Twin disc; Brembo radial mounted fixed calipers; Hydraulic; Bosch 9ME C-ABS (Including corning ABS & offroad mode) Disengageable
Single fixed disc; Hydraulic; C-ABS
Bore x stroke:
108 mm x 71 mm
PASC; Slipper; Hydraulic
48mm WP Semi-active upside down fork
WP Semi-active PDS monoshock
Front brakes diameter:
Rear brakes diameter:
Black rims; Laced-spokes
Front suspension travel:
Rear suspension travel:
The boss has a 2018 version of these, so can we just say it’s an excellent motorcycle and that all KTM owners witty, intelligent demi-Gods? <Editor – Not really, no>. Damn.
Given how rugged the 2018 model looks, and how stylish and daring the Super Duke R was when turning heads in 2015, it is somewhat of a surprise to see the first incarnation of the 1290 encapsulate the word ‘pedestrian’ like an old man embraces beige. It looks like it was styled by the design team that make traffic cones. Perhaps it’s simply missing the orange flair? However, under this old-man exterior lies the thumping heart of world-beater.
Yes, after Charlie and Ewan scampered around the globe in the Long Way Around on their 1200 GS’, BMW motorcycles went on to sell in vast, vulgar numbers, making millions of dollars, and catapulting the manufacturer to the top of the adventure pile year after year. Hell, even this writer bought one! Yet the KTM is a little special. For a start it has thirty-five more horses in that engine (they must be very small horses) than the GSA, yet is almost exactly the same weight and fuel capacity at thirty litres. The Austrian may have opted against the German shaft (no giggling at the back there!) for a chain-drive which would usually indicate a drop in low-level torque, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The cutting-edge computer wizardry and spectacular engine really set this motorcycle apart, offering-up one of the most exciting motorcycle packages around.
There is a ridiculous, embarrassing number of features on show with the Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen Zwölfhundertneunzig. Let’s start with the famous semi-active suspension from fellow Austrians WP*, which continually adapts the damping rates depending on the road conditions and riding style. There is cruise-control of course, heated seats for both rider and passenger, heated grips, washing machine in the back and Hill-Hold Control (HHC) that identifies if the motorcycle is on a slope and prevents itself from rolling backwards by applying the brakes automatically. It only then releases the brake once the motorcycle is moving forward – that is genius! All this and we’ve barely got out of first gear! Am almost blushing when needing to take into account the MSR and MTC, because clearly three letter acronyms (TLAs) are art of the KTM make-up. The latter is traction control, which acts in tandem with the Motor Slip Regulation system i.e. if when shifting down a gear the torque is still too high, the system opens the throttle by just the tiniest amount to prevent rear wheel-lock.
It’s worth noting that despite the blandness (a werewolf in sheep’s clothing if ever there was one) the 1290 Adventure also borrows the engine from the Super Duke R but with some added muscle in the form of a heavier crankshaft, increasing its weight by almost two kilos for enhanced performance. If that isn’t enough, and really is enough, but there you go, there are LED cornering lights that increase in brightness depending on the veracity of your riding. And you could actually purchase all this goodness! Back in 2015 when the world hadn’t been invaded by a pandemic and all your favourite rock-stars weren’t dead the following year (Lemmy, Bowie, Cohen . . . erm. . . Prince?), you, yes, even you, could have walked into a KTM branch, wafted sixteen grand in front of the sales-clerk’s nose, and rode out of their in one of these magnificent machines.
There is naturally a down-side, and that seems to be the same whether a GSA or an Adventure R: these companies are hell-bent on building motorbikes for giraffes, so this writer will never ride one without stilts. Still, the 1290, a work of art, even at this distance.
*did you know that wp stands for White Power? And they’re Austrian. Gulp.