The Beast 2.0: KTM hones the Super Duke 1290R into something even more evil

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2017 KTM Super Duke 1290 R: an early upgrade to the baddest naked bike on the planet(Credit: KTM)

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KTM's 1290 Super Duke R was the biggest, baddest super-naked bruiser on the planet up until a few minutes ago, when the Austrians pulled the covers off a new version. And by god, I know it's an early call but it looks like the bike of the century.

I'm sorry, I'm not sure I can handle this news. Ever since I rode KTM's 1290 Super Duke R, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. The more I think about it, the more I think it's the closest thing I've ever ridden to petrol-powered perfection, and if money was no object that's the bike I'd own right now.

To hear that KTM has given it a major overhaul for 2017 has frankly made me a little weak at the knees. I'm going to need some time to process this.

Let's start with the cosmetics. A frankly evil-looking bike has been made to look frankly far more evil with the addition of the nastiest LED headlight I think I've ever seen on a stock motorcycle, channeling the mandibles of a soldier ant. A lower, wider handlebar contributes to the predatory stance of the thing, while the exposed trellis frame looks as exoskeletal as ever.

Power is up 4 horses to 177 hp, but anyone who tells you the power on the old one wasn't adequate needs their head read. Of course, more is better. But the big news here is a fatter, wider spread of torque from an LC8 v-twin engine that was already capable of lifting the front wheel sky high in fourth gear with a whole lot of me on it.

The ABS system is now a Bosch Cornering jobbie that's sensitive to your lean angles. It includes a Supermoto mode that lets you slide the back end like a true KTM rider. An inbuilt IMU also takes lean angles into account for operating the traction control.

The awesome WP suspension is now firmer and sportier. The dash is full color TFT, and hopefully replaces the woeful menu system of the old bikes, which was pretty much the only gripe I could muster with it.

There's cruise control that works up to 200 km/h (~120 mph). I may be crying here. Keyless ignition. And a performance pack that adds an up/down quickshifter, Motor Slip Regulation, whatever that is, and a system called MY RIDE that lets the bike talk to your smartphone for such datalogging and settings changing purposes as we can imagine.

A further Track Pack adds a tire slip adjust system that can be used to gently massage the traction system's response as your tires go off during a race. There's also extra power modes, including the ability to turn "The Beast" loose with an extremely aggressive throttle mapping that should scare the stoutest trousers off, and the ability to turn off wheelie control.

I'm sorry, folks, I'm a puddle here. This upgrade might just be a tad beyond my wildest dreams. A small factory like KTM has no business upgrading a relatively new bike like the Super Duke 1290 so early in its model run, and I never took the time to prepare myself for the possibility of this happening.

Please send help. Or money.

Source: KTM

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