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Friday, June 9, 2023

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S Review: Paradise Found On The Only Motorcycle You’ll Ever Need

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Sitting atop my energetic steed, I’m hurtling north on Interstate 5 over the hills of Southern California. The cars at the edge of my vision begin to blur with speed, and as I look down at the beautiful 6.5-inch LCD display between my hands I realize I’m way over the limit. So I roll off the throttle, set the cruise control at an acceptable velocity, and lean into the hours of comfortable travel in front of me with this do-it-all adventure motorcycle.


I’m heading to San Francisco to meet up with a buddy for three days of riding and camping along the California coast and its mountainous backroads. Back in my twenties, I drooled over bikes like the Ninja ZX-6R and Honda Interceptor. I wished to channel my inner Maverick and fulfill that bone-headed need for speed.

KTM is King in the Twisties

After a good night out with great friends, my buddy and I rise with the sun and head for the Pacific coast the next day. While the KTM made a surprisingly solid highway cruiser the day before, it’s no great shock that it shines in the twisties. It weighs 560 pounds with a full tank of gas, and the bike’s Sport mode (accessible through a Super-Nintendo-like directional pad on the left-hand grip) tightens up the suspension and throttle response beautifully.

Dual Purpose, Dual Threat

And that’s what makes the 1290 Super Adventure S such a remarkable machine. The 1301cc 75 degreeV-Twinis this Austrian beast’s shining jewel, its 160 horsepowerpower output a blinding gleam. The refined, ultra-lightweight tubular trellis frame provides the necessary stability to control all that brute power, and the configurable WP Suspension system (with separate Race, Road, Comfort, and Off-Road modes) is arguably one of the best out there, allowing any rider to adjust the road feel to their liking.

Nitpicking the 1290 Super Adventure S

So the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is about as close to perfect as motorcycles can get in my opinion. But where does it fall a little short? Ironically, for riders under six feet. It’s a pretty tall bike, so while my gigantic self felt perfectly comfortable, shorter riders might have a different experience. It’s also heavy, though you don’t really feel that weight except at low speeds.

The Price of Near-Perfection

If you think a do-it-all motorcycle that has the potential to replace the rest of your fleet won’t come cheap, you are somewhat correct. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S comes it at $18,000—but again, you’re getting exactly what you pay for. This bike packs supercar and grand touring performance into one of the best road-going packages you can buy right now. An off-road-focused bike like the company’s 1290 Super Adventure R or the 1090 Adventure R might get you farther off the beaten path, but the S model still has the all-terrain ability to tackle a rough fire road with ease.

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