Read more about the 2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT First Ride Review at Motorcycle.com.We probably didn’t need to travel to Spain to find out theSuper Duke GT is a terrific motorcycle. After all, it’s based on our 2014 Motorcycle of the Year, the wonderfully capable and funtastically fast Super Duke R. What was yet to be discovered was how the changes from R to GT worked to transform the hooligan roadster into a proper grand tourer.
But it would be unfair to think of the GT as just an R with a windscreen, as it underwent a cornucopia of changes: KTM claims the GT’s development required more than 30 man-years of work. That might sound a bit hyperbolic until all the upgrades are added up.
The GT brings a host of electronics previously unavailable on the SDR, including a semi-active suspension, Cornering ABS, cruise control, heated grips and KTM’s first quickshifter. The GT also receives as standard equipment electronic tire-pressure monitoring, self-canceling turnsignals and LED cornering lights.
The Super Duke R is blessed with one of the greatest motorcycle engines of all time, and the GT gets a revised version of KTM’s 1301cc V-Twin engine. It’s purported to push out the same 173 crank horsepower and 106 lb-ft of torque as the SDR, but it hits its torque peak 1000 revs sooner (6750 rpm) and is said to have no less than 86 lb-ft available at just 3250 rpm. Credit a new cylinder head with narrower intake ports and reshaped combustion chambers.
Moreover, the engine was required to meet tough new Euro 4 emissions regulations (40% less pollution than Euro 3, according to KTM’s Erich Friedl), so the GT has a new pre-muffler and catalyst under the engine, plus a new stainless steel muffler with internal flapper valve that boasts seven maps to moderate noise emissions for all six gears plus neutral. Friedl says that tuning in smooth drivability while meeting Euro 4 emissions is extremely challenging.
All that said and we haven’t yet gotten to the new bones of the GT. The headlight is pushed forward and mounted on a nylon composite bracket that also supports the sharply angled fairing, windscreen and the VDO instruments we’re accustomed to seeing on KTMs. Fuel capacity is upped from 18 liters to tour-worthy 23 (6.1 gallons). At the rear, a bespoke subframe is built from aluminum tubes, a structure that supports a longer pillion saddle and integrated mounts for the saddlebags developed internally by KTM rather than using off-the-shelf bags. The panniers are optional in Europe but standard in North America.
Ergonomically, the GT’s 25mm-wider handlebar places hands 5mm higher than the SDR. Further adjustments are available by reversing the handlebar clamp, which brings the bar ends 12mm closer to a rider, and the clamp also has an alternate mounting hole that provides another 10mm of adjustment. And, as with any one-piece handlebar, it can also be rotated in its clamp to suit individual taste. Footpegs for both pilot and pillion have been lowered for extended legroom. Nubs for shifter and brake pedal can be set to three positions to suit feet of different sizes, and both hand levers are adjustable for reach.