode the KTM Super Duke on the track for our open-class naked shootout last year (see "In Thrust We Trust" from the July 2014 issue here), and have been itching to take the 1290 back to a closed circuit ever since. It's the only place, after all, that one can truly experience the utterly atomic power of KTM's 1,301cc V-twin.

First, I had to jump through the usual hoops of trackday preparation. The aftermarket windscreen and saddlebags were an obvious start for things to remove; then I moved on to blinkers and mirrors. KTM makes life easy in this department; the whole rear fender assembly—including taillight, license plate, and blinkers—comes off by removing four bolts and unplugging two wires, easily accessible under the passenger seat. Brilliant! It was a slightly larger time investment to remove the right passenger footrest (I left the mount because it doubles as the exhaust hanger), but I think it looked cleaner without the peg.

As smooth and purposeful as this KTM looks without all of that hardware hanging from it, the 1290’s brain gets a little frazzled. The Super Duke’s electrical system is pretty advanced; like many modern motorcycles it uses a CAN bus, which is a computerized system of power management for the bike (read: fewer bundles of wires running everywhere). Along with throwing an error code when I tried to fit a louder horn (d’oh!), it means the system recognizes each of the “failed” systems when you unplug electronics. This means an error message—which must be acknowledged/canceled—for each blinker, the taillight, and the brake light, every time the ignition key is cycled. Handy for troubleshooting but annoying at trackdays.

Once on track, the 1290 is loads of fun. It’s not quite as agile or razor sharp as BMW’s S1000R or Aprilia’s Tuono V4R, but don’t tell my kneepucks! The same suspension that is comfortable enough for a long weekend is stiff enough to be precise on a track, and gobs of torque meant I tortured the Bridgestone S20 Evos coming out of every corner (more on that in a forthcoming MC Tested).

Now that the trackday fun is over, everything will get bolted back on except the MRA windscreen. I’m not crazy about how it looks, so I’m going to see if I miss it on the daily commute. The SW-Motech bags will go back on, and there’s some rain in the forecast so we’ll see how those waterproof liners hold up.