KTM 1290 Superduke The Beast

The perfect recipe to make a great naked bike is basically always the same. Take the engine from a sports bike, cut the horsepower down, give it more torque in the low range and fit it into a street frame. Easy. Until KTM came along…

The Austrian company decided to take a completely different approach. So they took the engine of their superbike, the RC8, and pumped it up to 1300 cc. It’s a 75 degrees V-twin with an arm ripping torque. The throttle response through Ride-By-Wire is immediate in any gear at any range.  This Superduke has an engine that wants to kill you and burn your house down. It has 180 HP and the gears are short which increases the savagery of the engine and the sitting position is between a naked bike and a supermoto. KTM gave the project in the hands of Jeremy McWilliams, a former MotoGp racing rider, with the promise “Make it as you like it”. And at the beginning, I thought it could have been a problem making it too sporty, too serious about racing. 



To be precise this is not the standard bike, this is the custom bike from one of our readers. It has carbon fiber wheels and other parts, a tuned exhaust and a power commander pushing the power to over 190 HP. So he made it even lighter and more powerful.

King Kong in the City

At this point, you might think the result is quite insane and you have to be mental to buy a bike that wants to kill you. But let me explain you a couple of things before you rush to a fast conclusion. In order to suppress its killer instinct, KTM fitted quite a lot of racing technology in it, like traction control and wheelie control. The frame and the suspensions give you a good handling and a bike surprisingly very easy to ride. You three riding modes, ABS which you can turn off and fully adjustable suspensions. In the city, it feels like having King Kong on the leash who keeps beating his chest every time you touch the throttle. I think it’s one of the best designed naked bikes. It doesn’t have the smooth, aesthetic lines of the Ducati. It’s brutal and probably one of the most flamboyant design. I like the frame shape and its brutal simplicity, you almost have the feeling you can look through it into the technique.  

KTM 1290 Superduke rider


McWilliams made a great job combining his experience of racer and everyday rider. In fact, he’s so passionate about riding his bike on the road that he criticized the sitting position of the first prototype because it was too racing and suggested KTM to make it more comfortable. And I know it’s a lot of power but it’s manageable and despite the size, it’s also pretty smooth. 

With a price tag of €16,000 the Superduke is the most expensive in its category but to be fair you really get a lot for it. It’s great fun in the city and on the racetrack as well, although I believe they focused more on make it fun than make it serious and effective. 



Here are some of the modification they made on this insane Superduke:

KTM 1290 Superduke carbon wheels
KTM 1290 Superduke



At the beginning, I wasn’t sure how to classify this bike. The old Duke was surely a fun bike but I thought that this monstrosity of an engine could have changed this aspect. I was wrong. KTM got the recipe right by adding tons of thrill.  Because at the end of the day, the Superduke is the ultimate, big fun bike.

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Gasolist in chief, test-rider, and content writer. He began in the two-stroke era which makes him feel pretty old but gave him the chance to race everything from 125cc to 1000cc. All useless experiences when he got lost in the Sahara desert with nothing but a can of beans.

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