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.
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.
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.
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.