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2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo | First Look Review

Since it first emerged from the dark corners of northern Austria, “The Beast” has steadily grown stronger and more fierce. From its humble origins in 2007 as the 990 Super Duke to the 180-horsepower 1290 Super Duke R that stomped onto the scene for 2015, KTM’s mighty streetfighter commands respect.

Read our comparison review of the 2021 KTM Duke lineup:
200 Duke, 390 Duke, 890 Duke, and 1290 Super Duke R

For 2022, “The Beast” has evolved into the 1290 Super Duke R Evo. It features new WP Semi-Active Technology (SAT) suspension, with damping adjusted in real-time based on conditions in three preset modes: Sport, Street, and Comfort. Rear spring preload can be set via the TFT display’s menu over a 20mm range in 2mm increments.

An optional Suspension Pro package adds three additional modes (Track, Advanced, and Auto) as well as automatic preload adjustment with three levels (Low, Standard, and High).

The 1290 Super Duke R Evo is powered by the same liquid-cooled, 1,301cc V-Twin with titanium inlet valves and resonator chambers on the cylinder heads that makes a claimed 180 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque. When we tested a 2021 1290 Super Duke R, it sent 166 horsepower at 10,100 rpm 94 lb-ft of torque at 8,300 rpm to the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s dyno.

A ram air intake positioned in the headlight mask maximizes air flow to the combustion chambers, and top-feeder injectors and 56 mm throttle bodies provide optimal air to fuel mixture at high rpm. A PANKL 6-speed gearbox provides quick shift times and light lever modulation. An optional dealer-installed Performance Pack combines Motor Slip Regulation (MSR) and Quickshifter+.

For 2022, the throttle-by-wire system features a new 65-degree quick-turn throttle (reduced by 7 degrees) for a faster and more responsive throttle while also reducing rider wrist angle as well as elbow drop at full throttle. Ride modes include Sport, Street, Rain, and optional Track mode, which adds launch control, 9-level spin adjuster, an aggressive engine map, and anti-wheelie off function.

Optional Performance mode takes the Track mode concept and but adapts it for the street. Riders are still able to adjust throttle response, wheel slip, and anti-wheelie functions, but retain typical street functions such as cruise control and KTM MY RIDE.

Equipped with a 6-axis IMU, the 1290 Super Duke R Evo’s standard electronic rider aids include MSC (Motorcycle Stability Control) with cornering ABS by Bosch (including Supermoto mode) and multi-stage, lean-angle sensitive Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC).

As before, The Beast’s skeleton is an ultra-lightweight chrome-molybdenum steel frame that uses the engine as a stressed member. It has a light composite subframe and a single-sided swingarm positioned close to the output sprocket for more control and less squat under acceleration. Cast 17-inch wheels are shod with Bridgestone Battlax HyperSport S22 tires developed with a specific carcass on the rear that’s said to offer a more stable ride in corners, improving grip and performance.

A color TFT display provides pertinent info and easy menu navigation, and standard KTM MY RIDE allows smartphone pairing via Bluetooth to control audio playback and to accept phone calls.

The 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo has more aggressive bodywork and two new colorways. Pricing and availability are TBD.

For more information or to find a KTM dealer near you, visit

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