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Posted in Bikes

A new motorcycle for a new decade. The 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is just the third generation of the LC8-engined ‘BEAST’ since the bike was created in 2014. The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R was presented and tested by international press for the first time in and around the Portimao race circuit in Portugal in early February and here – with the help of the bike’s originator – are four reasons why THE BEAST had the experts growling…


PC @SebasRomero

1 – is the desired position in the Naked bike market segment, and the newly-reshaped LC8 v-twin is No.1 for weight-to-performance with a hefty 180hp and 140Nm of torque on tap. KTM has squeezed more power but significantly dropped the kilos. This evolution came from a brave decision to get radical with KTM’s most extreme expression of a street bike. “We said: ‘let’s make a clean cut and start with a white sheet of paper’ and the end result has been amazing,” said Product Manager Adriaan Sinke. “A great big v-twin engine really defines what this bike is all about; that character that no other engine can provide,” he adds. “The peak figures are a lot but I’d rather talk about how the bike harnesses the power. The street is not a predictable environment so you cannot always go into a corner with the right amount of RPM and with this LC8 you have so much flexibility. There are bikes that deliver their power and their torque at much later levels: we believe that this [instant torque] is the definition of what the SUPER DUKE is all about. It doesn’t matter what gear you are in; you are always in the right one to pull yourself away. You don’t need to be sitting at some crazy high RPM to be able to overtake traffic.”

KTM is using words like ‘ultimate Naked bike’ to encapsulate the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, and the experience of riding it that is both comfortable and confidence-inspiring thanks to refined handling but also pulse-quickening and fiercely capable at speed, as demonstrated by the smiles and antics of riders after six twenty-minute sessions around the Portimao circuit.



For the motorcycle’s creator, Hermann Sporn, his fourth SUPER DUKE (he led the 990 project in 2005) continues to fulfill the definition of what a Naked bike should be, certainly in KTM’s vision of extreme, purity and performance. “When can you really enjoy a superbike on the road? It is pain to ride one, literally,” he reasons. “In the hands, the leg, the seat, the damping was too harsh. Those bikes are made for the racetrack and they are really good where you need the maximum power and want to find the limit. The big advantage with the SUPER DUKE was the huge amount of torque, and it was easy to ride, more comfortable and gave you a better view in traffic.”

“Naked bikes are more forgiving: you can use any gear and change the line and that’s not always possible on a sports bike,” he adds. “The front end is really secure and now it has the same kind of feedback as a superbike where riders can get on the gas and slide out of the corner. You can also brake very deep and know where it will slide. You have that sensitivity from the new frame and that also helps for the street and avoid bumps and altering lines. We spend a lot of time working with WP to improve the front fork and the shock absorber. We made a lot of comparison tests with other suspension suppliers and motorcycles and said: ‘we need to be right at the top level’. I believe now we are better. I wanted the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R to win comparison tests!”


PC @SebasRomero

2 – years. That’s how long Project Leader Sporn and his crew needed to overhaul KTM’s flagship model. It was also a spell in which they had to deduce how to improve what was already a very appealing and attractive motorcycle. The LC8 boasted a rock-solid base. Sporn knew there were gains to be had in other areas.

“As soon as the ’16 version was presented we were working on this one,” he explains. “We had a meeting and talked about the behavior of the bike and how we could – and would like – to make it better. We were able to look at each and every part and totally separate the concepts, in fact, the only parts we kept from the chassis of the old bike was the rear axle and the adjuster. When we wanted to redefine the engine that meant a lot of small details and we wanted something lighter, faster-and-easier shifting.”

“One of the things we wanted to keep was that easy handling; everybody knew it was an easy bike, even for a non-experienced rider,” he adds. “It was important to keep this and improve it. It was also important to maintain the ergonomics of a road bike, so for the rider that wants a trip over the mountains is not going to be uncomfortable. That meant looking closely at the seat, and again the comfort.”

“We had those references but knew there were more places to look,” he goes on. “One was the feeling with the front wheel, and with a completely new frame, we could make a large step. From our calculations we saw that we had to go much higher with the torsional stiffness. We are using the engine to help us with the frame in this respect. We had three times more torsional stiffness compared to the older SUPER DUKE and it made the feeling ‘safer’: you can notice it immediately. It is faster and more stable to turn in and holds the line even over bumps and on the brakes.”



“We knew we had to do something better on the rear too. People knew the old SUPER DUKE was a cool wheelie machine but we calculated what would be the right amount of anti-squat behavior to hold the motorcycle more in its position. To do this we raised the engine and we spun it a bit backward and increased the center of gravity. In the beginning, we were testing on the track a lot to find the best solution: why would we do that when we are not making a race motorcycle? It’s simply because when you are riding near the edge you then know what will happen. We had the possibility to move the swingarm pivot higher and we played around with the stiffness of the chassis with the variances of tube and wall diameters and thickness. We have different engine mounts. We were looking for the best compromise to find the best feedback. In the end, the frame is longer, with a stiffer swingarm, and we have a completely different shock mounting. On the old SUPER DUKE, we had a direct mount on the swingarm with higher compression you did not have that many possibilities. Now we have the linkage you have much more travel on the shock and this helps you to control the damping behavior. These main changes to affect the riding behavior.”



Fast forward to the EICMA show in Milan in November 2019 and the covers come away from the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R and Sporn’s vision becomes public.


PC @MarcoCampelli

9 – Could be for the fact that 90% of the motorcycle is fresh; the 2020 incarnation is no mere makeover. A strong element of the new range of attributes is a revitalized electronic package with the ability to engage 9 levels of traction control in Track mode. The Rider Aids and engine management capabilities are part of the large modern heart of the SUPER DUKE with Motorcycle Traction Control, Motor Slip Regulation, Lean angle ABS, Supermoto ABS, and a 6D lean angle sensor (side-to-side, forward-and-back and drift) among the filters through the ride by wire throttle that are enhanced to give the rider a close and more sensitive feeling of what is going on with the bike.



The ability to tweak and explore the different ‘shapes’ of the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R on the narrow Portuguese B roads and then around the grippy expanses of Portimao illustrated the versatility and fun factor of the motorcycle. Helping analyze and sharpen this aspect of performance was former MotoGP™ rider Jeremy McWilliams. The Northern Irelander’s input was particularly useful for the TRACK mode (alongside the default STREET, RAIN & SPORT) where that 9 level of traction control comes into play: 1 being a very limited quantity for slick tires on a track and 9 the equivalent of race setting. The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R was tremendous, stable and slidey fun at 4 around Portimao.

“The idea was to come up with new software that will allow more connection between the bike and the rider,” explains McWilliams. “It’s new logic. With our nine-channel TC and track mode, we wanted to make that riders who are at a high level are happy to use traction control rather than switch it off. There is little point in having the feature if riders want to disengage it because it was interfering with their ride. You can use traction control to full power in the wet and then drop it down to between 3-6 for, say, the A-group riders.”

“With these bikes now you have to rely on traction control to make everything safe but you also want to enjoy the ride. We wanted people to have the feeling that you are accelerating as fast as you possibly can without – what our R&D guys call – ‘hold back’, so you can play around with that. Sport mode is designed to be level 4; anything below is sportier.”

Fear not though. The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is not being smothered by cutting-edge bike tech. “Electronics will progress and much more will be possible but at the same time I think we have to be careful not to go too far with it, especially for this type of motorcycle,” says Sinke. “I think we need to work on making the bike better and more fun and more accessible. We should not be taking things away. The motorcycle should be central, and the electronics should be peripheral to help you enjoy the bike more.”

0 – zero fat. KTM has ‘doubled-up’ in various aspects of the 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. How? Well, the styling and looks convey the ethos of the brand while also serving an acute design purpose. The components that create the aesthetics are made with the same function/form duality. “If you can design a part that is functional and make it visible and look nice then you don’t have to cover it up,” reasons Sinke. “It means less parts and you can save weight.”

An example: the subframe. “The first part is cast aluminum – which we use on several other KTMs, which is very light – but the cool and interesting part is the rear end: it’s composite and not a plastic cover,” he says. “It is actually the load-bearing part and where the passenger sits, has their footpegs and also the number plate. Everything bolts onto it and there is no need for brackets and extra parts: it means we can again save weight. The composite part of the subframe weighs 900 grams and can hold 1000kg. It’s incredibly strong and incredibly light.”



The 2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is slim, compact and striking. It’s in the heavyweight division but looks and moves like a robust lithe pugilist. With some of the KTM PowerParts accessories – an array was on display at Portimao – then it becomes even meaner (credit as well for the blue/orange paint job that is a classier look compared to the Beast 2.0). “The bike is ‘in-your-face’ and that is our brand in every possible way,” smiles Sinke. “If you park this bike by the side of the road little boys run-up to it. It turns heads. It looks cool, it sounds cool, it feels cool.”


PC @SebasRomero

The minimal design is countered by a raft of impressive detailing. The improved LED headlight now houses the central air-intake, there are new handlebar switches next to the position-adjustable and high-res TFT display (KTM’s best and clearest dash yet), new tank shape, WP APEX suspension and specially-designed Bridgestone S22 tire resists the power and augments the positive traits of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. The wheels are CAD-crafted and molded for more ‘dieting’ and the thorough approach to weight-loss even applies to the construction of the plastics. “It’s a small thing but the central part of the plastics is thinner – you don’t need the same thickness throughout because they don’t have a load-bearing capacity and we were able to save more grams,” says Sinke.

The beauty of THE BEAST is that the motorcycle can appear and feel like something so raw but then also offer all the facilities and options a rider could ever want to suck-out the very best of the ultimate Naked bike.


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      PC @PolarityPhotoOliveira powers around the Austrian circuit aboard his Red Bull KTM Tech3 RC16
      PC @PolarityPhotoOliveira hugs Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team Manager Hervé Poncheral
      PC @PolarityPhotoOliveira is the first Portuguese rider to win a MotoGP race
      PC @PolarityPhotoMiguel Oliveira takes his maiden premier class victory at the Red Bull Ring in Austria
      PC @PolarityPhotoA special day for Oliveira
      PC @PolarityPhoto
    • De Dementor
      Posted in Racing As 2020 MotoGP reaches the Red Bull Ring for the second time this season, Miguel Oliveira talks about existence at 340kmph plus.
      In the depths of Styria, Austria the Red Bull Ring presents MotoGP with one of the fastest and most jaw-dropping outings of the season. 4.3km and 10 corners are taken in just over one minute and 20 seconds with a MotoGP machine. Average speeds hit more than 180kmph as the course winds up and down a 65m elevation change. The radar gun catches bikes at 311kmph (almost 200mph) at the quickest point.
      Miguel Oliveira flying past the KTM Grandstand at the Red Bull Ring in 2019
      PC @PhilipPlatzerRace fans gather at the venue in Spielberg as much for the speed and spectacle as for the lush scenery and sense of occasion. For 2020 the grandstands are silent, but KTM fans and followers can still feel part of this weekend’s Grands Prix thanks to the ultra-limited KTM Fan Package and partially bask in some of the MotoGP vibe that has been present since 2016 when the circuit re-joined the FIM world championship calendar.
      Oliveira battled for the Moto2 victory in 2018 at the Red Bull Ring to finish second
      PC @PhilipPlatzerThe Red Bull Ring will not bustle and echo with the presence of public like normal, but the riders themselves are not immune to the facility’s charms as well as the deceptive nature of what seems like an ‘easy’ course. “There are very few tracks with such a beautiful setting; you see the mountains and it’s surrounded by nature,” says Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira, a racer who was 0.2 of a second from Moto2™ victory in 2018 and set his best classification in the MotoGP class with eighth place in 2019.
      Oliveira hard on the brakes – the Portuguese racer explains that riders get used to the high-speed and hard braking sensation
      PC @PolarityPhoto“When we first went there, I remember thinking the layout was very, very simple – perhaps the simplest we’ve had in many years. I thought it would be a bit boring to ride but actually it is one of the best tracks we have! Even though there are a lot of straights, hard-braking and right-hand corners, it has something special. It is very challenging. The technical side is interesting, and it is not boring at all. Obviously the faster the bike is then the more fun it is.”
      Oliveira knows the feeling of success in Moto3™ and Moto2 and is making rapid strides in the premier class, with a berth at the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team to come in 2021. If there is an athlete that is familiar with the intricacies of competition in the top-flight then it is Portugal’s sole representative in MotoGP, who is now enjoying his second term on the KTM RC16 and against ‘the big boys’.
      Oliveira is looking forward to racing at the Red Bull Ring in 2020, although it won’t be the same without the fans
      PC @PolarityPhotoSo, we quizzed the 26-year old on the feeling of MotoGP speed and in particular around the lush landscape of the Red Bull Ring.
      You spent three seasons in Moto2 before pushing up to MotoGP. At a place like Red Bull Ring do you really get an appreciation for the speed difference between the classes and the motorcycles?
      “It feels different…but because you have such a long time from one year to the next you already start building up your mental reference based on the speed of the MotoGP bike. I had half a year to get used to it before we raced there in 2019. It is a bit scary because coming into the track you know that the bike is going to be fast and you have to handle the braking points very strongly. You need to be very precise. It’s doesn’t completely scare you…but it does make you wonder.”
      Oliveira negotiates the recognizable Red Bull Ring curbs in 2019
      PC @PhilipPlatzerDoes the speed of MotoGP faze you anymore? Or is it just part of the job now?
      “More so when I first tried the bike. It still amazes me to watch MotoGP outside of the track. I think – because we ride the bike many times and we take everything to the limit – then [riding] is not as fascinating as watching it! Sometimes you still get impressed by the acceleration of the bike when you are onboard but, in general, I think it’s more interesting to watch trackside: you get a real appreciation for the speed, what we are doing and how we stop the bikes in such a short time; that is pretty amazing.”
      There’s a big difference in speed from Moto2 to MotoGP – here Oliveira is pictured accelerating out of a turn at the Red Bull Ring in 2018 on a Moto2 machine. PC @GoldAndGooseSo, it’s a situation where you are slowing down something that seems so fast…?
      “Exactly. It is all perspective. We are all sat ‘inside’ the bike and with a very narrow point of view. We’re only looking forward and all we really see is asphalt and other bikes that are more or less going the same speed as you. You don’t really have too much of the speed factor of passing a stationary object. I used to go to the end of the pitlane when MotoGP sessions were starting and I’d think ‘wow! How is this guy braking for the next corner when the front wheel is still in the air! How do they manage that?!’ It was amazing to watch from the outside. I’m not saying that it’s not awesome to ride the bike itself…but the wow factor is not the same as watching it from the fence.”
      Oliveira races past the picturesque backdrop of the Red Bull Ring in the first of the two Austrian races
      PC @PolarityPhotoIs your ‘world’ just a series of markers and rear wheels and distance?
      “I think it is like driving on the highway: you have a car next to you and in front of you and that becomes the reference, you know? Apply that but three-four times faster! At least that’s how your brain operates.”
      Does the level of speed reach a point where you don’t notice if you are going much faster?
      “Speed, for us, is not something you can tell too much with feeling. Once we are on the straight then we are tucked in and out of the wind. When it comes to sitting up and braking then the feeling you have from very high speed is that you are not going to stop! The first half-a-second when you roll-off and grab the brake and head into the corner, in that short moment your brain is like ‘Argh! Maybe I’m not going to stop’ but then, obviously, you get used to having that sensation. I think your brain just gets used to processing images and handling that speed. Braking from 320 or from 280 is a very small margin. You cannot tell the difference.”
      KTM racer and recent race winner Brad Binder finished fourth in the first of the Austrian double-header and is congratulated by KTM AG CEO Stefan Pierer. PC @PolarityPhotoWhat about tackling the limits at a place like Red Bull Ring?
      “Red Bull Ring with the fans is something really special. Riding for KTM you feel that way. Also, you feel like you are riding around a very old layout but with the modern-day needs of a racetrack. Everything is beautifully done: the tarmac is really smooth, hardly any bumps. It’s a privilege to ride a MotoGP bike there.”
      The buzz of the KTM fans will be missing this year but it’s still an important home GP for the Austrian manufacturer.
      PC @PhilipPlatzerYou can still be a part of the Grand Prix der Steiermark on August 23rd thanks to the KTM Fan Package. Click here to see the details and hurry while stocks last.
      To find out about KTM’s special 2021 ticket offer, The Ultimate Orange MotoGP Experience, please click here.
      Fans can stay READY TO RACE with the KTM Fan Package – available from authorized KTM dealers
      PC @KTM
    • De Dementor
      Posted in Racing A major milestone in KTM’s racing history has been reached. KTM can now class themselves as MotoGP race winners thanks to Brad Binder’s incredible victory in Brno, Czech Republic. Binder has smashed expectations and stamped himself firmly in the history books – this achievement is the Austrian manufacturer’s first win in the premier class, South Africa’s first MotoGP victory, and Binder took the top step of the podium in only his third race aboard the KTM RC16. Incredible, isn’t it?
      Brad Binder flies to his and KTM’s first ever MotoGP victory in Brno, Czech Republic.
      PC @PolarityPhotoIt was a 21 lap thriller of a race and it should definitely be noted that the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider, who won a Moto3TM title in 2016 and was second overall in Moto2 TM last season, is the first rookie to win a MotoGP race since 2013 – that rider was Marc Marquez, who is widely classed as the current benchmark and multi-time MotoGP champion. Binder’s victorious race was a calculated ride from seventh on the grid, and the 24-year-old navigated his way to the front of the field aboard his KTM RC16 before stretching out a comfortable advantage for his maiden win.
      Binder worked his way to the front of the field from seventh on the grid.
      PC @PolarityPhotoAfter the race Brad said: “Honestly, right now, I’m lost for words. I’ve dreamt of this since I was a little boy and today it came true. It is amazing to win my first GP [in MotoGP]. Thank you to everybody who supported me, and the whole team; they put an insane motorcycle beneath me today! I didn’t know if we could win but I knew we would have a go. It was the craziest ten laps of my life at the end. I was being as soft as I could. It was incredible. Unbelievable.”
      It’s a huge team effort – KTM takes a first MotoGP victory in its fourth year in the series.
      PC @PolarityPhotoHaving come through the ranks with KTM from the Red Bull KTM MotoGP TM Rookies Cup, Moto3, Moto2 and finally MotoGP, Binder achieves KTM’s vision of providing a pathway for riders right up to the top tier of racing, the pinnacle of two-wheeled motorsport. Teammate Pol Espargaró was unfortunate on the day not to be fighting for the win as he fell during a battle for third place; it should be noted here that the Spaniard has been pivotal in KTM’s MotoGP project and the KTM RC16’s development, having been involved from early on in the program. It’s KTM’s fourth year in the series, and with the help of test riders Mika Kallio and Dani Pedrosa, the Austrian manufacturer has certainly stepped up another level in 2020. But it’s unlikely anybody would have believed Binder would win so soon in his premier class career – in celebration let’s take a look at some of the images from BRAD’S BIG DAY!
      Brad Binder and the KTM RC16 at Brno, Czech Republic.
      PC @PolarityPhotoAfter hitting the front with nine laps to go, Binder stretched out a comfortable advantage.
      PC @PolarityPhotoAn emotional and historic moment for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team as Binder takes KTM’s first ever MotoGP victory.
      PC @PolarityPhotoBinder climbs onto the MotoGP podium for the first time.
      PC @PolarityPhotoBinder took a first premier class victory in only his third ever MotoGP race.
      PC @PolarityPhotoBinder scored victories in Moto2 to take runner-up in the series in 2019.
      PC @GoldAndGooseBinder won the Moto3 championship with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in 2016.
      PC @KTMKTM’s next MotoGP outing is at the manufacturer’s ‘home race’ at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria where the teams will be looking to put on a show for all the fans at home. To show your support why not consider a KTM Fan Package so you can #STAYREADYTORACE from wherever you’ll be watching from! Visit your authorized dealer for more information or click here.