2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure Revealed in Patent Filings

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

The 1290 is getting a low-slung fuel tank

KTM has filed a patent application for a new low-slung saddle-shaped fuel tank, and the illustrations suggest it will be used on a new 1290 Super Adventure. KTM first introduced the rally-style tank design on the 790 Adventure R, and a similar design has since made it to the 890 and 390 Adventure models. It seems natural, then, that we would see the 1290 Super Adventure get a similar design.

The illustrations included in the patent, filed in May with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office following an earlier filing in Germany, show two depictions of the same motorcycle, with and without tank covers and a seat. As illustrated below, the engine appears to be the 1290 Adventure’s 75° V-Twin and a trellis frame and subframe that is similar in structure, but with a few changes. We used the engine and swingarm pivot as the common point of reference here, because that gave us the closest comparison.

The fuel tank sits on top of the frame and follows the frame before arcing forward toward the bottom of the radiator. This creates an opening in the bodywork behind the radiator for heat dissipation. The subframe looks new, along with a new seat design. The swingarm is also new, with a slightly kinked design.

With the tank covers and seat removed, we can see a little more of the engine and the frame.

From the juxtaposition, it looks like the seat is lower on the frame than on the 2020 model; that doesn’t necessarily mean the seat height is lower, as we used the engine and not the wheel position as the common reference point. The windscreen, however, is significantly taller than the one on the 2020 model. We can only see the side of the headlight, but we expect it will have a new design to accommodate the Bosch radar unit to enable adaptive cruise control. KTM previously discussed testing the system on a 1290 Super Adventure S, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see it on the 2021 model. We should also expect a rear-facing radar unit for blind spot detection.

The illustrations show wire spoke wheels, with helpfully-labelled Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires. Showing the tire labels is a bit unusual for a patent illustration, but Pirellis are the stock tires for the 1290 Super Adventure S. The lack of engine bars suggest the drawing is of the S model, but we expect the S will come with cast wheels while the wire spoke wheels will come on the R model.

The fuel pump is located at the bottom of the left tank body while the fuel level meter is at the bottom of the right tank body. A hose connects the two tank bodies at the bottom, helping keep the fuel level equal in either side.

Most of the patent deals with the structure of the fuel tank, specifically how the main left and right tank bodies connect to the top unit where the filler cap is located. The benefits of the saddle-shaped design is a lower center of gravity, but because it extends downward instead of to the sides like on some large adventure-touring models, it keeps the width narrower.

Figure 16 shows the process of how fuel fills the two main tank bodies and how the air in the tank is displaced.

A large part of the patent deals with the tank’s venting. When you fill a tank with gas, you need somewhere for the air to exit. Each half of the tank has two vent tubes; a lower main tube and a secondary tube mounted higher with a valve. As the tank begins to fill, air is vacated through the lower tube. Once the fuel reaches the level of the lower tube, the gas starts to fill the central reservoir (labelled #17 in the figure above). As you continue adding fuel, the valves on the secondary tubes open, letting the air at the top of the two side tanks out and allowing the fuel in the reservoir to flow out.

The patent also mentions one interesting aspect of the fuel filler cap: it can be locked electromagnetically. Instead of using a key, the cap can be locked or unlocked remotely.

KTM typically announces its adventure models at EICMA, but with no motorcycle shows this year, we expect an announcement to come later this month.

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Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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