2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Race Kit Bike Review & Video
Racing is at the very heart of KTM, and numerous examples illustrate this. At the 200 Mile Endurance Grand Prix held at the iconic Mugello Circuit in November 2016, KTM entered three lightly modified 1290 Super Duke Rs in the Challenge Pro Twin class—and swept the podium. Jeremy McWilliams finished first, with Chris Fillmore a close second, and KTM test rider Hannes Maier in third place.
It was an utterly dominant performance, with both McWilliams’ and Fillmore’s fastest laps four seconds a lap faster than the nearest competitor. The race was largely wet, but nothing should be taken away from the talent of the three KTM riders, which clearly played a significant role in the result. All three riders acknowledged that beating fully faired race bikes on one of the fastest MotoGP tracks with the longest straight on the calendar, on an upright, naked motorcycle, was testament to the amazing track prowess of the Super Duke R.
At the recent 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R launch at the Losail International Circuit, Qatar, KTM provided a race-kitted bike to the same specifications as the machine entered at Mugello, and shod with Dunlop racing slick tires.
The performance changes include modified suspension, heavier duty triple clamps, upgraded brakes, and slightly changed ergonomics. The race-kitted Super Duke R sat noticeably taller and, although I could still flat-foot while stopped, it was a little bit of a stretch to do so. The engine was untouched, with only an Akrapovic full race exhaust to save some weight and help the engine breathe a bit more freely.
The upgrades were an immediate and very noticeable improvement over the stock machine. As strongly as the stocker performed at Losail, the race bike was at a completely different level in terms of handling stability and agility.
A huge part of the change was down to the Dunlop racing slicks from the Metzeler Sportec M7 RR street tires. The bike turned in dramatically quicker and with much more precision; of course, I was able to get on the throttle earlier and more aggressively coming out of the slow corners.
The most dramatic improvement was to the SDR’s agility and stability, especially entering and exiting corners. For example, in the transition through Turn 8—from a right through a left over a slight crest—as the front becomes unweighted, the stocker would shake its head a little. In contrast, the race bike stayed planted, making it much easier to set up for the entrance to Turn 9.
Overall, the kitted Super Duke R felt noticeably much tauter and more precise than the stock machine, especially on corner entry and in transitions, and there was almost no head shake. Even when hard braking into Turn 1, coming down from an indicated 160 mph, the bike felt more stable and didn’t squirm at the bars.
Engine performance wasn’t a whole lot different, although with the less restrictive pipe it perhaps had a slightly stronger drive out of the slower corners.
Electronic settings were Track mode—Track (most aggressive) throttle response, and traction control setting 4. Incidentally, the KTM traction control seems to be a little more accurate than some other manufacturer systems. Typically on a bike like this, the TC will likely be at setting 1 or maybe 2; the Super Duke R has incrementally more choices (up to five) closer to the edge of traction.
The upgraded brakes were an improvement, too. The wave rotors gave a bit more bite when pressured hard and, although the lever had longer travel than the stocker, the feel and overall stopping power was certainly improved.
The danger with tests such as this is that you will get the impression that the standard 1290 Super Duke R is not a worthy track day machine and falls short of the “real deal.” Nothing could be further from the truth! The stock SDR works incredibly well and, if you’re a track day regular who doesn’t want to upgrade the hard parts, you will love the bike and merely changing the tires will make a huge difference. However, if you do make the nearly $11,000 worth of upgrades, you will not be disappointed. Stand by to win some races!
2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Race Kit Video
KTM POWERPARTS for 2017 1290 KTM Super Duke R
- Triple Clamp System: $690
- Wave brake rotors: $260
- Rear Wave Brake Rotor: $110
- Akrapovic Evo exhaust system: $2550
- Seat Bench: $225
- Solo Seat Cover: $90
- Adjustable Rear Sets: $650
- Carbon Front Fender: $971
- Splash Protector (rear hugger): $650
- Race Style Brake Lever Guard: $50
- Race Style Clutch Lever Guard: $50
- Swingarm Bolt Cover Set: $40
- Brake Fluid Reservoir Cover: $28
- Clutch Reservoir Cover: $37
- Front Crash Pads:$40
- Total: $6441
From WP Suspension
- WP Super Competition Shock 1290 SD: $1983
- WP Competition Cartridge Kit Insert 1290 SD: $2520
- Total: $4503
Total: $10,944, plus Dunlop slick tires and standard 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R ($17,999)