Enter the KTM 1290 Super Adventure. A bulging, aggressively poised adventure bike with more gadgets and gizmos then most other motorcycles. KTM have always had a distinct design; the single headlight on this motorcycle ringed by a halo of LED’s looks aggressive.
The side view of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure does not leave one wondering as to the primary purpose of the motorcycle, whether it’s touring, road riding or getting sand everywhere in the dirt, this motorcycle was built to handle it all.
The KTM 1290 Super Adventure is de-tuned to a claimed 160 horsepower from the ‘R’ version, coupled with semi-active damping, a tubular frame and long travel suspension this motorcycle was created to compete against the best selling BMW R1200GS Adventure.
It has the usual rain, off-road, sport and comfort riding modes and after some fiddling I found it most compliant in sport mode with comfort settings. A mechanic from KTM advised this setting and it was akin to finding that perfect apex with the sun at your back and gritty tar under your wheels.
I took the KTM 1290 Super Adventure from Bangkok to the middle of Northeast Thailand and back over the weekend and it was an astounding, awe-inspiring journey on a motorcycle that in some ways defies in its sheer versatility.
Now, having owned a 2015 BMW 1200R Adventure before, I was expecting a sleepy, relaxed, some what boring ride on the KTM all the way to the destination, but a few corners started winking invitingly in my direction.
After easily strapping my luggage onto the KTM, and that is one thing I do miss tremendously about adventure bikes, I was off to meet a few old friends which I didn’t see for a long time…
The 30 liter fuel tank and all the little gadgets make touring with this motorcycle incredibly easy and makes one rather arrogant. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure is a ruthless motorcycle; it accelerates with a subtle but linear power curve that I have never felt on a touring motorcycle before. We attempted a few roll-ons against other tourers and its colleagues tasting bitter defeat in its evil dist. In the power department you can definitely feel its advantage against its closest competitors. It’s an unfair contest that leaves other tourers feeling as if they missed a gear or have involuntarily broken their engines.
On the cornering side, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure with luggage and solid wind-protection, effortlessly can corner so hard and fast that it leaves superbikes frowning and taxi-drivers squirming. The KTM with its advanced electronics leaves perfectly toned black lines on every corner exit. This can become addictive so I would caution against it.
On the comfort side, I found the seat a bit hard after 5 hours in it. My pillion did not find the seat comfortable but the rider should make the decision on what she prefers.
The power of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure is deceptive, it sneaks up on you and even with my rather long frame I managed 250km/h on an abandoned stretch of road. It turns smoothly, brakes impressively and has phenomenal fuel consumption for such a large motorcycle.
As a commuter it has a high line of sight and cornering spotlights, it’s distractive at first but in night riding conditions you quickly get used to it. It’s similar to adaptive headlights in cars that ignite when you turn and expose those nasty curves that seem to dwell at every corner.
For me who rides superbikes all the time, the KTM is like the dark side or riding, the fires that the KTM 1290 Super Adventure unleashes combine the purest form of scorching riding with the comfort of a super-saloon. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure is similar to a BMW M-Series car. It can transport the kids to school in easy comfort but at the drop of a button can transform into lava-breathing mythical beast of devastating performance.
For those of you that think the BMW R1200GS is a good bike, ask KTM for a test ride on the 1290 Super Adventure and be amazed.