Here at we’ve made no secret about the KTM 1290 Super Duke R being one of our favorite motorcycles, even going so far as to name it our 2014 Motorcycle of the Year. Since then, however, KTM’s competition has been upping their games in order to make their bikes compete with the almighty Super Duke. So, naturally, KTM had to respond, and it’s done so with this heavily revamped 2017 1290 Super Duke R, unveiled today at EICMA 2016.

While visually it’s unmistakably a 1290 SDR, beneath the surface lies numerous changes to make the baddest of the Streetfighter class even badder. We begin at the heart of the matter: The 1301cc LC8 V-Twin. The new version gets 10mm shorter velocity stacks for broader power and an increase in compression ratio to 13.6:1 (from 13.2:1). The titanium intake valves now have a flat surface and chromium nitride coating. New resonators beneath the engine offer smoother bottom-end power. When it’s all added up, KTM says the new engine puts out 177 hp at the crank. In our testing of the now previous generation SDR, we’ve managed to get around 154 hp to the wheel. If we account for 10% driveline loss, that should put the new engine at around 160 horses to the back tire – on par or better than its rivals.

A lack of power was never something we've complained about with the 1290 Super Duke R, but now one of our favorite motorcycles is even more powerful for 2017.

A lack of power was never something we’ve complained about with the 1290 Super Duke R, but now one of our favorite motorcycles is even more powerful for 2017.

Harnessing all that power is KTM’s tried-and-true steel trellis frame, but with new suspenders at both ends. The inverted 48mm WP fork is fully adjustable and now features separate damping circuits in each fork leg along with stiffer springs and sportier settings. In the rear, the WP shock also sees a stiffer spring to complement the front. Putting that power to the ground is a set of Metzeler M7RR tires.

That wraps up the standard upgrades for the SDR, but optional dealer-installed upgrades include the KTM Performance Pack that combines Motor Slip Regulation (an electronic aid that reduces rear wheel chatter if the slipper clutch can’t keep up), quickshifter (allowing clutchless shifts in both directions), and KTM MY RIDE, a Bluetooth connection between the SDR and the rider’s smartphone to control audio playback and manage phone calls.

A TFT display replaces the LCD gauge seen on the previous SDR, and it's a stunner.

A TFT display replaces the LCD gauge seen on the previous SDR, and it’s a stunner.

Further dealer-installed upgrades include the closed-course only Track Pack, which allows for a Track ride mode, giving the rider three Drive Modes, the ability to disable wheelie control, adjust traction control slip settings, and provide launch control.

From there, subtle styling changes mark the difference between the 2017 SDR and old. There’s a new split LED headlight design with LED daytime running lights, and revised bodywork with a sharper rear end, tank spoilers and air intake for a more aggressive stance. The handlebar is also wider and lower than before for a more sporty riding position. Other updates include a TFT dash display to replace the LCD gauge of yore, a keyless ignition system, and… cruise control!

Pricing has not yet been released as of press time.

Follow the rest of our 2016 EICMA show coverage

  • spiff

    Looks cool, but I don’t like the idea of a sportier riding position. I liked the seating position.

  • Born to Ride

    Hopefully that big color panel isn’t completely worthless in the sun. Previous SDR instrumentation was about as good as it gets for me. Digital speedo, big analog tach, and separate panel for the electronic suite. Why is this stupid “feature” a must on all new flagship bikes?

    • spiff

      I am with you on an analog tach. The new screen will probably be nice, but I like a real tach (one you can rotate so you shift point is always at 12 o’clock).