KTM 1290 Super Adventure S Launch Review


Up against the likes of the BMW GS and Ducati Multistrada, KTM know the new 1290 has a lot to prove. And having invested over €150 million back into R&D, the Super Adventure S has arrived packed to the brim with technology.

Boasting 160bhp the 1290 is the most powerful bike in the Sports Adventure sector. To keep all that in balance KTM have added their new semi-active WP 48mm forks which adjust the speed of damping depending on your choice of setting: comfort, sport, street or off road. 

Comfort is soft and progressive, but on the tight twists and turns of Corsica’s mountain roads, Sport is the choice for maximum feedback and we quickly found the 1290 could push much harder than we gave it credit for initially, especially with that cornering ABS. As part of the travel pack you also get a quick shifter which was perfect for those hilly passes. It’s been upgraded to change the cut off by a few milliseconds depending how quickly you cycle through the gears - it might not feel like much, but it’s an advancement to the technology, and of course, there’s always the power assisted slipper clutch to fall back on.

Whether you’re an analogue guy or not, we were impressed with the new TFT display. It’s clean, crisp and thanks to that gorilla glass, unreflective, which makes it a breeze to check through all the information it packs in. For night rides the illuminated switch gears are a nice touch, but the real clever stuff comes from the new adaptive LED headlight. With three stages, activating more the longer you lean in, the system gives you maximum visibility through the corner and it gave us just that extra bit of confidence you want on unlit roads while touring. 

With comfort in mind the rear WP shock also comes with four load bearing pre-sets and with an adjustable seat height, handlebars, foot pegs and even gear lever, no matter your proportions, you should find a fit that suits. 

The Super Adventure S is packed top to bottom with features, from its keyless ignition to its USB charge phone holder with My Ride connectivity and at £14,299, it falls around the same price range as its competition. If you want to truly off-road it you’ll want the R version, but KTM claim the S with its lighter cast wheels and sportier feel will have you giving even super sports riders a run for their money.