KTM sharpens the sharpest of the hyper-tourers, the 2019 Super Duke 1290 GT
To those who have everything, more will be given – and so it is with the GT, which was already the fastest and craziest touring motorcycle on the market. For 2019 it gets more horsepower, a bidirectional quickshifter, updated electronics and creature comforts, and frankly the best dash we've seen on two wheels to date.
The outgoing Super Duke 1290 GT stands apart from the pack at the crazy end of the sports touring segment, a comfortable 10-12 horsepower up on the BMW S1000XR and Ducati Multistrada 1260, which themselves are brutally fast, with more power than you could ever honestly claim to need on the road. It's a two-up touring comfort-focused version of the lunatic Super Duke 1290 R nakedbike, which remains to this day one of the wildest and most exhilarating bikes we've ever ridden.
For 2019, it gets a thoroughly superfluous bonus two horsepower, taking it from 173 to 175. Curiously, peak torque drops from 144 to 141 Nm (down from 106 to 104 lb-ft), but honestly, this is one of those bikes where if you need more torque, just turn the throttle a bit further. We have fond memories of turning the throttle most of the way in fourth gear on the naked model and having the front wheel start rising up of its own accord. It's a fearsome motor indeed, now bolstered with revised resonator chambers, titanium inlet valves and re-worked fuel mapping.
The addition of an up/down quickshifter is always a welcome luxury, and the new GT is also upgraded with KTM's latest IMU-based electronic wizardry. That includes lean angle-sensitive traction control and cornering ABS systems, a programmable Track mode and an updated semi-active damping system on the bike's already excellent WP suspension.
Other luxuries include updated cruise control, keyless ignition, new barkbuster-style hand guards over heated grips, a new headlight to match the rest of the Duke family's razor-sharp looks, an easier windshield adjuster and color-matched panniers, each big enough to hold a full-face helmet.
Probably the biggest difference to most riders will be the dash, which has been overhauled with a 6.5-inch full color TFT screen. It responds to commands from thumb switches on the left switchgrip. The design of this thing is actively beautiful, it's one of the first motorcycle dashes that's up to date with the touchscreen world we live in today, and it replaces one that was starting to look very outdated and dot matrix in comparison.
KTM has done itself a disservice by not including photos of this dash in the press kit, so you'll have to check it out in the flesh to see what we mean, it's a beauty. The new dash also enables Bluetooth connectivity, so you can manage calls and media through to a connectivity-enabled helmet without lifting your hands off the bars.
It's a barrel-chested beast in the flesh, bulkier than it looks in these press photos and surprisingly wide at the front. But the dry weight is a fairly nifty 209 kg (460 lb), it's kitted out for proper 2-up comfort, and when it comes to smashing big miles at hyper speed, and owning every twisty piece of tarmac along the way with utter sporting savagery, we can't think of anything we'd rather set out on.
Check out a video below.