2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT Review
Ultimate MotorCycling President Arthur Coldwells has yet to board his return flight home from Spain, but he had to share some quick facts from his First Ride review of the KTM Super Duke GT. Coldwells spent a day riding KTM’s latest sport tourer in Mallorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. Photos courtesy of KTM.
1. The main differences between the KTM Super Duke R and the GT are the fairing and screen, semi-active electronic suspension, a larger 6-gallon fuel tank, a longer rear sub-frame and lowered rear foot pegs for passenger comfort, hard luggage, a slightly re-tuned engine, and cruise control.
2. The GT is an undiluted Super Duke R. It produces the same peak power but at 1000 rpm earlier, and the same torque, but delivery is spread over a wider range. The ride is as gentle as you need it to be, but if you want to unleash “The Beast” (as KTM calls it), at the twist of the throttle in pretty much any gear the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT will be as aggressive as you need it to be.
3. Despite now complying with Euro 4 emissions, the fueling is as smooth as ever. I only used Sport mode no matter how twisty the road—it is that smooth on/off throttle. In fact, the fueling is so smooth yet responsive, that there are never any unpleasant surprises, especially mid-corner when rolling back on the gas.
4. Electronics are exemplary: ABS that works in harness with the MSC (Motorcycle Stability Control) that is bank angle sensitive and prevents wheel slip either under braking or acceleration; Hill Hold Control and Motor Slip Control (back torque limiting system helped by the slipper clutch) are all the same as the Super Duke R, however cruise control is added for long distance riders. The KTM 1290 Super Duke GT also has self-canceling indicators as part of the bank angle sensor and they work great. Heated grips are standard and are accessed via the menu system; there is no separate switch.
5. The semi-active WP suspension is amazing—it’s essentially the same as on the Super Adventure, but on the GT it has much shorter travel so it has to react very quickly to road conditions. The preload can only be adjusted while stationary, and has the four usual modes (rider only; Rider + luggage; Rider + Passenger; Rider and passenger plus luggage). But the damping is adjustable on the fly and has three modes: Sport, Street, and Comfort. They have an amazing range – the difference between Sport and Comfort is huge; Street is somewhere in the middle.
Sport is very close to the Super Duke R in handling, and that was the benchmark the engineers used to calibrate it. Street and Comfort give the bike a nice floating feeling over road irregularities, as if the KTM Super Duke GT was suspended. There is almost no dive at all under braking, so in very twisty sections it makes the bike a little harder to turn—but under those conditions and if you’re hustling, you should be in Sport mode anyway. The suspension works incredibly well; response time is 20 milliseconds for the damping to change, so it is dramatically superior to conventional suspension as you can decide on the road condition at any given moment whether you want a soft, pleasant ride, or you want sportbike handling.
6. The screen is manually height adjustable and provides decent wind protection.
7. The quick-detachable, frameless hard panniers are included. They can include soft inner bags as an option. The KTM 1290 Super Duke GT’s bags have good capacity and will take a full face helmet. Though spacious, careful attention has been paid to make them not too wide and cut outs in front allow the passenger decent leg room.
8. Touring slanted ergonomics are outstanding. The bars are 25mm wider and slightly higher than the Super Duke R – they are almost perfect shoulder width and ideal for all day rides. The risers can be reversed so the rider has a choice as to how far forward he leans. The seat is very comfortable, and heat is an option with a separately controlled passenger heated seat as well. The footpegs are not rubberized (but don’t need it), and their positioning feels the same as the Super Duke R, so the position is relaxed.
9. At 505 lbs. curb weight (444 lbs. dry) with no luggage, the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT is only 33 lbs heavier than the Super Duke R and makes it the lightest sport-tourer with the best power-to-weight ratio in the category. It is shod with Pirelli Angel GT tires and it feels incredibly nimble and maneuverable even in the tightest of twisties.
10. The GT must be the only touring motorcycle that comes with a quickshifter! It works very well and has been calibrated to work smoothly even at slow speeds around town. It only an upshifter, no blip-downshifter as yet. Otherwise the gearbox is silky smooth and goes up and down the ratios with minimal effort at the foot. Gear ratios and final sprocket sizes are the same as the Super Duke R.
11. Price in the States is TB, but will be just under $20,000 (around $2,500 more than the Super Duke R). KTM says it will be available in dealers around August/September as an early release 2017 model.
12. The last thing you need to know is that the Super Duke GT rides absolutely fabulously. It’s fast, handles impeccably, and is truly an all-day comfortable motorcycle.