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It takes a really special motorbike to win our MOTY award, and the Super Duke GT comes from premium stock, as it’s based on the winner of our 2014 Motorcycle of the Year, the 1290 Super Duke R. The uncanny beauty of the GT is that it retains the wonderful virtues of the R and expands the platform with a plethora of comfort and convenience updates that enhance the bike’s appeal without appreciably hindering its performance capabilities.

2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT First Ride Review

The addition of cornering ABS, cruise control, heated grips and KTM’s first quickshifter to the Super Duke platform adds to the SDR’s attractiveness, as does standard equipment like electronic tire-pressure monitoring, self-canceling turn signals and LED cornering lights. While it’s true that some of these items have been added to the latest Super Duke R, the GT version receives KTM’s admirable semi-active suspension, comfier adjustable ergonomics, a variable-height windscreen, standard hard-shell saddlebags and the ability to carry up to 500-lbs of humans and luggage thanks to its bespoke subframe.

The Super Duke GT ticks all our boxes of what we like to see in a sport-touring motorcycle, bending toward the sporting side of the S-T spectrum. There are several bikes in the category that boast seats with thicker padding or electrically operated windshields or shaft-driven wheels that don’t require lubing or adjusting, but the 525-lb SDGT (full of 6.1 gallons of fuel) leaves them all feeling heavy, ponderous and dull.

BMW S1000XR vs. KTM 1290 Super Duke GT vs. MV Agusta Turismo Veloce

Among sporty sport-tourers, the GT was the clear winner ahead of BMW’s S1000XR and MV Agusta’s Turismo Veloce, pumping out more power while weighing 25 lbs less than the Beemer and just a handful of pounds more than the MV while boasting a V-Twin engine with 500cc extra than the Italian. The GT’s 153 hp and 94.5 lb-ft of torque topped the trio in that comparo – and anything else with standard saddlebags that you’d consider riding across the country.

That comparison test concluded with this statement that sums up our affection for the KTM: “At the end of the day, motorcycling is about having fun, and none of us needed a stinkin’ scorecard to tell us which bike gave us the biggest thrills.”

So, for the breadth of its capabilities and many ways it elicits grins from the entire MO staff, the Super Duke GT earns our award for the 2017 Motorcycle Of The Year.

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Aprilia’s wickedly fun Tuono 1100 received a few votes from our staffers to win our MOTY award, and we also considered giving our highest accolade to the intoxicatingly formidable RSV4 for its ability to slay all comers in our mega two-part Superbike Shootout. Indeed, we have venerated both by giving our Best Streetfighter/Hooligan honors to the Tuono, while the RSV4 earned our Best Sportbike award.

2017 Aprilia Tuono 1100 RR/Factory First Ride Review

2017 Aprilia RSV4 RR/RF Review – First Ride

We loved the 2016 versions (and 2010 – 2015 versions now that we mention it…. bike of the decade, anyone?), but both models have received several desirable updates for 2017 and are underpinned with similar DNA, such as a racetrack-proven chassis hugging one of the best engines ever bolted to a motorcycle. In its RSV4 guise, there’s 180 raging horses making their way to the rear wheel. The Tuono, with 77cc extra, spits out more power everywhere below 10,000 rpm and also holds a torque advantage over its revvier brother. Either way, the sonic seduction of Aprilia’s wailing V-4 stirs dark and sensual feelings in our collective gut like nothing else on the market.

The 2017 upgrades make the packages more appealing than ever, with color TFT instrumentation, fantastic Brembo M50 brakes, seamless auto-blipping quickshifters, Bosch cornering ABS – and even cruise control!

Harsh critics may bitch about Aprilia’s relatively sparse dealer support or engine heat that gets overbearing while sitting in traffic. But we don’t know of anyone who has taken a good, hard ride on the latest RSV4 platform and not emerged without a massive and devilish smile on their face. If you’re looking for maximum sport from your bike and a jail-baiting grin factor, Aprilia’s V-4 platform is impossible to beat.

2016 Motorcycle Of The Year

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  • Old MOron

    If you MOrons had posted this earlier, I could’ve agreed with you sooner. It makes sense that the sport tourer take MOTY honors. We MOrons want to be sporty, but we don’t want our ride to be short-lived.

  • JMDGT

    Every year motorcycling gets better. KTM and Aprilia are two off the greats.

    • spiff

      Add Yamaha, and you have my top 3. A good time for me in the world of motorcycles.

  • Mad4TheCrest

    I guess to get MOTY a bike needs to have won its category, and the Duke GT is worthy, but my heart and vote would go to one of the brands that stepped up this year with all-new bang up to the minute models after years of doldrums, and I’d give the nod to Honda’s CBR1000. It didn’t win SBOTY, but it won a few shootouts and damn, we’ve got to reinforce that kind of behavior at Big Red.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Also the new Suzuki GSX-R1000.

  • SteveSweetz

    Bike of excess. Can’t even get close to WOT on an FJ-09 on any road that matters. Another 50hp seems crazy to me. Gimmie the electronics in a bike with 400 fewer ccs and 50 fewer lbs, for 6000 fewer $s.

    I would have given it to the new Rebels. An inspiring Corolla is more important than a good Ferrari, especially with how the industry is right now.

    • spiff

      You don’t need to hold it WFO. That is the beauty of this engine. It just has power everywhere without hesitation. If you are going to squirt in and out of traffic this thing will get it done. You even get to choose the gear. It does all this without being intimidating, the manners of an SV650, and 45mpg.

    • spiff

      You know I think you bring up a good point comparing the gt to a Farrari. I know car a guy that is trying to justify the price of a 1LE Camero. Very nice car that is modestly priced compared to some of the other options in the market. That car is twice the price of the gt. Motorcyclists are lucky. We can buy a quality first ride for the cost of a pricey vacation. Or, we can go all out and buy the dream bike, go on the vacation, and still be out less than the cost of a decent muscle car. Depending on what bike you dig you could be out less than a base Camero. Don’t get me wrong, this crap is expensive, but it is still obtainable.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        I lane split every weekday and ride by Jaguars, Maseratis, Teslas and countless other expensive cars stuck in traffic, while I go home and enjoy my dinner and consider myself lucky. I wouldn’t take one of those cars even if it was given to me (I would sell it). I have a car that I haven’t ridden in eight months.

    • Chip Diller

      Have you checked out the Ninja 1000? Sounds like the answer to your concerns.

  • John B.

    The Duke GT earned the highest first ride score of any motorcycle MO reviewed this year. As such, the Motorcycle of the Year Award makes sense. Nevertheless, I think this category has become too broad.

    Perhaps three (3) categories would make more sense:

    1. Sport Bikes adapted for touring;

    2. Traditional Heavyweight Shaft Driven Sport-Tourers; and

    3. Adventure (chain driven) Sport Tourers.

    Also, I would be interested to know the maximum mileage anyone on the MO staff traveled on the Duke GT in one day. For those of us who live in the country’s midsection, the ability comfortably to cover 600-700 miles in a day at a trip’s outset and conclusion is a necessity, and a motorcycle’s relative comfort level reveals itself at those distances.

    • Matt Gustafson

      There is a point to be made there. The sport touring category is extremely wide and diverse, with some leaning heavily towards sport, and some leaning heavily to touring, and all the others that are at some point in between. The category should be split for the sake of clarity. The same could also be said for the adventure bike category, but that’s a debate for another time.

    • Jon Jones

      Great points, all.

    • Kevin Duke

      While I agree the S-T category could be split into those three, we already have more Best Of categories than any other publication uses. And then there’s crossover crowding. For example, our recent 3-way S-T comparo included the SDGT and an S1000XR. Are those sportbikes adapted for touring or ADV bikes adapted for avoiding dirt?

      • Sayyed Bashir

        This is the best of times for motorcycling. I hope the government safety nazis don’t try to kill it.

    • Brent

      Already has…. BMW has moved bikes people once considered sports touring to Touring. check BMW referencing of the bikes.

      C14 has rumors of being replaced with a smaller bike due to Euro 4..
      FJR and Norge might be your last big bikes people are considering sport touring still, but the manufacturers look to have abandoned the big sport tourer bike.

      • John B.

        Interesting. I could see the heavyweight sport tourers (Concours, FJR) disappearing relatively soon. I like the shaft drive on long trips, but I also want a bike that is fun in the mountains. So many choices….

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Wow! KTM gets five category wins plus one honorable mention. I agree that the bikes are not cheap but you get a lot more than you pay for. KTM’s design philosophy is “only the essentials – but only the finest essentials”.

  • Matt Gustafson

    I just test rode one today, and I couldn’t agree more. This machine is like a rabid wolf with impeccable manners. The one I rode had the akropovic slip on, which gave off such an intoxicating baritone snarl. And the handling and riding position were perfect. KTM may very well have rewritten the rules on how to make a sport touring bike.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I have heard the term “caged animal” but “rabid wolf” is a new one. I have the 1190 Adventure R and I never ride it in Sport mode or with the traction control turned off. It is wild enough as it is. Unfortunately I don’t have the Akrapovic exhaust as I was unwilling to shell out $1,100 for it.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    It seems that KTM is buying MO awards in bulk! And if they do, more power to them – they very well deserve it.
    P.S. If KTMs could need more power…

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Next year everybody else will step up their game 🙂

  • KTM and Aprilia definitely stepping up to boost the competition. This means, great bikes for us!

    • hipsabad

      My MOTY choice woulda been from a manufacturer even more obscure than those two: the Husqvarna 701SM

      • Sayyed Bashir

        The Husqvarna is not obscure. Everyone knows Stefan Pierer of KTM owns it. There is no category for supermotos. We have so much variety in motorcycles that MO would need 25 categories instead of 15 to cover them all. Still the 701SM would not make MOTY because it is not universally useful. A sport tourer is more general purpose. You can do grocery shopping, commuting, touring or canyon carving on the same bike.

        • hipsabad

          By your logic Aprilia and KTM are no more obscure than Honda cuz everyone’s heard of Aprilia, right? I don’t see how a ‘superbike’ or a ‘street fighter/hooligan’ or ‘dirtbike’ or ‘electric’ is any more what you’ve proclaimed as “universally useful”… I do “grocery shopping, commuting, touring or canyon carving” all the time on my supermoto. YMMV. I merely expressed a subjective preference; somehow that irritated you?

          • Sayyed Bashir

            How do you do grocery shopping on a supermoto? Or touring? You have saddlebags on it? MO is evaluating bikes based on their primary purpose and as they come from the factory. There is no place to store anything, let alone grocery or luggage on a SM. Any bike can be used to do anything, but the MOTY is awarded to the bike that is specifically designed for that purpose.

          • hipsabad

            How do you go grocery shopping on a ‘Superbike’? How do you do the same or go touring on the MOTY honorable mention, the Aprilia V-Four Platform. Or for that matter on a dirtbike? There is no place to store anything on either. I missed the part about the winners having to be groceryable. In actual fact, you can put saddle bags on most bikes–even supermotos–ask me how i know.

  • spiff

    I thought the Triumph 765 was going to get it.

  • SRMark

    I just love what Suzuki has done. The revamp of the Gladius, the GSX-S750 and 1000 show they really understand value and performance. For the majority of us in motorcyleland that’s what we will buy. Honda has done the same thing. Yamaha too. Nothing ridiculously (R1 excluded) good and nothing ridiculously expensive. Maybe some recognition of the best selling bike of the year might be a better way of judging this category.

    • Jon Jones

      Very good point.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I was also sad to see that the GSX-R1000 was not chosen as the Best Sportbike of the Year. But it wouldn’t have made the grade as the Motorcycle of the Year.

  • mog

    SDGT at a mere 525 pounds heft? At $18 to $19k?
    What ever happened to MCs that were fast, light, handled well, owner fixable and less than 10% of a workers annual salary? See the picture below of a 20+hp 350cc single that was in that $ ballpark when I was a tad younger. 14.85 in the quarter mile at 101mph. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cd471c6ae167ce2a1652790cfcbad674a2c5732d1e8bbf404e04e83285c5ae2d.jpg Of course it is not a touring machine either but the dollars and grins were outstanding. My first MC was a Ducati 125cc Bronco for both street and scrambles track.

    This begs the question, why does the MC of the year have to be big and expensive?
    Does MC of the year have a minimum horsepower, weight or price? It takes a lot of work to find and test and winnow away the competition but it might be worthwhile next year to have a top dollar and a low dollar that have the “appeal”.

    This type of bike in general is just way off the chart for most readers. Although it is a great bike, the dollar per millimeter of grin factor is absurd, if your are not in the top percentage of wage earners (or if you want another huge mortgage).

    Nice review though and certainly a nifty bike, well done folks.

    • Kevin Duke

      “What ever happened to MCs that were fast, light, handled well, owner fixable and less than 10% of a workers annual salary?” I encourage you to see our choices for Value and Lightweight awards.

      • mog

        All have been very good replies to my post. None have addressed the following….

        “”but it might be worthwhile next year to have a top dollar and a low dollar (smaller bike, beginner bike be creative) that have the “appeal””. Both in the same article.

        A number of comments have even mentioned great smaller bikes. It is an idea that you may or may not want to use. An idea I feel would be tough to do but definitely set you apart from the competition in a favorable way, in my opinion.

        Keep up the good work.

    • HazardtoMyself

      Is $18-$19k really that unreasonable? I guess it depends on use. If an occasional weekend toy, sure its little pricey. Plenty of other options for much less money though.

      Using it as actual transportation, not too bad. The price of cars has been going up as well. I read something the other day that said an average car payment today is $500 -$600. You could spend more on a base model Civic than the fully loaded KTM.

    • Yamaha still offers the SR400, it’s a good match for that to which you are referring. It’s not even in the same universe as a bike of the year candidate, because it advances precisely zero aspects of any of the motorcycling arts. It’s a great little bike, same as it was 30 years ago.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Owner fixable is a thing of the past. They went the way of the dodo bird. Have you worked on your car recently? Smaller and cheaper bikes are still available. In fact there are a lot of them. New ones are coming out every day. But they don’t make the grade as the bike of the year.

    • hipsabad

      how bout a lightweight 373cc single with an added 20 hp making it 40+hp, and with a smoother engine and more comfortable ergos than that Ducati single? 390Duke !!

  • kenneth_moore

    There’s no arguing the objective measurements and features that made the KTM your MOTY winner. However, I think the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce is the most beautiful motorcyle I’ve ever seen. I still have your photo of it from the 3-way shootout as my computer desktop image. Every time my PC starts up I stop and stare at it.

    The big KTMs seem to have no style at all. They’re just collections of components. I know looks are by definition superficial, but to me they’re very important.

    • Stephen Miller

      KTMs definitely have a their own look, a style that’s very angular, mechanical, and aggressive. Is it attractive? Not exactly. But it’s not just a collection of parts.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    MO is doing this better than any other motorcycling magazine. I hope they don’t get bought out by Bonnier 🙁

  • Junker

    KTM is killing it. I remember reading maybe a year or so ago they were the top seller in Europe. I thought maybe they benefit from so many dirt bike sales, but they will never own the road there, and certainly not in the US.

    I don’t know any more. They’ve been showing up on these lists (not just MO) for several years now. I used to never see any in the flesh here in TN, but they are seen pretty regularly now. They were almost totally absent on the local used market, but now they are starting to appear there, too.

    I wonder if they could tone down the styling if they could actually do it, at least in the premium space. Love my 1190A.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      I have a 1190 R. KTM wants to differentiate itself from the competition not just in performance but appearance too. You never doubt what it is when you see a KTM. They take race winning performance and put it into bikes you can buy. No one else can duplicate their performance or looks.

      • Alexander Pityuk

        While I’m not a fan of KTM styling (except for 390 and maybe SD it’s appropriate), I agree that KTM’s brand recognition is unmatched.

  • Tpet

    Maybe you shouldn’t not use more negatives than your editors can count!