2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Review [17 Track + Street Fast Facts]

Two short years ago, KTM unleashed The Beast 3.0, its heavily revised third-generation 1290 Super Duke R naked sportbike, replete with updates to help bare its fangs at the racetrack and on the street. The updated SDR’s ferocity grew to new heights through a tidy weight loss program, a significantly stiffer chassis, and sportier geometry, not forgetting a dollop of additional horsepower. This year, the 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo, the Austrian brand’s naked-bike flagship, offers fancy WP Semi-Active Suspension Technology (SAT).

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Review: Price

On paper, the list of new parts on the 2022 SDR Evo is slim—the suspension and a quick-turn throttle. In the real world, those additions have a profound impact, which is why we spent time prowling the canyons and joined Let’s Ride Track Days at Central California’s Buttonwillow Raceway Park to let The Beast stretch its legs. Now, let’s get on with the Fast Facts.

  1. Blistering power and refinement define the 1301cc LC8 75-degree V-twin engine. Pumping out a massive 180 horsepower at 9500 rpm and a whopping 103 ft-lbs of torque at 8000 rpm is impressive enough. However, what will truly captivate an audience is how all of that immense torque is delivered in a lusciously tractable manner throughout the rev-range.

  1. Cracking the throttle open is one of the super naked class’s rawest and most visceral experiences. Yet, it knows when to take a beat and plods along smoothly in the city. That’s a great character trait, especially on a big-inch mill that spins up with intensity, giving you gobs of power anywhere, anytime. Letting the revs drop below 3k rpm in a tall gear will reveal some stereotypical big V-twin lugginess. Fortunately, with all that torque, you’ll be back into its sweet spot lickety-split. You also can’t beat the thunderous soundtrack that the exhaust spits out.

  1. Slick shifting and racetrack-worthy hardware are the status quo. The updated clutch and gearbox upgrades from the 2020 SDR still ring true—the shifting experience is sublime, keeping up with its pricier European competitors. What’s still impressive is the optional up/down quickshifter, which makes grabbing gears out of hard-driving corners a breeze, equally so when backing through the gears.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Review: For Sale

  1. The optional $900 Tech Pack significantly influences the Super Duke R Evo Experience. The Tech Pack umbrella, which includes the Track Pack, Quickshifter +, Motor Slip Regulation (MSR), Suspension Pro, and an Adaptive Brake Light, unlocks the SDR Evo’s full functionality. Track Pack brings Track and Performance riding modes that allow riders to adjust TC, disable WC, and swap ABS modes. In addition, launch control is available. Suspension Pro opens up two additional suspension damping modes (Advanced and Auto) and automated shock spring-preload adjustment (Low, Standard, and High), and Anti-Dive. MSR is engine braking management. The SDR Evo is part of an elite class of super naked, making it irksome that basic electronic adjustments, features, and the quickshifter are optional, considering that they’re standard on its main rivals—the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S and Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory.

  1. Five riding modes are available. The standard preset Rain, Street, and Sport adjust throttle response and rider aids. And, with the new quick-turn throttle, you can go wide open even faster. Rain mode tames the beast considerably, while Street wicks it up nicely. Sport mode begins to unleash this monster’s potential with a taut throttle map, while keeping a reasonable amount of intervention in play.

  1. Two optional riding modes—Track and Performance—are customizable and intended for serious riding. Track is the fiercest of them all and quite sharp for the road. Fortunately, Track allows you to customize your electronic settings—switch throttle maps, swap ABS modes, adjust TC on the fly, or disable WC. I consider it mandatory for hard riding or track use. Track also disables MSR by default, as you’ll want consistent engine braking while riding aggressively. Performance mode is essentially the same as Track, while maintaining access to cruise control and KTM My Ride navigation.

  1. A well-rounded suite of six-axis IMU-supported rider aids keeps things tidy. The nine-level lean-angle-detecting traction control is the star of the show, quietly curbing power enough to keep things in shape without hindering drive. Lower TC settings are for race tires only, while my happy place fell in the middle—all fun, no drama. Road ABS uses the IMU and is suitable for the street paces, while Supermoto Mode disables the cornering function and rear ABS, letting you brake as deep as you dare at the track. MSR manages the copious V-twin engine braking by adjusting the throttle body openings during deceleration and at low speed. As the pace picks up, it can make engine braking feel inconsistent when trailing off the brakes. Turn it off if you’re a more spirited rider, as the mechanical slipper clutch is plenty good.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Review: Track Test

  1. Super Duke R fans, this wheelie control section is for you. Chances are, you who like wheelies only need to know if you can disable WC—you can. Now, go forth and hoist your front wheel to the heavens. For the rest of us, WC exists in either on/off settings. With WC engaged, it slightly tempers The Beast and allows a modest wheel-hovering when hard on the gas, letting you focus on what’s ahead.

  1. WP semi-active suspension has numerous damping and spring-preload options to explore. In standard trim, we have three semi-active damping modes—Comfort, Street, and Sport—and we can adjust the shock preload 20mm in 2mm increments. Suspension Pro unlocks two additional damping modes—Advanced and Auto. The auto-preload function has three settings (Low, Standard, and High) that automatically adjust the shock’s sag, letting you alter the geometry for sportier or peaceful purposes. As you can see, there are loads of setting combinations to explore.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Review: Photos

  1. Electronic suspension adds versatility to the Super Duke R Evo’s repertoire. Engineers have done a fine job of creating a progressive damping ladder, with each preset damping mode taking stiffness to its next logical step with my 180+ pound frame in the saddle. I often enjoyed the High auto-preload setting, keeping the SDR Evo in an athletic stance, whether on the street or racetrack. Comfort softens things to a plush ride, hiding any rough stuff, while Street bumps things up to a sensible level for the road; calm and composed in various settings. Sport pairs splendidly with the recently stiffened trellis frame and aluminum swingarm, letting the SDR Evo show off its agility, delivering loads of feel and confidence at either end. If you’re only focused on street riding, you might never need to venture outside the three standard modes.

  1. Advanced and Auto damping modes can be handy at the racetrack. Auto is the chameleon of the two, using IMU data to firm up the suspension based on your inputs and adapt to any situation. Roll out of pitlane casually, and the SDR Evo is palatial until you drop the hammer. Then, the semi-active suspenders instantly turn the screws for some hot laps—interesting on the track but best suited in a constantly varying street setting. Sport damping wasn’t cutting it at Buttonwillow, so I dove into the “manual” Advanced mode to fine-tune the fork or shock on a scale of 1-8. Oddly, you can’t adjust compression and rebound damping independently. Within a couple of sessions, I had all the front-end feel I could ask for on entry, with a shock that stood to whatever I threw at it, holding its line for hard exits.

  1. Anti-Dive behaves as described. Anti-Dive prevents the fork from compressing excessively under hard braking. In practice, it keeps the front-end propped up and doesn’t allow the kind of weight transfer I’m looking for when braking and pitching into corners.

  1. Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tires are standard issue. S22 rubber is excellent on the street and more than worthy for a trip to the track. Loads of feel and grip are available, holding up to the pure might of the SDR Evo. However, we took things a step further.

  1. For a track day, we mounted the ultra-sticky Bridgestone Battlax Racing R11 race tires. DOT race tires are excellent if you’re looking to purchase some extra grip and security at the racetrack. While they are treaded race tires, they’re only a few shades off from a true racing slick and well above any street compound available, so the grip is phenomenal. Feedback from the front is fantastic when dropping the anchor and trailing into Buttonwillow’s sweeping curves. The rear deserves applause, holding up incredibly well under the sheer brute force of the SDR Evo’s engine. Although DOT-legal, we don’t recommend the R11 tires for street use.

  1. The upright riding position is suitable for a wide variety of riders. A comfy 33-inch seat (that height varies with suspension settings), cruise control, and mirrors that vibrate to the point of uselessness make The Beast a suitable compatriot on the street. The SDR platform offers some of the roomiest accommodations in the class, and the seemingly aggressive riding position works well over a full day in the saddle. Although it remains amicable, it all points to the SDR having sharper track day chops.

  1. Brembo returns to the party. Stylema four-piston calipers and 320mm rotors help haul this 460-pound monster to stop, with the great feedback and feel we expect from Brembo’s high-performance offerings. The rear brake is a hooligan’s best friend, helping those control wheelies and correct lines. The corner-aware ABS technology is courtesy of Bosch.

  1. Adaptability is the name of the game for the 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo. Whizz-bang gadgetry only means something if it’s beneficial, and nearly all of it is. In the case of the range-topping Evo, the semi-active suspension helps push the boundaries of what a Super Duke R can do. The new suspenders highlight its excellent handling abilities and keep all that massive torque pointed in the right direction while providing casual street comfort at the push of a button. That sophistication will be argument enough for some, and while it’s learned a few new tricks, the latest SDR still retains its wickedly entertaining character.

Track photography by CaliPhotography

Street and still photography by Don Williams

RIDING STYLES 

Street

Track

  • Helmet: Arai Corsair-X
  • Suit: Alpinestars Racing Absolute w/ Tech-Air
  • Gloves: Alpinestars GP Pro R3
  • Boots: Alpinestars Supertech R 

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Specs 

ENGINE

  • Type: 75-degree V-twin
  • Displacement: 1301cc
  • Bore x stroke: 108 x 71mm
  • Maximum power: 177 horsepower
  • Compression ratio: 13.5:1
  • Valvetrain: DOHC, 4vpc
  • Fueling: Keihin EFI w/ 56mm throttle bodies
  • Transmission: Pankl 6-speed w/ optional quickshifter
  • Clutch: Hydraulically actuated w/ assist and slip functions
  • Final drive: 525 X-ring chain

CHASSIS

  • Frame: Chromoly steel trellis w/ cast-aluminum/composite subframe
  • Handlebar: Tapered aluminum
  • Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable semi-active WP inverted 48mm fork; 4.9 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted, fully adjustable semi-active WP shock; 5.5 inches
  • Front wheel: 17 x 3.50
  • Rear wheel: 17 x 6.00
  • Tires: Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22
  • Front tire: 120/70 x 17
  • Rear tire: 200/55 x 17
  • Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ Brembo Stylema Monoblock calipers
  • Rear brake: 240mm disc w/ Brembo caliper
  • ABS: Adjustable cornering-aware Bosch 9.1MP 2.0

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 58.9 inches
  • Rake: 25.2 degrees
  • Seat height: 32.8 inches
  • Fuel tank capacity: 4.2 gallons
  • Curb weight: 466 pounds
  • Colors: Blue/Orange; Silver/Orange

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Price: from $19,599 MSRP ($20,499 as tested)

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Review Photo Gallery