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KTM's 1290 Superduke R prototype – the best power-to-weight ratio ever?


November 15, 2012

1290 Super Duke R prototype

1290 Super Duke R prototype

Image Gallery (9 images)

The most exciting exhibit at either Intermot or EICMA was the first showing of the KTM 1290 Superduke R prototype – a super-lightweight, trellis-framed naked bike powered by a 1290cc version of the proven RC8R V-twin, complete with drive-by-wire, lots of (disengageable) electronic rider assistance, lashings of carbon fiber, new prototype WP suspension at both ends and the promise of a production version within 12 months.

The excitement is based not so much on what is known about the new prototype, but what the bike is based on. The RC8 R engine upon which the bike is developed, produces 129 kW (173 hp) of power and torque of 120 Nm (88.5 lb.ft) in its 1190cc form, with rumors suggesting the new bike will have somewhere between 180 and 200 horsepower by the time it hits showrooms.

Whatsmore, thanks to the removal of everything that's not entirely necessary, the chrome molybdenum trellis frame and the carbon fiber everything else, this bike can be expected to be much lighter than the RC8 R which already tips the scales at 200 kg with a full tank and all lubricants.

Hence the new 1290 Superduke R built with "ready to race" KTM ethos is undoubtedly going to be in the same category of power and weight as the best-of-breed Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, BMW S1000RR and Ducati Panigale 1199.

Indeed, it just might be lighter than the Panigale with a better power to weight ratio than anything else, and it will come complete WITHOUT a praying-mantis-doing-yoga riding position.

The last few weeks have seen a number of teaser images emanate from KTM, with even a recording of the bike's snarling engine having been released before we saw it in the flesh.

KTM must feel that it is on a roll at present, having just won the inaugural Moto3 title and with its smaller sporty Duke's gaining traction around the developing world thanks to the relationship with India's Bajaj Auto, the third largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Me want one! NOW!

Guy Macher

Thanks Mike for the continual updates on motorcycles and Gizmag. It's fabulous! Used to read your articles and always respect your opinions.

Having ridden almost 50 years,old Airhead Beemers are still by far the favorite. Although slow,they are lightweight & simple. One can actually do most the work themselves and they last for decades. What a concept! Wish someone would make them today.


chidrbmt, Ural still makes the airhead and you can buy it as a standard Solo model, or as a cruiser in the Wolf model. Or in one of their many sidecar models as well.

I think KTM is engaging in clever germanic eugenics in making a machine that is this idiotically powerful. I know that 120 mph with no fairing is already painful, what the hell are they thinking other than providing people with a great way to go out and remove themselves from the gene pool.

Start looking for a lot of dead squids once this thing goes on sale.

Demian Alcazar
Why do people need such powerful MC's? You can't legally use it anywhere near it's potential on the road. So other than showing off to feel big because they are so insecure, what good are they other than getting their riders killed? Another is how uncomfortable does one want to be? And why? My way is building my own EV Streamliner that is not only a fair amount faster than legal but very comfortable and safe with it's composite body/chassis. Plus gets about 200mpg equivalent with it's EV drive and with a small 10kwhr battery pack goes 200 miles.

Add a 30lb generator and go unlimited range or use a fast charger and charge in 15 minutes at standard level 2 charge stands now being put everywhere.

Now those are worthwhile things to make. Why can't MC companies make them instead?.


@jerryd I take it you don't ride. A 125cc scooter can break the speed limit but it doesn't mean you will. I owned a 640 Duke and loved it. I agree with Demian in that hitting 80 on an unfaired bike isn't comfortable after 45 minutes or so but this bike isn't built to ride coast to coast.

Guy Clements

Will get it. Currently ride a 2009 Aprilia Tuono 1000 r Vtwin (1st bike at 40 yrs. old) with MIVV race exhaust and race tuned...not enough. Still have enough testosterone to take on the KTM 1290. Waited until I was 40 to get a bike because I was too aggressive when I was younger. Can't wait for the KTM.



Some things in life are not made to be sensible.

I hope the showroom version is like the prototype


Read the article again boys, KTM "Ready to race" program. KTM have been doing it just fine for the last 10 years already and this is just an extension and some people will "squid: themselves of a 50hp bike and the greater majority will not on the 1290 because it will scare the crap out of anyone not trained to deal with it.

Bikes are more and more because people keep buying more and more. Id probably use 1/5th of its potential. I'd still buy it for that one time I needed every single pony I could handle to get out of trouble and the same with the brakes.

So what if its a loon/hoon bike. its made to win traffic light GP's and that'll do me on a Sat on the StKilda to Frankston beach Rd.

Gavin Greaves

180 - 200 HP? Seriously? This motorcycle is going to be way too fast for use on public roads. That much power on a motorcycle that weighs so little would be almost uncontrollable.

Which is why I will definately consider one when it comes time to update my Triumph Speed Triple....

PS. jerryd, have fun on your "EV Streamliner"(omg)....


I got it!!! lets take the KTM motor and put it in Jerry's Streamliner,since most of a motorcycles horsepower is wasted on overcoming air resistance,we should be able to warp space and slow down our aging.All kidding aside,I love the KTM,but a purpose built streamliner would make one fantastic commuter vehicle.In most cases it doubles the fuel economy,if you could see a coast down of a standard motorcycle and a streamliner,when the power is cut,the standard bike slows right down,the streamliner pulls away and travel's a good distance down the road.Air is the enemy.

Thomas Lewis

I am a one legged man as a result of a motorcycle accident. I have ridden and raced for over 30 years. Despite the multitude of killawasps and horse-powers strapped to my freckle I was undone by a 73 year old lady in a large 4wd not giving way. A good mate is crippled in similar circumstances by a teenager in a Hyundai on a phone (:lol:)

As a motorcyclist I want a multitude of things banned from phones to cigarettes (in cars) to briffen cable and so on before the bike gets the chop.

For the very experienced motorcyclist, power is a blessing, for the mid experienced this power comes with ABS, Traction and Stability control and a person who sets safety high would never be allowed to access full power by the computer anyway.

Personally I am going to choose between this and the Aprilia Tuono for my next bike.

If a regulatory body allowed an inexperienced rider in this they would cause deaths, for the rest of us it is welcome relief from riding cramped sports bikes.

Speedbump Andy
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