In 2014 KTM stunned the world (and us) with the fearsome 1290 Super Duke R. For 2016 the Austrian company has announced a Gran Turismo version of the twin-cylinder streetfighter, enhancing the Super Duke with practical amenities and an impressive collection of electronic safety features.
The first time we saw the prototype 1290 Super Duke R in 2012 we knew it was destined to be a unique specimen of motorcycle. Two years later KTM proved us right – the production version of the streetfighter didn't fall short of expectations. If there was one weak spot on the Super Duke, it was its touring capability. KTM has addressed this issue decisively with the 1290 Super Duke GT, which it officially presented at EICMA 2015.
Constructors are keen to develop sport touring versions of their sportbikes, usually going to great lengths to restrict their performance into tame, friendly tourers. For the company whose motto is "Ready to Race" this will not be the case. The GT is not simply based on the R-sibling; it employs the LC8 engine in practically the same state of tune.
Peak performance figures are exactly the same: 173 hp and 144 Nm (106 lb-ft) of torque. Behind these maximum values, though, there has been some significant work carried out to tailor the 75-degree V-twin's monstrous power to its newfound purpose. Peak horsepower is now achieved higher in the rev scale, at 9,500 rpm (8,865 for the R). Torque on the other hand maxes out at 6,750 – 1,000 rpm lower than the R. In theory this sounds like an ingenious plan: stretch the power curve to make it more linear and move the peak torque lower to achieve lower fuel consumption at cruising speed. This must be a joyous task for any engineer when there are monumental amounts of power and torque to play with – yet we should acknowledge that KTM did it without changing gear ratios or final transmission.
The GT keeps most of the R's running gear as well, with the frame and brakes being identical. One important update concerns the suspension. KTM has used WP's semi active system which uses an electronic control unit to fine tune damping values in real time to ensure optimal traction-finding performance. The system is very similar to the one used on the 1290 Super Adventure, offering the ability to choose between three damping profiles (Comfort, Street and Sport) – minus the Enduro setting that would be rather useless here. Wheel travel hasn't changed at all though, retaining the exact same values of the Super Duke R.
Another electronic package from the Super Adventure that has found its way to the Super Duke GT is Motorcycle Stability Control, including adjustable ABS and traction control. Both the top-of-the-shelf Bosch 9M+ ABS and the traction control can be regulated to various levels of involvement, but can also be switched off completely should the rider wish to. In true Super Adventure fashion, KTM goes all the way with the electronic weaponry deployed on the GT with cruise control, quick shifter, tire pressure monitor, heated grips and cornering LED lights. There's even a couple of extras in the shape of the Hill Hold Control and the Motor Slip Regulation – the latter being a system that prevents the rear wheel from losing traction should the rider accidentally misbehave during downshifting, either with jerky throttle action or by dumping the clutch.
Plenty of work has also gone into the Super Duke GT's touring amenities. A new fairing provides aerodynamic protection so that the rider can withstand the long hours of riding made possible by the bigger, 23-liter fuel tank. The tail section is also longer, incorporating mounts for KTM's hard luggage
The 1290 Super Duke GT will be offered in two color schemes, Grey and Orange. For the time being there is no word on pricing. We can bet it won't be cheap, but desirable it definitely is.
Here's KTM's official promo video: