2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure Review

The 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure represents the pinnacle of modern motorcycling. It’s fitted with cutting edge of technology yet the rider aids are only as intrusive as you want them to be. The 1290 Super Adventure comes with almost every imaginable gadget yet the focus is still on riding and it plays the role of sportsbike, tourer and off-road capable adventure bike all in one.

The origins of KTM’s flagship machine come from an unlikely source – the KTM 1290 Super Duke R which is regarded as one of the most insane naked motorcycles ever built. Most motorcycle companies would have slapped a fairing on the Duke and released a sister sportsbike, but not KTM. Instead they decided to take an 180hp engine and create an adventure bike with it – one that actually has dirt capabilities.

Taking a step back, the idea of doing so seems quite ludicrous and yet riding the Super Adventure it all makes sense. A big part of that is thanks to the electronics that KTM has bolted onto this bike which makes it close to being the most sophisticated motorcycle you can buy today. It’s also probably because KTM decided to tone things down slightly by reducing the power of the engine to 160hp – still plenty of grunt in anyone’s book.

KTM implemented new cylinder heads and a new crankshaft with a greater flywheel mass and the modified engine management system which provides a very useable power band. Despite the decrease in power from the Super Duke R, the 1301cc engine still dishes out an immense 140 Nm @ 6,750 rpm. Looking at the torque curve 108Nm is available from as little as 2,500 rpm. It’s almost like an electric bike’s power plant. When the engine setting is set to sport mode, acceleration is viciously quick and would put some sportsbikes to shame. Despite the immense power on tap, fueling is near perfect – it’s completely manageable and controllable even when accelerating hard out of turns.

If you’re after a more sedate ride, things can be dialed back by choosing one of the other engine modes. Street mode maintains the use of the engines full potential but with a more moderate throttle response. The rain and off-road modes reduce power to 100hp and the throttle is less aggressive on the power delivery. Depending on the selected ride mode, the traction control will allow different amounts of wheel slippage: soft slippage in street mode, controlled wheels spin on sport and up to 100 per cent slippage for off-road riders when in that mode. If desired, traction control can even be switched off entirely.

Accompanying the choice of engine modes and traction control are settings for the semi-active suspension. It’s here that the technology really makes an impact on allowing the KTM 1290 Super Adventure to be both a luxury tourer and dirt capable adventure motorcycle at the same time. Selectable modes of comfort, street, sport and off-road change damping settings while the onboard computer ensures that the actual damping is
continuously adjusted in real-time to the riding style and surface.

In addition to damping control, the ECU has a few clever tricks up its sleeve. For example, the anti-dive function prevents excessive front fork dive on braking. This enhances riding comfort especially when riding with a pillion and ensures that at night, the headlights keep illuminating the whole driving lane even when braking. The respective damper
mappings always corresponds to the weight distribution and the control unit automatically increases the damping in proportion to any increase of payload.

But that’s not the end of it. Integrated with all of this is another control unit which among other features comes with Bosch’s cornering ABS. In addition to providing a linked braking system (using the front brake also activates the back brake), the system enables the rider to brake and accelerate in safety even on wet roads and other slippery surfaces, as well as leaned over in corners.

The best thing about all this technology is that you don’t even know it’s there. Despite some spirited riding I didn’t once see the traction control icon light up on the dash. On the dirt and gravel it intervenes more but that’s a good thing considering the sheer amount of mass you’re propelling over loose surfaces. For most, you’ll hardly ever touch the various modes, save perhaps for when you either go off-road or have to ride in the rain.

And that’s the story of the 1290 Super Adventure – this is an incredibly sophisticated bike that could have disappeared up its own exhaust pipe with how clever it was trying to be but instead this is just a brilliant motorcycle that you can get technical with if you so choose. Without all that technical wizardry it’s probably unlikely that the 1290 Super Adventure would be as capable off-road as it is.

It’s not just the electronics that make this a machine you can take on the dirt, KTM has done its best to make this a serious adventure bike. Up front is a 19 inch wheel and both front and back use spoked rims. Front suspension travel is also 200mm which is second only to the KTM 1190 Adventure R. Despite its heft this is a truly off-road capable machine.

I found the ergonomics almost spot on though that will change depending on your own dimensions. The seat height is adjustable and has a range of between 860mm and 875mm which is pretty accommodating for a wide variety of people although no doubt some would have probably have preferred a higher pew. Around the front of the bike are crash bars but stupidly the 1290 Super Adventure doesn’t come with a crash plate to protect the engine and exhaust headers. We realize this would have added extra weight but it seems a cardinal sin not to include a simple device to protect an extremely expensive engine. There’s also the fact that bike is chain driven rather than shaft driven – but this is a route KTM always takes and no doubt feels it’s the right choice when it comes to weight savings.

A steering damper is hidden below the bars which helps keep things controllable up front and is probably just as beneficial for off-road riding as for on. The tires are  more skewed towards bitumen than dirt but provide a decent amount of grip and feedback – but like any road orientated tire they’ll struggle in the mud.

Without turning this review into War and Peace we won’t dwell too much on the other bits of kit KTM has included on this bike but they include heated grips, a heated seat, slipper clutch, tire pressure monitoring sensors, a massively height adjustable windshield and front and rear LED lights (and blinkers). Of special mention are the cornering lights – comprised of three LED segments each, the light units are mounted on both sides of the tank and connected to the lean angle sensor of the stability control system. In corners, one to all three segments light up depending on the lean angle to ensure the stretch of ground ahead is always perfectly illuminated, even while turning.

On the negative side, the engine gets hot – very hot. We were riding in cold temperatures and our left leg was getting pretty toasty and I’d hate to think what it would be like in summer. There’s also no getting around the 1290 Super Adventures girth – true off-road riders would probably be better off with the 1190 Adventure.

But that’s okay because the bike isn’t designed to be a dedicated off-road machine, it’s designed to be a sportsbike, a luxury tourer and an adventure bike all in one. And the 1290 Super Adventure pretty much nails it. That is if you can afford it. At $20,499 the Super Adventure costs more than what most families would spend on a car. The question you have to ask is that is it necessary to spend that much to get the experience this bike provides? And the answer is actually yes. The Aprilia Caponord Rally and BMW R1200GS provide 90% of what the Super Adventure does and for much less cost – but if you want the best the 1290 Super Adventure is currently the king of the castle – if you’re willing (or able) to pay for it. No other motorcycle save for perhaps Ducati’s Multitrada S provides the sheer speed, handling and technology that the KTM provides.

Not only is the 1290 Super Adventure KTM’s flagship motorcycle, it has set the bar for the industry.

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure Specifications

Engine2-cylinder, 4-stroke, V 75°
Capacity1,301 cc
Power118 kW (160 hp) @ 8,750 rpm
Torque140 Nm @ 6,750 rpm
Gear Box6 gears
Front Brakes2 x Brembo four piston, radially bolted caliper, brake disc Ø 320 mm
Rear BrakesBrembo two piston, fixed caliper, brake disc Ø 267 mm
Front SuspensionWP Semi-active Suspension USD Ø 48 mm
Rear SuspensionWP Semi-active Suspension PDS Monoshock
Front Tire120/70 R 19
Rear Tire170/60 R 17
Dry Weight229 kg
Tank Capacity30 liters/4 liters reserve

12th Annual KTM Adventure Rider Rally

Make plans to join KTM staff and adventure rider enthusiasts at the 12th annual KTM Adventure Rider Rally in beautiful Crested Butte, CO. This event provides riders of all skill levels an opportunity to ride with and learn from adventurers all over the world.

The KTM Adventure Rider Rally is designed for KTM 640, 690, 950, 990 and 1190 Adventure and Enduro owners but is open to riders on all brands of street-legal motorcycles. Clear your schedule and pre-register to receive a reduced rate and FREE t-shirt handed out at the event.

Check out the new video featuring footage from the location of the 2015 KTM Adventure Rider Rally that will be held in Crested Butte, CO on September 18-20, 2015.

TOUR INCLUDES:

  • Appearances from KTM Factory Riders (Andrew Short, Chris Fillmore, Mike Lafferty and Paul Krause)
  • Jimmy Lewis Riding Clinics
  • Technical Seminars
  • Ride with Professional KTM Factory Riders
  • Demo Rides (models include the 690 Enduro R, 1190 Adventure, 1190 Adventure R and 1290 Super Adventure)
  • Friday Breakfast and Dinner
  • Saturday Breakfast and Awards Dinner
  • Fun, Games and More
  • Complete schedule to be posted shortly

Date:

  • September 18-20, 2015

Where:

  • Crested Butte, CO

Price:

  • $165.00 for pre-registered riders or $190.00 at the event (price does not include bike or lodging). Event may sell out so please register early. Pre-registration cut-off date is September 11, 2015.

 

Register today HERE.

2015 Aprilia Caponord Rally Review

Before riding the 2015 Aprilia Caponord Rally, our thoughts were that the new wave of high end adventure sport bikes were akin to that of luxury SUVs. They might be fast, they might look like they can go off-road but for 99% of people, they’ll never leave the black stuff and wouldn’t do very well off it anyway. Now however, we’ve had to change our tune. The Aprilia Caponord Rally is as close to the holy grail of motorcycling that we’ve yet come across – comfortable for touring, agile for spirited riding and yes, actually quite capable of getting off the beaten path.

The Caponord Rally is an evolution of the Aprilia Caponord 1200 that was released back in 2013 which is strictly a road bike with adventure style looks and ergonomics. That means that Aprilia had to actually spend some time on the Caponord Rally to make it a genuinely dirt capable machine.

Visually, the big differences are the crash bars surrounding the front of the bike along with a crash plate covering the engine and exhaust headers, thought the latter is a mix of plastic and aluminium. Attached to the crash bars are a pair of LED spotlights, along with a new oversized windshield which can be easily adjusted in height and plastic hand guards. While there’s a button for heated grips, you’ll have to pay extra for them to be actually installed.

At the rear of the bike is a new steel rear subframe which allows for the standard inclusion of aluminium panniers (combined capacity of 66 litres). Situated beneath those is the ridiculously large exhaust can which is actually height adjustable – so if you’re heading off-road sans-luggage, it can be moved up and further away from danger beneath.

What really starts making this a machine capable of confidence inspiring riding on dirt, gravel or other poor surfaces is the use of spoked wheels both front and back, with the front wheel increased from 17 inches to 19 inches – much more in line with off-road bikes. Because of the bigger diameter wheel up front, Aprilia changed the steering geometry ensure the bike still handles well on normal roads where even the most adventurous of riders will spend most of their time on this bike. Changes mean steering rake increases to 27.4° from (26.1°) and trail decreases to 4.6 inches (from 4.9).

Thankfully, these changes to the front end have done nothing to blunt the Caponord’s handling abilities. This thing loves corners. Pushing on the wide bars sees the bike tip over better than many sportsbikes – chicken strips on the rear tire were gone without even trying. Part of that is no doubt due to Aprilia’s continuing ability to make near perfect chassis for their bikes. Like its sportier brethren (the RSV4 and Tuono), the Caponord has class leading handling and dynamics. Its modification to a dirt capable bike hasn’t dulled it in any perceivable way.

For all my riding on bitumen, I’d set the electronic aids onto their lowest settings of intervention and the bike was flawless. No scares, no hiccups, both application of power and handling in the corners was perfectly confidence inspiring and I no doubt was only hitting a fraction of the Caponord’s limits.

Powering the Caponord Rally remains the same 1197cc V-Twin that produces a 125hp @ 8,000 rpm and 115Nm of torque at 6,800 rpm. The power delivery of the engine is definitely more adventure bike than sports bike. That’s not to say this machine is slow – it’s anything but – it’s just that you’re not going to pull wheelies with it unless you’re trying. Which is a good thing when you head off-road. In fact, Aprilia has modified the power delivery slightly for such applications, with throttle response more progressive and responsive at low engine speeds.

As we wrote at the outset, my perception of bikes like this before the Caponord Rally is they have no place off-road. Sure, just like any motorcycle (even liter bikes), one can ride on dirt and gravel if you take care – but you wouldn’t ride at speed or in the wet with them. And that’s still true for many bikes of this ilk – the Kawasaki Versys 1000 is a great touring machine but it’s just too big and unwieldy to take off-road seriously.

But the Caponord Rally is something else. Sure, a proper dirt bike will always be more capable of road, but the Caponord Rally is far closer to being a dirt capable machine than something like the Yamaha WR450F is to being a comfortable long range tourer. This machine actually can go off-road.

A huge part of this is thanks to the suspension which is one of the best setups we’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The Caponord Rally is fitted with Aprilia Dynamic Damping (ADD) which is Aprilia’s proprietary semi-active suspension system. The ADD system measures the energy transmitted by bumps on the road surface to the bike and adjusts the hydraulic fork calibration and shock absorber in real time to minimise accelerations on the frame and consequently optimise comfort.

It gets even better though. The rear shock is also part of this system and if desired, will automatically adjust rear preload depending on the weight on the bike. At a basic level, that means it will detect a pillion, luggage or both. It also means that when you stand on the pegs instead of the seat, the rear preload will be adjusted on the fly. Brilliant.

When we first test a motorcycle, our first hour or so is usually spent getting to know the bike and that means fairly casual riding. The stretch of road we were on was pockmarked with potholes – some filled and some not. The Caponord soaked them up like I was riding on a magic carpet – hardly any of the harshness of the road was transferred to my ample buttocks. Normally that would mean fairly average handling in the corners, with the front end diving and wallowing all over the place under braking and cornering.

But not with the ADD system. It really feels like some sort of voodoo magic at play here. The system is a jack of all trades and master of them all at once – and that includes off-road.

Heading off-road on a 228kg machine generally isn’t my idea of fun. Switching the traction and ride modes to their off-road settings gives some confidence, but it really comes down the brilliant suspension setup as to how much assurance you start to have with the Caponord Rally after just a short while on loose gravel and dirt. With the road orientated Metzeler tires, the back end got loose on a few occasions on the gravel, but never once did I feel like the bike was getting away from me. I can only imagine how capable this machine would be with some knobby tires.

That’s not to say the machine is perfect. It’s disappointing that Aprilia installed a predominantly plastic crash guard for the engine. It’ll stop it getting scratched but won’t do much if you hit anything substantial. The lack of a centrestand as standard as well for a bike of this weight also reduces it’s true abilities for remote riding.

The dash is also a little bit underwhelming on a machine of this price. No ambient temperature reading, no estimated distance until you need to refuel – instead silly things like average speed, max speed and time riding are available for display.

But perhaps the really pertinent question is whether one would actually want to take a bike of this price off-road where the likelihood of scratches and dents is generally fairly high. At $15,695, the Aprilia Caponord Rally is more expensive than many mid-sized cars. But motorcycles are all about comprises. If you’re doing any long range touring you’re probably going to avoid true dirt bikes – not only are they uncomfortable for entire days in the saddle on the road, they’re luggage capacity and mileage on small tanks is also limited.

This is where the new breed of adventure bikes do start to make sense. They’re generally pretty comfortable, they can carry a lot of gear, they have got massive tanks so you can travel remotely and in the case of the Caponord, they’re better than average off-road.

And while $15,695 isn’t chicken feed, it’s actually incredibly competitive compared to the competition. If you want the benefits of semi-active suspension you’ll need to fork out many more thousands of dollars to get it from Ducati, KTM and BMW. Aprilia has sharply priced the Caponord Rally.

Overall, the Aprilia Caponord Rally is a very impressive machine and it comes closer to any bike in recent times that can actually perform almost every function you could ask from a motorcycle.

 

More Pictures Emerge of the new Royal Enfield Himalayan

Newer and clearer pictures have emerged of the Royal Enfield Himalayan, an ‘adventure’ styled motorcycle that is likely to be released late this year or early in 2016. Knowledge of a new Royal Enfield motorcycle came to life after it was discovered that the company registered the name “Himalayan” as a trademark. The first images of the bike surfaced in late April.

The main difference with the latest spy shots is the redesigned exhaust – no longer a direct carry over from the RE Continental GT, it now has at least some ground clearance in keeping with the ‘adventure’ theme this bike is aiming for.

For the most part, the bike appears to use a lot of carry over parts from the Continental GT cafe racer, including wheels, brakes and the dash. Different however is the use of a monoshock at the rear (believe it or not, an actual first for Royal Enfield) and what to us looks like a slightly larger tank. The other main points of difference are the handlebars, longer front forks and more upright ergonomics.

What is still up for debate is the engine that this latest motorcycle will use. Royal Enfield is working on two brand new engines – one around 400cc in capacity and another in the 750cc range. Given Royal Enfield’s ambitious international aspirations, it wouldn’t surprise us to see both engines being offered in western markets.

 

Benelli Releasing Five Brand New Bikes in 2016

Benelli has made its presence known in the UK and Australia and has announced plans to return to the US market by the end of this year. But from reports leaked today, it’s just the beginning. Benelli is apparently planning on releasing five brand new motorcycles next year, three of which will feature brand new engine platforms.

A report from Autocar India (where Benelli is also aggressively expanding) explains that Chinese owned company is looking at releasing the following five machines in 2016 (or earlier):

  • Entry level sportsbike based on the BN 302
  • Entry level adventure bike based on the BN 302
  • An adventure bike based on an all new 500cc twin-cylinder engine
  • Two motorcycles, one naked, one sportsbike and based on a brand new 750cc twin-cylinder engine platform

It’s not a hard stretch to imagine Benelli is already well underway on bringing out an entry level sports bike, especially given the early positive reception of the BN 302. We’d absolutely love to see an entry level adventure styled bike – a niche that is yet to be filled by any of the major motorcycle manufacturers (we’re still holding out hope for a Honda CB300X).

The choice of a 500 cc twin-cylinder adventure bike has peaked out interest. Given that Benelli produces the BN 600GT which is a adventure/touring machine, we hope this upcoming bike is a truly off-road capable motorcycle. If so, it could prove extremely successful in that engine configuration.

Perhaps even more intriguing is the report of a 750cc twin which would finally give Suzuki’s GSX-R750 range some company, albeit with two less cylinders. If these and the other motorcycles come to fruition, we’ll applaud Benelli for trying to expand into uncharted territories that so many other manufactures are afraid to enter.

Benelli BN 600GT Now Available

Source: Autocar India

Turn Your Honda CB500X Into A True Adventure Bike

We love the Honda CB500X. In fact we’d go so far as to say that it’s one of the most underrated bikes released in the past few years. But while it might have been styled as one, an off-road capable bike it is not – at least until now. Rally-Raid Products has announced that they will be releasing their Honda CB500X Adventure kit. This is the same company well known for their KTM 690 Enduro kit.

“The Honda CB500X already satisfies many of the requirements considered essential by the adventure riding community” explains Rally-Raid Products’ proprietor John Mitchinson. “As standard it has a range of over 250 miles, and great fuel economy too together with good weather protection, comfortable ergonomics and a really smooth and willing EFI engine.”

“Certainly we consider it far more appropriate as an ‘every-day’ machine than a typical single-cylinder trail bike” he suggests. “Low maintenance and renowned Honda reliability are further benefits, and particularly impressive is the feeling of all-round competence at such an affordable price.”

There will be three levels of upgrades available which improves the CB500X’s off road capabilities but obviously does so in an increasingly expensive way.

The Level 1 kit upgrades the standard travel suspension with higher quality and adjustable components front and rear. This is the ideal option for those who do not wish to raise the seat height at all. These components are also suitable upgrades for the CB500F and CBR500R models. The Level 1 upgraded standard suspension package is £795.00 GBP / $995.00 USD.

The Level 2 kit is essentially the long-travel suspension kit, that incorporates exactly the same components as the full Adventure kit, less the spoked wheels and dedicated 19” front fender. Retaining the OEM cast aluminium wheels means this option is primarily for those riders who spend the majority of their time on-road, but would appreciate more ground clearance afforded by the longer travel and better quality suspension. It is also an option for those with budget constraints, as the Adventure spoked wheel-set and 19” front fender can always be purchased separately once the long-travel suspension has been fitted. The SRP of the Level 2 long-travel suspension kit is £1450.00 GBP / $1799.00 USD

The Level 3 kit is described as the ‘full’ adventure conversion to the CB500X – that is a fully integrated package of long-travel and uprated/adjustable suspension, together with a replacement heavy-duty spoked wheel-set offering a 17” rear and 19” diameter front wheel – improving suspension performance, increasing ground clearance and allowing a wider range of dual-sport and all-terrain tyres to be fitted. The SRP of the level 3 kit is £1999.00 GBP / $2499.00 USD.

The kits will be available for purchase from Rally-Raid’s website from this Friday.

Source: ADVMoto

A Man, His Dog and a 10 Year Motorcycle Adventure

Almost ten years ago, Are Gureghian lost both his mother and his only son. Unable to cope with normal life, he rescued his dog Spirit from being put down at the pound and set out on a journey across America with his motorcycle and sidecar. They camp wherever they go and are still riding today.

Gureghian has documented his amazing travels and journey with both photo and video, some of which you can see on his website. He’s just published a photo book titled ‘Hues of My Vision‘ which follows on from his story released last year called ‘Freedom on Both Ends of the Leash: A Dog, His Man, Their Journey.’

You could easily spend hours trawling through the archives of his website, reading the life changing experiences he has had which are accompanied by beautiful photography. It’s another example of the amazing escapism that motorcycles can afford.

Born in 1948 in France, a full blooded Armenian, he moved to the United States in his mid twenties and worked successfully as a Five Star Chef around the country. 10 years ago, his only child Lance passed away from liver cancer. Upon leaving on his adventure, he found Pit-bull at an animal shelter who had been abused previously and was only days away from being euthanized.

Gureghian says that “There is no turning back… there is no lifestyle that would ever compare to this one. A bad card was dealt over a bit over 11 years ago which only seems as yesterday, when my only child, my buddy, my friend, my son Lance was called away at the young age of 26. This here is my ‘therapy’, this is my ‘promise’ to Lance to go on, to again not give up, this I feel is my last episode of my own life.”

In relation to Spirit he says that “He has become my life as I know vice versa is also true. We are one now. He is quite the rider in his own sidecar and such a ham when wearing his goggles and helmet. Cooking, riding the motorcycle and sidecar rig, my dog Spirit, my Dear Friends, photography, writing, reading, roasting and drinking coffee, camping, sailing, movies… no television and Life itself… all of the above fills up our moments, one at the time.”

I can’t say I’m not slightly jealous…

 

Honda CB300X – Adventure Version of CBR300R On The Way

New patent images obtained by AMCN seem to indicate that a ‘soft’ adventure version of the entry level Honda CBR300R is expected to be manufactured in the near future. Likely to be titled the Honda CB300X, the bike appears to share all the components with both the CBR300R and CB300F, save for longer forks and a higher seat. It also features indicators integrated into the barkbusters. Like the CB500X, this will be an adventure bike with little to no capabilities to go off road.

The basic design for the Honda CB300X was actually first shown in February this year at the Auto Expo in Delhi, India. No technical details were forthcoming at that time, but it makes perfect sense for Honda to replicate the success of it’s 500 series which includes a faired sports bike (the CBR500R), a naked (CB500F) and the adventure styled CB500X. Out of those three, the CB500X is often declared the best of the bunch due to it’s great riding position and ergonomics.

With the new Honda CBR300R (see our review here) now hitting showrooms worldwide and the naked CB300F following shortly, it would give Honda an enviable entry level bike lineup that would appeal to all tastes and styles. There’s no indication of a release date for the Honda CB300X though it would likely be in the middle of next year.