KTM 1290 Super Adventure S test


V2, 1301 cm3, 160 hp at 8750 rpm, 140 Nm at 6750 rpm, 215 kilos dry, € 16,690

LED lights with turn function, TFT dashboard, advanced electronics for this big sporty trail

If there is a growing market segment, it is that of big trails.

And if there is one segment that is promising for KTM, it is also that of big trails. Moreover, sales of the Austrian manufacturer, which is also the leading European manufacturer of motorcycles, with more than 200,000 machines built last year, are also doing well thanks to this category of machines. In 2003, the 950 Adventure began to occupy the field, somewhat symbolically. The fuel-injected 990 Adventure continued to represent the offering and develop the image. But according to our Austrian friends, it was really with the appearance of the 1190 Adventure that the market started to take off, allowing itself in addition to a few war prizes on the side of Munich customers, just north of the border..

Small strategic reminder: if KTM’s "big trail" offer may have lacked readability, between the 1050, 1190 and 1290 Adventure, this 2017 vintage is gaining in clarity and positioning. With the 1290, the customer now has the choice between three versions: the R, with its 21-inch front wheel and its openly declared appetite for off-roading, the T, with its spoked wheels and its grand raid fittings (protections , gigantic windshield, crash bars) and the S which concerns us, with a more versatile positioning. KTM announces that this machine is intended for the lover of high-performance trails, who does not disdain to tease owners of hypersportives in a climb of a pass while allowing themselves, once at the top, to descend into the valley by the paths . For this, the 1290 Super Adventure S relies on its large LC8 engine with 160 horsepower and 140 Nm of torque, as well as sophisticated electronics. Without forgetting the new visual signature.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S review


And besides, this is how we approach this bike. Because if the angular lines, signed Gérald Kiska as of course, do not contrast with the aesthetic universe of the brand, we cannot miss the new headlight optics and these two "polar tiger teeth" all with coated LEDs and which give a very aggressive face to this bike. This front resembles that of the 1290 Super Duke R and the necessary cooling of the LEDs defined this species this tunnel in the center of the optics. Certainly this should be divisive, but road KTMs have always relied on this aesthetic that underpinned the machine’s "ready to race" approach. Understand that we could possibly blame these motorcycles for average quality plastics or surface treatments that are not the most valuable on the market, but things are changing and what KTM sees as added value is first of all the quality of components and peripherals. The chassis can only be sharpened (Brembo, WP and high-performance tires, in this case the Pirelli Scorpion Trail are part of the game) and, since you have to live well with the times, the electronics are at the forefront..

The design is once again signed by Kiska

You quickly realize that this machine is very modern: the new TFT screen on-board spreadsheet allows you to navigate very intuitively in the menus, assisted by a keypad of 4 commands (backlit, it’s very chic at night !) on the left stalk and an easy handling interface. Some builders should take the seed.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S Left Comodos

With the optional cases (note that their fixing system is "flexible", which means that a little lateral movement is possible, which allows this machine to suffer less from the effects of the wind) and taking into account the codes specific to the brand, the 1290 Super Adventure S conforms to the genre: generous bubble, saddle that is just as important, there is protection, saddle thickness. And potato, too !

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S fairing

In the saddle

Once on board, we will have to make choices. After having decided to put the key (the 1290 starts without contact) in his pocket or in the small cavity located to the right of the dashboard, which is almost waterproof and whose USB port can charge a phone. Even more, because if your headset is paired with Bluetooth, the KTM can send you audio or telephone calls. Too modern !

The 1290 is equipped with a contactless key

That said, with 160 horsepower under the hood, we can and without betraying the suspense of the next few paragraphs, suggest that you stay focused. Thus, we can choose 4 maps: street, comfort, sport or off-road. You can also choose the operation of the semi-active suspensions, or even configure everything à la carte, especially in the display of the dashboard. This one, tilting, does everything to facilitate reading and it must be recognized that the TFT and its adaptability to ambient lighting (automatic and very responsive day / night function) are a feast for the eyes..

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S speedometer

With 860 mm, the saddle is relatively high and will deprive some puny riders of the joys of the big Austrian trail. It’s life. However, the saddle is neither too wide nor too protruding at the edges, while with 215 kilos dry, this big fast travel baby is one of the lightest in the class. Of course, the levers are adjustable to fine-tune the ergonomics. Ditto for the screen, thanks to two large knobs (a little rough in their operation), as well as the handlebars and the footrests.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S two-seater seat

In the city

A big V2 of 1301 cm3, which develops 160 horsepower and 140 Nm of torque is not a priori designed for urban evolutions. However, we can only praise the flexibility of these large bowls as well as the softness and progressiveness of the controls. This big trail cut for wide open spaces is finally quite easy to tame in cramped cities, if not the width of the suitcases (optional) which slightly exceeds that of the handlebars..

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S on departmental

Despite the large bowls, flexibility is also there. 50 km / h in 4th gear at around 2,500 rpm, the 1290 Super Adventure S strolls quietly around the city. When the optional shitfer is fitted, the clutchless shifting remains a bit rough at low revs. In any case, the driving position is natural and allows you to dominate the traffic a little. All good.

On motorways and main roads

The adjustable bubble allows, in the high position, to relieve the shoulders and the top of the helmet, being a "pilot" of great stature. The little ones should therefore be really comfortable and in any case, the bubble of the Super Adventure T version will make everyone agree..

Is it useful to specify that the big V2 has resources? At 130 km / h, it barely turns at 4,500 rpm and is relatively free from vibrations. In absolute terms, the torque value is already impressive: with 140 Nm, you never have to bother to overtake, even in the last gear. What is more is knowing that 108 Nm of torque are already available from 2500 rpm. The times are kind of copious, especially as for such a large block, the low inertia to climb in the towers is just striking. In fact, without paying attention, we quickly find ourselves at reprehensible speeds. Fortunately, the cruise control makes it possible to ensure the grain.

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S on a curve

Thus, the crew seems to be able to go to the end of the world, at least if we stick to the little effort produced by the mechanics and high-level protection. As standard, the heated grips make the trip more enjoyable. In short, the 1290 Super Adventure S is consistent with its vocation of big trail, which also consists in being able to swallow kilometers by hundreds. Even thousands … But we will talk about this again in the comfort and consumption chapters.

On departmental

Nevertheless, this is where the KTM is most comfortable and many of us will be claiming that the real life of the bike takes place in the countryside..

The great strength of Super Adventure S lies in being able to play in all areas of the game. Relaxed spirit? Thanks to a fairly smooth engine at very low revs, it follows a fairly natural trail balance (even if the size is intimidating at first), tires with relatively small dimensions (110/70 ZR 19 at the front, 170 / 60 ZR 17 at the rear) and a certain ease of being taken quietly from one bend to another.

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S on the small roads

But with such a cavalry and such a chassis, one might be tempted to put gas on. Big gas. And there: aie aie aie !! This thing is an airplane. A fighter plane, not an old cuckoo clock. From 2500 rpm, we already find ourselves with more than 108 Nm of torque. At mid-throttle, going over bumps, the machine rises on the rear wheel in second and third and the sophisticated electronics let things happen naturally, while on the handlebars, you feel completely confident to stay gas in large. All in the dull and downright addictive rumble of the big V2.

Accelerating the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

At this stage of the discussion, let us recall the context: small Corsican roads, no clearance, premises that drive Clio drifting 4 wheels and a topography that leaves few opportunities to pass 4th. And in this case, we discover a machine that deposits dirty! There is no doubt that the 160 horses are there, the acceleration pulls you squarely on the arms and the landscape scrolls quickly in "hyperspace" mode. Under these conditions, we do not really see what kind of machine could hold it high. A sportswoman, certainly not. A big roadster, on the bumpy, that would be difficult.

Cornering the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

But what is the most astonishing in the history, it is not so much the absolute versatility of this type of machine, able to take you through France or any other country, quiet, in duo and with luggage, as to show fierce and incisive. The observation is simple: few machines can withstand such a combination of versatility and performance. There are definitely some Porsche Cayenne Turbo S genes in this KTM !

Comfort & duo

Let us praise the piloted suspensions which, between the mode "comfort" and the mode "sport" deliver completely different services. Plus an operating sensitivity that doesn’t just harden or soften. No: semi-active WP suspensions go through with the idea and respect the "philosophy" of the moment. Thus, in "sport" mode, the front fork does not activate the anti-dive device, because the significant mass transfer temporarily shortens the wheelbase and helps to register when cornering. On the other hand, the "comfort" mode uses anti-dive to stabilize the attitude.

The semi-active suspensions are configured on the dashboard, always with this very intuitive ergonomics. You can easily adjust according to the possible presence of a passenger and luggage.

Adjusting the fork of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

Even if the mileage of this test was relatively correct, it was carried out on Corsican roads which were often rough and punctuated by many stops. Thus, it is difficult to comment on the softness of the saddle, but it seems that the latter turns out to be a little firm. To be confirmed on a possible subsequent test. Ditto for the fate reserved for the passenger, even if he would have much less reason to complain here than on 80% of the machines on the market.

Cycle part

As we have said, the 1290 Super Adventure S uses the semi-active suspensions already seen on the 1290 Super Adventure. They operate using two accelerometers, a control box and a swingarm attitude sensor. It smells like a gas factory, but it works: in any case, the compromise between comfort and efficiency is just stunning and the differences in settings are clearly noticeable..


Entrusted to Brembo and resulting in radial 4-piston calipers, the braking of the 1290 Super Adventure S is identical to that of the 1090 Adventure. However, it gives a little less satisfaction; the 1290 is heavier and arrives significantly faster in tight corners, which sometimes gives the feeling that one would like a little more brakes. On the other hand, special mentions to the central ABS which, in spite of some optimistic corner entries and on the bumps, did not wish to intervene. The ABS "turn" function can save your money in the event of a surprise.

Front brake of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

Consumption / autonomy

With 23 liters, the tank allows you to see coming. However, while driving fast during this test, the 1290 Super Adventure S tested showed fuel consumption of 8.1 to 8.6 l / 100 on the dashboard, but it must be recognized that the pace was unreasonable. The fuel gauge and the range indicator are precise.

And at night ?

Driving at night enabled us to test the effectiveness of the LED lights and the cornering function. The system is linked to the TFT instrument panel lighting cell: basically the machine knows when it is dark or night. And there, we discover that the 3 lower LEDs light up gradually as we take the angle. Seeing inside the bends is a unique and above all very reassuring experience. On the other hand, we also discover that at night, the trim movements are substantial and that perhaps, on heavy braking, KTM could think of a lighting that goes up in front of you..

Headlight of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S


KTM’s DNA has not been betrayed: this 1290 Super Adventure S is "ready to race"! Moreover, we can only be blown away by the overall package offered by this machine. The 1290 Super Adventure S is comfortable enough to be able to plan long journeys with weapons and luggage. And it will show many sports on a climb, thanks to a supernatural balance and well-calibrated electronics that are never intrusive. We then find ourselves doing improbable things on the handlebars of this big machine, such as trajectory as in a rally special or passing the bump of a pif-paf on the rear wheel, with the electronics that control everything! However, don’t let the performance level and the size deceive you: it requires a little know-how to be teased on small roads, while the braking could have been a little bit more biting, but it is true that we comes quickly. Very quickly.

Nevertheless, it will delight those who are a little looking for the 5-legged sheep, the traveling machine and able to go wild..

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

And all the more so at € 16,690, it is rather well placed compared to the competition from BMW and Ducati. Of course, we can also opt for the Travel Pack (which includes hill start assistance, engine brake regulation, up & down shifter and the connected application KTM MY RIDE). These options are available separately: € 392.50 for the shifter, € 179 for the HHC, € 142.80 for the engine brake regulator and € 97.50 for the KTM MY RIDE application.

Strong points

  • Super punchy engine !
  • Stratospheric performance
  • High-end versatility
  • State-of-the-art electronics
  • Efficient cornering lighting
  • User-friendly electronic settings

Weak points

  • Bit of braking (must be said that we arrive quickly!)
  • Firm saddle ?
  • Requires a little skill to be fully exploited
  • Some false dead points with the shifter (up only)

The technical sheet of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: 220 kilometers in Corsica with a majority of small roads around Ajaccio
  • Motorcycle mileage: 1000 km
  • Problem encountered: none

Competition: BMW R 1200 GS Rally, Ducati 1200 Multistrada Enduro

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S video test

Related articles

  • KTM 790 Adventure test

    Menus Small Adventure, great sensations ! Discovery In the saddle Contact Motorways and expressways Departmental Braking Comfort / Duo Convenient…

  • Mash Adventure 400 test

    Menus Mono 4-T, 400 cm3, 29 hp at 7000 rpm, 3.05 m / kg at 5500 rpm, 151 kilos dry, € 4,990 A small Chinese trail to discover deep France… Discovery In…

  • KTM 990 Adventure motorcycle test

    Menus GO TO ORANGE !! Discovery In the saddle Contact In the city Highway Departmental Braking Tires Comfort Convenient Consumption Conclusion GO TO…

  • KTM 1090 Adventure test

    Menus LC8, 1050 cm3, 125 hp, 205 dry kilos, € 12,990 An access version of the big trail adventurer according to KTM and which remains super well equipped…

  • KTM 1050 Adventure test

    Menus The backpacker’s guide Discovery In the saddle In the city Motorway and expressways Departmental All Terrain Part-cycle Braking Comfort / Duo…

  • Test Yamaha XTZ 750 Super Ténéré

    Menus Twin-cylinder in-line, 749 cm3, 70 hp, 6.8 m / kg, 195 kilos dry, from € 1,000 Produced from 1989 to 1995, this big and reliable road trail smells…

  • KTM 1290 Super Duke R test

    Menus V2, 1301 cm3, 177 hp at 9750 rpm, 141 N.m at 7000 rpm, 195 kilos, € 16,690 Ergonomics, ABS, keyless, assistance: the Austrian maxi roadster remains…

  • KTM 790 Adventure and Adventure R motorcycle comparison test

    Menus New icon, Easy Adventure 95 hp at 8,000 rpm and 89 Nm at 6,600 rpm Discovery Motorization In the saddle In the city Motorways and expressways…

  • KTM 390 Adventure test

    Menus Accessible adventure Single cylinder, 373.2 cm3, 44 hp and 37 Nm, 172 kg full made, WP suspensions, ByBre brakes, ABS in curves and Offroad……

  • Test Yamaha XT 1200 ZE Super Ténéré

    Menus E. character slipper Discovery In the saddle In the city Motorway and expressways Departmental All Terrain Part-cycle Braking Comfort / Duo…

3 thoughts on “KTM 1290 Super Adventure S test

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *