New KTM 1290 Super Adventure R unveiled

The new KTM 1290 Adventure R takes much inspiration from the success of the 790 series. Photo: KTM

KTM finally took the wraps off its new 1290 Super Adventure R this week, revealing a mash-up of big-bore horsepower with chassis inspiration from the 790/890 line.

When KTM debuted the 790 Adventure (which has now progressed to the 890-series engine), the bike had an innovative wrap-around fuel tank that kept weight low, and also served as a sort of crash guard.

Early spy shots of the new 1290 Adventure suggested KTM was planning to do the same; lo and behold, that’s exactly what we see on the R (that low-mount tank has 23-litre capacity). KTM also went with the long-swingarm, shorter-frame idea that it tried with the 790.

There’s a shorter seat height now (880 mm), and KTM claims the adjustable ergos (windshield, controls, pegs are all adjustable) also give improved agility. The WP XPLOR suspension also got an overhaul, which should change handling. PDS rear shock is standard, meaning there’s no linkage to worry about, thanks to progressive damping.

KTM also overhauled the 1290’s electronics package for this model update. Traction control, ABS with cornering sensitivity and an off-road mode, engine braking regulation, and Rain/Street/Sport/Offroad riding modes come standard. The 790 Adventure R also came with a user-adjustable Rally mode, which allowed the rider to select their desired traction control, throttle response and other electro-interference on-the-fly. The 1290 now has an option for similar Rally mode, as part of the Rally Pack upgrade package. The Tech Pack adds a quickshifter, adjustable engine braking, hillstart assistance and other top-shelf features on top of what’s included in the Rally Pack.

KTM uses a six-axis IMU for behind-the-scenes management of all this tech. The 1290 comes with a 7-inch TFT display; riders can use the TFT and handlebar switches to control the bike’s electronics.

21-inch front wheel, for playing in the dirt. Photo: KTM

Of course, the R model has a 21-inch front wheel. Tubeless Bridgestone tires are standard for the spoked wheels. 

The engine is the latest version of KTM’s 1301 cc V-twin. The LC8 engine is now Euro5-certified. It’s rated for 160 hp at 9,000 rpm and 101 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm. No exciting output gains, then, although KTM did manage to shave some weight off the engine. It’s supposed to dissipate heat better, making the rider more comfortable. The gearbox supposedly shifts better now, there’s a new set of pistons, new easy-change air filter: All small upgrades, but supposedly resulting in a noticeably improved riding experience.

The 1290 Adventure R won’t be in Canada as a 2021 model. Photo: KTM

Note that, at this point, it doesn’t seem the R model gets the adaptive cruise control KTM offers as an option for the S model. However, by the time the machine makes it to Canada (remember, KTM’s not importing most of its 1290 series to Canada this spring), then maybe we’ll see adaptive cruise control as an option.

Expect a full package of accessories available then as well: Hard (and maybe soft) luggage, different windscreens, taller/shorter seats, etc.

We won’t know pricing for a while yet; no doubt we’ll see a KTM press release later this year, maybe even in time for some fall riding aboard the new machine.


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