Motorcycle Types Adventure / Dual-Sport 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure Test | First Impressions

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure Test | First Impressions

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure Test | First ImpressionsWhen KTM unveiled its 1290 Super Adventure, the Austria-based company said its new machine was the “absolute pinnacle of luxury sport touring riding.” We never doubted this claim. But there’s obviously only way to prove this testament – take a ride. So we sent our own Jess McKinley to the launch at the Canary Islands, and here are some quick first impressions.

Before the launch of the 1290 Super Adventure, every comparison between KTM’s big-bike ADVs and BMW’s  almighty R1200GS offerings were apple-to-oranges – the 1190 KTM was the better off-road bike, the GS the better on-road bike.

But with the introduction of the 1290 Super Adventure, KTM now has bragging rights; the 1190/1190R is the off-road weapon, and the KTM 1290 is the adventure road king.

Has KTM built the ultimate BMW R1200GS killer? After a few hours on the new 1290 Super Adventure, we think a battle is brewing. Here are some first impressions of KTM’s road-going ADV bike ahead of our full review.

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure – The Ride:

  • Yep, the Super Duke is now available in an adventure model. The power curve is altered; horsepower is down 20, and the crankshaft weight has been increased. But the motor is the core
  • The motor? A 1301cc engine – same as Super Duke
  • 160 horsepower and 103 ft/lbs torque, with 77 ft/lbs available at 2500rpm
  • Sixth gear is overdrive, but the Super Adventure has great roll-on power in freeway conditions
  • The crankshaft is new compared to Super Duke’s – more rotating mass, with a backlash gear to limit vibration and engine noise
  • Motor talk bottom line? The Super Adventure has a very torquey, super powerful engine. One can shift and ride like competing in World Superbike, or be lazy and let the motor pull through. Regardless, you can be quick either way


  • The Super Adventure feels light – much lighter than the BMW GSA. And it’s narrow too, thanks to the V2 motor config
  • 160 horsepower needs electronics, and this is the “big story” (more in our full review)
  • Anti-dive control with fork/shock stroke sensors and semi-active suspension is a BIG DEAL. You can really feel this riding; the chassis remains neutral over g-outs and crests in the tarmac, and it doesn’t feel like it upsets the bike
  • This Anti-dive setup allows a rider to concentrate on lines, or relax and enjoy the scenery. Either way, the total interoperability between traction, brake, throttle, lean, etc., is finally coming together into a package that feels very non-intrusive to the purist ride. New generations will expect this type of performance. It’s fun to turn off the traction control and wheelie around…this is actually a Super Duke hooligan bike disguised in travel enduro garb
  • Favorite settings: Sport Engine mapping with Street Damping. The sport gives you the roar of the Super Duke, but with the torquey feel of the Super Adventure. Street Damping has the most anti-dive damping, which keeps the chassis neutral, even if you’re railing the bike. In Sport Damping, it allows more diving to weight the front end and tighten the corner, but in real riding situations, we prefer the additional anti-dive of Street Mode


  • Brembo of course. Great brakes, although it feels like you are not braking hard when the suspension is compensating for fork dive…something to mentally adjust for


  • In the past, we justified our personal BMW GSA to be a 2-up luxury adventure bike. But now, we would choose the Super Adv for 2-up riding
  • The KTM 1290 Super Adventure is the complete package…power, brakes, safety, luggage (which in the USA will be standard)
  • And it’s relatively light, but better yet, has a light feeling
  • Another bonus…the auxiliary turning lights that are fired in three stages depending on lean angle to allow you to see around curves when night riding…very high cool factor

These are just our first impressions; there is more to come. Stay clicked to Ultimate MotorCycling for the full review of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure.

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