Motorcycle review: KTM Super Adventure R

<i>Image: Wheels24 / Dries van der Walt</i>
<i>Image: Wheels24 / Dries van der Walt</i>

Johannesburg - The adventure bike category is extremely popular, both locally and abroad, and as a result it is hotly contested.

This means that manufacturers cannot afford to rest on their laurels, which in turn means that the bikes they make just keep getting better. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure R, winner of this year’s Pirelli South African Bike of the Year trophy, is a case in point.

As is fairly typical in the genre, the Super Adventure R is very tall – a short rider will struggle to get his feet down without leaning the bike to either side.

That said, the bike is quite narrow, which in combination with a well-formed seat makes it very comfortable on longer rides.

Top-of-the-range adventure bikes are increasingly expected to offer long-distance capabilities, and the Super Adventure offers not just the comfort but also all of the amenities for touring. 

Among those amenities, the bike is equipped with a full-size 12 V auxiliary power output, negating the need for an adapter of you want to use your GPS’s standard charging cable. It also offers cruise control which follows the usual operating conventions, making it intuitive to use.

The instrument pod is a flat, tablet-like screen, controlled with “arrow buttons” on the left handle bar.

It offers a wealth of information and settings, to the extent that it takes quite a while to go through everything and discover the various adjustments that can be made to fine-tune the bike to your liking,

The Super Adventure R uses the Super Duke R-derived LC8 powerplant that also does duty in the 1290 Super Adventure, with larger but lighter pistons than the 1190. It has the same crankshaft, but with a heavier flywheel mass for more controllable bottom-end performance, while the camshafts have mellower profiles for more low-end torque at the expense of some top-end horsepower.

In terms of rider aids, the bike comes with four riding modes (a 100 hp “Offroad” mode), lean-angle-aware traction control, cornering ABS and cruise control. If you upgrade to KTM’s optional Travel Pack, you also get Hill Hold Control, Quickshifter+, and Motor Slip Regulation system, first introduced on the 2017 Super Duke R as a kind of  corner-entry traction control system that prevents the rear tire from skidding.

In the on-road department, the bike offers smooth fuelling and ample power to get you around slower traffic. The adjustable screen works well in its lower position, but in the higher position it caused some buffeting around my helmet. and the cruise control works fine.

The seat is narrower than that of the BMW R 1200 GS, but no less comfortable. With the convenience of the cruise control and the ample torque from the engine, riding long distance is as much of a pleasure as urban riding is. Off the road the Super Adventure R has lost none of the sure-footed feel of its predecessor, although the factory suspension settings feel a bit soft, but that’s easy enough to remedy. 

As the lightest and most powerful bike in its category, the Super Adventure R manages to stand out in a competitive market segment, and with the Austrian company’s vast experience in making off-road bikes, that’s hardly a surprise.

The Super Adventure R will give you the confidence to go just about anywhere, whether a road leads there or not. It is one of those Swiss Army knife bikes – capable of dealing comfortably with whatever your need of the moment may be.


Manufacturer: KTM
Model: 1290 Super Adventure R

Type: Four stroke, 75°V-twin cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Displacement: 1301 cm³
Maximum Power: 118 kW @ 8 750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 140 Nm @ 6 750 rpm
Fuel supply system: 2x Keihin EFI w/ 52mm throttle bodies
Fuel type: Premium unleaded 95 octane RON
Fuel consumption: 5.52 l/100 km (claimed)

Type: 6-speed sequential
Final drive: Chain

Wheelbase: 1 580 mm 
Seat Height: 890 mm
Ground Clearance: 250 mm 
Dry Weight: 217 kg 

Passengers: 2
Fuel tank: 23 L

Front: 2 x 320 mm floating disc, Brembo four-piston brake callipers 
Rear: Single 267 mm disc, Brembo two-piston brake calliper

Front: WP Semi-active Suspension USD Ø 48 mm
Rear: WP Semi-active Suspension PDS Monoshock

Tyre, front: 90/90-21
Tyre, rear: 150/70-ZR18

PRICE: R214 999

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