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KTM 1290 Super Duke R | Gassit Garage | Long Term

For $24,995, the big Duke 1290 R represents exciting buying for a performance bike that has been developed from the ground up as a supernaked, not adapted from a superbike.

But if you are about to part with your hard-earned, you might want to consider raiding your piggy bank for a few more shekels. Investing an additional $799.99 will get you the Performance Pack upgrade which includes the My Ride phone connectivity system, Motor Slip Regulation (MSR) and the Quick Shifter.

Speaking to people who stopped to look at the bike, and even speaking with current owners, I learnt there is confusion around what the MSR feature is, and does. Motor Slip Regulation is not a slipper clutch – the 1290 already has one of those, and it works exceptionally well when you consider the amount of back-torque the 1301cc V-twin can generate. The MSR’s job is to provide additional assistance to the slipper clutch on downshifts.

With the multi-directional quickshifter (also part of the Performance Pack) fitted, slamming down the gears is merely a matter of throttling off and stomping on the lever. So, with multiple clutchless downshifts getting thrown at it in quick succession, any assistance the slipper clutch can get will ensure a smoother ride. The MSR detects a pending change between the road speed and the rear-wheel speed and automatically increases the engine speed for a seamless transition. And this is especially valuable on a wet or slippery surface.

KTM’s system has a slightly different feel to it than other electronic self-blipping systems. The shift actuation feels more mechanical than other quick shifters, but the result is a smoother feeling at the rear wheel. Up-shifting with the quickshifter is also smooth but requires a long throw of the lever. There were a couple of occasions when the system would not change from first to second. This may have been caused by the engine revs or my road speed being too low, as it seemed to only happen in traffic. Through the twists and bends of my weekend riding destination,  however, I didn’t have an issue, and the system worked faultlessly.

It’s a shame my time with the 1290 Super Duke R is coming to an end, it’s the sort of bike I couldn’t imagine I’d ever get tired of riding. There were a few little niggling issues, but most of those came down to personal preference. As much as I poked and prodded, I just couldn’t fault the bike on how well it met its design brief, to deliver big-bore riding enjoyment at the highest level.

I’m now searching for an excuse to borrow the 1290 R again and have the optional  Track pack ($599.99) installed, then do a track day or two. The system features Track throttle mapping, MTC Spin Adjuster with nine levels of control, and Anti-Wheelie Off for wheelies without needing to disengage traction control. And it also has Launch Control. Here’s hoping! 

By Chris Dobie

As appeared in AMCN Mag Vol 67 No 20