KTM 1290 Super Duke R


Wednesday 9 December 2020. Trying something else...
Bought a 2020 demo Super Duke R today with only 500km on the odo. It already has the quickshifter and techpack. I'll have heated grips, navigation (Garmin XT), cases and a radiatorcover installed. I like the black SDR better, but then I had to buy a new one and had to pay almost 3,000 euros more... Suddenly the color wasn't thát important...

..:: Quote ::..
"It's more composed on the road, not at all scary on the track and that 1,301cc engine with its treasure trove of rider aids is still one of the finest internal combustion engines ever made. Clear a space in your garage and buy one. "

Tuesday 26 January. (Almost) ready
The dealer is almost ready preparing the Beast. Only the navigation is missing. After the winter I will pick it up, hopefully in March...

Thursday 18 February. At home!
Because the expectation is that this weekend we're gonna have great weather I asked the dealer to bring the Duke. This morning they brought it and it looked great :). Only problem I had was that I didn't know how to remove the -small- cases. The ignition key didn't fit. A call to the dealer shed light: they'd sticked the keys into one of the cases. Problem solved.
If the weather is okay too tomorrow I will make the first ride as owner of this bike. Hopefully the step from supersonic supercharged supercomfortable 4 cilinder tourer to a simple naked two cilinder isn't too great.

Saturday 20 February, 600km(?) First ride
Forgot to note the odometer mileage, I guess it's around the 600km...
So, the first ride of The Beast Three Point Oh. What can I say, it's different and I like it. The ride is a bit more rough than an inline 4, but that's to be expected with a big twin. Seating position is fine, mildly sportive. Suspension is good, handling is good. Got a sore left wrist from using the clutch. I should use the quickshifter more often. Noticed that you can't short shift with this quickshifter, it doesn't understand that.
Fuel consumption was 1 liter on every 16km (you convert that to miles and gallons if needed ;) ). Along the way kids signalled me that I should do a wheely. They never did that when I rode the H2. They recognize a hooligan bike :)

Sunday 21 February, 619km. First trip
The first decent trip with the Duke. Again around the IJsselmeer, at least that was the planning. I've never found it a problem to live in a small country, other countries were (are) close by. But now we are hardly allowed to cross the border so we've got to entertain ourselves within the Netherlands. And after more than 40 years of motorcycling overhere I've seen it all. Still a small inconvenience for me compared to others.
Last week we had quite some frost and there was still ice on the waters, emanating a lot of cold. So after a while it all started to get pretty inconvenient and we decided to call it a day.
The Duke was again a lot of fun with lots of torque. Using the clutch wasn't as painfull as before. Maybe I had to get used to it again after 4 months of not riding. After 190km the fuel reserve alert popped up and according to the trip counter there was enough fuel left for another 90km. Good to know.

..:: Quote ::..
"Any motorcycle with this exceptional level of sportbike performance simply has no right to be this comfortable."

Friday 26 March, 900km. Almost there
Bought a new helmet. The previous one -Schubert C4- started to hurt terribly after wearing it longer than one hour. I went back to a Shoei, this time the Neotec 2 Separator TC-5. I had a Sena SRL2 communication set installed too. Nowadays these sets are prefectly integrated in the helmets.

To do a little test of the helmet I went for a short ride and after more than an hour the helmet still didn't hurt. In April I'm having a so called personal fitting session to have the helmet fit even better.
The Duke was again a lot of fun.

Saturday 3 April, 1024km.
Passed the 1.000km today, so the tedious break in period has ended. It wasn't that boring since 6.500rpm were allowed during break in and that's enough to have a lot of fun. I made an appointment at the shop to have the Beast serviced. At the same time they will replace the stock steeringdamper with one from Hyperpro. Under acceleration the front felt very light, I expect a better steeringdamper will prevent this. And they will remove the exhaust valve servo because I've read that this is the cause for a lot of malfunctions where you're forced to limp home. The exhaust valve's purpose seems to be to meet noise regulations. The Duke isn't that loud anyway, so the whole servo/wire crap can go.

Saturday 17 April, 1241km.
First service job. The new steeringdamper feels much, much better. They didn't remove the exhaust valve servo, but just disabled it. Fine by me. They disabled the automatic indicatorlight cancel function too. Don't like it, hardly ever forget to turn them off.
Took the long way home and had again a lot of fun. I think I made a good choice to trade the touring bike in for a fun bike.

Friday 30 April, 1480km.
Today I went to HK Suspension to let them have a look at the suspension of the Duke. I was pretty satisfied with the setup but thought they might find something to make it even better. They only adjusted the low speed damping at the rear a bit, for the rest it was fine and they complimented KTM for selling a bike with a good stock suspension setup.

..:: Quote ::..
"On those near-deserted Algarve roads that made the Super Duke R wonderfully exhilarating and effortlessly rapid."

Sunday 30 May, 2575km. Trip to Luxembourg.
This weekend the 5 of us (S1000RR, R1M, 890 Duke, Busa, Super Duke) went to Luxembourg to have some fun. On Saturday we drove mainly over perfect roads. Luxembourg is still a great place to visit. The Beast was again a lot of fun although at the end of the trip the clutch acted up. While pulling the lever all in the clutch plates didn't completely disengage, making shifting down harder. I worked around this by blipping the throttle. I think/hope the clutch must be bled.

We passed the nice Castle at Beaufort

Our hotel in Vianden

Friday 4 June, 2585km. Bled.
The dealer bled the clutch. Gear shifts go much better now. I like a clutch with cable better though, gives you more feel. But I guess hydraulic is progress...
At a gasstation a guy complimented me with the Beast. Only happened before when I had the H2. Eye catching bikes.

Monday 7 June, 2915km. Ready to Race?
On this beautiful day I left early to join some friends for a track day. This time we went to the completely renewed circuit of Zandvoort. The track had to be changed to be fit to host a Formula 1 race later this year. To make it more interesting they added some banked corners.
We were with seven: ZX10R, GSXR1000, GSXR600, 690 Duke, Busa, Super Duke R and a Moto Morini 1200. At the first session I didn't like the circuit at all, probably because I didn't know it. At later sessions I more and more started to like it: it has a nice flow and the banked corners are special.

I rode this day in a beginners group behind a marshall. He showed the lines and commented on our driving style. For a new track on a new bike this was okay by me.
In tests of the Duke people always were enthousiastic about its performance on the track: "not the fastest, but a lot of fun". For now I don't agree of the latter. The beast is a handfull and I didn't find it very stable under acceleration. But I'm sure it must be me. I suspect I'm hanging too much on the handlebars and bring unrest in the chassis. I must confess I had more fun with the GSXR750. This year we will be going twice to the circuit of Assen. On this familiar track I will pay more attention to how I sit on the bike and see if I can get it to work. I have to hang next to the bike more in corners too, at Zandvoort I scrubbed the letters from the side of the tyres, indicating a too great leaning angle.
All in all it was a great day

Saturday 17 July - Sunday 25 July, 4300km. Vacation Dolomites Italy.

On Saturday Pim (previously Hayabusa, now 2012 Aprilia RSV4 Factory) and I left for Italy where we would meet 5 other friends to do some Dolomites riding.
Because we left pretty late we didn't make it in one day, but stayed the night at a nice hotel in Pforzheim, Germany.
We didn't do the trip on our bikes, but had rented a trailer for them and used my car to tow it. The 2-liter turbo Volvo had not much trouble towing the pretty heavy trailer. On Sunday we met the rest of the gang (2x BMW S1000RR, Yamaha R1M, 2x KTM 890 Duke) at the nice Sporthotel Kalcherhof.

Monday until Saturday (Friday for me, took a day off on Saturday) we drove the mountains up and down for a great part of the day. The Super Duke was big fun. Flickable, lot's of torque, good brakes. The clutch however started to fail again. And the engine leaked a bit of oil somewhere. The S22 tires worked fine and were completely worn after this vacation. During these rides I accidentally tried the built in life savers; ABS: works weird, as if the bike stops braking, Corner ABS: works more as expected, braking at intervals, Traction Control: didn't really notice it, just saw the light flicker on the dash...

One of the guys wanted to try the Beast and I stepped on his S1000RR with superbike handlebars. After a big V-twin the four cilinder felt very smooth and lacking torque. But after a little while I got the hang of it again and broke law after law. The Beemer has a great quick-shifter. It's the best I've ever used.
The test-pilot was pleasantly surprised by the fun he had on the KTM.

I tried Pim's Aprilia. Of course the very sporty seating position wasn't for me, but overall the bike felt great: stable, very good brakes. The super long first gear was an annoyance in hairpins. I had to use the clutch to get around them. More a bike for the circuit than mountains I guess.

Sunday we went back to The Netherlands. At 2:00 PM on a Monday I layed in my own bed again.

..:: Quote ::..
"– and with its sharper chassis, smoother motor and more refinement everywhere you look, it’s now one of the best of the super-naked breed and the more rounded machine here."

Friday 30 July, 4315km. Problems.
Today I went to the dealer to let them have a look at the clutch and oil leak problems. For the clutch they recommended using the Oberon replacement clutch slave cylinder. It seems KTM isn't able to make a good working one themselves... I let them order one for me.
The mechanic replaced two seals that could be the cause of the oil leak. Let's see what this brings...
All in all I'm very disappointed of the KTM build 'quality'. If this shit doesn't stop I will let it go...

I made an appointment to have the tires replaced too. The Bridgestone S22's were out of stock and it took some time to get another batch, so I settled for the Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa 2. I liked them on the GSXR750 and expect them to work well on the Duke as well.

Friday 6 August, 4370km. Fixed.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: "Small bikes are fun". When the Duke got a new Oberon clutch slave cylinder and new tires I got as a loaner a Kawasaki (yeah!) Z650 from 2021. I was already interested in the Ninja 650 and wanted to make a test ride on it. The Z650 has the same engine and was a lot of fun: light, flickable, very nice engine. I must take a test ride with the Aprilia RS660 too. This little engine that can must be a lot of fun too and looks great.

Back on the Duke the clutch felt okay again, but that was the same after a bleed, so I'll have to test it some more.

First job now is to clean the Beast, it still has Dolomiti dust on it.

Friday 13 August, 4450km. Aprilia RS660.
Tried the Aprilia RS660 and it was a bit underwhelming. The good: seat position, brakes, quickshifter. The bad: the engine disappointed a bit, I guess you must rev it quite high to have some fun with it. And I'm not looking for a high revving bike, just something light and agile to play with.

Monday 30 August, 4900km. Trackday Assen.
Finally the first trackday @ Assen with the Super Duke. Here it must prove its worth as trackbike. We were with 4: GSXR750, GSXR1000/R1M, RSV4 and the Beast.
It turned out to be a troublesome day. Due to lots of crashes (16, 2 hospitalized) we could only ride very few sessions. I could only do 1.5 session out of 5... :(
The KTM was this time a blast on the track. Dunno why the trackday at Zandvoort disappointed so much, but this time it did what testers said it would be: not the fastest but lots of fun.

I aimed for a modest 2:10, but could only push out a 2:12. The weekend before us there had been car races and they'd laid lots of rubber on the track making it slippery for bikes (causing the many crashes). I had a little slide over two wheels too and that made me cautious. At the end of September we will return. Hopefully the weather will be fine too and no car races before us ;).

..:: Quote ::..
"On the road it proved just as good a thing as I expected based on the track time. Super comfortable, stable, yet nimble – and that engine. Oh so torquey."

Monday 27 September, 5535km. Trackday Assen 2.
Back @ Assen. This time with the 6 of us: GSXR750, R1M, 890 Duke, ZX10R, RSV4 and the Super Duke. The night before it had been raining and the track was still a bit wet. Still we went out and the Superduke did great again. After 4 (complete) sessions my fastest time was 2:08, 4 seconds faster dan before. Still not as quick as with the GSXR750 (2:06) and the dreamed of 2:00:00 seems to be out of reach for me.
Because of the lack of grip at the last trackday I tried a lower tire pressure. It had been 2.3 front and rear, now I tried 2.2 front and 2.1 rear. Grip was fine now, but now my rear tire seemed to suffer from hot tear? So next time try 2.2 at the rear too?

While we were eating after the trackday I saw the first pictures of the all new Kawasaki Z650RS. Looks interesting. I'm gonna make a testride asap.

Sunday 17 October, 5633km. Last ride of the year.
Made a small ride today and put the bike away for winter. I'm very happy with the Super Duke R as you might have read. The built quality of this Austrian product disappoints a bit, but after some tweaks it all seems okay now.

..:: Quote ::..
"This insanely fun road weapon was our ultimate victor in 2020"

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