KTM's Beast 3.0 naked tarmac ripper evolves in an alien direction
One of the most magnificent and terrifying steeds in motorcycledom gets its second major overhaul for 2024. The new KTM 1390 Super Duke R gets a bigger motor, a bigger tank, semi-active suspension and a savagely alien new headlight design.
Seriously, if you thought the boggle-eyed BMW S1000R or the angry-eyebrows Yamaha MT-10 had some weird faces on them, the new Super Duper Duke headlight makes both look downright conventional. Imagine the old 1290 Super Duke headlight – now gut the middle out of it, leaving the sides, and stick a couple of brutal projector housings in there, stacked vertically so as to make sure it doesn't remind anyone of any mammal.
What's left looks perfectly normal from the side, but hideous and unfinished-looking from the front – something like a drooling, mechanical Predator alien. As a piece of design, it feels scandalous, rude and confrontational, and thus perfectly appropriate for one of the most unapologetically hooliganistic motorcycles on the market.
The 1290 is now a 1390 – albeit in name alone. Just like the 1290 was actually a 1301 if you were counting cubic centimeters of displacement, the new 1390 is actually a 1350. The new engine gains its 49 cc by being slightly bored out. KTM says it adds more power and torque throughout the entire rev range, but also that it "allows for a more differentiated fuel mapping to meet the latest EURO 5+ emission regulations."
Peak claimed horsepower goes from a puny 177 to an elegant sufficiency of 190, and peak claimed torque is an extraordinary 107 lb-ft (145 Nm), up from a pittance of 106 lb-ft (144 Nm). Frankly, if you're able to feel either change from the saddle, you must be riding it a lot harder than I rode the old one. And I gave it my level best shot; it was so monumentally torquey that it wheelied in fourth gear if you looked at it in the wrong tone of voice.
But as well as being one of the wildest bikes I ever rode, it also managed a degree of practicality – and KTM has added to it again with the 1390, upping the capacity of the fuel tank to 17.5 liters (3.85 gal) and thus boosting fuel range up to around 300 km (186 miles).
Standard, it'll roll with KTM's own fully adjustable WP Apex suspension. On the fancier EVO model, you can expect the latest generation of WP's semi-active technology, complete with electronically controlled magnetic valves for super-quick damping adjustment in response to road conditions and rider mode requests. Incidentally, do you know what WP stands for? Yeah, I think I'd be going with just the initials too.
Naturally the 1390 Super Duke R is kitted out with all the appropriate electronics to manage, tame and neuter its outrageous performance when you deem it prudent. But one watch of KTM's promotional video for this new bike should make it clear enough what it's built for. It might be incredibly easy to ride, but it's also built for superhuman riders to do superhuman things on.
Personally I still can't believe we're allowed to just go and buy these things.