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KTM Reveals Off-Road Focused 1290 Super Adventure R for 2021

Roughly a month after announcing the redesigned 1290 Super Adventure S, KTM has introduced the more dirt-focused 1290 Super Adventure R. As of this writing, we understand that both new 1290 Super Adventure models will not be available in the U.S. market until next year (they are immediately available in Europe).

Not surprisingly, the 1290 Super Adventure R incorporates many of the changes found in the new Super Adventure S model. Primary differences include wheel sizes (21/18″ on the R, while the S features 19/17″ wheels) and suspension. The 1290 Super Adventure S features electronically controlled/adjustable suspension, while the R model makes due with traditional, manually adjustable forks and shock.

Here is the press release from KTM:

Drop a pin on the map and hit the road! The 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R has been redesigned to let adventurers discover the most hidden paths under the sky with added agility, class-leading performance and an extensive list of electronics that work together to enhance the rider’s feeling while out exploring.

The second instalment in the new generation of liter-class KTM ADVENTURE models comes in the form of the all-new KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R. Engineered to cross the wildest and most challenging terrain, this motorcycle has the capacity to take adventurers anywhere.

The second instalment in the new generation of liter-class KTM ADVENTURE models comes in the form of the all-new KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R. Engineered to cross the wildest and most challenging terrain, this motorcycle has the capacity to take adventurers anywhere.

Primed and ready to plant its flag anywhere on the planet, the 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R has been designed from the ground up with an extensive list of innovative upgrades.

All-terrain agility

Riding the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R across rough terrain in the easiest and most intuitive way has been a development priority for the completely reworked 2021 edition. An all new bodywork providing excellent ergonomics and allowing to hold the fuel in the tank as low as possible has been designed for better agility, a lower center of gravity and an even better feeling in all riding conditions.

A sharper cornering sensation has been achieved by moving the steering head back by 15 mm, re-locating the front section of the engine and introducing a slightly longer new diecast open-lattice swingarm for a greater depth of feeling under acceleration. KTM engineers have analyzed and trimmed every centimeter of the new bodywork in order to provide the right thickness and the optimal rider-bike contact.

The sensation of control and balance is augmented by the new three-part fuel tank that holds 23 l and is positioned lower to assist riding equilibrium. Like the chassis, the subframe has also been reconstructed and is topped with a sporty stepped seat at 880 mm of height with slim dimensions and a handy storage underneath.

Further enhancing handling is the reworked 2021 WP suspension configuration. The KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R streams elements of KTM’s prolificacy in offroad and embraces the best of WP XPLOR technology. The fully-adjustable 48 mm front forks with an impressive 220 mm of travel feature split damping functions and quick modification potential with a twist of the respective dials. The same travel measurement graces the WP PDS shock. The competence of the system was achieved through tests in the Californian desert-land as well as long stretches of varied landscapes across Europe.

Performance-tailored technology

The 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R is a vessel for the latest electronics packages and continuation of the collaboration with first-rate pioneers like Bosch. A new 6-axis lean angle sensor filters information on the exact pitch and position of the bike and its behaviour. In turn, this affects the degree of Motorcycle Traction Control, Motor Slip Regulation, Motorcycle Stability Control and forces of Offroad ABS. To fit the needs of the modern all-terrain riding enthusiast, all rider assists can be tweaked or disengaged.

Alongside the standards RAIN, STREET, SPORT and OFFROAD ride modes, the optional RALLY mode permits riders to set throttle response to aggressive and select one of nine different levels of wheel spin. The changes to suit any kind of topography are all charted through the all-new and more use-friendly 7’’ TFT dash, which is hooked to a new Connectivity Unit. The larger view has quicker and more practical menus and clearly shows turn-by-turn directions indicated by the KTM MY RIDE app.

Premium-spec components

The KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R relies on the new Euro 5-ready LC8 that is now 1.6 kg lighter and froths out 160 hp at 9,000 rpm and 138 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm for the best power-to-weight offering in the segment. KTM has combed through the internals of the V-Twin powerplant to improve heat dissipation and shave grams in the quest for improved rideability.

With a lot of effort going towards optimizing the air flow through the bike, the 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R features two separate radiators instead of the one-piece unit of its predecessor. With cleverly designed air ducts, the amount of hot air streaming towards the rider´s legs has been significantly reduced and the difference becomes easily noticeable in the slow, tight sections.

Thanks to a reworked airbox, riders can now easily access the air filter by simply removing four screws. The filter itself now features vertical ribs, instead of horizontal, which helps direct dust or sand towards the bottom of the air box. Overall, a better design for hardcore adventurers.

Some additional engine updates include lighter engine cases, new pistons, improved shifting, altered coatings and easier filter access and a re-jigged two-header exhaust unit, with the updated package making the LC8 flighty, more reliable and more dependable for all types of trail. 15,000 km service intervals have again been achieved with low fuel consumption at 5.7 l / 100 km. Together with PANKL, KTM has also reworked the gearbox shifting mechanism for faster, lighter and more responsive actions. The full force of this update can be felt through the optional Quickshifter+, which now has a faster and even more precise operation.

Premium-spec components

The KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R relies on the new Euro 5-ready LC8 that is now 1.6 kg lighter and froths out 160 hp at 9,000 rpm and 138 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm for the best power-to-weight offering in the segment. KTM has combed through the internals of the V-Twin powerplant to improve heat dissipation and shave grams in the quest for improved rideability.

With a lot of effort going towards optimizing the air flow through the bike, the 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R features two separate radiators instead of the one-piece unit of its predecessor. With cleverly designed air ducts, the amount of hot air streaming towards the rider´s legs has been significantly reduced and the difference becomes easily noticeable in the slow, tight sections.

Thanks to a reworked airbox, riders can now easily access the air filter by simply removing four screws. The filter itself now features vertical ribs, instead of horizontal, which helps direct dust or sand towards the bottom of the air box. Overall, a better design for hardcore adventurers.

Some additional engine updates include lighter engine cases, new pistons, improved shifting, altered coatings and easier filter access and a re-jigged two-header exhaust unit, with the updated package making the LC8 flighty, more reliable and more dependable for all types of trail. 15,000 km service intervals have again been achieved with low fuel consumption at 5.7 l / 100 km. Together with PANKL, KTM has also reworked the gearbox shifting mechanism for faster, lighter and more responsive actions. The full force of this update can be felt through the optional Quickshifter+, which now has a faster and even more precise operation.

To cope with the rigours of life away from the beaten track, the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R is armed with premium level equipment. New, Adventure-specific Bridgestone tires are wrapped around ALPINA aluminium spoked wheels, which can be run tubeless with a reassuring O-ring sealant in the spoke nipples. This new generation 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R comes with modern and eye-catching paint and graphic set.

KTM RACE ON tech takes keyless ignition to a new level of autonomy, separate Tire Pressure Monitor system sensors provide more detailed customisation and four piston radial mounted Brembo callipers bring the whole show to a fearsome stop or satisfying slide. The windshield, the levers, the pegs and the handlebars all are adjustable to further enhance rider adaptability.

As is the case with its S model counterpart, the new KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R benefits from a remodelled optional software package policy. With the Rally Pack offering the RALLY riding mode, the MTC slip adjuster and the adjustable throttle response, the all-in-one Tech Pack includes the Quickshifter+, the Motor Slip Regulation, the Hill Hold Control, the adaptive brake light and all the features of the Rally Pack.

KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R – MODEL HIGHLIGHTS

// All-new ergonomics offering extra agility

// Redesigned seat with lower height

// Reworked long-travel, adjustable WP XPLOR suspension

// Optimized weight distribution with lower-placed fuel tanks

// Cutting-edge electronics that enhance the ride

// New, intuitive 7’’ TFT display with redesigned handlebar switches

// New LED headlight with LED daytime light

// Revised V-Twin engine [EURO 5] with improved heat dissipation// New, Adventure-specced tires by Bridgestone

Joachim Sauer – KTM Product Manager: “For KTM, ‘R’ stands for ‘Rally’ and ‘Racing’ so with the new KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R we really feel in our element. Adopting all the great benefits of the recently launched S model, the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R is here to set new standards of all-terrain performance. With this new offroad powerhouse we wanted even more rideability and to achieve it, we looked into rider-focused ergonomics and improved suspension performance. The new bike also offers a big step forward in terms of weight distribution and riding agility. Making gains with the overall performance of our LC8, we were also able to give the 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R innovative technical features. If some of the best moments of adventuring come about by discovering the unknown, with this bike riders could not have a better tool for the job.”The new generation KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R will be available at KTM dealers internationally starting March 2021. For the North American markets, it will become available in the fall of 2021.

88 Comments

  1. todder says:

    With those tires stock, perhaps they won’t limit top speed on the R model like the did with the previous generation…think it was 125 or something. Guessing they fixed the wobble when using saddlebags based on the S model promo doing high speed runs with luggage attached.

  2. Provologna says:

    At the homepage of this website, ignore the Aprilia then look at the image of the bike featured in the next three articles: first this KTM 1290 fire breather, then a 150hp (WTH?) H-D (God bless ’em) then a lowly 350 single Honda which echoes the look of the iconic CB350.

    Which one has the best cosmetic appearance?

  3. Al Banta says:

    Beautiful but ridiculous. Can I get it with just ABS.The rest of it I can do with my hands and feet!

  4. Curt says:

    Though Chris Birch’s skillset and mine have zero overlap, and never will, it’s still fun to see what can be done on this bike.

    https://youtu.be/SI_B8fxPWEs

    • mickey says:

      I can’t even imagine that..really.

    • Jon says:

      That’s an awesome advert for KTM. And looks like this bike has adjustable preload in the forks, so in motorcycledaily speak would that be ‘fullyfully adjustable forks’, or what should we call it. 😀

    • Sean says:

      Fake video, not a Starbucks in sight! Honestly, about 0.001% of owners will ride their KTM like that. That’s crazy.

    • Provologna says:

      That video is simultaneously a magnificent Chris Birch ad and a magnificent piece of marketing tripe. 99.9% of potential owners/riders wanting to replicate Chris’ stunts would prefer a smaller bike. I can’t speak for Chris, but I presume, in a candid conversation, even Chris would admit that KTM is not his first choice to ride for those exhibitions.

      Still though, KTMs Ministry of Propaganda can take nothing away from the bike, which is magnificent.

      • Curt says:

        I’m not sure you’re right about Chris’ answer. He’s not famous for how he rides a 300 XC TPI. He’s famous for how he rides a 1290R, and I would imagine he enjoys the rarified atmosphere that puts him in. But, as you say, that’s a question for Chris.

        FWIW, on his youtube channel, it appears his personal ride is a 790R. Perhaps that is telling.

        Clearly the 99.9 percent should buy whatever fits their budget and riding ability. I can’t speak for them, either, but speaking for myself, Chris’ antics do not tempt me to duplicate them.

  5. mickey says:

    Today I was out riding my 630 lb, 144 hp FJR and at one point I grabbed a handful of throttle and rocketed up through a few gears. As I was hurtling down the road at what seemed like space shuttle speed, I thought, imagine this with 15 more hp and 150 less pounds….in the dirt. Uh NO! Just the thought of it was insane.lol

  6. mechanicus says:

    If I were that guy about to high-side in the second photo, a millisecond later I’d be eating dirt with that thing idling on top of me. Over my head.

  7. motomike says:

    A couple years ago while at a single track staging area I was amazed to see a big KTM adv bike go by riding two-up! Now that takes 2x the skills! Pun intended.

    • mechanicus says:

      Years ago at a local hill climb (that I could make maybe 2 out of 5 tries on my tricked-out $$$ Penton), we heard a bike coming up the trail. A nerdy looking guy, pops up at the bottom on a stock CB-350 and calmly rides past us, straight up it and off into the distance on street tires, not even deigning a look back. We were all like wtf.

  8. arbuz says:

    23L gas tank (6 gallons), 5.7 L per 100 km consumption.
    So that’s about 400km or 250 miles on one tank of gas (about 41.6 mpg).

    I am going to assume that mpg figure given (5.7L per 100km) is not at peak 160hp.

    I am wondering if 160Hp at expense of the mileage — is not the most optimal trade off.
    Of course, if there is magic switch, that would make it a 350 miles-per-tank bike, at say 100hp — it would be exceptional.

    Personally, I cannot go for more than like 90 miles without a stop anyways.
    But there are folks who have much much higher endurance than me, and there are may be environments were gas is not as easily available.

    So lower MPG for this segment (as well as lower weight) , is still desirable in this segment.

    I think a combination of lighter, less thirsty engine with strong frame + suspension, plus comfortable ergonomics and safety features like on this KTM — would be a winning combination.

    • todd says:

      Absolutely no one can use 160hp for the duration if the tank, even 100! Highway speeds are at about 15 to 20 hp of continuous operation. You might be able to touch 100hp on your way up to 70 mph but you need to let WAY off the throttle to maintain that speed. Fuel mileage is typically determined at a steady state near 40 mph, or basically, 5 hp.

    • Curt says:

      My 2019 has a similar fuel volume and I can consistent get over 200 mi per tank on the road. It’s also comfortable enough to easily go that far – some fuel stops I don’t even get off the bike, though it’s not a bad plan to get off and stretch. IMO this bike likely has plenty of fuel range, and plenty of comfort to use it.

  9. paul says:

    At least KTM shows it running only over dry dirt. Any mud of any sort will have the bike on its face after a few seconds when the front wheel jams up solid.

  10. Steve M says:

    My 1190 R was amazingly capable in the dirt. It was also more reliable than my GS and Multi were. Having said that, I am digging my Husky 701 and the ability to pick it up from a dirt nap solo.

    • todd says:

      I’m considering some sort of 701 with a Rally kit like Aurora. You’ve seen the KTM Twins adventure build? Weighing if I want more comfort from a Tenere 700 or more ability from the 701.

      • Jeremy says:

        They’ve got some nice off-road stuff to ride in california. I live in Colorado, and it wouldn’t even be a question for me. If I wanted a bike that needed to cover a lot of tarmac but still go off-road around here, the 701/690 would be the go-to hands down. Those bigger bikes offer surprising capability, but the gap between them and the 701 is pretty substantial. Not that the big bikes can’t do a lot of the same things, but you can do it much faster, safer with more control, and (most important to me) with much more fun factor on the 690/701. And just my opinion, but ergonomically speaking, the 690 and 701 can be set up pretty comfy with good seat, handlebar, and touchpoint choices.

        • todd says:

          Thanks for your input. A kitted 701/690 is my ideal choice but it’s a lot more money than the Yamaha, and nearly three times the price of a SWM!

          • Jeremy says:

            I forget about the SWM. I think their adventure version is something like 420 lbs, though perhaps I’m mistaken. Honestly if that weight is accurate, I’d be tempted to just go with the Ténéré. But the price of that SWM is pretty attractive, and you don’t need to throw any extra money at it either to kit it. I wonder what they ride like. I owned a TR650 Terra for 6 years. With skid plate, hand guards, and crash bars, I bet that bike weighed 420 lbs with a full tank as well. It was very composed on the highway and still did damn well in challenging off-road, too. I rode it everywhere. I took it to Moab once because I was having an issue with my dirt bike on the day I was supposed to leave. I went everywhere the dirt bikes went on that trip and never fell behind or encountered a feature I couldn’t manage.

          • todd says:

            I remember you had the TR650. I had looked for one for a while but didn’t want to travel a few states over to look at one. The SWM is a Husqvarna TE630, made in Italy, for those that don’t know.

  11. OldBiker says:

    Wow! KTM managed to make the front end of that thing even uglier than the new Harley!

  12. Brian says:

    C’mon… stop the madness!

  13. austin zzr 1200 says:

    This sort of bike makes sense if you are a 7ft tall, 300 lb millionaire with a penchant for wrenching

  14. carl says:

    Them tires are going to get you far in the dirt poser bike.

  15. Gary in NJ says:

    When I think “off-road” bike, I certainly don’t think of a monstrosity such as a 800+cc machine, and NEVER a 1290. For tight woods/rocks put me on a lightweight 250 everyday of the week, and a 450 for wide-open desert trails. The use case for this machine is just so narrow (Baja/Dakar) that I feel like I lost a bit of my life typing this useless rant.

    • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

      Yawn…. whine, whine, whine.

    • joe b says:

      Our local vintage club has rides from Los Angeles Ca, to Death Valley. One year, we were stopped at Stove Pipe Wells all gassing up, and some of these big heavy dusty adventure bikes pulled in for gas also. Talking to one of them, thinking they too were like us from LA, I chatted up the guy. Well, i found out they were from San Francisco, on their way to Mexico, and taking as many back dirt roads they could not the freeways/highways. They had a few points of interest to make sure they hit, Camping out along the way, staying away from hotels every night. So if your not seeing these off road, its because you yourself, are probably not where you should to see these. Yes, I too would like a lightweight nimble 250 for riding out Tehachapi mtns, but SF to LaPaz? One might think this is a narrow use machine, but You are the one thinking that. Thats not how it is. imho

    • Jeremy says:

      You may see narrow-use riders on these kinds of bikes, but I assure you the machines themselves are definitely not narrow-use.

  16. Marcus says:

    People complain about how ugly the HD Pan America is. Seriously?
    This KTM looks the same. No beak with a splash of color thrown in to distract from its looks.
    (For the record- I’m no fan of beaks).

    • Grover says:

      For some perverse reason I’d rather have a Pan American. Tired of KTM…same old, same old.

      • Dave says:

        But look at all of that… Blue!

      • Marcus says:

        I flat out don’t like “adventure bikes”. If I’m going off road I’ll buy a lightweight purpose built bike.
        Now having said that….

        I was at the NY bike show where they showed the Pan America and the Bronx. I was impressed with the Bronx since I’m a naked bike guy.
        Then I spotted the Pan America, it was painted a beautiful deep green color. It’s looks are VERY unique but in a good way. I suppose if I was forced at gun point to buy a Harley Davidson, I would buy the Pan America then enjoy riding by the BMW and KTM guys just to bug them, LOL.

        The Bronx however, was the first HD I ever considered owning. It’s a shame they cancelled it.

  17. Mick says:

    I see these things as touring bikes in Jeep drag. You seldom see touring bikes in the Moto press anymore do you?

    It’s just like the half ton pickup basically being a grocery getter in cowboy drag. Good luck getting a half ton with an 8 foot box.

    • EZMark says:

      I can’t find a 3/4 ton truck with an 8 foot box either. I’m gonna have to order one.
      Manufacturer literature used to offer “standard bed” and “optional short bed.”
      Now they say “standard bed” and “optional long bed.”

  18. Hot Dog says:

    You’re drinking the Kool-Aid if you think you’re taking anything like this off road.

  19. walter mark boulware says:

    Drum Rolllllllllllllllllllllll…………and the price is: ????

  20. Wendy says:

    This is so far above my skillset that is ridiculous. However, that muffler has to go. Akrapovic on speed dial.

  21. Matt says:

    Such glorious excess! I would kill myself in a heartbeat if I tried to take that offroad, but what a way to go.

  22. xLaYN says:

    Aren’t those radiators small for such a powerful engine?
    I remember my TLR was a moving oven while you drive the city to hit the open road.

  23. ABQ says:

    Funny thing is that I always see Adventure bikes on the road, on the road, on the road…

    • Jeremy says:

      I spend a lot of time off-road, and I see a lot of adventure bikes off-road, off-road, off-road.

    • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

      You’d see them offroad, offroad, offroad too if you yourself went offroad, offroad, offroad.

      Every weekend in Texas…

    • Jerry says:

      I have a friend with an 1190, and I’ve seen him clear a 50’ double jump, 15’ off the ground. To be fair, he did take off the saddlebags first.

      • mickey says:

        THAT would be impressive to see

        • Jerry says:

          It was! I have a picture of it that if you didn’t know better, you’d swear it’s photoshopped. Now he’s a crazy dude, and a very skilled rider (and not 7’ tall, and not a millionaire, BTW), but the point is there *are* riders like him out there, and his KTM is still alive and well, despite all he’s put it through.

    • ABQ says:

      In my book a well maintained gravel/dirt road is still “on the road”.
      Off road is trail or unmaintained rutty road. I go on the former.
      I have been stuck in my car on the latter. And laid down my bike on both.

      • Jeremy says:

        When I say off-road, I mean narrow rocky, craggy, switchbacked, trails with big climbs, steep descents, drops, and jumps. You’d be surprised where you find these things.

  24. motomike says:

    I agree with Mickey, A superbike engine in a “dual purpose bike” is ridiculous. I too never had the skills or right hand maturity to operate a liter-plus sized terror. I came down to earth after a couple days test riding a ZX-10 realizing being dead or in prison was something I didn’t prefer. I had a friend with two Super Enduros who said he would regularly spank sportbikes on the road. Nope.

  25. motorhead says:

    I’m frozen with indecision. Get the HD Pan America 1250, or this KTM 1290? The devil’s in the details: KTM is about 30 pounds lighter, the fork is 48mm, while the Pan America wears a little 47mm fork.

    • Dave says:

      I can’t find a weight claim here but the 2020 bike had a claimed dry weight of 478lb. If the weights of both are accurate, the HD is probably a few pounds lighter, not that it patters much on a bike like this.

      One thing is for sure, a 150+hp/500lb.bike ridden on dirt is going to be an “adventure “.

  26. TimC says:

    I still have a hard time with “KTM” and getting very far “off the beaten track.”

  27. randy says:

    Those stock tires look like sportbike tires, not “off road” at all.Odd.

  28. Tommy D says:

    For those wondering what that front headlight looks like, Google Star Wars Biker Scout Trooper Helmet. You’re welcome. LOL

  29. SVGeezer says:

    So KTM had to upstage Harley on adventure bikes.

    KTM better worry about Polaris making an Adventure Bike. Polaris moves in and always becomes a major player. Besides “Indian Scout” would work well on one, if the bike’s solid..

  30. Jon says:

    Nice bike and all, but the muffler isn’t big enough for me. Maybe double the size (or perhaps one on each side), and I’ll think about it.

    Good news about the air filter though, changing the old one took well over an hour of twiddling. A right pain in the arris.

  31. VLJ says:

    Uglier headlights/front fairing, this thing, or the new H-D Pan America?

    Looking at either one, it’s hard to imagine anything could possibly be uglier, but somehow they both manage it. Whichever one you’re looking at presently, you’re thinking, “This is it. This is the nadir. It can’t get any worse than this. It simply can’t. They pulled out all the stops on this one.”

    So…

    Toaster Face, or Psychedelic Wasp?

    As for the rest of each bike, the KTM looks better. Or maybe just…less worse? Otherwise, I have little doubt that it’s the far superior motorcycle.

    Cost?

    • Tom K. says:

      “So…
      Toaster Face, or Psychedelic Wasp?”

      You’ve really got to stop doing that, I’m glad I tinkled in the last half-hour or so before reading that.

      Yeah, I’m thinking that somebody in Harley Marketing is wishing there were a few pages in between the Harley and KTM articles. Maybe I should wait until Dirck rides both and posts his opinions, but put a gun to my head between the two right now, and I’d likely be riding Austrian over the ‘Merican example.

  32. mickey says:

    OK who’s going to bring out the first “Super Duper Adventure” bike? lol

    These new bikes are so far above my capabilities it’s crazy. Amazing motorcycles you can buy these days.

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