KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, first impressions

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is a very different beast from my previous bike. So different it’s almost like comparing apples and oranges. 

But compare them I will (attempt), although there are some other variables to factor in. Some variables are related to me. For those who’ve not read previous posts, here are some reasons.

Getting back in the saddle

Through fall 2020 and winter 2020/2021 thoughts infrequently circled around how it would be to get back in the saddle. How it would be to ride a motorcycle again. Countless hours of physiotherapy and training have given good results. But one thing is to imagine, quite another to do it.

Physiology aside, then you also have the mental aspects. How would I react to getting back on a bike, especially in early spring? With cold pavement, gravel and sand littered everywhere? I know the answer to that too. With caution and sensible riding, just fine.

2019 KTM 1290 Super Adventrure S

The new bike, a 2019 KTM 1290 Super Adventrure S, is finally home.

It will take some time before I’m ready for the really long hauls. But I notice, for every time I’ve been out on shorter rides during Easter, things improve. The body adjusts. When you choose a motorcycle, you try to find something that matches your needs, or desires. Or both. I bought the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S in December. Which in Norway means, no test riding is possible, normally.

So I gambled. It could have gone both ways. It could have been a disaster, it could have been the wrong choice. Well it wasn’t. But the bike is not without it’s niggles. I’ll get into that shortly.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, first impressions

Riding off I noticed again what I already knew from “test sitting”. The factory seat is as comfy as a wooden bench. A 100 kilometers detour on the way home was enough to wind up with a stiff butt. Some might tolerate this kind of hard seats, or even like it. Not for me. And definitely not while doing long rides.

The second niggle was/is the wind screen. If you’re >192cm or 6″3’ish few stock windscreens will fit. The seller, who had owned the same bike and was my height, told me flat out. It’s fairly useless. Well useless might be a too strong term. But after doing all the adjustments I could, it was clear it would not suffice. I will be looking for a spoiler to it though.

The third thing, which I also knew about, is the handlebar position. Just as on the R1200GSA, all wrong for me. Too low, and too far away.  And I don’t have short arms. So, no surprises there either. If you misjudge this ergonomic aspect the result may turn into muscle stress. Or a hurting back. It all depends on your physiology.

2019 KTM 1290 Super Adventrure S

Out on one of the first rides with the new bike

How it rides

My bike was fitted with a set of brand new Michelin Anakee Adventure tires. A good thing, since I know these tires very well. For a heavy adventure bike, Anakee Adventure is in my opinion one of the better choices in this segment. At least if you do a 80/20 or 70/30 pavement/gravel mix of riding.  But they’re brilliant on wet pavement too. Check out this post for more details. Right off they seemed a good fit for the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S too. No surprises there.

While on the 100km detour home the first thought was the bike is like a Honda 2020 CRF1100 Africa Twin Adventure Sports, on a large dose of stereoides.  How I know? Well I’ve ridden it, it’s a good bike. How large a stereoid dosage depends on how much you engage with the throttle.

On low RPM and high gear there are a lot more vibrations and engine presence than on the boxer beemer. Or quite similar to the Honda CRF1000 or CRF1100ATAS. But you get used to it.

The 1290SAS (short for Super Adventure S) is geared differently than the previous bike. Quickly realized that riding comfortably in lower speeds meant more 4th and 5th. More shifting. But the quick-shifter on this bike is, contrary to that of the R1200GSA, silky smooth. Almost like riding an Africa Twin with DCT.

2019 KTM 1290 Super Adventrure S

During Easter, the first 1000 kilometers done.

Since new tires and cold pavement, plus my own (mental) calibration, no super-active riding. But let me say this,  the bike rides just as good as I hoped. Awesome brakes, easy to flick. Very well balanced, responsive, precise. Center of gravity is definitely higher than on the 1200GSA. But I had absolutely zero difficulty adapting.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, first changes

Since getting the bike I’ve now done a around 850 kilometers.  Had KTM comfort/ergo seats and a new Puig Touring screen with spoiler already waiting. To those who consider this bike, whether a few years older or the 2020, at least buy the seats! Both choices turned out to be what I hoped, and transformed the riding experience.

I also had risers waiting. But those I decided were too low. They’ll end up in the classifieds. I’ve had Rox risers before on the R1200GSA. They turned out to be a brilliant choice. This time around I went for  Voigt Moto Technik. And handlebar risers with fixed offset, much like those made by Wunderlich, a key BMW supplier of stuff. I’ll write about this and other things later.

So, all in all, where are we? I’m this far content with my choice. It’s a great motorcycle, one of the better options in the adventure category. Don’t like the luggage solution but it will suffice.  After 3 beemers it was time with for a change. Back later with more!

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