KTM 1290 Super Duke GT test


Vintage 2019! Even better than before !

V-Twin LC8 а 75 °, 1.301 cm3, 175 hp and 141 Nm, 209 kg, semi-active suspensions WP

Happy New Year for KTM which continues to increase its sales with 126,808 motorcycles registered in the first half of this year, an increase of 15% compared to 2017, a record year..

And while manufacturers mainly distribute their mid-range, KTM particularly sells 1290 Super Duke GT, the most expensive model of the brand. Launched three years ago, it is also the only sport tourer of the Austrian company where the emphasis is on "sport", a response to the concerns of President Stefan Pierer before commercialization:

I don’t think a classic sport tourer is 100% the brand identity of KTM. Our customers expect a sporty attitude from KTM, unlike other manufacturers.

The objective of the GT since its launch in 2015 has been to offer the same performance as the streetfighter Super Duke R, also known as The Beast, combined with practical aspects of everyday life. It seems that sales prove that KTM has paid off with this marriage of extremes.

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Although it was the very first KTM road V-Twin with touring pretensions, the GT was such a success, especially in Germany which accounted for 50% of sales that KTM handed over from the R&D budget for it. to improve even more, to arrive at the model presented last month at Intermot. And KTM then calls me to ask me if I want to try it through the hills and valleys of the Austrian hinterland. Hard to believe, isn’t it? And besides I get paid to do it !


Spoil! The Super Duke GT is even more fun to drive than before: sharper, more powerful and refined in all aspects compared to the previous vintage. How can I say за, based on my memory alone? In fact, I was not alone and I was accompanied by Luke Brackenbury from KTM, driving him on the GT 2018. So we kept swapping our bikes. A real comparison! As always, changing your bike several times a day really helps bring the differences to the fore. And it’s incredible how the previous vintage has taken a turn for the worse, even though this famous 2015 model had set new standards in the segment when it was released in 2015..

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Part of the improvements are visual. It is enough to look at the two motorcycles side by side to see that the style of the new model proposed by Kiska Design gives it much more presence than before. No ?

The 1290 GT 2016-2018 and the 2019 vintage

The redesigned front end of the 1290 Super Duke GT is now accompanied by wider side reinforcements which are also more protective. The tank is still 23 liters (5 liters more than the R) but now incorporates a pair of storage compartments to store small items like toll tickets and credit cards, regardless of the motorcycle key which, for the first time on the GT (but already present on the SuperDuke R and SuperAdventure for 2 years), is now equipped with the Race On keyless remote control system. As a result, you no longer need a key to unlock the tank when refueling. The key is only used for lockable saddlebags.

On the practical side, there is also a USB port in the left compartment to charge your phone and nothing else, because it’s not really that big either..

Taking the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

The facelift also covers the new headlight consisting of six forward-facing LEDs in an aluminum housing. Other LEDs provide the daytime running lights (DRL), the automatic flashing indicators or the three degrees of inclination of the lighting when cornering. These work thanks to the angle sensor in the Keihin ECU and increase in intensity when the bike tilts, directing the light towards the exit of the turn and also being useful during the day, for example when going through sections. dark and woody. The TFT dashboard then also switches to its night mode.

Headlight of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

On the chassis side, we find the tubular trellis frame in orange painted steel from the Super Duke R, of which it retains the same geometry with a caster angle of 24.9 ° and a drag of 107 mm with a wheelbase of 1.482 mm , but with a longer and more robust rear mouth to offer more comfort to the passenger especially on long distances thanks to lower footrests. It also makes it easier to adapt the specially designed and optionally available hard saddlebags, unless you live in the USA where they come standard. The silencer on the right side of the 2-1 exhaust is also mounted lower to give them a little space..

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT case

The 1290 GT features a revamped version of the WP semi-active suspension with three selectable drive modes: "Comfort, Street and Sport". These adjustments are obtained by a suspension control unit (SCU) which, depending on the reactions of the accelerometers and the front and rear travel sensors, adapts the damping rates of the inverted fork and of the rear monoshock to the properties of the coating. and driving style !

In the saddle

Installed on the saddle, high enough of 835 mm (the 1.70 rider will not put two ends of his feet on the ground), we have a fairly spacious riding position with the footrests well aligned at the rear so as not to your toes touching when taking an angle and preventing you from catching leg cramps, especially during long rolls in a straight line. It’s a motorcycle for grown-ups! This wide space is extended by the one-piece handlebar mounted on the upper triple yoke offering a natural riding position via one of the 4 positions on which it can pivot, its flattest shape offering a more upright and relaxed position than on the Super. Duke R. The hand guards also reinforce the protection of the hands on cold autumn days, while the 3-level adjustable heated grips, always as standard, have their cables fully integrated. Hydraulic front brake and clutch levers are adjustable.

Ergonomics of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Also new for 2019, the 6.5-inch TFT instrument panel, very easy to use, is both aesthetic and functional. The old model’s analog speedometer and LCD meter look almost retro next to it. The color screen is just as visible in direct sunlight with the added possibility of customizing the display. The icing on the cake, the indications of the meter change color as the speed increases, passing through all the shades of red, from the lightest to the darkest until the switch placed 500 revolutions higher, at 10,500 rpm. The various menus and functions are now managed by an illuminated button located on the left, just next to the cruise control which was previously on the right..


There is no actual navigation equipment on the GT, but the new KTM My Ride smartphone connectivity feature allows users to use their phone for ¤10 to display directions on the TFT screen. turn-by-turn with audible indications available in 5 languages. This allows you to program your route upstream. The app also allows you to receive or reject incoming calls and even manage your music, in GT mind more than in mind, I’m on my knees in a blind turn and I take a call at the same time.

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT speedometer

Engine and transmission

As before, the GT has the same latest generation 75 ° LC8 8-valve V-Twin with cam chain drive and 1.301 cc displacement as on the R, but with different settings. The engine therefore has intake valves of the same size, but now in titanium with a reduced weight which allowed the maximum revs to be increased to 500 rpm, as well as revised resonance chambers on the stainless steel exhaust. Along with the alleged performance benefits, this also means that the optional Akrapovic slip-on muffler will now be more difficult to sell, with the original 2019 muffler showing both muscular and husky, albeit. ‘a little muted by Euro4 (but where is the button to change the sound on the handlebars).

Muffler of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

While this all translates into a small power boost of 2 horsepower to 175 hp at 9,750 rpm, the biggest difference is in the way this is delivered since it is now available over a longer range. with peak torque of 141 Nm at 7,000 rpm. The torque curve here is more linear than on the R.

The extremely powerful acceleration available is relayed by Pirelli Angel tires. These offer a good compromise between grip and durability, aided by a traction control adjustable on 9 levels. It’s a sport tourer with a serious attitude and a lot more torque, starting at 4,000 rpm. Another key element is that the crankshaft now weighs 500g more which gives it more rotating mass and helps to maintain momentum, strengthen the feeling of torque and provide a smoother engine in operation..

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT engine

In short, the V-Twin wants it and demonstrates it brilliantly, only weakening at the breaker. Clearly improving, the 6-speed gearbox is softer and less hard than before. It would be almost a shame since KTM has just added a Quickshifter which is part of the optional Performance Pack which also includes Electronic Engine Brake Management (MSR) in addition to the standard slip clutch..

Clutch of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

The GT’s shifter is extremely easy to use without ever having to touch the lever, except in traffic jams or in tight bends when the revs drop below 2,000 rpm. Hill Hold Control hill start assist, available as an option, is very useful especially on fairly steep slopes..

In the city

The different evolutions do not really change the behavior of the Austrian in built-up areas. Even if it would always benefit from offering a better turning radius for maneuvering, it is still as agile and manoeuvrable as ever. The engine is very smooth and the GT’s shifter is extremely easy to use, so you hardly ever need to touch the lever, except in traffic jams or in tight bends when the revs drop below. of 2,000 rpm. Hill Hold Control hill start assist, available as an option, is very useful even on fairly steep slopes..

The KTM 1290 Super Duke GT in town

On motorways and expressways

The new, more elegant screen also offers slightly increased protection compared to the old one and can be safely adjusted with one hand to 9 positions and a range of 50 mm. And despite the added protection it provides when lifted to maximum, it never vibrates at high speed. Driving at 160 km / h on the German autobahn close to our Austrian roads with the twin set at 6,500 rpm is surprisingly relaxing for a modern sport tourer, with excellent protection, very little eddying and no excessive noise. Suffice to say that at the legal level the job is perfectly fulfilled.

The 1290 Super Duke GT on the road

For the rest, the GT remains true to itself with efficient and comfortable suspensions, but also and above all a bestial twin that responds without complaining to any request. The hardest part will perhaps be to curb his ardor while we feel that he still keeps (a lot) under the handle.

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT straight line

On departmental

As impressive as it was on the previous model three years ago, you immediately notice how much the bike has improved even further in terms of semi-active suspension; an impression confirmed by the change of model using that of Luke on small bumpy roads. Okay, that would be cliché to say that the 2019 GT offers the comfort of a flying carpet, but honestly, you practically fly over bumps and rough asphalt. You can see the imperfection of the road but you can hardly feel it when you drive over it as the damping quality is good with this semi-active suspension..

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT out of a corner

By remapping the Keihin ECU to incorporate better ignition timing and provide smoother, more powerful low-end operation, KTM engineers delivered better performance with a real boost of power at mid-throttle, right up to the end. at 10.500 rpm of the breaker, point from which the Ride-by-Wire simply stops its progression in the turns but without cutting.

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT on the road

Conversely, the GT has a very powerful acceleration and resumes vigorously from 1,500 laps in sport mode before sending a new charge from 4,000 laps. It is thus possible to stay in 4th to take the tight turns of the Austrian countryside and then leap into the straight line. It is no longer a GT but a sporty one, ready to respond to the slightest strain on the wrist. Of course, it is possible to downshift a gear or two to have a little more energy, but the 1.301 cc engine has such reserves of torque that in real driving conditions it is not necessary..

The KTM 1290 Super Duke GT on the road

With such power and such acceleration, one might think that it is only brutal acceleration with each opening of the throttle. But the engineers did an excellent job of minimizing the GT’s pitch-up and acceleration force, without overriding it. Even in Sport mode, the arrival of power is smooth, even if it remains hairier than that of Street mode which requires opening the throttle a little more to achieve the same efficiency. Rain mode further softens throttle response while limiting power to 100 horsepower. But with the sun present during this test, I only tested it once.

The KTM 1290 Super Duke GT on the road

Cycle part

We have already presented the excellent developments of the semi-active WP suspension. The suspension travel remains unchanged at 125 mm at the front and 156 at the rear, but the damping has improved considerably when it was not too bad before! In addition, with the semi-active suspension, it is possible to choose electronically via the instrument panel the appropriate rear preload setting according to the load, whether for the rider alone with or without luggage, or for two people..

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT swingarm


Conversely, Brembo brakes and cast aluminum wheels are completely identical to those of the Super Duke R, with two 4-piston radial monobloc calipers gripping 320mm front discs and a wide 240mm disc on the rear. back. The system incorporates an ABS including cornering function, as on almost all road KTMs, as well as four modes Street, Sport, Rain and Supermoto. KTM offers here a very own version of what a Tourer is.

Front brake of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Comfort and duo

The heated seat of the test bike proved to be very comfortable beyond its aesthetics. It is especially in clear improvement compared to the vintage. It was then that I understood that the Ergo Seat and its passenger folding seat were actually part of the fifty or so accessories offered for the GT, costing respectively 243 euros and 194 euros extra. But the Ergo Seat is so comfortable that it would be a false economy not to take this option..

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT seat

The same goes for the very practical hard suitcases offered at 780 a pair, which will allow you to store a full face helmet in each. Once the suitcases are removed, there is no unsightly structure to be seen, the steel support being very discreet and not altering the style of the motorcycle. A good point when you want to use it for more urban use.

KTM 1290 Super Duke GT side case

Consumption and autonomy

At stabilized speed on the motorway, the consumption turns around 6 liters per hundred, but climbs to seven liters as soon as we increase the pace on the small roads of a test carried out with beating pace.


Comfort without compromising agility in turns. Distance without reducing performance. The most radical long-distance Sport Tourer on the market combines phenomenal engine performance and the handling of "The Beast" in a torque-boosted package that can swallow the miles as fast as turn the corners..

Deliveries of this literally unique KTM 1290 Super Duke GT will begin early next year. She’s just better than ever.

The KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

Strong points

  • A look apart…
  • Smooth and torquey motor
  • Quality of damping
  • Optimized ergonomics
  • Improved protection

Weak points

  • … which will not please everyone
  • Some essential options
  • Absolute price

The technical sheet of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT 2019

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2 thoughts on “KTM 1290 Super Duke GT test

  1. Tom4, this is what is marked on the nameplate on the steering column…

    and @ surfer, the excitapeur, that’s exactly it! (but the fear disappears after a turn, fortunately)…


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