Motorcycles

Third-gen KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is a radar-cruise super-hooligan

Third-gen KTM 1290 Super Adven...
Make no mistake, this bike is an absolute weapon
Make no mistake, this bike is an absolute weapon
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Make no mistake, this bike is an absolute weapon
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Make no mistake, this bike is an absolute weapon
KTM's 2021 Super Adventure 1290 S: those crazy Austrians have found a new way to get sideways
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KTM's 2021 Super Adventure 1290 S: those crazy Austrians have found a new way to get sideways
Ravised bodywork and a 55mm-adjustable windshield
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Ravised bodywork and a 55mm-adjustable windshield
A new double radiator system aims to channel hot air away from your legs on the move
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A new double radiator system aims to channel hot air away from your legs on the move
New WP Apex semi-active suspension
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New WP Apex semi-active suspension
Revised double exhaust ain't the nicest thing in the world to look at
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Revised double exhaust ain't the nicest thing in the world to look at
The two-position adjustable seat is a little lower than before, but it's still a tall bike
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The two-position adjustable seat is a little lower than before, but it's still a tall bike
19/17-inch cast wheels are biased toward road riding
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19/17-inch cast wheels are biased toward road riding
Not one to try at home
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Not one to try at home
The chassis has been sharpened up for a lower center of mass and sharper handling
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The chassis has been sharpened up for a lower center of mass and sharper handling
A 160-horsepower road/trail weapon with touring luggage
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A 160-horsepower road/trail weapon with touring luggage
The windscreen is hand-adjustable by 55 mm
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The windscreen is hand-adjustable by 55 mm
At 220 kg (485 lb) dry, with a 23-liter (6-gallon) tank to fill, this is still not a bike for the timid
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At 220 kg (485 lb) dry, with a 23-liter (6-gallon) tank to fill, this is still not a bike for the timid
A new 7-inch color dash, and a worsening case of button pox on the left switchblock
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A new 7-inch color dash, and a worsening case of button pox on the left switchblock
Cornering headlights should be mandatory in our view
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Cornering headlights should be mandatory in our view
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The enormous 1290 Super Adventure has only been with us since 2015, but it's already into its third generation with today's rather late announcement of a 2021 S model. The S here denotes this bike as the more street-focused version; there's an R with 21/19-inch spoked wheels, longer suspension travel and more ground clearance for the truly demented cowboy that wants to point a giant metal Clydesdale like this at the really gnarly stuff.

The S is your cross-continental touring bike, ready for just about anything shy of single-trail in the wet with 19/17-inch cast rims and tires with more groove than knob. This third-gen 2021 model is more than a facelift, less than an overhaul, and starts with a tweaked 1301cc V-Twin engine.

It still makes roughly the same ludicrous 160 horsepower and 138 Nm (102 lb-ft) of torque that it did in its previous incarnation, but it's now 1.6 kg (3.5 lb) lighter, Euro 5 compliant, and more reliable, says KTM, thanks to new engine cases, pistons, exhausts, gears, oil circuits and cooling, with a split radiator system that channels heat away from your legs.

At 220 kg (485 lb) dry, with a 23-liter (6-gallon) tank to fill, this is still not a bike for the timid
At 220 kg (485 lb) dry, with a 23-liter (6-gallon) tank to fill, this is still not a bike for the timid

The chassis has been revised too, with the weight balance shifted lower and further back and the steering sharpened. A longer swingarm aids suspension activity and stability on the gas, and a new subframe with a 2-position adjustable seat that brings this huge beast's seat down a touch to 849 mm (33.5 inches) at its lower position, almost dead on the low-position seat height of the BMW R 1250 GS.

The 1290 Super Adventure S gets a spunky new 7-inch dash, but the real headline here is its radar-based Bosch adaptive cruise control system, which will hold a constant, adjustable distance from the vehicle in front of you and save plenty of frustration on the freeways. On the negative side, the left switchblock is starting to sprout a disconcerting number of buttons, so you'll need to start working on that thumb dexterity.

There's an optional quickshifter, and all the electronic rider aids you could ask for thanks to a six-axis IMU: cornering ABS, off-road ABS, stability control, motor slip control, multi-mode traction control, hill hold control and a new semi-active WP Apex suspension system that can be upgraded to a Pro system with automatic preload adjustment and a switchable anti-dive mode to stop the nose dropping too low under hard braking.

KTM's 2021 Super Adventure 1290 S: those crazy Austrians have found a new way to get sideways
KTM's 2021 Super Adventure 1290 S: those crazy Austrians have found a new way to get sideways

Toys, toys, toys ... with keyless ignition, cornering headlights, self-cancelling indicators, Bluetooth thingumajigs and tire pressure sensors, this bike has an awful lot of technology built in, but don't let all these bleeping farkles distract you too much. At its heart, the 1290 is a raging hooligan weapon designed to rip back-road twisties as hard and crazy as any super-streetbike, then get sideways as it smooths out a rutty dirt road for you, and then look all grown-up and innocent as you munch freeway miles in radar-cruise comfort.

These are huge machines that take genuine skill and no small amount of muscle to tame, but for those with the gift, the experience looks absolutely transcendent and almost no road is off-limits.

KTM makes some of the best promo videos in the business, and the one below is no exception. Enjoy!

Meet the Ultimate High-Performance Adventure Bike, the 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S | KTM

Source: KTM

View gallery - 15 images
3 comments
3 comments
guzmanchinky
I just bought a 790 Adventure R a year ago and am amazed at it's capabilities. It's terrifying how many people have problems with KTMs however, but mine has been problem free so far.
Dan Swets
KTM's are junk...Sorry my 2020 1290s motor blew up after 2800 miles and the KTM ahole's wouldn't give me a new engine instead they sent it to Marietta by Temecula California to be rebuilt seriously a rebuilt engine? I've had 3 GS 1200 R and they NEVER blew up!! These bikes are junk yeah they have more HP but when your left in the side of the road because your bikes engine detonated all the HP in the world won't get you home!!! KTM's will never be better than a second class to BMW...
ReservoirPup
Great writing Loz, but even you haven't managed to convert me from bicycles to motos.