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More tour and more roar: 2019 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT


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More tour and more roar: 2019 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT

Posted in Bikes, Riding

The covers are off KTM’s heavily updated sports touring titan and we spoke with Project Leader, Tobias Eisele, to find out what’s new.


Tobias Eisele (AUT) KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KTM

Following the launch of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R in 2014 it was quickly discovered that ‘The Beast’ also had a softer side; the amount of torque available made the engine flexible for a variety of riding situations and the ergonomics – despite the exposed bars – was actually quite comfortable for longer runs. Rumor has it that this got the KTM engineers thinking what a bit would some weather protection and a larger tank could do for this machine …

Fact or fable and whatever the decision-making process it was a good one because when KTM entered the sports tourer market in 2016 with the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT it was in the typical READY TO RACE style – big on performance. This new model in the range saw a SUPER DUKE less track extreme and more grand tourer with the results as predicted; a true long distance machine with the ability to play in the curviest of corners.

But history has shown us that KTM never closes the throttle of development and no sooner had the first-generation GT hit the showrooms the R&D engineers were busy working on a sequel. Fast forward three years and KTM BLOG was at INTERMOT in Germany to see the covers come off this new GT. At first glance, the changes seem only minor; new headlight, eye-catching graphics. But Project Leader for the bike, Tobias Eisele, was in Cologne for the international motorcycle fair and spent some time with KTM BLOG to assures us the changes are both significant and a major improvement.

245717_1290 SuperDuke GT MY19 Black 90-Right 245725_1290 SuperDuke GT MY19 Orange 90-Left


Tobias, what’s new with the GT?
“There are many things! Aside from the chassis and wheels, quite a lot has changed in this big update. We have a new engine – same as from the 2018 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R – with revised resonator chambers, titanium inlet valves and a new mapping to give 175 hp and 141 Nm of torque. There’s now the Quickshifter+, so clutchless up and down shifting. We have a 6.5 inch TFT dash with a unique display for the GT, new windshield and adjuster mechanism, LED headlight, the latest generation setting WP semi-active suspension, storage compartments within bodywork that includes one with a USB charger.”

Is that all?
“No! We also moved the cruise control to the left handlebar, added heated grips and handguards as standard, keyless ignition with KTM RACE ON, we are navigation ready with KTM MY RIDE and of course two new colors and graphics. There’s also a new optional ‘Track’ mode – including launch control, nine-level traction slip control, anti-wheelie. You can say we’ve been busy.”

What were the main goals for the new bike?
“The main goal was to put all the latest premium features that are already available on other products in the KTM range and add them to the GT. We also had to improve on any weaknesses, such as wind protection and the windshield adjustment as the latter didn’t feel as sophisticated as it should have been. So, trying to improve lots of little bits to make the GT a more complete and sophisticated bike. Not a small task.”

How much did you listen to customer feedback?
“When we started on this new version the original bike was only just out, so not much feedback from the outset. We knew our goals for this machine and then feedback soon filtered through. A criticism of the original Street suspension setup was the inclusion of anti-dive. The new suspension settings for Comfort, Street and Sport are massively changed, but with anti-dive now exclusive to Comfort. Other small things included the wish for the cruise control to be on the left bar, a longer pin on the side stand to make it easier to reach with the foot, a quickshifter for up and down and – of course – a TFT display.”


KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KISKA/R. Schedl

What were the biggest challenges?
“Just putting the bridge to all those new features we talked about. The dash, for example, required a new software development; it was a big challenge. You have the supplier for the display, the designers, the engineers for the functions and you have to bring it all together. In another life I worked in aerodynamics for F1, so this area of the GT was something I was very interested in. But rather than performance, we worked hard in this department for comfort – such as weather protection and noise from the screen at speed. But as well as the rider comfort, we had to make sure it was a good design. As we didn’t want to make a compromise, there was a lot of back and forth between the engineers and designers but I’m happy with the result.”

So how is the GT aerodynamically better?
“Well, we have handguards to help keep cold wind and rain away from hands, but the way in which the new headlight and screen are working sees the bike feel just as comfortable to ride as the previous bike even when you are doing 20 km/h more.”

What part of the bike are you the most proud of?
“Besides aerodynamics and the semi-active suspension where we have made a really big improvement – especially between the modes – without changing the hardware, I would say that it was convincing my bosses to add the two storage compartments on the inside of the fairings. We’ve done this without having to add any big boxes and the way they work is really neat. When we completed our first prototype, I asked my manager to find where we had hidden a phone and he couldn’t manage it. Mission accomplished!”

Backed up by a bigger array of official KTM PowerParts to further personalize this potent sports tourer, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT hits showrooms at the end of this year.


KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KISKA/F. Lackner

Photos: KTM | KISKA


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      KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © TooFast Media
      Located in the heart of Wales, just off one of the principality’s most spectacular roads, the journey to the venue is thrilling in itself. You’d be tempted to ride for another 20 miles to the coastal resort of Aberystwyth, but a bigger challenge awaits those with an adventurous streak and a willingness to develop some serious offroad skills. As soon as you turn right off the main road and onto the property an incredible area awaits. If you’ve signed up to a course you can kiss goodbye to the tarmac for the next two days.
      Sweet Lamb covers 6,600 acres of land that, when it comes to farming, only sheep can take advantage of – but thankfully the woolly livestock don’t have the place to themselves. The landowners are petrol heads at heart and have opened the farm to those willing to take on the terrain. It’s the home of the showcase stage of the British round of the World Rally Championship, famed for its jumps and water splashes. This means that the tracks, trails and turf easily lend themselves to those on two wheels looking for a challenge.
      © TooFast Media
      For the last few years, a small adventure school was operating on the site run by Mark Molineux, a former enduro and rally racer. Moly, as he’s known to everyone, wanted to release the potential of the site with an adventure bike manufacturer – and there was only one he was interested in. “I’ve been approached by a lot of manufacturers to use the land and the facilities at Sweet Lamb, but I was only really interested in attracting KTM as the ADVENTURE range is the best in the business. I didn’t want to settle for anyone else.”
      KTM UK were first brought to the site when they were looking for a venue to host their first Adventure Festival in 2018. Once they saw what Sweet Lamb had to offer it was clear that their search was very quickly over. “We came to look and ride the site when it was covered in snow, but even under a white blanket it was clear that our search for an amazing venue was over,” says KTM UK’s Marketing Manager, Simon Roots. The festival was held later in the year, where 75 KTM fanatics – and special guest Chris Birch – explored every inch of the land available over the course of three sun-filled and fun-packed days. From the amazing feedback from the event it was clear that there was a huge demand for much more Orange activity on the land.
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © TooFast Media
      After the dust had settled (literally, as the festival was held in a rare heatwave in mid-Wales), Sweet Lamb came up with a proposal to become KTM UK’s first Adventure Experience Partner. With KTM UK’s Experience Partners running motocross, enduro and FREERIDE E projects, the last piece in the puzzle was an Adventure Experience to not just join the competition – but to surpass it. Knowing that the game changing KTM 790 ADVENTURE R was soon to be released, KTM UK worked with Sweet Lamb to develop a two-day, multi-level Adventure Experience that would enable both novice and experienced riders to tackle terrain suitable to their talent – all set against the greens and greys of the spectacular landscape.
      Moly has a massive ally in his corner – the landowner, Jonathan Bennett. Between them, they dream up new routes to carve through the landscape. Whatever free time they had last year was spent cutting through the mountainside to create a new three-mile long route – the aptly named ‘New Road’. They’ve also developed an incredible skills area that certainly puts the fun in functional. More fundamentally, the safety side of riding on the vast site has been honed to ensure that everyone is kept safe at Sweet Lamb. After a winter spent honing the syllabus, building a new headquarters and taking possession of ten new KTM 790 ADVENTURE Rs and a pair of KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE Rs the Sweet Lamb KTM Adventure Bike Experience was ready to open its doors – first to dealers and press, and then to its first customers.
      KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R © TooFast Media
      A common theme is developing with everyone that comes to Sweet Lamb. Once people have parked, the spin round on their heels to take in the views and you can see their mouths go ‘wow’ before they do another 360-degree gaze at the landscape. The KTM dealers pioneered this reaction and were in rapture about both the bike and the venue. They returned to their shops to spread the word to their customers about what the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R is capable of and how impressive the venue is.
      The press, too, were enthralled with what the venue could offer, the standard of teaching and the insane ability of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R. A wide spectrum of ability came to the press day where novices quickly gained confidence thanks to the balance and refined manners of KTM’s latest ADVENTURE machine. Those with more experience under their belts could exploit the power, WP suspension and electronics of the bike to push their riding forward. All, however, could see that the venue is the best in the UK thanks to the range and scope of the riding available.
      The most telling praise, however, came from the first group of paying customers. Of the ten that came, four rebooked on the spot having developed skills and experience they had never dreamed of. Others have since rebooked too, meaning that Sweet Lamb’s initial customers will have moved from the bronze to the silver level. Orange level is next, then an Orange Pro event will be the pinnacle of the school’s teachings. This is where KTM’s READY TO RACE attitude comes in, with Sweet Lamb bringing in top riders for schools with racers and ambassadors for the ultimate in fast-track learning.
      © TooFast Media
      Because the ultimate in offroad machinery is supplied, the Sweet Lamb Experience appeals to a wide group of potential customers. Firstly, there are those that have bought a new KTM 790 ADVENTURE R or a KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R who want coaching and experience of what their machine is capable of. It’s also an opportunity for those curious about the bikes to demo them in an extreme location. Then there are those looking for a new experience in a stunning setting or to engender confidence in a variety of different conditions. If you’re looking to participate in the KTM Ultimate Race on a KTM 790 ADVENTURE R then the training offered here could get you on the flight out to Morocco! It’s a two day course, but you can also easily spend a week exploring the area on public trails and tarmac roads, putting into practice the knowledge imparted to you at Sweet Lamb.
      The Sweet Lamb KTM Adventure Bike Experience has hit the ground running, and with word of mouth, media reviews and dealers all evangelizing about the event it’s sure to make a huge impact in the UK. For more information on the event then head to
      © TooFast Media
      Photos: TooFast Media