KTM 1290 Super Adventure test


Ultimate adventurer !

After opposing the German reference BMW R1200 GS with a very attractive KTM 1190 Adventure, the Austrian manufacturer is stepping up its offensive with its 1290 Super Adventure. A superlative maxitrail, which fully deserves its name !

Maxitrail KTM 1290 Super Adventure


New for 2015, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure takes the characteristics of the 1190 Adventure, with its 19 and 17 inch spoked wheels, its tubular trellis frame in chrome-molybdenum steel, its aluminum swingarm and its monumental 75 ° V-twin . The displacement of the latter is increased to 1301 cm3, with a power gain of 10 hp (160 hp at 8750 rpm in full power, 105 hp in France) and increased torque of 15 Nm (140 Nm at 6750 rpm / min). This is achieved at lower engine speeds because the goal here is to improve the range of use at low and medium speeds rather than maximum power and performance at high speed. Thus, a large part of the engine torque is available very early, with 108 Nm present from 2500 rpm.

Twin KTM 1290 Super Adventure

The beauty is also transformed into a beast, with an imposing fuel tank with a capacity of 30 liters (like the rival BMW R1200 GS Adventure) and a tubular engine protection kit, for a total weight of 272 kg with the full tank ( against 252 for the 1190 Adventure). The developments do not stop there, as the 1290 Super Adventure is equipped with semi-active WP suspensions, with 48 mm fork at the front and monoshock shock absorber directly anchored to the swingarm at the rear, as well as ” a steering damper.

Screen 1290 Super Adventure

Everything is fitted with the latest generation electronic assistance series, with MSC stability control combining Bosch 9ME C-ABS braking (Brembo calipers) and MTC traction control, both disconnectable and taking into account the indications of the inclination sensor for dosing. their intervention, but also, as an option, the MSR systems preventing the rear wheel from skidding during rapid deceleration or downshifting, or even HHS which maintains the brake pressure 5 seconds after releasing the lever or the pedal in order to facilitate hill starts. Also optional, the TPMS system indicating the tire pressure on the instrument panel.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure engine

1290 Super Adventure Exhaust

As standard, we can also count with an electronic immobilizer system with coded key, two crutches, two 12 V sockets, brake and clutch levers adjustable in spacing, an adjustable windshield without tools, even while driving, heated grips and saddles ( independent adjustment for the passenger seat), adjustable footrests and reversible handlebar bridges allowing 10 mm of handlebar adjustment to be saved. The Super Adventure even has adaptive LED lights, which light up 1, 2 or 3 of their segments depending on the lean angle of the bike, to better illuminate the road when bending. It also incorporates for the first time a cruise control, very practical on motorways and very easy to use, which can be activated from 50 km / h in 3, 4 and 5th gears.

Rear light KTM 1290 Super Adventure

KTM 1290 Super Adventure by the sea

In the saddle

With a massive and opulent build, the 1290 Super Adventure can impress at first glance. Especially small riders (less than 1m75) who will have difficulty putting both feet on the ground when stationary with the minimum seat height of 860 mm (extendable to 875 mm). Once installed, the driving position is quite pleasant and you feel sheltered from the wind and bad weather behind the large windshield and the imposing tank whose notches perfectly shelter the legs. Behind the wide handlebars, with the handles fitted with hand guards, there is a rather compact but very rich on-board instrumentation, with an analog tachometer and two digital dials.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure tank

On the right, the display of the temperature and fuel level gauges, the engaged gear indicator, the tachometer, the clock, as well as a reminder of the driving mode chosen and the preload setting of the suspension springs. On the left, several menu pages allowing you to refine the multiple settings via a multifunction control on the left stalk and the indication of many other elements (odometer, trips, fuel consumption, MTC / ABS settings, heated grip and saddles, mode driving, etc.). A real airplane cockpit, which requires a little learning to find your way around.

Super Adventure 1290 speedometer

In the city

Once the user manual has been assimilated and the motorcycle adjusted according to the load to be transported (solo, solo luggage, duo or duo luggage) and the desired driving mode (Street, Sport, Rain or Offroad, maximum power on both first modes, 100 hp on the last two), we can finally activate the starter.

Commodos KTM 1290 Super Adventure

The Austrian V-Twin snorts, immediately delivering a harsh and manly sound. We expected no less! The clutch is very flexible and progressive, allowing the impressive KTM to take off smoothly. The gearbox is fast, precise and you quickly find yourself cruising in 6th gear from 1500 rpm, without the engine expressing its dissatisfaction. An obvious gain in flexibility compared to the 1190, less torquey and accommodating at low revs.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure in the city

Despite its large size, the Super Adventure does quite well in the city, enjoying a decent turning radius and a neutral and balanced chassis, with a well-placed center of gravity. The wide handlebars offer excellent control of the front axle and contribute to the excellent agility of the machine, which responds immediately to the slightest request from the rider. The entry into the curve is carried out smoothly and without inertia, just like the rapid changes of angle in the sequences, this despite the change (at our request) of the original Continental Trail Attack 2 tires by Continental TKC 70 with the profile more pronounced offroad. Once warmed up, the V-Twin on the other hand delivers a beautiful heat in this urban context, warming the pilot and passenger more than desired..

KTM 1290 Super Adventure in the mountains

On the road

On the road, the 1290 Super Adventure reveals dynamic qualities of the highest order. Although Austrian, the chassis shows Germanic rigor, aided by a highly efficient semi-active WP suspension. The SCU suspension control unit adapts the damping rates in real time depending on the road surface, driving style and vehicle load. This is to offer the best compromise between comfort and safety at all times and to compensate for mass transfers during braking while maintaining a horizontal attitude. The motorbike withstands heavy stresses in a healthy way, without deviating from its trajectory, while effectively absorbing imperfections in the road surface to preserve the comfort of the crew.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure on departmental

Although tested by us in a 105 horsepower flanged version, the KTM 1301cc twin is a treat to exploit. Always available, it responds instantly to the slightest request from the pilot on the ride-by-wire accelerator. There is no jerk at low speed, or when the handle is suddenly played. Acceleration is relatively linear but powerful nonetheless, with more vigorous revving past 6,500 rpm. In Street mode, it is already winding at good speed on intermediate gears, with excellent revival capacity and maximum electronic assistance. In Sport mode, the response to acceleration is even sharper, the suspension is firmer and the assistance levels are reduced to allow a sportier ride without too intrusive intervention of the traction control. When attacking small mountain roads, take advantage of the elasticity of 3rd gear to concentrate on driving without playing too much with the selector, except in the corners where you have to negotiate in a lower gear.
The weight of the machine is totally forgotten in this road context, the Super Adventure handling with disconcerting ease. Even the fitting of a mixed profile TKC tire surprised us with its excellent road potential. Only the high windshield is really annoying, partially obscuring the field of vision on a curve.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure on the road

Motorway and expressways

On the motorway, we cruise quietly at 130 km / h to 5000 rpm in sixth gear “overdrive”, but we have a good reserve of power to make quick overtakes or stretch your wrist. However, be careful of speeding if you are not on a German motorway because the 200 km / h mark is very quickly exceeded with this machine, even in the 105 hp version. This is well sheltered behind a very protective windshield / tank / handles assembly, but at the cost of some vibrations which appear in stabilized speed at high revs, slightly penalizing the comfort of the pilot and his possible passenger. Cruise control is practical and easy to use, eliminating the need to worry about speeding by stalling at legal speed on the motorway.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure test drive on the highway


We obviously had no doubts about the road potential of the 1290 Super Adventure, but were still curious to take it off the asphalt to gauge its “Adventure” skills. One thing is certain, the offroad DNA of the Austrian brand is immediately noticeable on the handlebars of the 1290 Super Adventure. When standing, you can immediately find your marks, with a rigid and well-balanced chassis, which is placed precisely where the pilot wishes. You get comfortable so quickly that you almost forget the beauty’s Adventure vocation rather than Enduro. Suddenly, after a few kilometers of jerking the spring of the side stand becomes the trunk, the deployment of this causing the immediate shutdown of the engine. A little heat as he found himself slightly off balance in a bumpy climb strewn with bloodletting, forced to lean on one leg while briefly holding back some 272 kg of the tilted machine. A blow of Gaffer on the crutch and we set off again with a vengeance on the mountain paths where this test takes place. Very quickly, it becomes necessary to switch to enduro driving mode and firm up the suspensions, as well as to deactivate the traction control. ABS can be left active in Enduro mode, only affecting the front in a less intrusive manner, but it is easier to turn it off completely. The only problem is that as soon as the ignition is switched off, the settings are restored to default, ABS and MTC active.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure in duo

At the end of an hour’s ride, a few trialising limit climbs, a few steep and stony descents, as well as a few fording on slippery pebbles, we have to admit that this 1290 Super Adventure is doing quite well on this foray on the slopes. and mountain paths in the Italian Alps. In addition to the chassis neutrality, we especially appreciate the smoothness and efficiency of its clutch in technical passages, as well as the constant availability of the V-Twin KTM, always quick to react to the requests of the pilot to the handle and very soft. when moving on a trickle of gas. As soon as a clear track presents itself, a twist of the handle is enough to make the 1290 Super Adventure leap, always ready to do battle. The TKC 70 tires then reveal their excellent all-terrain versatility, without however competing with their predecessors TKC 80 with more pronounced studs. When cornering quickly, just load a little more forward and open the throttle slightly to trigger a controlled drift of the rear axle. The suspensions cope well with the big shocks, but it is still better to wind the sharpest bumps rather than to jump them because, despite its 200 mm of front / rear travel, the Super Adventure can still tail off on a too brutal reception. Suddenly, we find ourselves dreaming of a KTM 1290 Super Adventure “R”, lighter, with 21 and 19 inch wheels and increased ground clearance ….


C-ABS braking is excellent, both in feel and power, assisted by a non-intrusive ABS and taking into account the incline of the bike. You can brake hard on a curve without locking the wheel or having the bike lift up and pull straight under the gyroscopic force. A real plus in terms of active safety, as is the traction control / anti-wheeling assistance, the level of intervention of which varies depending on the driving mode. You can easily change it thanks to the left-hand controls, but with a small gas cut delay.

Brakes KTM 1290 Super Adventure


Given its size and the strength of its engine, the KTM 1290 Adventure is not the most economical of the road. Its average fuel consumption easily exceeds 8.5 l / 100 km when you harness the punch and great availability of the Austrian V-Twin. By driving economically, on the other hand, it is possible to bring it down to below 6.5 l / 100 km, the large 30-liter tank then offering a range of nearly 460 km. Another significant advantage is that the modern design of this engine allows the periodic maintenance interval to be extended to 15,000 km.

KTM Super Adventure 1290


In head-on competition with the BMW R1200R Adventure (€ 16,950), the KTM 1290 Super Adventure truly keeps all its promises. At € 18,200 it is certainly more expensive from the outset, but ultimately no more than its rival equipped with the essential optional packs (Touring with ESA Dynamic suspensions at € 1,795, Comfort at € 455 and Dynamic at € 1,055, for a total of € 19,800 in a similar configuration). In fact, the only thing missing is the delivery of the 105 horsepower bridle in France from 2016 to be able to take full advantage of the true potential of this excellent bike..

Strong points

  • Flexibility and engine punch
  • Rigorous chassis
  • Safe braking
  • Autonomy
  • Equipments

Weak points

  • Substantial size and weight
  • Engine temperature in town
  • Consumption in “sport” mode
  • High price

The technical sheet of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure

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