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Watch Chris Birch Rip Thru New Zealand on the Mighty KTM 1290R

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Published on 08.07.2020

There aren’t many people who can put a KTM 1290 Super Adventure R through its paces off-road. At 160 horsepower and 529 pounds wet, it’s a lot of bike, to put it mildly. It has a host of modes and computer assists to help Average Joe turn in a competent performance, but to really make the bike sing in the dirt you’d almost need to be super human. Like Chris Birch.

In a recent  video, “12 Hours With the 1290 Super Adventure R,” Birch flogs the rip-snorting KTM through the glorious scenery of his native New Zealand. For us lesser beings stuck at home, it’s two minutes and 34 seconds of pure, escapist joy.


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It begins where many of these sorts of videos begin: early in the morning, pulling out of the garage. We follow Birch down a dirt path and out on the asphalt twisties along the coast on a sun-kissed morning. Then comes a dirt road, a high-speed hop over a tree limb, powerslides and more incredible coastal scenery.

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Things get serious with a couple hillclimbs that would give pause to a good rider on a dual sport of half the weight, Birch ripping wheelies and throwing a roost the all the way to the top. Add more log hops, stream crossings, single track and a chasm-spanning jump, shake well and enjoy. In one particularly memorable shot, Birch shoots over the crest of a steep hill, lands the 1290 on its back wheel and wheelies out of the frame as if he were on a trials bike. Don’t try that at home, as they say.

Of course, Birch has the Dakar Rally, Red Bull Romaniacs, the Erzberg Rodeo and a slew of other world-class hard enduros and rallies on his resume. He also travels the globe as a dirt- and adventure-riding coach, and posts cool how-to and big-bike videos on YouTube. You probably can’t ride a 1290 the way he does. But there’s no harm in dreaming.

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Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

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