Common Tread

INTERMOT 2014: KTM 1290 Super Adventure combines luxury, brawn and brains

Sep 30, 2014

Adventure-touring motorcycles are usually sold on their rugged, all-conquering images. Can one be sold by calling it "the safest motorcycle in the world"? KTM is going to find out.

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure just unveiled at INTERMOT follows the familiar adventure-touring script of bigger and brawnier — up to a point. Then KTM shifts the focus to brains, not muscle.

The 1290 Super Adventure's V-twin engine is based on the same one found in the maniacal Super Duke R, but with different cylinder heads and crankshaft. The result is a slightly lower power output, at 160 horsepower, according to KTM, but better tuned for all-surface riding. And while adventure-touring types may see themselves as rugged individuals, luxury still counts in this segment, so the KTM comes with heated grips and seat.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure
2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure. KTM photo.

The real news, however, is in the other technology KTM packed into its ADV flagship: motorcycle stability control, traction control, semi-active suspension, cruise control, LED headlights that adjust for cornering, engine braking torque control to reduce rear-wheel lockup, and optional hill hold control.

It's the stability control that KTM touts when calling the Super Adventure "the safest motorcycle in the world." ABS works great on motorcycles, as long as you are braking in a straight line. But if you're using your front tire's available traction for both turning and braking, you can exceed available grip and crash without ABS kicking in to save you. KTM's system, introduced on the 1190 Adventure, incorporates lean angle into the equation and uses the ABS and traction control system to keep tires from slipping.

Now that the "Adventure" tag has been slapped onto more than a few motorcycles, KTM has upped the ante with "Super Adventure." It will be very interesting to see if the big KTM's combination of luxury, power and tech lives up to the superlatives.