5 Things You Should Know About the KTM 1290 Super Adventure

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All Those Electronics Feels Invisible… Mostly

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure
The KTM 1290 Super Adventure: Between its sophisticated electronics and control systems, there's a lot more going on here than meets the eye. KTM

If you read our 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure Review, you saw a fairly straight ahead analysis on the nuts and bolts of this big adventure bike. And while there’s a time and place for traditional riding impressions, sometimes it’s cool to dive deeper into the quirks and personality of a new bike. I got to do exactly that, thanks to my extended time with the KTM.

You can learn a lot about a bike from more seat time, and my day-to-day experience with the KTM 1290 Super Adventure revealed a lot more about the bike’s true nature than I could have gleaned from a short term loan. So without further ado, here's the first of 5 Things You Should Know About the KTM 1290 Super Adventure:

1. All Those Electronics Feels Invisible… Mostly

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure is loaded to the gills with electronics, from front and rear accelerometers and suspension stroke sensors to control units. There are things you may know about (like lean-sensitive traction control and semi-active suspension damping), and a few you probably don’t (like the übersophisticated lighting system).
Lest you assume that traction control is only there to limit power when you’re heavy on the throttle, KTM’s optional MSR (Motor Slip Regulation) system works the opposite way the MTC (Motorcycle Traction Control) setup operates. Rather than cutting power, MSR reacts to abrupt downshifts or throttle-offs by opening the throttle just enough to keep the rear wheel from locking up.
All-in-all, the 1290’s electronics work rather seamlessly, especially considering how much is going on behind the scenes (between the stability control managing the wheelie/braking/leaned over dynamics and everything else). Sure, you’ll feel the power get trimmed if you’re too heavy on the throttle (mostly to keep the nose down and the tail from sliding), but for the most part these electronics do their jobs with exceptional transparency.

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KTM Curtailed Some Big Twin Character in the Interest of Smoothness

KTM Crankshaft
KTM's crankshaft is designed for smoothness. KTM

Big twin engines are inherently chuggy at low rpms; it’s a simple reality of combining internal combustion with two massing reciprocating forces, and if you don’t believe me, ride a first-gen Ducati Multistrada. That said, KTM went to great lengths to produce what they claim is their “smoothest engine ever.” By using a new crankshaft with more rotating mass on the flywheel and rotor and an anti backlash gear on the primary wheel (in order to reduce vibration and noise), this engine runs more smoothly than ever.
You’ll still notice some chugging at lower rpms, but the effect is reduced thanks to the 2015 KTM Super Adventure’s engine improvements.

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The 1290 Super Adventure Has More In Common With a Car Than You Might Think

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure
The 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure, engine, bags and all. KTM

We love motorcycles for the purity of experience they offer, which stems from their minimalist construction. After all, there’s a reason riders call cars “cages.”
However, when we’re covering long distances on two wheels, we tend to crave bigger, more substantial rides— bikes like the 1290 Super Adventure. That said, this KTM is at the far end of motorcycle scale. Though it doesn't have a six-cylinder engine like a Honda Gold Wing or a massive footprint like other hyperbolic examples, it does claim features like cruise control and a full suite of electronics assistance packages (including hill hold control, which keeps the bike in place on inclines after the rider has released the brake). Its $20,499 starting price puts the KTM nearly $2,000 more expensive than a Honda Civic sedan, and the 115 liters (4 cubic feet) of volume from its side and top cases is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Add to that the heated seat and grips, and you’ve got a bike that positively skirts car territory. 

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The Wheels May be Spoked, But You Probably Wouldn’t Go Offroading

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure
But seriously, these boots were made for pavement. Basem Wasef

KTM worked hard to preserve the 1290’s dirt-ready capabilities. They incorporated an offroad suspension mode and a dirt mode for braking that enables the rider to slide the tail out. But fact is, with a 505 pound weight (before the massive 7.93 gallon fuel tank is filled), the 1290 displaces enough mass to make offroading a distinctly unlikely scenario. Add to that a 34.4-inch seat height that would make it a challenge to climb back on in the event of a dirt dismount, and the case starts looking better for smaller, lighter bikes.

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The Lights Are Smarter Than You

KTM 1290 Super Adventure
The 1290 features the world's first LED cornering lights, as well as 12 LEDs that comprise running lights. KTM

Though the 1290 Super Adventure’s brawny engine steals the show, the big ol’ Austrian bike also features some fresh tech, like the world’s first LED cornering lights. The system uses the bike’s lean angle sensors to illuminate one LED at 10 degrees, a second at 20 degrees, and all three at 30 degrees, enabling better visibility through corners.
The lights also incorporate 12 LEDs to form permanent daytime running lights. By gleaning information from the MCU (Motorcycle Control Unit) and an ambient light sensor in dashboard, the low beam settings are set automatically.