Naked bikes (aka, standards) are sometimes looked down upon a bit, seen as lacking excitement and just a little bit too boring – or, well, standard. If that’s the opinion you hold, then you clearly have never ridden the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. Part standard, part monstrous sportbike, the Super Duke R already had a reputation for being a beast, off the track and on. The 2017 model, however, ramps that up even more, and KTM has released one hell of a fun machine.

For 2017, the Super Duke R has been given slightly new looks and ergonomics; KTM’s goal was to make it look a little bit frightening, and they definitely achieved that. It’s overall similar, but the wider, lower and further-forward handlebars give it a more aggressive edge (without being too uncomfortable). The tail is slimmer and more aggressive as well, and complemented by new side fairings and intake scoops. The LED headlight is new, too.

The engine is more powerful than the previous model, though it only goes up to 177 hp from 170; it’s a 2-stroke, 4-cylinder V-75. But power isn’t KTM’s only goal. They’ve focused on making the bike as smooth, fun and rideable as possible, adding new resonator chambers, which allow for a better air/fuel mixture, smoothing out the ride and helping with fuel efficiency. The new intake funnels are 10mm shorter, which increases RPM to 500, and they’ve added a new stainless steel exhaust system.

That’s not all, of course. The suspension components are all brand new, and you can also choose KTM’s Performance Rack – which includes Motor Slip Regulation (MSR), a quickshifter and KTM MY RIDE, for connecting your smart phone to the bike’s – and Track Pack, which has three Drive Modes, launch control, TC slip adjust and the function to turn off wheelie control.

So with all these features, what’s it like to actually ride this baby? Every bit as fun as you might imagine. The Super Duke R might just be the holy grail of standard motorcycles, a bike that excels just as much on the track as it does on the road. It promises to be a powerful-yet-smooth ride that handles nimbly and is a total pleasure to ride. They may classify it as a naked bike, but it looks and feels way more adventurous than that, and looks like one of the most fun bikes we’ve seen in a long time.

2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Specs

  • Updated ergonomics
  • Restyled, aggressive appearance
  • 177 hp, 7000 rpm
  • 2-cylinder, 4-stroke V75
  • New resonators for smoother ride, increased fuel efficiency
  • 10mm intake funnels increase RPM
  • Add-on’s include KTM Performance Rack and Track Pack kits.
  • Weight: 429 lbs
  • Powder-coated, steel construction


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