Motorcycle Of The Year Winner: KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
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.
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.
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.
Honorable Mention: Aprilia V-Four Platform
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.
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.