NEW KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo – Review (2022 - on)


Price: £17,899 | Power: 180bhp | Weight: 191kg | Overall BikeSocial Rating: 4½/5


Review – In Brief

Nine years have passed since KTM introduced the 1290 Super Duke. Nine! How can that be? And here I am face-to-face with the fourth generation of the appropriately monikered ‘Beast’, though for 2022 its full title is KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo – and this one is by far the best yet. I’ve ridden a couple of the previous iterations and while the mixture of aggressive riding position, outrageous grunt, boisterous looks, and its ability to cause appreciative nodding and deep exhales after each ride, the combo never really felt as refined as a couple of competitors. In my book, it’s long been the belligerent bridesmaid and never the brilliant bride. Until now.

Taking the components of an already nutty naked whose power and torque figures were more than ample for any non-pro racer, and added more control with semi-active and electronically adjustable suspension, a few engine tweaks, a short-travel throttle, revised switchgear and colours, to leave us with an £18k supernaked ready to stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Aprilia’s Tuono V4 Factory stunner. One of my all-time favourites.

The upgraded suspension adds a whole new dimension to the handling, particularly with the plush and precise nature of the front end. Ironic given that the bike lurves a power wheelie (well, any kind of wheelie really, even uninvited/unintentional ones). Its electronics package contains plenty of rider aids and rider comfort preferences to suit all shapes and sizes plus it offers just as pleasant a ride when trundling about it does buried deep in its comfort zone, marauding around the B-roads or circuits.

It was a week of wide-eyed wandering for Mann and the 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo. It’s quite a mouthful if nothing else.


Pros & Cons
  • Sublime handling, especially front end
  • Semi-active suspension worth every penny
  • Sharp throttle response
  • Underlying hooliganistic tendencies keep the senses alert
  • Pricey once you add the good stuff
  • I’m not sold on the multi-coloured looks
  • Fuel light is a little too eager to show its presence
  • No quickshifter as standard. You’re taking the mick, KTM


Price & PCP
For and against
Engine & Performance
Handling & Suspension (inc. weight & brakes)
Comfort & Economy
Owner Reviews


KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo (2022) Price & PCP

How much is the 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo? It starts at £17,899 which is £1500 more than the standard non-Evo model, yet even with that outlay you don’t get a quickshifter.

The main difference between the two models is the WP’s latest generation of semi-active, electronically adjustable suspension, so all the adjustment is via the switchgear and not courtesy of your spanners and screwdrivers.

On our test model, the Tech Pack had been added which includes the Track pack (9 stage traction control, anti-wheelie mode off, launch control, Performance Mode and Track Mode), quickshifter+, Suspension Pro, MSR (Motor Slip Regulation – balances the throttle and avoids rear wheel lock-ups under deceleration. Is deactivated in Track and Supermoto modes), and an adaptive brake light. All for an extra £1059.18, meaning the bike I rode weighed in at £18,958.

On a PCP deal over 4 years for the standard R Evo model with a £3,000 deposit, you’re looking at less than £390 per month. And it’s available in two colours; Orange/Silver or Blue/Orange, which is a strange combination that has a ‘parts-bin’ look about it in my opinion, though it stands out as a unique colour to the Evo version.


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KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo (2022) Engine & Performance

In time for its release, in 2020, the Super Duke’s 75-degree V-Twin, 1301cc, LC8 engine was updated to conform with Euro 5 emissions regulations and the Austrians even managed to eke out an extra 3 horsepower over the previous generation, with a peak up at 180hp @ 9500rpm, though peak torque was marginally compromised at 140 Nm @ 8000rpm. The KTM’s heart is unchanged for the 2022 R and R Evo versions which is not a problem given that’s still a stonkingly good motor.

To put the mighty torque figure into context, Ducati’s Panigale V4R - hardly a shrinking violet - is all out at a pitiful 124Nm, for example. In all seriousness though, the KTM’s output is designed for a strong pick-up and mid-range boot than out-and-out top line performance. Your face would fall off when trying to drag race a Panigale over 1 mile.

And so, for 2022, that LC8 motor remains untouched with peak performance figures happening higher in the rev range than the first 1290 model. It’s accompanied by a new shorter-travel throttle that results in zero-to-OMG with 10% less turn, making the addiction even more endearing, and the action zone even easier to access. It’s all about judging how much traction control you really need, and then sorting out if/when wheelies are happening… because they will, accidentally or on purpose. Throttle maps that can be altered while riding can help with their levels of electronic mediation, namely Sport, Street, or Rain.

The flexibility of the V-Twin across the whole rev range is not traditionally like a conventional in-line four but KTM’s version with its huge capacity manipulates the governing electronics and tough-yet-refined fuelling to offer a ride quality above 3,000rpm of notably quality which becomes so intense when summoning the might of its torque. All of which will become folklore when in generations to come as children sit at Grandpa’s feet to learn of the Two-faced Austrian Beast.

I think we’d have become great mates if our loan had coincided with a Bennetts track day, though with great power comes great responsibility.



KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo (2022) Handling & Suspension

The reason why the KTM is now ranked so highly in my own personal chart of supernaked super thrillers is because of the new-for-2022, well new-for-the R Evo model, WP Apex second-generation ‘SAT’ (semi-active technology) forks and shock. They feature new magnetic valves, new programming for the suspension control unit and improved sensors compared to previous versions of the firm’s semi-active kit, featured on bikes like the Super Duke GT.

They make an enormous difference to the bike’s handling as well as comfort. So not only do you get a smoother ride, the front end feel allows for lashings of cornering confidence which was the element of this bike that I remarked on first when asked ‘what’s it like?’. Anti-dive adds to positively to the equation and is part of the upgrade to add support when braking to prevent it pitching forwards under hard braking.

As standard, the Evo gets three damping modes – Comfort, Street and Sport – which are self-explanatory in the way they adjust the system’s reactions. The rear preload is also electronically adjustable, with 20mm of possible movement achieved in 10 steps of 2mm each. However, the optional Suspension Pro package is needed to really unlock the system’s potential by adding another three modes to the options – Track, Advanced and Auto.

Track, as the name suggests, is the most hardcore setting, aimed at circuit use. Advanced is a rider adaptable setting, allowing you to choose your own damping levels for the forks and shock from eight possible settings, while Auto is designed to constantly adapt the damping, monitoring your riding style and setting the suspension to suit. As such, it softens in low-speed city riding and firms up when you start to increase the pace.

The Suspension Pro option also adds a trio of automatic preload settings, whereby the system monitors the load on the bike and sets itself to one of three preselected stances. ‘Auto Standard’ keeps the setup neutral, ‘Auto Low’ drops the seat height, making for a less aggressive geometry, and ‘Auto High’ hikes the rear end up, steepening the steering head and loading the front end more for a more track-suited setup.

A further advantage of the Suspension Pro package is that it adds anti-dive, keeping the nose up even when you’re hard on the brakes. It’s not to everyone’s taste, so the anti-dive can be switched off, but it’s another example of the Suspension Pro option maximising the potential of the semi-active system.

Bridgestone’s S22 tyres were fitted as OE on the 2020 1290 Super Duke and thankfully they’ve been retained because they’re a terrific all-rounder. Just as competent in the cold and wet as they are in the warm and dry. I shall reserve judgement on their longevity on this model as well as their track capabilities - which in itself would be interesting to check their performance against the rider modes and suspension options.


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KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo (2022) Comfort & Economy

The compromise between sporty and comfortable has been nailed (for a naked) by KTM in this example. While the foot pegs (two positions) and handlebar angle (four positions over 22mm) are adjustable, the standard riding position suited this six-footer well. Thought the 835mm seat height isn’t exactly lofty but the position of the cylinders and fuel tank lead to the front of the seat being wide enough for shorter riders to be stretching for a flat-foot stance. It’s a deceptive machine too – smaller than you think when stood 20 metres away but climb on and the on-paper power is matched by the solidity. That’s a good thing.

Wide bars give the rider an aggressive stance but they’re neither too wide nor too far away for me and my lengthy limbs. They’re fitted with a decent set of switchgear too with stacks of buttons to push, pull or swipe. They’re relatively simple to get used to, they look neat, but they’ve got a cheap feel about them. The indicator switch is fiddly and like a needy toddler that needs too much attention, it is a little distracting. The high beam switch is too easy to flick as well, much to the dislike of oncoming traffic. On the plus side, I like the quick action two-way button on the top of the right ‘bars which can be programmed for whichever action takes your fancy; throttle maps, MSR, traction, suspension, etc.

The dashboard is smaller than most but colourful and easy to read. Without compromising the overall size of the device, the display area could have been larger.

The fuel tank itself is perched so should a tank bag be your choice of luggage then a) there’s not much space to put it, and b) it’s likely to block your view of the TFT screen. On one 130-mile journey I strapped mine to the pillion seat.  Speaking of which, it was a two-part journey with the outbound stretch deliberately taking me the scenic route across the Lincolnshire Wolds – ideal for testing the suspension settings with a little luggage on board too, while the return leg of 139-miles was 80% motorway. On a naked bike. Yep. Here’s the kicker, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. A bit of obvious windblast was expected but the comfort of the riding position and lack of leg stretching was a pleasant surprise. Cruise control was a godsend too. The official KTM Power Parts options list even includes hand guards, heated grips, a pannier set and a (tiny) fly screen – all of a sudden, we have a naked sports tourer!

Its 16-litre tank returns a claimed 50.4mpg which equates to a range to empty of 177-miles. In the real world, BikeSocial Members have mentioned economy ratings of anywhere between 38-48mpg.



KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo (2022) Equipment

Conscientiously, I’d been reading about the bike before taking delivery and that was a boo-boo because it just confused me, which doesn’t take a lot. It wasn’t until I was perched on the saddle and had the controls at my fingertips did I realise the number of options were fairly familiar to those on most modern day tech-laden machines. It does add to the road-tester’s woes that to be doing you, dear reader, a thorough service, we’d need to be trying the bike in each combination – but that would take months!

Three standard throttle maps can be increased to five should you wish to part with extra funds, and that would increase your rider options even further for a more tailored ride; nine-stage traction control range (using the optional Track mode), anti-wheelie, quickshifter, MSR, and so on.

Then there’s an optional ‘Suspension Pro’ set-up with Track, Advanced and Auto damping modes, on top of Sport, Street and Comfort damping settings, for an extra £250.

To some, this is a blocker because why would they want to be paying for electronics they may not use (I can almost hear the social media comments now), whereas others relish in the ability to personalise the settings depending on the local roads, or fondness for a track day. On top of the rider aids, there’s a plethora of official Power Parts to tempt you.

Worthy of note is the keyless fob; while the practicality and paint preservation around the traditional ignition hole, the fob also activates the fuel cap electronically too. The flip-out key is only needed for the seat. Handy but it needs to be quite close to the receiver – a jacket pocket should suffice.



KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo (2022) Rivals

The supernaked class has been getting broader as each year passes as its popularity versus superbikes grows. MV Agusta produces some of the more premium models such as the Rush 1000 and Brutale 1000RR with price tags nearing £30k, then there’s the relatively more affordable Speed Triple 1200 RS from Triumph and Kawasaki’s Z H2 to name just a couple, though these three are our picks if a Super Duke R Evo is on your shopping list:


Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory | Price: £17,100

Power/Torque: 173bhp/89 lb-ft | Weight: 209kg

Our review


Ducati Streetfighter V4 S | Price: £21,495

Power/Torque: 205bhp/90.4 lb-ft | Weight: 199kg

Our review


Yamaha MT-10 SP | Price: £16,000

Power/Torque: 163.6bhp/82.6lb-ft | Weight: 214kg

Our review (non SP)


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KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo (2022) Verdict

The handling characteristics now match the outrageous performance which boost KTM’s most super of nakeds up the chart of desirability among some fierce and accomplished rivals. Potential and traditional electronic gremlins aside (we’ve heard of one set of issues already), the ‘brilliant bride’ is every bit it’s cracked up to be. While the fuelling and throttle feel are sweet enough for a steady jaunt, the dynamism and aggressive nature when you pull the pin ensures £18k feels like money well spent. A classy chassis, sleek suspension, brilliant Bridgestones, and perky power are a recipe for your happy hormones to get all jiggly. You’ll never be late!


KTM 1290 Super Duke R EVO_Chris from Mansfield


Owner Reviews

I got in touch with BikeSocial members who own either the 2020 or later R or R EVO to hear their thoughts, and while I thank every person who replied, I only have space for three:

Chris from Mansfield (above)

Model: 2022 Super Duke R EVO

Mods: Smoked fly screen, anodised orange clutch and brake levers, heated grips, radiator guard, anodised brake, clutch and rear brake reservoir caps, full titanium Akro exhaust, ergo rider and pillion seats, tail tidy, full tech pack.

Annual mileage: 3,000 (depending on the sunshine)

Riding for: 42 years

I’ve owned two Tuono V4 1100 Factory’s so fancied a change which came in the guise of the SDR. I’ve viewed and tested various bikes over the last couple of years but as soon as I saw the SDR, I knew it was the next chapter for me.

One issue to date, which I thought was to do with the full Akro system. Below 4000 revs then twisting the throttle the bike gave a misfire. KTM dealer Teasdales of Thirsk took the bike back in and sorted a flywheel issue with the help of KTM Austria.  The bike is now as smooth as silk, with the fuelling being excellent throughout the range and if pushed very, very quick with it.

It looks and sounds absolutely amazing whether cruising or pushing up to those speed limits. It’s averaging 48-51mpg, giving a decent tank range for a super naked with just over a 16ltr tank. The ergo seat gives all day comfort, which is very much complimented by the superb WP semi active suspension, giving me full confidence riding on the ever-changing various road conditions. All the tech and equipment works really well making the bike very easy with a surprisingly light feel. The overall package, (which isn’t cheap with all the extras) is very well put together with exceptional fit and quality.


KTM 1290 Super Duke R EVO_Phil Hase


Phil from Stratford upon Avon (above)

Model: 70 plate Super Duke R, owned for 12 months

Mods: Arrow GP race exhaust, replaced the cheap flappy front mudguard for a carbon fibre one, OEM mirrors for bar end version due to the vibrations at motorway speeds.

Annual mileage: 3,000

Riding for: 8 years

I originally tested the Super Duke in January but waited for Triumph to release the Speed Triple before I made my decision. The raw power and the brutal torque delivery was incredible and really gave it character that the Triumph for me was lacking. It’s not perfect however, with it being a V-Twin it can be vibey, the indicator joystick has no feel, and the high beam switch is located in the wrong place which makes it easy to flick on by accident. The positives include the dash; the best I have seen on any Supernaked - the modes are accessible while you are riding, and the power delivery is fantastic. In the 30 zones it is smooth and happy to plod through town but once you’re in the nationals it really comes alive. I am averaging about 47 MPG which isn’t great, but you do get smiles for miles!


KTM 1290 Super Duke R EVO_Philip Bailey


Phil from Shrewbury (above)

Model: 2021 Super Duke R

Mods: Heated grips, the expensive (for what it is) Track-Pack, and an Akrapovič slip-on silencer

Annual mileage: 4,000

Riding for: 45 years

The bike is great fun to ride, and the performance is incredible. This is the only bike I have ever owned that rarely requires the use of full throttle; I have met my match! However, I do have a concern over the longevity of the gearbox. I believe this is the Achilles heel of the machine. Recently, riding back from my dealer after the bile's first annual service, I down-shifted from sixth to fifth using the quick-shifter. The gearbox went into a false neutral and, as I had cruise control engaged, the engine raced straight up to the limiter! In a panic, I was just about to kill the engine with the kill switch, when there was a horrendous clunk from the gearbox and I found myself in fifth. Following this incident, there doesn't appear to be any immediately obvious damage, but it cannot have done the gearbox any good. I now use the clutch when down-shifting. I also don't like the MSR (Motor Slip Regulation) feature as can push you forward when you're not expecting it.

Fuel wise, I get around 38 mpg and it always surprises me how soon after filling-up, the 'FUEL RESERVE' message appears.


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KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo (2022) Technical Specification

New price

From £17,899 (£18,958 as tested)



Bore x Stroke

71 x 108mm

Engine layout

LC8 V-Twin

Engine details



180bhp (134W) @ 9,500rpm


103 lb-ft (140Nm) @ 8,000rpm


6 speed, chain drive

Average fuel consumption

50.4mpg claimed

Tank size

16 litres

Max range to empty


Rider aids

Cornering ABS, Supermoto ABS


Chrome-moly tubular space frame, powder-coated

Front suspension

WP Semi-active Suspension USD Ø 48 mm (GEN.2), 125mm travel

Front suspension adjustment

Electronically adjustable with rider pre-sets

Rear suspension

WP Semi-active Rear Shock (GEN.2), 140mm travel

Rear suspension adjustment

Electronically adjustable with rider pre-sets

Front brake

2 x 320mm disc, Brembo Stylema Monobloc four piston, radially mounted caliper

Rear brake

1 x Xxxmm disc, Brembo twin-piston fixed calliper

Front wheel / tyre

3.5” x 17, 5 spoke forged wheels

Bridgestone S22, 120/70

Rear wheel / tyre

6” x 17, 5 spoke forged wheels

Bridgestone S22, 200/55

Seat height




Weight (dry)



Unlimited miles / 2 years


First service: 620miles (1000km), then every 9,300 miles (15,000km), or every year

MCIA Secured Rating

Not yet rated



Action photos: Simon Hargreaves


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What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.