Best Streetfighter/Hooligan Motorcycle of the Year Winner: KTM 1290 Super Duke R


To date, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R’s perch atop Streetfighter Mountain remains unassailable. Last year’s two-time winner – Bike of the Year and Best Streetighter/Hooligan – returns this year retaining its Best Streetfighter title. From our initial First Ride Review of the SDR to its winning three shootouts last year (2014 Super Streetfighter Smackdown + Video, 2014 Super Naked Street Brawl + Video, 2014 Ultimate Streetfighter Finale + Video) the SDR has proven to be the benchmark in the Streetfighter/Hooligan category.

Viewed from its bits and pieces, the formula seems simple: big V-Twin engine wrapped in a trellis frame and suspended by a quality fork and shock. Ducati’s done it, and Aprillia, so what’s so special about the KTM? It all boils down to the SDR’s magic combination of power, performance, handling and comfort. It’s fast enough to be considered for Best Sportbike, comfortable enough to be considered for Best Sport-Tourer, efficient enough to be considered for Best Standard, and multi-faceted enough to be considered for Best Off-Road/Adventure bike.

You’ll normally hear me mention in shootout videos something about price and how it affects my purchasing decision. But when it comes to the 1290 Super Duke R and its $16,999 MSRP, I’ll gladly fork over the cash no questions asked. If I were to have only one motorcycle sitting in my garage, this would be the one. The same can be said for several other MO editors. If you’re still unconvinced, find a demo model SDR and take it for a ride. Be prepared, however, for your wallet to be $17k lighter.

Honorable Mention: Aprilia Tuono V4 1100


The streetfighter category ascended to new heights in 2014 thanks to a bumper crop of thrilling new contenders. At the top was KTM’s entry seen above, but the Super Duke also had BMW’s new S1000R to deal with, plus a new Ducati Monster 1200, a thoroughly revised Kawasaki Z1000, and MV Agusta’s sexy Brutale 1090RR. But we couldn’t crown the ultimate winner until we were able to bring the Aprilia Tuono V4R to the ring, as it was the reigning class champ. In the end, the Tuono was dethroned after the roomy KTM and the agile BMW both proved to be more versatile and more powerful, even though the Tuono subjectively remained a favorite.

2014 Ultimate Streetfighter Finale + Video

But now comes a Tuono with updates that address almost all of our previous concerns. Headlining the changes is the V-4 engine with 77cc of extra displacement that dramatically increases midrange power from what might be the sweetest-singing motor we’ve ever heard. Sportier steering geometry yields better agility, and new brake pads improve responses at the lever.

2016 Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR First Ride Review

But there’s more than just higher levels of performance in the Tuono 1100. The former tall and hard seat has been swapped for a comfier one with a lower height, while the fairing surrounding new headlights is wider and deflects more wind. The Tuono’s suite of electronic rider aids enjoy updated tuning for traction and wheelie controls, ABS and ride modes. Aprilia’s V4-MP app can link your smartphone to the Tuono, allowing it to record data such as lean angle and speeds and much more.

The Tuono 1100 Factory and its Ohlins suspension retails for $16,299, which undercuts the Super Duke R by $700. Even more appealing is the $14,599 MSRP of the Tuono’s RR version, which features an electronics package – including a quickshifter – that costs extra on the BMW and is unavailable on the KTM. So, for less than $15k, a Tuono 1100 makes for a versatile streetbike, a competent track machine, a riotous hooligan, and a confident poser at any moto hangout. Plus, the seductive Italian comes with that delicious V-4 motor that charms every ear that hears it. Best of 2015 Categories

  • Ser Samsquamsh

    Darth Vader’s bike wins again!

  • The SD-R is at the top of my list right now for a personal bike to own. However, following a spirited two day ride to Laguna Seca and back, I now see some competition in the form of BMW’s S1000XR. They are in different Genres, but they execute the mission with equal aplomb. The SD-R does sound better, have more torque and way less buzzy bars though.

    • Old MOron

      Good info. Thanks, Sean. I believe the S1000XR might by John’s new favorite, too.

      Oh, wait a minute! What’s all this about taking the XR to Laguna Seca? What sort of comapro were you MOrons up to?!

      • Just a non-editorial business trip with the sales staff.


    I have always had a soft spot for theTuono. Something about the KTM just doesn’t do it for me but I can’t put my finger on it. It may be brand bias on my part because the BMW is in my top five.

    • Steve Cole

      The Tuono does it for me as well.

      • spiff

        I was on board with you guys until I sat on the Tuono. Kind of felt like a monkey on a football. I haven’t rode any of them, but I lust the KTM.

        • randy the great

          Ride one. Once you twist the throttle it’s over 🙂

  • Ducati Kid

    KTM devotees,

    Perhaps a future KTM ‘Super Duke R’ Sport Tourer as suggested by this Concept?

    Does this suggest an attractive ‘Bug Eyed’ motorcycle replete with L.E.D. Headlights?

  • JerryMander

    You’d think this article would have a link to your review of the winner.

    • Kevin Duke

      Well, it has links to the shootout finale and the 2014 Bike of the Year, and those have links to the two other shootout articles with the KTM and the single-bike review.

      • nicklove

        Hi Kevin, how does the gsxsthou and tuono1100 compare with the group of 2014 shootout. Is there a significant increase of low down torque in the new 1100, have they improved the riding position for the street or is it still more track focused compared to all the others, and where does the gsxs fit in. From Johns review of the gsxs, it seems there wasn’t enough time for him to see if the bumpy ride could be dialed out and the throttle jerkiness rumours floating around need to be clarified. Is it ahead of the Kwaka? Does it need ohlins to be a winner? What’s missing with the cheaper bikes and is there an easy cost effective fix? In Australia the Kwaka is asking 15k, gsxsthou 15-16k, bimmer dds 20-21k, Tuonorr 22-23,factory 26,sdr23-24. Can the average guy buy a 15-16k kwaka or gsxs and fix whatever is missing? Cheers to the great work you guys do.

        • Kevin Duke

          We’re investigating. Stay tuned!

  • How the KTM can win this over the Aprilia and BMW just blows my mind. It seems like everything I read on these three bikes says that the Aprilia and BMW both beat the KTM is basically every objective measure, but over and over people pick the KTM. I guess I need to find one and ride it for myself to see what it is people are going nuts over.

    • Kevin Duke

      By which objective measures do the Tuono and BMW beat the KTM, other than price? Anyway, I predict a test ride on one will leave you smitten, as it has for all the MO editors.

      • Steve Cole

        Well, the Tuono has beaten the KTM in most objective tests. Acceleration, top speed, electronics package, high speed handling, et al I don’t see being too disappointed in any of these bikes really, though I don’t particularly want either a BMW or an inline-4 for the street, so that’s it for the S1000R, then.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    Hum-hum, it’s interesting whether they once again will give MOTY award to SDR. It’s a hard decision: the bike is well worth it, but they just can’t do it 2 times in a row, or can they? I guess not, it’s not only about how good the bike is, it’s also about what it brings to the industry/history.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Or one could take an old GSXR1000 and build a highly effective tool of mayhem for a lot less like the fine example shown below. Bonus, such a bike is true to the ideal of a streetfighter. Love the performance if not the origami styling of the new KTM, but not made of money.

    We have all said why not take the sport bike and release from the factory without dumbing down the engine. It seems the Japanese simply won’t do it, while the Euro manufacturers are willing to. Good on KTM, Aprilia and BMW for getting it. Such a pity Suzuki did not simply drop a full on K5 engine in their new GSX1000. That would be in the hunt and an even bigger winner in the bang for the buck contest.


  • Fabio Yandell

    The EBR 1190SX will spank that BMW S1000XR BRING IT ON 185 HP and 101 lbs of torque..

  • John B.

    I think my next bike will come from this category. The MO crew has raved consistently about Super Duke, and it has the best ergos for my 6’3″ frame. My eyes prefer the Tuono (not thrilled with the Duke’s orange color or styling), however, and 2014 Tuono closeouts cost $12-$13,000, which is substantially less than the Duke. For me, comfort matters more than style, so its the Duke.

  • Auphliam

    Just curious, but did Triumph just quit giving you guys bikes? Wondering why we haven’t seen a MOron on an ST-R for a couple years. One would think it would at least be added entertainment in Streetfighter battles, you know, since they pretty much invented the genre lol

    • Kevin Duke

      Less than two years ago we did this shootout with both Triumph ST-Rs. We’ll be getting a Street Triple RX as soon as Triumph gets one in its press fleet. Triumph hasn’t released many new models lately.