2024 KTM 1390 Super Duke R EVO Review – Track Test

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

A second go on KTM’s uber beast

Action photography by Sebas Romero. Trackside stills by Emanuel Tschann. Studio photography by VISUS STUDIOS.

My original review of KTM’s 2024 1390 Super Duke R EVO was cut short due to bad weather. A track test always gets the heart racing, but when you combine an extremely powerful motorcycle in the Super Duke with a particularly tricky and challenging track like Almeria with cold, rain, and the lack of wet weather tires, the risk-to-reward ratio wasn’t in my favor.

2024 KTM 1390 Super Duke R EVO

Track testing KTM's biggest beast reveals something we already knew – it's a wild animal.


  • Torque for days
  • Roomy and comfortable
  • All the electronics you could ever need


  • Engine runs out of steam on top
  • You feel the lack of aero... if you're well into the triple digits
  • Love/hate relationship with the electronic suspension

Fast forward a few weeks and I’ve found myself at the Portimao Circuit with another 1390 SDR, this time in perfect conditions and on slick tires. Because we’ve already covered the specs and details of the 1390 Super Duke R EVO – the only version we’re getting in the US, remember – I’m going to jump ahead to the track impressions right off the bat. If you need a refresher on the 1390 SDR, click on the review above or the link below to get yourself up to speed.

Jumping Into The Deep End

Never fails – the photographer is camped out in the second corner during my first lap at this track in several years.

It’s been some time since I last lapped the Portimao track. Of course I’ve watched plenty of videos online, and I vaguely remember where the track goes, but there’s nothing like hopping on and riding to get yourself up to speed. The assembled group would be rotating between the 1390s, KTM’s RC8c (which you can read about here), and the 990 Duke (to come in a future track review), with each person getting two sessions per bike – so, not a lot of time. Deep down inside I was hoping to get started on anything other than the 1390, but not only would my first laps of the day be aboard the 1390, mine would have a smattering of KTM’s PowerParts accessories. So much for taking it easy.

In my short time riding the stock 1390 at Almeria, the mid-range power from the LC8 V-Twin was mind-blowing – even in the wet. In the dry at Portimao, coupled with a little extra horsepower from the Akrapovic exhaust, the gargantuan pull from the big Twin reconfirmed the feelings I felt the first time. The Super Duke’s torque is incredible, making my reacclimation to the track a little harder than I expected.

The Super Duke still felt wide like I remembered it before, but still manageable. From here, talking about suspension and chassis dynamics is a bit irrelevant in this case because the kitted bike had upgraded cartridges in the analog Apex suspension – and we’re getting fully electronic suspenders in the States. So, as fun as the accessorized version was, it makes more sense to turn our attention to the standard bike.

Let’s Try This Again

Even aboard a stock 1390, with my brain acclimated to the track, the power was still the defining feature. But maybe not in the way you might expect. KTM were very clear about top-end horsepower not being the outright goal with engine development. In fact, the CamShift technology doesn’t do much in terms of top end (not that you need it with 190 horses at your call). The magic comes in the midrange power, and even without the PowerParts added, the Super Duke still pulls like little else out there.

Here’s the catch. As I followed other riders, including some on the RC8c, the effects of aerodynamics and power-to-weight came into play. Slotted in behind an RC8c coming onto Portimao’s front straight, both bikes in top gear with throttles wide open, I couldn’t reel in the RC8c. Despite a 60-horsepower advantage on my part, the Super Duke is carrying over 100 pounds more weight without any wind protection. The effects on top speed are very real at this point, and it’s not in the naked bike’s favor.

Interestingly enough, as the SDR climbed towards the northern region of its tachometer, where torque isn’t at play anymore and horsepower matters, I could feel the big Twin signing off long before reaching redline. Whereas earlier I was left in awe by the bike’s torque, now I was looking for more power, or better aero, to catch the “little” bike ahead. Granted, we were approaching 150-ish mph by this point, but considering how brutish the SDR is, this experience reinforced KTM’s commitment to torque from this engine.

I fully expected the Super Duke to walk away from the RC8c on the front straight. It did not.

Eventually we had to slow down and the Brembo framework of the SDR’s braking system held true to the company name. As I built up my bravery and attempted to brake later and later, the big Duke had no issues, even as I scrubbed speed down the huge hill entering turn 1. The MCS master cylinder delivers excellent feedback, while the stopping power from the 320mm discs and Stylema calipers never wavered lap after lap. It’s possible the KTM’s ABS kicked in at points, as I felt a little pulsing at the lever when I was squeezing hard, but it was so minor I could have mistaken it for a slightly misaligned rotor for all I know. I only mention this because traditionally it’s very obvious when ABS kicks in, as the lever pulses dramatically.

The Super Duke continues to be a big and roomy motorcycle, with plenty of space to move around on the bike. This combined with the wide bars gives the rider tons of leverage to flick the bike on its side, though the seat/tank junction is a little wide for my taste and thus spreads my knees out a little wider than I’d like. But that’s a personal preference. This doesn’t stop the Super Duke from being able to change direction as well as it does, but the experience can take some getting used to if you’re coming from a traditional sportbike background.

Admittedly, making changes at the push of a button beats getting your hands dirty with wrenches and spanners – but analog suspension still has its place.

My gripe, however, comes from the electronic suspension. It feels as though you’re riding at the top of the stroke. Further, the components tried to keep the bike level despite the preferred forward weight bias for track riding. The good news is those adjustments can be made at the push of a button. The bad news is one 15-minute session wasn’t nearly enough to dial it to my liking. Still, because the electronic damping is constantly trying to account for road conditions, it’s constantly changing – even just a tiny bit. At the track, where the surface isn’t going to change from my first lap to the last, There’s no need for these micro adjustments.

I said in my original review of the 1390 Super Duke that this was not the bike to chase lap times on (if that’s your thing), and now I’m even more convinced. It’s a beast, not a scalpel (to use KTM’s own words), with an engine to satisfy even the most power-hungry riders out there. It’s made to satisfy torque junkies who want to hoist wheelies, leave darkies out of every corner, and challenge their arms to stay in their sockets. And for that, it’s glorious. The fact that it handles better than it should, stops with equal aplomb, and has the street cred to back up its performance is just icing on the cake. This would make a fun backroad bomber, and there’s obviously more than enough performance to let the bike eat during a trackday. Just make sure to set aside a hefty tire budget.

During my initial cold and wet trackday with the 1390 Super Duke R Evo I called the bike ridiculous. It still is. It’s more bike than any of us need, but bless all the people at KTM for allowing this thing to see the light of day. It’s more bike than I care to own, but it’s also a reminder that there are companies like KTM willing to blatantly go overboard in search of the biggest thrills.




















Editors Score: 90.0%

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Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at Motorcycle.com in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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2 of 5 comments
  • John B John B on May 29, 2024

    Before you buy any KTM motorcycle, join a couple of model-specific Facebook groups for the bike that interests you. See what owners have to say.

  • Dwf77863396 Dwf77863396 on Jun 01, 2024

    I have a 2016 SDR, with ~51K mi. My favorite backroad SPORT touring bike of 50 yrs of licensed riding. An aftermkt shield sure helps (there is something that will work on the '24, I'm sure). The '24 is actually less roomy than the older bikes. E-suspension needs to go away (it's for noobs), manual adjust is far better - the analog version needs to be imported to the US.

    The Beast is not a track bike, as you determined. Lower bars and a small screen would help a lot, but the bike is out of its element on the track. Put it on an endlessly curvy backroad, though, (where the vast majority ride/want to ride) and just immerse yourself in the low/mid range monster torque - there's no other engine like it, and the light bike weight makes it easy to whip side to side.

    Sure the engine "run's out of steam up top", it's designed to, and the Euro 5 tuning makes it even more of a midrange heavy power curve, making it an even better street, not track, engine.