Known as “The Beast”, KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R is one of my favourite ever bikes.
It’s a great-looking, beautifully handling, lightweight super-naked sportsbike with an awesome V-twin motor.
So I was excited to get the opportunity to test this 1290 Super Duke GT.
The Austrian firm have added the Gran Tourismo moniker as the idea was to take the Super Duke R as a base, add the comfort and equipment needed for all-day riding, and create a genuine sports tourer.
KTMs have always stood apart aesthetically and this GT is no exception.
It’s all sharp angles, big tank hump, big silencer and that trademark orange trellis frame – the latter even on the blacked-out version.
As this is a tourer, it features upswept handlebars which are multi-adjustable with 22mm of movement and four positions.
Heated grips come as standard.
There’s a large windshield which is easily adjustable with one hand to nine different positions.
The foot brake and gear shift levers can each be adjusted to one of three positions to accommodate different boot sizes – nice touch.
Hand guards are also standard and the backlit switch-gear, with ride mode selector on the left bar grip works simply and intuitively alongside the excellent 6.5in TFT screen.
The dash holds all the information you could hope for, including tyre pressure monitoring, plus KTM’s My Ride navigation software and Bluetooth connectivity for your smartphone.
The GT also comes with integrated pannier mounts, with a range of luggage carriers, including hard case panniers, available as extras.
That distinctive tank holds an impressive 23litres of fuel and there’s cruise control and cornering lights.
So, everything is in place for a high performance sports tourer – but what’s it like to ride?
In a word, fantastic.
That 1300cc twin is a superb motor, offering an incredible 175bhp, but with a surprisingly refined delivery.
Full power is available in both Road and Sport modes, with that latter providing it more instantaneously.
Rain reduces it by 100bhp and there’s also a Supermoto option, which allows the rear wheel to be locked, while the ABS is still active on the front.
There’s also lean-sensitive traction control.
Handling is excellent – precise and confidence inspiring, aided by that sprightly trellis frame and electronically adjusted semi-active WP suspension.
Gear changing felt a tad stiff on my test bike, but that was a minor niggle, although the quickshifter clearly operates best hammering in full Beast mode.
Braking is as good as you’d expect from race-quality Brembo M50s – super powerful, sensitive and pleasingly progressive.
Overall, the GT is a superb piece of kit which you could certainly cover many miles on, but perhaps leaning a bit more towards the ‘sports’ side than the ‘touring’.
Engine: 1301cc V-twin
Power: 175bhp @ 10,000rpm
Torque: 106ft lb @6,750rpm
Colours: Black/orange; Black/white/orange