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KTM 1290 Super Duke R Review (2017)


KTM 1290 Super Duke R

The KTM Super Duke 1290 R is a bonkers bike, very quick and great to ride!
- Rating: 10 / 10

What Is It?

The KTM 1290 Super Duke R is a top of the range naked bike and is powered by a Euro 4 compliant liquid cooled 1,301 cc V-Twin engine, producing 174 bhp at 9,750 rpm and maximum torque at 7,000 rpm.


  • Seat Height: Average (835 mm / 32.9 inches)
  • Dry Weight: Heavy (195 kg / 430 lbs)
  • Economy: Average (40 mpg / 7.1 l/100km / 14.2 km/l)
  • Range: High (160 miles / 257 km)
  • Top Speed: Very high (185 mph / 298 km/h)


  • Loads of usable low down power
  • Electronics package
  • Suspension
  • Handling
  • Engine
  • Brakes


  • Standard tyres lack feel
  • Standard seat is “solid”
  • Switchgear can fade
  • Pretty thirsty
  • Radiator

What Is It Like?

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

What’s good

It’s a great bike, with stonking performance, great around a track and on the road. Being a naked it lacks any bodywork so may be tough on long journeys if done at speed, but at legal speed limits the bike is fine!

The bike is easy to ride, but like any twin you need to use the gears, you can’t stick it in top like an inline four and just use the throttle. The gears are needed to keep it buzzing but having had twins for years it’s not an issue.

It pulls like a train from corners and gives a punch in the back as it lifts off. Even with the various electronic aids on it’s still easy to lift the front wheel if you give it a fist full!

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

Before the camo graphics


The original seat is like sitting on a plank, it’s rock solid and I quickly changed it for the comfort seat which transformed the bike.

The standard tyres are okay but lack a bit of feel. The USB charging port, below the seat, went faulty but was fixed under warranty.

The standard exhaust is too quiet, I got caught out a couple of times when first riding as the bike is so quick and you lack that sense of speed (noise).

Common faults reported by owners:

  • Busted radiator from wheelies
  • USB charging port
  • Oil leaks

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

Changes / additions

  • KTM tail tidy and comfort seat
  • HP corse extreme exhaust - I’ve left the cat on, it’s loud enough
  • Rear seat cover
  • Motogadget mirrors - the designer must have had the afternoon off and the tea lady designed the standard ones
  • SM Motech front spoiler
  • Evotech
    • Radiator guard
    • Lever
    • Rectifier guard
    • Exhaust hanger - rear pegs have been removed
    • Bar end weights - stops the buzzy feel
    • Engine guard
  • Clock cover - without it the clocks are a “fly catcher”
  • MotoProWorks camo graphics

One addition I didn’t get, but many do, is the track pack which enables turning off anti wheelie etc.

- Michael J, 2020

Deals, specs and pics

Price Guide

Part Ex

Gear & Accessories

Related Bikes

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT - Touring friendly model based on the Super Duke R.

The Second Opinion

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

KTM Super Duke 1290 R (Gen 2)

Tell us a bit about you

I’m a 38 year old male, 5’ 11.5” tall. I’ve been riding bikes since I was 5 and have had road bikes since I was 16.

I’ve had 7 different road bikes to date and my current bike is the 2017 KTM Super Duke 1290 R.

Why did you choose it?

I chose it because I was after a bike that has power, speed, handling and comfort. My last bike was a Kawasaki ZX10R 2006 (Gen 2) and I was getting sore riding it for any length of time.

I wanted a more sitting up position and after some research the Super Duke R ticked all the boxes.

What is good about it?

I love everything about my Super Duke R. It is so comfortable, so easy to ride, it handles exceptionally well and feels so light.

It’s great on the twisty roads and changes direction so quickly. I also love the characteristics of the V Twin. It has so much torque it pulls like a train.

I also like all the electric gizmo’s on the bike from air / oil temp to your voltage and tyre pressures.

The extras are great. I have the quick shifter, heated grips, performance modes, launch control and Bluetooth. Track mode is great for the more experienced riders as you can have more options around which driving aids you want on or off.

What could be improved?

The radiator setup could be better. There have been issues where the radiator can leak at the top next to the brackets.

Another thing to do with the radiator is the lack of a radiator guard. If you buy a SDR the first thing you want to do is get a radiator guard. I had a stone hit mine and burst it just after a week of having it!

Another thing which could be improved is the quality of buttons on the switch gear. After a period of time the coating starts to crack and flake off which isn’t good. Other than that I think the bike is really decent.

Any mods or upgrades?

I’ve had quite a few mods and upgrades to my SDR:

  • Track and performance pack
  • KTM My Ride
  • Heated grips
  • DynoJet Power Commander V
  • Ignition Module
  • Rottweiler air intake
  • Full Akrapovic Titanium system
  • SAS delete
  • Canister removed
  • Power Parts driver and pillion seat (the seats are so comfortable I highly recommend them)

What is the economy like?

The mpg on the SDR is really good if you are just cruising with it. I don’t know exactly what it is but I would say it would be about 50 mpg.

How is the engine?

The engine is a beast! It really is. The sound, power and torque this engine has is phenomenal! I love how it pulls and it never fails to put a big grin on my face!

How does it handle?

The SDR handles so well! I’m still on stock suspension and steering damper but it really does handle well and that’s on the twisty bumpy Scottish roads.

I may in the future get an upgraded steering damper as there is an odd occasion where I feel that the stock steering damper isn’t performing as well as it should when riding hard.

What are the brakes like?

Brembo brakes front and back. They work really well and I have no complaints whatsoever about them.

Is it comfortable?

Yes the SDR is super comfortable and great for long distance journeys. I suffer back pains and my last bike made it worse. I even got sore arms and wrists with it.

With the SDR I can ride all day, my arms / wrists are fine and my back doesn’t get strained either. It’s even more comfortable when you fit the Power Parts seats to it.

How reliable have you found it?

I have found my SDR to be really reliable. I had it almost 2 years and never had any reliability issues with it.

What's the servicing frequency and cost like?

The servicing frequency is fair in my opinion. As for the cost of servicing, it’s fine as I’m a mechanic and do all my own servicing.

To Sum Up

The Super Duke R is fast, powerful, nimble and very entertaining!

- Darren W, 2021

Add Your Review

Do you own this bike? We would love to hear anything good, bad, unexpected or that you have changed plus anything that a prospective new owner might find interesting or useful.