Zac’s much anticipated review of the 2016 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT will appear here on Friday, but the bike’s so hot we thought we should share Costa’s second opinion in the meantime.
While Zac was riding the KTM around New Brunswick, Costa had a second test bike that he rode in the construction-laden urban warzone called Montreal. What did he think of it? Let Costa tell…
There’s a lot to like about the Super Duke GT, including its incredibly powerful engine, which would feel as readily at home in a supersport chassis (its origins can be traced to the KTM RC8) as it does in this sport tourer. I resorted to riding the bike through city traffic in Rain mode, which provided the smoothest, most manageable throttle response. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to lift the front wheel, which is tons of fun, but also puts your driver’s licence in peril.
Its chassis, too, is something to be marvelled, leaning heavily toward the sporting side of the sort-touring spectrum. And the saddlebags are roomy and very easy to operate and remove, and when taken off the bike, leave very little evidence that they were on in the first place.
There are some things, however, that I would change to make the GT more to my liking. Some of those things are easy to do, like installing handlebar risers to give it a more relaxed, upright riding position, and swapping out the original windscreen for a taller, wider one for better wind protection.
Some things, however, are more challenging—and costly. The suspension, which really enhances handling on smooth, winding roads, is just too stiff to handle broken pavement comfortably. Even in its softest Comfort setting, the suspension is stiffer than the BMW R1200GS is in its firmest setting when similarly equipped with electrically adjustable suspension.
Pressing on the brake pedal is like stepping on a solid peg; it takes a lot of effort to lock the rear wheel (possible when the ABS is in Super Motard mode), which makes it completely absent of feel, so when the wheel does lock, you barely feel it.
The Euro-style high-beam switch (located on the backside of the left-hand switch pod), sticks out a bit too far, and with heavy cold-weather gloves on it’s easy to trigger it inadvertently. And finally, there’s no reason not to have a dedicated switch for the heated grips. As is it takes five pushes of a button to scroll to the screen menu that controls them, then two more pushes to get back to the main screen.
But probably my biggest gripe is that the Super Duke GT is so much fun to ride. Its nimble, supermoto-like handling and brutish bottom end are almost sure to coax you into a life of urban hooliganism.