160hp Off-Road Beast! 2021 KTM 1290 Adventure R


The 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R. First up, I just want to say it looks fantastic. I personally have never been a fan of the bigger adventure bikes, but KTM have made this bike look awesome. There are a ton of changes, so what I’m going to do is talk about the major changes first and then go in depth.

The 1290 Adventure R has a lower seat height, updated engine, different frame, new swing arm, lower centre of gravity, the fuel tank has been redesigned so fuel is held lower in the tank, revised suspension, different ergos, new electronics, a new dash and a new head light. That is a lot of changes, this is a proper update. OK now let’s have a deep dive into the changes.

There are a ton of changes.

I’ll start off with the redesigned frame and updated suspension. The frame has been shortened and the steering head has been moved back 15mm. The swing arm is longer and KTM says this combination makes for improved manoeuvrability and stability. There is a new, lighter sub frame that also has storage underneath. The sub frame is also stronger.

The suspension has been re-tuned, not changed. The forks are 48mm WP XPLOR, the same that are used on the KTM EXC’s. The forks are completely adjustable for preload, rebound and compression. They’ve also go those really cool dials so you can tweak them yourself on the fly.

I love the new styling.

The shock uses their PDS system. It too is adjustable and both the front and rear have 220mm of travel.

The engine has been updated with some pretty big changes. It’s Euro 5 compliant; 1.5kg’s lighter and cranks out 160hp and 138nm of torque. Holy smokes, that’s some serious grunt. The updates include 1kg lighter engine cases, new pistons, altered coatings throughout the engine, revised oil routing, twin ignition with new coils and a centralised spark plug, a reworked shifting mechanism and a modified exhaust system. They have also changed the air filter design. The air filter is now easier to access and the filter has vertical ribs instead of horizontal. Apparently this is better for keeping out dust?

Longer swingarm and the rims are able to be tubeless.

The gear box has shorter and faster changes and the drum is now made of aluminium instead of steel. The clutch has been given a minor update that improved disengagement at low speeds.

The bike now has two radiators instead of one. KTM have done this mainly to better disperse heat at low speeds. This is always a good thing, especially when you’re riding off road in hot weather.

As you can see, the body work has been heavily revised and I think it looks great. The goal for the new Super Adventure R was to minimise the fairing and lower the centre of gravity. So what we’ve got is a lower seat height and the fuel tank holds its weight lower.

So what I’m getting from all these changes is, KTM are trying to make the 1290 a bit more flick-able and easier to ride off road. No doubt, these traits will help on road too.

New LED headlight and fairing.

I like the new LED head light they’ve gone with. On the 390 and 790 KTM Adventure’s, they look a bit like a praying mantis or something, where this style definitely looks much more stylish. There is a fancy new 7 inch TFT dash with all the tech in the world and the bike itself has a shite load of tech too. Unfortunately, you will have to buy a lot of that tech as an optional extra. That includes the Rally Pack and Tech Pack. It really shits me that they don’t include these options as standard. I mean at $19000 USD, this is a premium motorcycle.

The rims can be tubeless, have O-ring sealing in the spokes and there is also a tyre pressure monitor.

Ok, that is all the big changes. Tech wise, the bike weighs 221kgs (487lbs) dry, the seat height is 880mm (34.65 inches), service intervals are a massive 15000kms (9320 miles), the brakes are Brembo and the fuel tank is 23 litres.

So what do you all think? I think it’s a great looking bike. I do find it bizarre that this is a 550lb, 160hp off road monster, but boy it will be a lot of fun to open up on the fire trails. Picking it up while stuck on a hill doesn’t sound too appealing though.

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