Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R



Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

  1. #1
    Lightcycle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    No Fixed Addess
    Posts
    3,917

    Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    Forum Sponsor
    Originally written for a R1200GS forum

    I've been looking forward to the R1250GS for a very long time since my long termer is a 2006 R1200GS and I'm looking to upgrade soon. I've also ridden a 2008 R1200GS Adventure for a summer as well as the 2015 R1200GS for the BMW Enduro course.



    My friend, Isak, just bought a brand spankin' new 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R and he let me take it out for a spin. I know... what was he thinking, right!?

    So what I've decided to do is write up a quick seat-of-the-pants-10-minute-test-drive comparison of the KTM given my experience with R1200GSes.

    With less than 10 kms on the odometer, I eagerly climbed on board the orange and white behemoth. Well, more liked scaled a mountain. It took quite some effort to get my 5'7" (in motorcycle boots, standing on a telephone book) stature seated on top of the KTM. There was an obvious mismatch between the 35.1" seat height and my 29" inseam! The seat felt a bit wider than the R1200GS stock seat and about the same height as the ADV. Because the KTM's seat is flatter, I think it would be more comfortable on longer rides than the 1200GS stocker as well.



    To get on, I had to do my typical dirtbike mount: stepping on the left footpeg, swinging my right leg over and then gingerly reaching for the ground on the other side with my right foot. It was a long way down. I had to take my left foot off the left peg and slide my butt all the way over to the right to gain any leverage to take the bike off the side stand. It was surprisingly light. It felt lighter than a R1200GS and much lighter than a GS ADV, which is its primary competitor.



    Once upright, I was perched too far over to the right to kick the kickstand up, so I had to scootch over to the left on the seat and tiptoe on my right foot to reach the kickstand with my left foot.

    All this scootching and reaching was a little embarrassing...


    With my right foot firmly planted, Isak is worriedly looking at my left foot dangling a foot off the ground

    Isak's eyebrow arched a little as I did my short-guy-tall-bike dance. I could tell he was having second thoughts about letting me on his brand new baby. I realized that I had to ride away as fast as possible before he changed his mind!

    That proved to be more difficult than I thought. There seemed to be a dozen buttons on the right handlebar control. How the heck do you turn this thing on? Isak reluctantly thumbed the grey switch on the bottom. This was the on/off switch, like a computer. I watched the large 6.5" LCD display in front of me light up and go through the boot-up sequence: "KTM" it flashed. And then, "Ready to Race". And then the "Netflix" and "Angry Birds" logo appeared in slow succession. It seemed to take forever to finish booting up. Finally, a familiar sight: the tachometer and speedometer came up on the screen.


    Booting up the KTM



    Time to go! I thumb the starter button and the 1301cc twin cylinder engine beneath me rumbles to life with a delicious roar. It shakes a bit at low revs, and is less smooth than the Beemers boxer twin. But Me Likey! "OkayThanksByeIsak!" I let out the clutch and waved to him as I rode past the front gates.

    Oh, the low-end torque on this thing! The SAR has four different riding modes, and I was set on the default street mode, which gives you access to the full 160hp. There is a rain and off-road mode as well which limits the power to 100hp, and a sport mode which gives a more aggressive throttle response to the 160hp.


    Stock silencer on the SAR

    The bike was still in its break-in period, so you're not supposed to rev it past 6000 rpm, so I can't say I experienced all 160 ponies. But there was so much power on tap even below that! Much more than the 12GS. I was laughing like a little kid every time I goosed the throttle, and then granny-shifting up to the next gear.



    The engine does not like to be lugged, which is anything below 4000 rpm. Such a small window to have fun between 4K and 6K rpm. I knew it would be torture for Isak to wait another 1,000 kms to unleash the full potential of this engine! The bike is geared to idly cruise the highway at 120km/h in 6th gear. Anything below that, you need to drop to 5th. This is quite a stark contrast to the 12GS where the idle cruising speed in 6th is 100 km/h. Testament to the amazingly potent engine on the KTM.



    I rode through the small neighbourhood streets, feeling out the bike's low-speed handling. It was okay. Not bad. Good leverage on the wide handlebars and the steering geometry makes U-turns a non-dramatic affair for such a large motorcycle. *BUT* it wasn't as good as the R12GS. That was surprising. Maybe it was because I've had way more seat time on the BMW, but I think it may have to do with the wheel sizes. The KTM is fitted with 21F/18R wheels whereas the 12GS has 19F/17R. I suspect the larger wheels, specifically that 21" front, which make it more off-road worthy, affects the nimbleness of the bike, especially on the street.



    I hit the on-ramp, and gleefully drove that tach all the way to 6000 rpm in each gear. I can't overstate it: What an amazing engine! The acceleration was phenomenal and I reached license-endangering speeds in no time at all. Wow.



    The off-ramp was a 270 degree cloverleaf and I tried out the high speed cornering here. Not as planted as the 12GS, but I knew it was because the SAR came shod with TKC-80 Twinduro knobbies. I've been riding 90/10 or 70/30 tires the entire time on the 1200GS, and I had no idea how bad the 50/50 Continentals were for cornering on pavement. I wonder what the cornering is like on more street-oriented tires.



    I returned to Isak's place with a huge grin on my face. "I want one!", I exclaimed. All I needed was $19,500 CDN for the MSRP. 2018 models are selling for about $17,500 with rebates these days, not sure if it's because they're trying to clear them out for a new model. But even at full MSRP, it's a $3000 cheaper than the R1200GS Adventure, which is the model it's gunning for!


    Isak taking his daughter out for a spin on the KTM

    Later on that day, we take the bikes out for some light off-road duty. Isak was back on his KTM and he's got his wife on the back and we hit a gravel road that quickly turns to heavy corrugation. How did the KTM handle? We stopped half-way through and Isak shook his head. "I don't like it. The bike is bouncing around too much!" His wife looked unhappier than him.

    "Isak, you have to change the riding mode from Street to Off-Road!" I yelled at him through the helmet. Then I pointed at the buttons on his left-handlebar control.



    After some fiddling around through screens and menus, right mouse-button clicking, dragging and dropping, swiping left on the screen, he finally activated the Off-Road mode. And then off we went. At the end of the gravel stretch, we stopped again and he had a big smile on his face. "Much better!"

    I remember doing the BMW Enduro course with R12GS accidentally set on street mode after riding back from the restaurant after lunch. It was such a different animal, uncontrollable in the dirt. These new bikes are packed with so much electronics and they really transform the machines into very different motorcycles.


    The love-em-or-hate-em lights on the KTM. I like them.

    I'm eager to try out the new R1250GS to see what it has to offer. Right now, on paper, it's not that appealing. I'm not happy about the weight, it seems to almost cancel out the extra hp - almost like two steps forward, one step back. Aesthetically, it hasn't changed much from the 2018 model. I am much more comfortable with the 33.5" seat height vs the 35.1" KTM seat though. No dirtbike mounting needed.

    But that KTM engine though...!

    Last edited by Lightcycle; 10-06-2018 at 11:02 AM.

  2. #2

    Re: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    Nice review.

    478.4 lbs dry, according to KTM. 6-gallon tank is 36 pounds when full. Add another few pounds for oil and sundries so you're up to 530 pounds wet. The R1250GS: 550-lbs.

    Is it just me or does this trend in morbidly-obese "adventure" bikes make no sense?
    2017 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory

  3. #3
    Lightcycle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    No Fixed Addess
    Posts
    3,917

    Re: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackfin View Post
    478.4 lbs dry, according to KTM. 6-gallon tank is 36 pounds when full. Add another few pounds for oil and sundries so you're up to 530 pounds wet. The R1250GS: 550-lbs.

    Is it just me or does this trend in morbidly-obese "adventure" bikes make no sense?
    Your number is close. Magazines have independently weighed the SAR at 536 lbs wet. But it's better to compare that number against the R1250GS Adventure, not the standard, which is going to weigh 590 lbs wet. Also, the Ducati Multistrada Enduro Pro comes in at 575 lbs wet.

    Lighter is better. But can you really have a dual-sport-touring motorcycle with 160 hp on tap, have street bike service intervals (every 15,000 kms!), with a tank range of over 700 kms and have it come under 500 lbs wet? If you could wring those numbers from a 500 EXC-F, then "TAKE MY MONEY!"
    Last edited by Lightcycle; 10-06-2018 at 11:26 AM.

  4. #4
    crankcall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Milton/Arizona
    Posts
    5,306

    Re: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    I'll admit, I read through with curious interest till we got to 700km range, that got my attention

  5. #5
    Lightcycle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    No Fixed Addess
    Posts
    3,917

    Re: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    That's about par for the "Uber" ADV segment. I took a R1200GS Adventure all the way to 800 kms on a single tank. Then I had to call someone to bring me gas at the side of the highway...

  6. #6

    Re: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    I have the T version of the bike. Bigger tank I think but not much difference otherwise aside from wheel size as well. I like it. Need to get used to switching modes quickly when transitioning from street to dirt as otherwise the riding gets....interesting. I have Anakee 3s on my bike and Continental 90/10s on before. Not super keen on the Anakees but they are OK. The cornering ABS is something to behold. You donít know itís there until you really need it but then itís an epiphany....Ēhey...I slammed on the anchors while leaning round this corner and nothing dramatic happened....and I can still go round the corner, or change direction...just slowerĒ. Itís pretty amazing. Are they heavy...yes, but the weight doesnít feel totally unmanageable. Iíve done some off-road on it and it felt fine...for ***** and giggles you can put it in off road suspension mode and sport engine tuning mode and happily spray everyone with dust and crap. You can also switch off most of the electronic gizmos and allegedly wheelie all day long at will.....although Iím too lardy and timid for such hooligan behaviour.

    Best thing about it.....not having to get off it for miles and miles and miles. The engine is lovely too. Low speed response is better in off road mode. The price too is very attractive and the T came standard with heated seats, bags, cruise control and all the electronic gizmos.

  7. #7
    Underdog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Etobicoke
    Posts
    221

    Re: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    Good review! I just got a new '18 1090 ADV-R...cant wait to rip big KTM beast!!!


    Sent from my iPhone using GTAMotorcycle.com

  8. #8
    Hardwrkr13's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Ganaraska Forest
    Posts
    1,955

    Re: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    SAS has a lower seat height (if you mainly hit roads and not dirt like).
    2015 Victory Magnum
    2018 KTM 300XC
    2014 Yamaha YZ450F
    2005 Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI

  9. #9
    Lightcycle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    No Fixed Addess
    Posts
    3,917

    Re: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    Quote Originally Posted by Hardwrkr13 View Post
    SAS has a lower seat height (if you mainly hit roads and not dirt like).
    Yes, I think due mainly to the smaller cast wheels. 19F/17R, as opposed to the 21F/18R of the SAR.

    I know for my own riding preference, the SAS would probably be a better fit for me. That SAR white/orange paint scheme and the orange crash bars are pretty sweet though...

  10. #10
    Lightcycle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    No Fixed Addess
    Posts
    3,917

    Re: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    Quote Originally Posted by jc100 View Post
    I have Anakee 3s on my bike and Continental 90/10s on before. Not super keen on the Anakees but they are OK.
    Ever since going to 70/30 tires, I'm not a big fan of the 90/10s anymore. They don't do **** in dirt. I don't think a sport-touring tire would do any worse. Might as well have the extra stability when cornering.

  11. #11

    Re: Review: 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightcycle View Post
    Ever since going to 70/30 tires, I'm not a big fan of the 90/10s anymore. They don't do **** in dirt. I don't think a sport-touring tire would do any worse. Might as well have the extra stability when cornering.
    True that. Also the Anakees are weird over tar snakes....I can go sideways if I hit them just right which engages the KTMs electronics a bit. Interesting aside from increased laundry rotations.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •