KTM Motorcycles 1290 Super Duke R | DOIN’ TIME

Long-term update: New brake pads and Bridgestone Hypersport S20 Evos

WRIST: Zack Courts
MSRP (2014): $16,999
MILES: 8,193
MPG: 36
MODS: KTM brake pads, Bridgestone tires
UPDATE: 5

The front tire is under less stress on any bike but especially on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, where it spends an inadmissible amount of time not touching the ground at all. Predictably, the same 92 pound-feet of torque that saves the front tire eventually meant my stock Dunlop SportSmart2 rear sneaker was whipped.

New Bridgestone S20 Evo rubber so far seems to suit the 1290’s intentions.

Bridgestone’s new Hypersport S20 Evos (bridgestonemotorcycletires.com; $158 front, $268 rear) to the rescue. An updated version of the S20s uses a dual-compound front and triple-compound rear construction, which is meant to combine high grip capability on the shoulder of the tires with longevity in the centers. The S20 Evos speak to the versatility of the 1290 but will also encourage me to fulfill my promise of taking the Super Duke R to a trackday. I just hope they allow wheelies!

A closer look at the 1290’s massive single-piece Brembo calipers, which seem to have benefitted from a thorough cleaning and fresh fluid.

While the rear tire was quickly headed for illegal, I turned next to the front brakes, which were simply irking me. Some dragging and groaning suggested imperfections in the plumbing, but I wasn’t sure what. Scrubbing the rotors and installing fresh stock pads (ktm.com; $240—yikes!) would be a start, but while executing a routine caliper cleaning during the pad swap, Zack the meat-fisted mechanic popped a piston out and infected the entire system with air.

A gracious coworker helped flush the system with new fluid and bleed all of the air bubbles, leaving the 1290 with new pads, new fluid, and cleaned calipers and rotors. The result is a much sharper initial bite at the lever, no groaning or squeaking, and less drag. It seems to have done the trick, in other words; we’ll see how it lasts.

In other news, I finally had a chance to test passenger accommodations with the factory saddlebags installed. Reports are that the semi-rigid cases stay out of the way just fine and even allow a little bit of bracing for the copilot. Even still, Cook is on my case about the $625 price tag of these KTM PowerParts bags (yes, from the guy who put a $250 chain on his bike), so I’m going to research and experiment with some more affordable options.

New Bridgestone S20 Evo rubber so far seems to suit the 1290’s intentions.
A closer look at the 1290’s massive single-piece Brembo calipers, which seem to have benefitted from a thorough cleaning and fresh fluid.