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2018 KTM 1290 Super Duke R: Reviews & Specs

2018 KTM 1290 Super Duke R: Reviews & Specs

The 2018 KTM 1290 Super Duke R has quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the world of high-performance motorcycles. This beast of a bike boasts a 1,301cc V-twin engine that produces an impressive 177 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque. With a range of advanced features such as cornering ABS, traction control, and adjustable suspension, the 1290 Super Duke R offers a thrilling ride that is both exhilarating and safe. Reviews of this motorcycle have been overwhelmingly positive, with many riders praising its impressive power and agile handling. Whether you're a seasoned rider looking for a high-performance machine or an enthusiast seeking the ultimate thrill ride, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R is a motorcycle that will not disappoint.


.2018 KTM 1290 Super Duke motorcycle on display at a luxury dealership


2018 KTM 1290 Super Duke R: Reviews, Specs, & Prices

There’s so much to love about the KTM 1290 Super Duke R I can hardly stand it. The super-naked category has no shortage of brilliant options, but the Super Duke feels like it’s in a class by itself, what with its brutal styling, unique heritage, and incredible performance.

This big Austrian brute looks like violence comes to life and goes like weaponized plutonium. It pummels pavement into submission with 177 horsepower and 104 lb-ft of torque from a colossal 1301cc v-twin motor that features titanium inlet valves, forged pistons, and all sorts of goodies. 

Keeping all that power in check is a full suite of electronics as is the norm for ultra-powerful street bikes. Traction control, wheelie control, cornering ABS, and adjustable rider modes all work in conjunction to improve the riding experience and contain some of the Super Duke’s fury. Opt for KTM’s Performance Pack, and the bike comes with an up/down quick shifter and Bluetooth connectivity.

The 2018 Super Duke R carries over unchanged from the 2017 model year which saw KTM gift it several significant updates including upgraded engine internals, an improved traction control system that factors in lean-angle, revised WP front and rear suspension, and a slightly wider handlebar.

All these changes were aimed at improving ride quality, fuel economy, and overall refinement. That translates into enhancements of the Super Duke’s already surprising usability and comfort.

With all that being said, however, the Super Duke (how’s that for a badass name, by the way?) is more at home mauling roads and track days to death over dissecting each with a scalpel. The bike’s huge power and stiff sports suspension means it can run with the world’s best super-naked – or any other motorcycle for that matter – with no problem.

2018 KTM 1290 Super Duke motorcycle on display at a luxury dealership


And can we talk about looks for a second? Where some bikes in this class look like they were designed using DaVinci’s own hand and sculpted with divine intervention, KTM seems to have called on the Black Death and a bag of razor blades for visual inspiration. The Duke looks like it wants to punch you, and everyone you know, right in the mouth. It’s absolutely awesome.

And this crazy, angular styling isn’t exclusive to the Super Duke – most of KTM’s machines like the smaller Duke 390 and 690, share the same genes. Looking at each of those bikes in profile, I’m reminded of really, really angry hornets. Even KTM’s adventure machines and dirtbikes look like they were cut from the same cloth.

Considering all that the Super Duke R brings to the table, you might imagine the price of entry into this unique market segment wouldn’t be cheap, and you’d be right. It stickers at $17,999, the same as the Aprilia Tuono Factory, but some $1,400 less than the Ducati Monster 1200 R.

The Super Duke R is easily one of the best performing and riding motorcycles on the road today. And like all legends, more than just its looks will remain with you long after the ride is over.