KTM's new 1290 Super Duke RR: All class, with more Rs
KTM's parts department has dumped all its top-shelf upgrades onto one of the most extreme hyper-naked bikes on the market to create an even sharper, limited-edition 1290 Super Duke RR. As if "The Beast" needed any more Rs.
The 1,301cc V-Twin motor stays the same, offering a monster 140 Nm (103 lb-ft) of torque and a hairy-chested 180 horsepower, but it'll feel faster than the standard bike thanks to a quick-turn throttle that's fully open some 7 degrees earlier than the regular bike. That's genius; I'm going to open up a dyno tuning shop where the dyno never gets plugged in, and all we do is fit bigger throttle cams and charge people 500 bucks.
Power may not change, but the weight does; the Super Duke RR weighs in 9 kg (20 lb) lighter than the standard bike at 180 kg (397 lb), hitting the magical one-horsepower-per-kilogram figure. This earns the bike an elephant stamp. Incidentally, this ratio always used to make me picture a full-sized, jacked and ripped racehorse with all the usual strength, that somehow only weighs a single kilo.
Unfortunately, this analogy doesn't work, because due to the wondrous vagaries of the Imperial system, the peak output of a horse is actually about 15 horsepower. Who's to blame for that? None other than James Watt, who literally invented the horsepower before having its SI replacement named after him.
We digress. How does the Beast RR shed its flab? Well, there's a fair bit of carbon fiber, including a redesigned single-seat tail section. The tip of its Akrapovic slip-on exhaust is also carbon, with the rest being titanium, and should you wish to throw street legality to the wind, there's an optional full system that'll make the bike louder, faster and dirtier.
New forged wheels ditch 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) of gyroscopic, unsprung weight between them, which will be highly significant when you go over a bump or try to change direction, if you're planning to do that sort of thing. And the RR gets upgraded suspension at the front, back and steering head from the fully adjustable WP Apex Pro line, tuned to be stiffer and more agile than the original.
What else is here? Hmm. A lightweight lithium ion battery saves weight and space, and the electronics get a track mode and an "all-new performance mode" offering "near-unlimited adjustability options for rear-wheel slip, throttle response, Launch Control, and Motor Slip Regulation." That's all on top of the comprehensive standard electronics package.
OK, it's not an overhaul. But if you've ridden one of these 1290s, you'll know the standard Super Duke hardly needs an overhaul. It's already one of the baddest bikes on the planet, an unhinged, tarmac-tearing torque monster capable of overloading the senses like little else on the road if you're game enough to drop your right wrist. The new Super Duke RR is merely a victory lap with an astronomical price tag; you could get pretty damn close to this yourself with a standard 1290 and an accessory catalogue.
I know this intellectually, and yet I still want one. The feeling of belting the first-gen 1290's throttle open in fourth gear while doing the imperial ton, and having the front wheel pop up like a trials bike hopping over a log, is seared into my brain. It's one of the most transcendent and awe-inspiring experiences I've ever had on two wheels, and boy have I had some of those.
KTM will only make 500 of these things globally. Somebody please grab one and giz a ride? I'll buy you a beer. Dribble with me over the video below.