The 1290 Super Adventure R is the biggest off-road focused machine KTM makes and it has received a thorough re-engineering for 2021.

  • New chassis and three-piece fuel tank
  • Revised internals for Euro 5-compliant engine
  • New bodywork for better ergonomics

2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R chassis

KTM has gone back to the drawing board for its big adventure bike with the goal of making it easier to ride and even more capable. To do so, the company redesigned the chassis, moved the steering head 15mm back for sharper steering, and introduced a longer swingarm. The fuel tank is now split into three sections, with two of them slung along the sides – similar to the 890 Adventure and 890 Adventure R, but not as low. This helps in creating a lower center of gravity when brimmed with 23-liters of petrol and KTM has also reworked all the bodywork for better ergonomics. The handlebar position, footpegs, and levers are all adjustable to further tailor the fit to individual riders. 

Suspension wise, the bike continues with a fully adjustable 48mm WP XPLOR fork and a fully adjustable WP PDS rear shock, both with the same 220mm of travel as before. The seat is now 10mm lower, but at 880mm it’s still at an imposing height. The bike weighs in at 221kg dry (KTM doesn’t quote the fully fueled kerb weight), which is a 3 kilo increase over its predecessor. For reference, a BMW R 1250 GS weighs 249kgs fully fueled, while the R 1250 S adventure with its bigger 30-litre fuel tank and additional suspension travel weighs in at 268 kilos. 

The 1290 Super Adventure R runs on Bridgestone A41 adventure tyres. The tyres are mounted on aluminium spoked wheels by Italian manufacturer Alpina. These rims can run tubeless tyres thanks to o-ring seals on the spoke nipples. 

2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R engine

The Super Adventure gets a revised version of the mighty 1301cc V-twin engine from the previous bike. Power remains the same 160hp, but torque has reduced slightly from 140Nm to 138Nm. However, KTM says they’ve done extensive work within the engine that now meets Euro 5 regulations. That includes new pistons, new material surfaces and lighter engine cases. The engine is now 1.6kg lighter and KTM says they’ve also worked on the 6-speed gearbox for faster and lighter responses.

The airbox has been redesigned for easier access to the air filter, which itself has a new design to better manage sand and dust. The cooling system has also been reworked and the bike now features a split radiator set-up. This is something seen in most dirt bikes and it helps to prevent dirt getting kicked off the front wheel from clogging the radiator. KTM also says the idea is to duct hot air away from the rider, which is something that should be most beneficial at low speeds.

2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R electronics and features

Part of the redesign for 2021 brings in a new full-LED headlamp. It looks similar to the one in the new 1290 Super Adventure S, but the R won’t get the radar assisted cruise control feature from its road biased sibling. The bike gets a new 7-inch TFT display which is controlled by redesigned switchgear. 

As with all big KTMs, the 1290 Super Adventure R gets a raft of electronic assists, inducing traction control, cornering ABS, off-road ABS, motor slip regulation, cruise control, keyless ignition, and a tire pressure monitoring system. However, some things like an up-down quick shifter, hill-hold, and the Rally mode with its adjustable traction control and throttle response are still optional extras.


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