I don’t think it is a coincidence that on the day that Ducati shows us its Streetfighter V4 prototype at Pikes Peak, that we see our first spy photos of the updated KTM 1290 Super Duke R (for bonus points, MV Agusta has gotten in on the action, releasing pricing on its Brutale 1000 sport bike as well).
Rumors of an updated Super Duke have been hitting our eardrums for a while now, though the details on the machine have been sparse. In fact, we were simply told “everything is better about it.”
That’s a little light on details for our tastes, but it does bode well for the street fighting machine, as the current KTM 1290 Super Duke R ranks as one of our favorite motorcycles right now.
Caught testing in Austria (we use that term loosely), we can immediately see from the spy photos that a new steel trellis frame has been used. Using the term “trellis” frame might have to be rethought now, that is how different the new chassis is from the old one.
Also visible is a new exhaust design, which has pipes that are much longer than before, as well as a beefier silencer. The goal here is surely to get the KTM 1290 Super Duke R to pass the new Euro5 emission standards, which will take effect in 2021 for the model.
KTM has seemingly been listening to my complaints about their switchgear and small dashes, as the hand controls have been revised on the Super Duke R, and we see the addition of the company’s “fish finder” TFT unit from the Adventure line. Both of these are very welcomed improvements to our eyes.
Another noticeable change are the new wheels, especially the rear wheel. Mounting to a single-sided swingarm, the previous generation wheel had a very beefy hub design. This new wheel though looks very skinny…almost too skinny in its hub construction, which is an interesting development.
The front calipers appear to be Brembo Stylema units, an upgrade from the M50 units used previously.
Visually, the bike isn’t too different from the older model, with the same basic lines still in place. But, just about every piece does look like it has been reworked by KTM. The biggest change is the swooping radiator guards that come from the fuel tank, which help to increase the sporty look on the two-wheeled fun machine.
Other items that catch our eye is the rear subframe, which is cast instead of a steel trellis. The headlight unit seems to be the same, though.
The motor looks reworked too, though the basic lines of the castings appear to be mostly the same. Items like the water pump have different rounting, and now there is a mounting point for the frame down low on the forward cylinder.
This latter item is of particular importance, as it will surely improve the KTM 1290 Super Duke R’s handling abilities. Will we see revised engine internals? That’s tough to say.
If we do, it will likely do little to improve upon the current spec sheet, as Euro5 is surely going to eat into the bike’s already incredible power delivery.
It is impossible to say from photos, but we also expect the electronics on the KTM 1290 Super Duke R to be improved upon for next year. As such, expect a full suite of IMU-powered rider aids, with slide control and wheelie control that’s broken out from the traction control settings.
TL;DR, our Bothans were right. Everything about the new Super Duke R appears to be better. What a great time to be alive.