Best On-Off-Road/Adventure Motorcycle of the Year Winner: KTM 1290 Super Adventure


Last year, it was BMW’s fabulous R1200GS sharing the MOBO in this category with KTM’s brilliant 1190 Adventure, as each excelled in their own particular ways. This year the tie was broken by the stunning new 1290 Super Adventure, an amalgamation of the 1190 and the audacious Super Duke R, our 2014 Best Motorcycle of the Year. Previous KTM Adventure models such as the defunct 950/990 and the concurrently available 1190 Adventure and 1190 Adventure R have always had the upper hand in terms of lighter weight and more serious off-road performance (especially the R model). With the new 1290 Super Adventure, KTM ups the ante in terms of over-the-road performance while maintaining enough off-road chops to allow confident journeys off the beaten path.

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure First Ride Review

At $20,499, the 1290 Super Adventure is expensive, but it does offer plenty of value by including a bevy of features as standard equipment. Semi-active suspension is included, as is LED cornering lights, heated grips and seat, Cornering ABS and factory saddlebags. Combine a claimed 160 horsepower and 104 lb.-ft. of torque with an 8.0-gallon fuel tank, and you’ve got an ADV bike unlike any other.

Best On-Off-Road / Adventure Motorcycle Of 2014

BMW’s GS – and anyone else trying to make inroads to the high-end adventure-touring market – has serious competition in the form of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure. BMW has decades worth of loyal GS riders, but when it comes to serious off-road performance, KTM certainly has the chops. And when it comes discussions of power, BMW’s wasser-Boxer can’t keep pace. With KTM’s one-two-three punch of 1190 Adventure, the 1190 R and the 1290 Super Adventure, KTM is looking to corner the heavyweight Adventure-Touring market.

Honorable Mention: Triumph Tiger 800 XR/XRx, XC/XCx


The winner of this category shows our predilection for powerful engines, but there’s something to be said for smaller and nimbler machines, especially when they can be customized to suit adventures of different levels like Triumph’s updated Tiger 800. The XR, starting at $11,399, is focused more on street performance, with 19-/17-in. cast wheels, lower seats, and Showa suspension with less travel. Riders who plan to spend more time off pavement can go with an XC and its 21-/17-inch wire-spoke wheels and adjustable WP suspenders. All deliver standard ABS and traction control, and we won’t bore you again with how useful those are in a pinch.

Add another small “x” to either the XR or XC, and Triumph upgrades the experience with cruise control, adjustable riding modes, a trip computer, comfier seats, an adjustable windscreen, centerstand, handguards, and an additional 12-volt power socket; $12,499 for the XRx and $13,499 for the XCx are considerably less fiduciarily irresponsible than last year’s winning BMW and KTM.

Whichever one you pick (we rode the XRx here), that 800cc Triple is a pip, old boy, with a broad, smooth powerband and skirling exhaust note that had the whole MO staff pining for the fjords. The XRx was so smooth-sailing and sporty on pavement, we were dazed by its ability to deliver us from evil on rocky fire roads and get us home again, amen, and averaging 46 mpg the whole way. Nicely played. Best of 2015 Categories

  • Old MOron

    Ha ha, you funny guys. you’re so in love with the SDR that you even wrote it into this ADV title:
    “Best On-Off-Road/Adventure Motorcycle of the Year Winner: KTM 1290 Super Duke R”

    • 12er

      Guess they are out riding…

  • Emptybee

    The Tiger 800 XCx appeals a lot to me as an ADV bike. The 1290 Super Adventure leaves me cold. It’s just…way…too…much of everything.

    • Ben

      Well I rode the 1290 S’adventure through the Swiss/Italian Alps for 2 weeks recently and it was magic….. MAGIC!!

  • Ducati Kid

    MO devotees,

    Berlin would have a financially while functionally viable ADV motorcycle offering an enhanced ‘F900GSAM’ motorcycle shown in Concept form below.

    Admittedly showed this ‘F800GS’ lineage Concept motorcycle earlier …

  • JerryMander

    Revzilla says the Tiger’s frame can break easily.

    • Matt

      Sure, if you are taking it over jumps off-road, but I’m sure its find on the pavement.

      • JerryMander

        Apparently a low speed tip can crack the frame because of the rear pegs

        • Matt

          Bummer. I really like the X800XR, doubt I would ever take it off road.

        • interactive3

          There’s been a lot of talk over the years about the Tiger 800 welded-on rear pegs. However, Riders on adventure bike forums seldom report having any frame problems. I’m sure Triumph would change the design if there was a structural issue.


    Big off road bikes are inherently flawed. The should be called big fire road field bikes. I am bitter today.

  • John B.

    The only drawback to the 1290 Adventure is the chain drive as opposed to shaft drive. Shaft drives require infrequent maintenance compared with chain. How often (miles) does a chain need lubrication and/or tightening? I love the tall seat and upright riding position on these bikes. Great for long distance trips!

  • SpankyPE

    Ridden a few of those….the KLR is still the OR/ADV Swiss blade. For the snobs…see above.