First ride: KTM 1290 Super Duke GT

KTM Super Duke 1290 GT
KTM Super Duke 1290 GT

KTM is roaring into the sports-touring segment with the introduction of the 1290 Super Duke GT. And when I say roaring, I mean it.

With a 1301cc, 127kW, 144Nm engine and weighing in at 205kg dry, the GT isn’t short on the sports side of the equation.

Having KTM’s rip-snorting nakedbike – the 1290 Super Duke – as the basis for its new GT might make it seem like the touring side of the equation has been neglected, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The GT packs all the niceties and necessities of the modern day, luxury sports-tourer. It has an adjustable screen and handlebar position. It runs heated handgrips, cruise control, self-cancelling indicators and tyre-pressure monitors.

Then there’s the electronic aids: the latest evolution of WP’s semi-active suspension, traction control, ride modes, stability control, combined ABS and a quick shifter. Add to that a cornering headlight, and there’s nothing you don’t get standard that similar machines have in their accessory or option catalogues.

As for the accessory catalogue, there’s a heap of stuff in it for the GT. Ranging from electronic aids like Hill Hold Control and Motor Slip Regulation, there’s also panniers, pipes, pads, brackets and a whole lot more to personalise the bike to your intended usage.

Even though it is heavily based on the Super Duke, the design team at Kiska has put in a lot of effort to suit the needs of the sports-touring rider. The adjustable windshield, more comfortable seat, integrated pannier mounts, 23 litre tank and more comfortable pillion position make this just the machine for covering big distances and having a lot of fun in the corners.

The GT’s launch was held in the mountainous north-west corner of the Spanish island of Mallorca. Unfortunately, the rain in Spain was all over the range and the most of the riding was in wet, slippery and unpredictable conditions.

But this turned out to be a perfect proving ground for the GT and especially the host of rider aids that didn’t let a single rider put a foot wrong.

On the brief stint of dry, twisty roads, the beast underlying the Super Duke shone through. With a tap of the button the WP suspension went from supple to firm and sharp – a far cry from the machine that made riding in the wet so easy.

That big change in the suspension is matched equally by the changes the mode selector brings in the engine performance. From a gentle, forgiving 75kW in wet mode, Sport mode unleashes all of the 1301cc engine’s strong and predictable power.

The chassis is easily a match for the superb performance of the engine and the latest evolution of WP’s semi-active system. With 125mm of travel up front and 156mm at the rear, the system controls suspension stroke length, rebound and compression damping on the fly, while automatically adjusting spring preload to deliver very different characteristics in Comfort, Street and Sport modes.

After a full day of riding in mentally and physically demanding conditions, the GT proved to be comfortable, exciting and easy to ride – something that is not easily said about many roadbikes in those sorts of conditions.

Priced at $27,990 plus on road costs, the 1290 Super Duke GT enters a highly competitive market as a machine that isn’t in need of optioning or accessorising, whether sports or touring are your thing.

Best of all, it is a machine that does both, and with a lot of luxury and excellent technological innovations.

For more details, see the KTM website.