2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Full Review, and [Fast facts].


Two short years ago, KTM unleashed The Beast 3.0, its heavily revised third-generation 1290 Super Duke R naked sportbike, replete with updates to help bare its fangs at the racetrack and on the street. The updated SDR’s ferocity grew to new heights through a tidy weight loss program, a significantly stiffer chassis, and sportier geometry, not forgetting a dollop of additional horsepower. This year, the 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo, the Austrian brand’s naked-bike flagship, offers fancy WP Semi-Active Suspension Technology (SAT).

On paper, the list of new parts on the 2022 SDR Evo is slim—the suspension and a quick-turn throttle. In the real world, those additions have a profound impact, which is why we spent time prowling the canyons and joined Let’s Ride Track Days at Central California’s Buttonwillow Raceway Park to let The Beast stretch its legs. Now, let’s get on with the Fast Facts.

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1) Blistering power and refinement define the 1301cc LC8 75-degree V-twin engine. Pumping out a massive 180 horsepower at 9500 rpm and a whopping 103 ft-lbs of torque at 8000 rpm is impressive enough. However, what will truly captivate an audience is how all of that immense torque is delivered in a lusciously tractable manner throughout the rev-range.

2) Cracking the throttle open is one of the super naked class’s rawest and most visceral experiences. Yet, it knows when to take a beat and plods along smoothly in the city. That’s a great character trait, especially on a big-inch mill that spins up with intensity, giving you gobs of power anywhere, anytime. Letting the revs drop below 3k rpm in a tall gear will reveal some stereotypical big V-twin lugginess. Fortunately, with all that torque, you’ll be back into its sweet spot lickety-split. You also can’t beat the thunderous soundtrack that the exhaust spits out.

3) Slick shifting and racetrack-worthy hardware are the status quo. The updated clutch and gearbox upgrades from the 2020 SDR still ring true—the shifting experience is sublime, keeping up with its pricier European competitors. What’s still impressive is the optional up/down quickshifter, which makes grabbing gears out of hard-driving corners a breeze, equally so when backing through the gears.

4) The optional $900 Tech Pack significantly influences the Super Duke R Evo Experience. The Tech Pack umbrella, which includes the Track Pack, Quickshifter +, Motor Slip Regulation (MSR), Suspension Pro, and an Adaptive Brake Light, unlocks the SDR Evo’s full functionality. Track Pack brings Track and Performance riding modes that allow riders to adjust TC, disable WC, and swap ABS modes. In addition, launch control is available. Suspension Pro opens up two additional suspension damping modes (Advanced and Auto) and automated shock spring-preload adjustment (Low, Standard, and High), and Anti-Dive. MSR is engine braking management. The SDR Evo is part of an elite class of super naked, making it irksome that basic electronic adjustments, features, and the quickshifter are optional, considering that they’re standard on its main rivals—the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S and Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory.

5) Five riding modes are available. The standard preset Rain, Street, and Sport adjust throttle response and rider aids. And, with the new quick-turn throttle, you can go wide open even faster. Rain mode tames the beast considerably, while Street wicks it up nicely. Sport mode begins to unleash this monster’s potential with a taut throttle map, while keeping a reasonable amount of intervention in play.

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6) Two optional riding modes—Track and Performance—are customizable and intended for serious riding. Track is the fiercest of them all and quite sharp for the road. Fortunately, Track allows you to customize your electronic settings—switch throttle maps, swap ABS modes, adjust TC on the fly, or disable WC. I consider it mandatory for hard riding or track use. Track also disables MSR by default, as you’ll want consistent engine braking while riding aggressively. Performance mode is essentially the same as Track, while maintaining access to cruise control and KTM My Ride navigation.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo HD image Gallary.

7) A well-rounded suite of six-axis IMU-supported rider aids keeps things tidy. The nine-level lean-angle-detecting traction control is the star of the show, quietly curbing power enough to keep things in shape without hindering drive. Lower TC settings are for race tires only, while my happy place fell in the middle—all fun, no drama. Road ABS uses the IMU and is suitable for the street paces, while Supermoto Mode disables the cornering function and rear ABS, letting you brake as deep as you dare at the track. MSR manages the copious V-twin engine braking by adjusting the throttle body openings during deceleration and at low speed. As the pace picks up, it can make engine braking feel inconsistent when trailing off the brakes. Turn it off if you’re a more spirited rider, as the mechanical slipper clutch is plenty good.

2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo Full Review, and [Fast facts].


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