Is this the most potent all-round road bike you can buy today?
If you’re one of those who think a KTM is not for you, the Super Duke GT is the bike that could make you think again.
While it’s true the Austrian off-road specialists’ dirt and adventure machines almost demand you’re some kind of demon mud-plugger before even climbing on board, while their road supermotos are so packed with testosterone and aggression they’re the motorcycling equivalent of cage fighting convention, the GT is something very different indeed.
True, it doesn’t seem that way at first. Originally introduced as the successor the 990 SM-T in 2016, the GT is basically the wild, 173bhp 1290 Super Duke super naked with merely a few added practical niceties such as small fairing and luggage options.
The result, however, especially in this significantly updated 2019 version – which gets an improved screen/styling, new LED lights and fancy new TFT dash to go with its impressive semi-active WP suspension, class-leading electronics and more – is simply a revelation.
Where the old GT had pretty much it all both on paper and the street – fast, comfortable, well-equipped – it was also a little raw and unrefined. But this new one, well, simply: wow.
From the moment you get underway everything excels. Though the saddle may be a touch high for some it’s no real stretch and its ergonomics are natural, upright, like some kind of cross between a super naked and adventure, with a touch – and it’s just a touch – or sporting aggression.
Although a whopping 1300ccs with a big 23-litre tank, being an inline V-twin also means the GT’s slim and light enough to feel neutral and normal.
The view ahead is simple, effective and classy. The uprated, sports-tourer screen is easily-adjustable with one hand; the new, 6.5in colour TFT dash is bright, clear and relays everything you need to know, while its switchgear, modes and options remain far more intuitive to use than most.
On the move, the whole plot is balanced and secure; the immense drive surprisingly smooth, progressive and unintimidating.
But the biggest surprises of all are three-fold: one, the sheer, explosive potency of the GT thanks to the combination of those 173 horses, monster midrange grunt and the slick safety net of its aids such as cornering ABS, traction control, anti-wheelie and up-and-down quickshifter. Fiercely fast the GT can be, but it’s astonishingly refined and sophisticated, too.
Second, the GT’s brilliant blend of comfort and handling. The ride from the WP semi-active suspension is simply faultless; its steering intuitive and immediate yet secure and the braking power and feel from those superbike-spec Brembo M50s is immense – yet the GT’s also a bike you can ride all day without any kind of ache or pain. (And thanks to that big 23-litre tank, the distance between fill-ups is impressively big as well.)
But what impresses most of all about the updated GT is the way it does all that with such an integrated sense of refinement and class. Yes, at nearly £17K, it’s expensive, but the GT wants for nothing in terms of spec, boasts the very best in equipment and cycle parts, has performance no ‘sports-tourer’ can match and does it all with comfort and composure.
The only shame is those slightly oddball looks, ‘shouty’ orange livery and the usual KTM question marks over dealer experience, residuals and image.
Oh well, maybe you can’t quite have everything for £17K after all…
Specifications: KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
|ENGINE TYPE||75-degree V-twin, four valves per cylinder, liquid cooled|
|BORE X STROKE||108x71mm|
|MAXIMUM POWER||175 hp (130 kW) @ 10,000 rpm|
|MAXIMUM TORQUE||144Nm @ 6750rpm|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||WP 48mm semi-active, upside down fork|
|FUEL TANK||23 litres|