Meet the KTM 1290 Adventure R: A Long-Distance Tourer's Dream?
There’s really nowhere you can’t go with KTM’s 1290 Adventure R. And that’s the point.
KTM has made a name for itself in the off-road world for being bold, dashing, and unabashedly aggressive about being able to conquer the world. Its numerous victories at the Dakar just cements the company tagline – “Ready to Race.”
Even if you’re not a racer and are more of a world traveler, the 1290 Adventure R takes KTM’s same philosophy from the rally stages and sprinkles them throughout this huge tourer to make something that can go anywhere quickly and do it in comfort.
So, is this really the long-distance tourer’s dream? Let’s break it down and find out.
What is the Adventure R, anyway?
If you don’t know what the 1290 Super Adventure R is, it’s right there in the name. It’s the ultimate KTM adventure bike, built to go anywhere and do anything.
It’s powered by a 1301cc LC8 V-Twin engine, making 160 horsepower and a crazy 102 lb-ft of torque. Better still, it makes all that power while still meeting strict Euro 5 emissions standards.
A 21-inch front wheel and 18-inch rear wheel give you all kinds of tire options. A big bike like this that can travel to far depths of the planet has to have proper suspension, and in this case, WP supplies its Xplor 48mm fork and Xplor PDS shock.
Both give the rider full adjustability, and both have 8.7 inches of suspension travel.
You’ll find Brembo dual four-piston calipers up front that are radial mounted, paired up with 320mm discs. A two-piston caliper and 287mm disc are in the back.
ABS at both ends is standard, but KTM also has various ride modes available which, besides being able to alter the power delivery, also changes how aggressively the ABS kicks in. Choose the off-road mode, and the rear ABS will shut off entirely, and the front will give plenty of freedom.
It’s about as close as any OEM can legally get to having no ABS at all.
Since we’re talking about different modes, this is a good time to mention the rest of the electronics package.
Aside from the different ride modes, the Super Adventure also has cruise control, traction control, and cornering ABS.
All three of these are very useful tools when churning out miles on paved roads en route to the dirt, though a limited amount of traction control can still be useful even in the loose stuff.
As a motorcycle built to go long distances, it’s going to need a lot of fuel. KTM gives you 6.1 gallons.
That much gas is nice to have when touring, but needs to be distributed efficiently for proper handling, both on pavement and in the dirt. That’s why the Super Adventure’s fuel tank extends low towards the middle of the motorcycle.
Not only does this give space for the extra petrol, but it also positions it closer towards the bike’s center of gravity. This contributes to its neutral handling in any condition, off-road or on.
Then again, if only light off-road duty is more your calling and you see yourself gravitating more towards paved roads, the 1290 Super Adventure S model will be worth looking into. It’s packed with nearly all the same features, but with a nod toward road riding.
The 1290 R’s cast-aluminum wheels (instead of wire-spoked wheels) being a prime example. Feel free to do your own research on the Super Adventure S if that’s your thing. This page is all about getting dirty on the R.
New for the 2022 KTM 1290 Adventure R
How do you improve a bike that was hard to fault in the first place? Well, KTM engineers keep finding ways, and in 2022 the Super Adventure R gets a few tweaks to make it even better.
For starters, and as mentioned before, the LC8 engine now meets Euro 5 standards without losing much power.
It may not sound like much to most of us, but this is a brilliant feat of engineering. The seat height is also lower at 34.6 inches.
It’s narrower, too, to help ease fears from shorter riders about being able to reach the ground. The drop-in seat height was done through a new, reworked bolt-on subframe.
Since suspension is usually an area that can always be tweaked, the WP fork and shock get a few changes to handle both on-road and off-road duty better.
With such long suspension travel, you can imagine controlling the fork and shock as they go up and down in such varying conditions can be tough. KTM and WP think they’ve found a good solution this time around.
Keeping with the handling theme, the steering head is pushed back 15mm, changing the steering geometry to give sharper response and quicker cornering, says KTM.
The electronic software has been updated to make it smarter than before, and accessing it all is done through a huge 7-inch TFT display.
Rounding out the updates are a host of little things like a shorter windscreen, LED lights throughout, a new airbox that’s easier to get to, new Bridgestone tires – and who can forget: new graphics.
The 1290 Super Adventure R has some stiff competition. We’re talking primarily the BMW R1250GS, but also the likes of the Ducati Multistrada (either the V4 or 1260 Enduro), Triumph Tiger 1200 Rally, and even the Honda Africa Twin.
However, KTM know a thing or two about building excellent go-anywhere motorcycles, and the 1290 Super Adventure R is considered one of the benchmarks when it comes to long-distance touring mixed with off-road fun.
KTM’s minor tweaks heading into 2022 further aim to solidify its place amongst the crowd.
So is it a long-distance tourer rider’s dream? It’s hard to bet against it.