As Yamaha proved with the FZ-09, light weight combined with high horsepower are certainly the ticket when it comes to performance motorcycling.
Austrian manufacturer KTM took the concept to heart and decided to take it to another level altogether with the 1290 Super Duke R. Starting out with their excellent LC8 V-twin motor, they bored and stroked it out to 1301cc and persuaded it to output an astonishing 106 ft/lbs of torque.
That’s the first of this class of motorcycle to go into three figure torque territory, and by keeping the weight to a skimpy 416 pounds wet, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R found itself with the best power to weight ratio of any production motorcycle made thus far.
Clearly the nature of the beast would have to be tamed, so an excellent Bosch electronics management system was installed with different ride-by-wire riding modes, full traction control, and ABS to help out the rider.
Interestingly, the Super Duke R is actually anything but “a beast.” The fueling is so refined and so smooth, and the low-revving motor so easy to modulate, the handling from the WP suspension so neutral and well-damped, that the bike is incredibly easy to ride fast—and no matter what the road, an utter joy to be aboard.
If I have one complaint, it’s that the motor is so ludicrously under-stressed you find yourself breaking the speeding laws everywhere — by accident. At 80 mph and 4000 rpm it feels like 6th gear is lugging the engine — you really need to be in 5th and possibly even 4th.
Dropping into third gear at 80 mph and then twisting the throttle hard, the Super Duke R feels like it accelerates to 100 mph quicker than anything else I’ve ever ridden.
It’s literally hang-on tight—and wipe that stupid grin off your face, young man. So it’s not truly the Super Duke R that achieves Best Badass — it’ll be you, aboard it. Just make sure you have the number handy for your one phone call when you need to be bailed out.
About Ultimate MotorCycling 2014 President’s Picks:
As President of Ultimate MotorCycling, I am a fortunate individual. Not only do I get to ride a huge variety of machines, I am also privileged to be a part of this fascinating industry that so intensely fuels our passions.
As 2014 draws into its last quarter a picture has emerged of various developments that have happened in the past year. Don Williams, our Magazine Editor, has already published his Top Ten Motorcycle Picks and somewhat naturally I agreed with him. When Ron Lieback, our Website Editor, challenged me to come up with picks of my own, I naturally gravitated more towards the industry happenings, although I do have some machinery opinions as well.
I find myself interested in those manufacturers who have the best feeling for the current motorcycle buyer; those who are trying to listen to market demand and not just thrust their latest whizz-bang machine at us; those who are trying to encourage new and returning riders to the fold; those who are trying to make the pie bigger.
So this is what I’ve come up with. It goes without saying that these are my personal picks and you may or may not agree with me; of course you may feel I’ve left something out. Respectful discussion is very healthy and I’d love to hear everyone’s opinion—good, bad or ugly. Thanks for reading and being a part of the Ultimate MotorCycling family!
To read the others, visit 2014 President’s Picks.