Dubai: Full on with the Ferret – KTM Middle East official launch of the KTM 1290 Superduke R

The 'Beast' lands in Dubai...

Unleashing the ‘Beast’ into the Middle East…..Part l

KTM Middle East Al Shafar finally releases the 1290 Super Duke R onto its waiting & willing victims at the Dubai Autodrome during its Middle East launch…

The scene was set, a lazy afternoon at the Dubai Autodrome, orange banners announcing the presence of KTM, the Red Bull Table shades with signs mounted with a simple statement…’Ready to Race’ were they asking or telling? The Red Bull inflatable start arch positioned on the pit lane in front of five very new, very bright and very intimidating looking KTM Super Duke R motorcycles….

Asking or telling?

Upstairs the riders/dealers and media gathered to hear KTM-AG Regional Sales Manager Michael Winter churn out the numbers on not only the Super Duke R but, also about where KTM stood in the very competitive market place & the strategies which took them there. This was after signing the waiver which had way too much small print & I didn’t want to scare myself with the details by reading it, needless to say, after signing I was handed a very large plastic bag containing some very nice mementoes…Thank you very much KTM ME!

Before getting down to the nitty gritty Michael explained how the bike was developed by ex-Moto GP star Jeremy McWilliams who was given a blank sheet of paper and told to produce something that worked well on the roads but with track manners to suit everyone, from the not so experienced, to track day warriors and racers alike. He succeeded!

Guenter Gahleitner also from KTM-AG followed on from Michael and told us what we could expect from this 180BHP beast once on track. He would lead all the groups out on the circuit and would cater for the differing paces that everyone would circulate at.

The good news was I was up and off in the first group. I was really looking forward to getting to grips with the ‘Beast’ to see if it really was as good as they say or another media led hype-fest out to satisfy the Austrian factories claims…

Red Bull & KTM - Like strawberries & cream!

Bearing in mind, these bikes were out of the box, checked, fuelled and, with a few kilometers put on the clocks to make sure they were all ‘Ready to race’ as KTM claim, we were off down pit lane…The Autodrome club circuit was the track configuration for the test which, in my mind is the perfect layout for such tests as it gives a mix of fast and slow corners with a straight long enough to have you up and around the 240+ KPH mark before hitting turn one. Throw in the uphill link complex leading to the bowl section and you have all you need to test the bikes abilities…

Having turned in a couple of laps and now having some heat into the tires, it was time to push a little harder. What is instantly noticeable is just how smooth the throttle response is. The torque developed from this monster sized twin cylinder engine is huge and very linear. From low down in the rev range, crack the throttle open and third gear pick up is quite amazing. Your shifting into the 6th gear in no time at the same time as having your arms stretched like the old ‘Stretch Armstrong’ toy…The buffeting you get at such speeds will ensure that you will feel it in your neck muscles later in the day. Un-faired bikes like this turn you into a punch bag at such speeds but, that said, when would you be constantly hitting over 200+ KPH on the roads (maybe you shouldn’t answer that question) …

1290cc = 180 BHP !

Back to the lap, over the crest of the hill and hurtling towards turn one at such speeds is not for the faint of heart, up out of the tucked position, down 3 gears in quick succession and with two fingers on the brake lever, my eyeballs nearly hit my visor…The brakes are just phenomenal. Very powerful and bags of feedback, I had actually over braked and found myself letting off again and almost cruising into turn one. Dropping the bike onto its side is almost a thoughtless process, the bike is so nimble at changing direction it requires only minimum input from the rider.

One gripe I have to mention is that as the pace picked up, the suspension became very loose. By that I mean it was still on the stock settings which were aimed at a 75kg rider on the street, not someone hooning around a track and pushing it harder than would be expected on a daily jaunt to the supermarket…This brought up another point which at first had me baffled. The red triangle warning light that was constantly on and off whilst clocking up the laps. At first, I, as with other riders in my group, thought it was a gear shift light but, having shifted up through the gears it still remained on most of the time. In fact it turned out to be the traction control light warning us that it was not going to let us get away with what we were trying to do! The bike is full of electronics and is one of the main reasons why this bike can be used hard by an inexperienced rider with almost no likelihood of it spitting off the rider…We were all using the sport mode which is easily changed with the push of a few buttons. The anti-wheelie and traction control did work very effectively and kept the bike circulating with both wheels pointing in the right direction.

Fully adjustable suspension front & rear via the very impressive White Power units...

For me I would have personally liked to alter the gear selector lever as I found it a little low and the same also for the front brake lever which needed to be dropped down a little. These are small personal adjustments you would do straight off had you handed over the AED76,999 and become one of the proud owners of such a good looking beast.

After a quick photoshoot it was time to head back onto the circuit for a second session. This time the machine I rode had had a few small adjustments made to the front suspension (unbeknown to me at the time). I circulated for the first two laps again to get some heat into the tires before upping my pace, the ride was noticeably different. The front end whilst pushing as hard if not harder than in my first session felt more planted. Gone had the very soft sprung and loose feeling I had earlier in the day. Now the bike turned in even better, held its line and just felt more inviting to push harder than before. So much more so that now at almost every turn the knee slider was hitting the tarmac indicating that it was cranked over as much as it needed to be. Because the front end had been stiffened up considerably, under hard acceleration the back did squat more under power, once again, this is a quick fix with the multi adjustable White Power (WP) suspension fitted to the bike and on my return to the pit, was duly carried out by Hussain Alkhooheji before he departed down pit lane for the final session of the day…

Local racer Steve Blackney gives her the thumbs up too....

As I pushed harder on the last few laps, the brakes which I mentioned earlier as powerful became even more so. The system was possibly one of the most progressive and powerful systems I have used on any road bike and most race bikes I have ridden. I tried out new braking markers at the end of the main straight and still found that I could have left it a little later without any dramas unfolding in front of me…Even catching a slower rider into turn one at one point had the rear end lifting and fishtailing slightly as I squeezed my two fingers on the lever a few more millimeters. Still the bike never felt out of control or gave any cause for concern.

This really is an amazing bike to say it was more or less out of the box and ridden hard at the track. For sure, KTM have a real gem of a bike here in this very competitive segment of the market. Having ridden the Triumph Triple and Ducati Streetfighter recently which are both aimed at the same buyer, KTM may have just upped the ante here with the ‘Beast’

Stance...It has plenty !

It would be unfair to base my test report and thoughts on how the 1290 Super Duke R performed on the track and not where it belongs most of the time, on the road so, the kind guy’s down at KTM ME have agreed to make this a two part test and will be lending me another Super Duke in a week or so to carry out a road test. If you want to know how the Beast’s manners are out on the streets, join us back here soon for the follow up on part ll of the test….Alternatively, call the guy’s at KTM ME and I am sure they will oblige you with your own test ride, just be warned that this Beast could very easily become your beauty, having ridden her, you may not want to give her back…Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Be still my beating heart....Sexy as hell, has the 'Beast' just raised the bar in this very competitive sector of the market ?

Northern Ferret…

TTFN…

 

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