2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S First Look – Updated

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

UPDATED Jan. 28: KTM says the 1290 Super Adventure S will be available this spring as a 2021 model in Europe, but it will not be coming to North America until the fall as an early 2022 model.

KTM officially announced the new 2021 1290 Super Adventure S, featuring a new frame, a low-slung fuel tank, Euro5 compliance and adaptive cruise control. The announcement confirms details we were first to report in December after the official pages for the 1290 Super Adventure were mistakenly published on KTM’s website. Not announced yet, but expected to come shortly, is the more off-road capable 1290 Super Adventure R which will receive similar updates.

2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R and S Details Leak

The new chassis was designed to improve weight distribution for better handling. KTM moved the steering head back by 0.6 inches and the engine was rotated forward slightly, compared to the 2020 Super Adventure, changes KTM claims will result in sharper cornering. Meanwhile, the swingarm was lengthened for more stability under acceleration.

The fuel tank has the same 6.1-gallon capacity as the 2020 model, but the low-slung saddle-shaped design helps to lower the 1290 Super Adventure S’ center of gravity. The tank has an electronically-opened cap and is integrated with a small storage compartment with a USB charging socket.

A new subframe helps to lower the seat height of the 2021 model by half an inch to 33.4 inches, but if you need more room, it can be raised up to 34.2 inches. The handlebars are also adjustable, as is the new windshield which was optimized through wind tunnel testing.

KTM redesigned the split headlight design to integrate the Bosch radar sensor. The adaptive cruise control system uses data from the radar to automatically adjust cruising speed to keep a safe distance from traffic.

The adaptive cruise control joins a host of electronic rider aids returning for 2021. These include selectable ride modes, lean-sensitive traction control, off-road traction control, cornering and off-road ABS, stability control and self-cancelling turn signals as standard equipment. Motor slip regulation, hill hold control, and a quickshifter are available in an optional upgrade.

To help control the electronics, the 2021 SA receives new illuminated handlebar switches and a seven-inch TFT display (formerly 6.5 inches on the 2020 model).

The 1301cc V-Twin engine claims the same 160 hp output as the 2020 model while the claimed 101.8 lb-ft. of torque is down slightly from the previous model’s 103.2 lb-ft. The engine cases are thinner than on the previous engine, with KTM claiming a 3.5-pound weight reduction. A new dual-radiator and the revised bodywork combine to direct hot air away from the rider’s legs.

The 2021 Super Adventure S receives the latest generation of WP’s Apex semi-active suspension with revised valves to augment damping using data from the 6D IMU. KTM also offers an upgraded suspension package with individual damping for the fork and shock, automatic preload adjustment and an anti-dive setting.

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is not slated to come to North America until the fall as an early 2022 model. It’s unclear if the R model will arrive here any sooner; we’ll know more when the updated 1290 Super Adventure R is officially announced.

2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S Specifications

Engine TypeLiquid-cooled 4-stroke, 75° V-Twin, 4 valves per cylinder / DOHC
Displacement1301 cc
Bore x Stroke108 mm x 71 mm
Power160 hp @ 9,000 rpm (claimed)
Torque101.8 lb-ft. @ 6,500 rpm (claimed)
Compression Ratio13.1:1
Starter / BatteryElectric starter / 12V 11.2Ah
Transmission6 gears
Fuel SystemKeihin EFI (throttle body Ø 52 mm)
LubricationPressure lubrication with 3 Eaton pumps
Engine OilMotorex, SAE 10W-50
Drive525 X-ring chain
Primary Drive41:16:00
Final Drive17:42
ClutchPASC slipper clutch, hydraulically operated
Engine ManagementKeihin EMS with RBW and ACC (adaptive cruise control), double ignition
Traction ControlMTC (lean-angle sensitive, 4 modes, disengageable)
FrameChromium-Molybdenum-Steel trellis frame, powder coated
SubframeAluminum, powder coated
HandlebarAluminum, tapered, Ø 28 / 22 mm
Front SuspensionWP SAT (semi-active technology) Upside-Down Ø 48 mm, 7.9 inches of travel
Rear SuspensionWP SAT (semi-active technology) shock absorber, semi-active, electronically regulated preload, 7.9 inches of travel
Front Brake2 × Brembo 4-piston, radially mounted caliper, brake disc Ø 320 mm
Rear BrakeBrembo 2-piston, fixed caliper, brake disc Ø 267 mm
AbsBosch 10.3ME Combined-ABS (incl. Cornering-ABS and offroad mode, disenengageable)
Front WheelCast aluminum 3.50 x 19″
Rear WheelCast aluminum 5.00 x 17″
Front Tire120/70 ZR 19
Rear Tire170/60 ZR 17
SilencerStainless steel silencer
Steering Head Angle24.7°/4.3 inches
Wheel Base61.3 inches ± 0.6 inches
Ground Clearance8.8 inches
Seat Height33.4-34.2 inches (adjustable)
Tank Capacity6.1 gallons/1.3 gallons reserve
Dry Weightapprox. 485 pounds (claimed)

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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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3 of 9 comments
  • Shlomi Shlomi on Jan 26, 2021

    Why KTM keeps on making ugly bikes?

    • Bruce Bruce on Jan 27, 2021

      Agreed. This would be a great option to replace my aging Multistrada, but damn it is ugly to an entirely higher level. And the level of finish also does not seem to age well.

  • Larry W Larry W on Jan 27, 2021

    Update: Not available in the US. It's a shame that street biased ADVs get so little love here in the US. They're basically big, high performance standards with the latest tech and some wind/weather protection. Also sport-tourers with an upright riding position and less plastic. And they work better than either when the last few miles to your campsite, hot springs, scenic view, etc. is a poorly maintained dirt road.
    If you grew up riding in the dirt I understand buying the off road biased version. If you didn't a 500+lb dirt bike is an expensive and painful place to start. Even the pros crash these a lot in the dirt. If you aren't riding a lot of single track or desert, most of you would be better off with the better handling, less expensive street biased version.