In a rather strange little village located in northern Austria, an orange motorcycle manufacturer is hammering away at the two wheeled world with its own flavour of motorcycle delight. In this Innviertel village, which is dark and cold during the winter months, window lights are seen from afar with predominantly old folk starring at passers-by while they sip on Stiegl, the source of sustenance for an Austrian villager.
If you’ve ever been to Mattighofen and its surroundings, you would not imagine some of the world’s most exciting motorcycles are produced in a series of warehouses throughout the green (or white) landscape. However, the orange two-wheeled manufacturer has a long history dating back to its inception as a bicycle manufacturer that proves they know how to get the most out of two wheels.
Although today, most 1190 riders could benefit from the use of a bicycle, KTM still places its emphasis on adventure, and offroad motorcycles, however with their recent entry into the MotoGP paddock, you would be forgiven to think that there are more road bikes to be expected from the Austrian builder. This is indeed true with the new GT, however a source in KTM said that they are not working on a superbike to replace the RC8 as ‘there is no market for it’. So anyway let’s focus on the Super Duke GT.
Recently the 1290 Super Duke GT was introduced, as a long distance cruising brother of the brutal 1290 Super Duke. First impressions of the bike are that it does indeed have a comfortable riding position, the screen deflects the bees and the wide handlebars allow for ease of control. The powerplant, the same as featured in the standard Super Duke still has an abundance of torque and throws you back everytime you near the throttle. With great power comes great responsibility and that is provided by Brembo in the form of 320mm monobloc twin rotors on the front and a 240mm disc at the back all connected up to the latest Bosch 9ME combined ABS.
In addition to this, you also receive an array of electronic gizmos that aid the rider in completing the journey more safely. This includes LED headlamps that illuminate as you round a corner, three rider modes to adapt to the environment (sport, street and comfort) semi-active suspension and the Bosch six axial inertial measurement unit which will help you keep it upright.
The tank can hold a respectable 24 litres of the devils juice and the most important figures read 173 hp at 9,500 rpm and 106.2 pound-feet of torque at 6,750 rpm. What other trickery does the Super Duke GT possess I hear you ask? Well it offers a slipper clutch if your name is Troy Bayliss and a motor slip regulation system that monitors the drag of the engine and then will proceed to open the throttle to avoid rear wheel slip if you’re not Troy Bayliss. So is there anything that the GT lets you do by yourself? Well not much, but in an ever growing safety conscious motorcycle era, the GT fits right in. While we are discussing control and regulation, the throttle is ride-by-wire and the GT meets Euro 4 emission standards, which you will immediately void as you fit an aftermarket pipe. And why wouldn’t you fit and aftermarket pipe? It’s a fat V after all right?
So we have discovered that the engineering team at KTM did their job and they can now go home, don their Dirndl and down a cool Stiegl. However from a marketing perspective I would like to add that in my opinion, KTM took the excellent Super Duke GT recipe, added estrogen, attached a suitcase and stuck on a GT badge and called it a day.
I am not a fan of the Super Duke GT’s appearance now that it appeals to the average age of the Austrian population. The Super Duke 1290 was full of testosterone, power, strength, it was hardcore, it got the blood flowing and appealed to the youth in all of us. They then took it and redirected it to a whole new market, the cruiser market and I feel that that has detracted from the ‘Beast’ as they like to call it.
Overall an excellent bike, would I buy one? No, I would buy the Super Duke, a backpack and a few wet wipes for the lid.