All the details and technical specifications for the new, KTM 1290 Super Adventure R set to arrive in March 2021 with an extensive list of upgrades following a ground-up redesign.

New bodywork and some fresh colours just scratch the surface of all the work “under the hood” for this new generation 1290 Super Adventure R – the R model being the sportier and more off-road focused edition of the Austrian manufacturer's flagship Adv motorcycle.

It is what lurks beneath all that bodywork where KTM has focused the significant changes aimed at making the new 1290 R more practical to use and better to ride, particularly off-road. Things like an improved electronics package, easier access to the air filter, better heat dissipation from the monster engine  and a new three-part 23 litres (6 US Gal) fuel tank positioned lower for improved bike balance.

2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R in a nutshell:

  • All-new ergonomics offering extra agility
  • New 880mm seat height
  • Reworked 220mm travel, adjustable WP XPLOR suspension
  • New steering head angle
  • “Optimized” [sigh] weight distribution with lower-placed fuel tanks
  • New Bosch electronics package
  • New, intuitive 7’’ TFT display with redesigned handlebar switches
  • New LED headlight with LED daytime light
  • Revised and lighter V-Twin LC8 engine [EURO 5 compliant]
  • Improved heat dissipation
  • Two-part radiators

It's about rider feel...

The chassis has a re-positioned steering head – back by 15mm – which allows for a “relocated” front section of the engine and a slightly longer new diecast open-lattice swingarm which KTM say delivers “a greater depth of feeling under acceleration.” Honestly, it's not like the 1290 was never shy of any 'depth to its acceleration feeling' to start with!


A new subframe is topped with a sportier stepped seat with a new height of 880mm or 34.6inches with slim dimensions and handy storage underneath they say.

Latest generation WP suspension is reworked for the 2021 model. The fully-adjustable 48mm front forks and PDS rear shock have 220mm of travel with the forks featuring split damping functions and which let you adjust settings quickly with a twist of the respective dials.

Electronic package

KTM continues to partner with Bosch with the electronics package inside this beast which hosts such electrickery as a new six-axis lean angle sensor that filters information on the exact pitch and position of the bike and its behaviour.

In turn, this affects the degree of Motorcycle Traction Control, Motor Slip Regulation, Motorcycle Stability Control and the forces of Offroad ABS applied. The electrics on the last model felt kind of unreal when Enduro21 had a test of the bike so we expect much of this new-gen version. As ever with the top-spec KTM Adv bike, all rider assists can be tweaked or disengaged depending on your needs or the terrain.

Alongside the standard Rain, Street, Sport and Offroad ride modes, the optional Rally mode permits riders to adjust the throttle response to a more aggressive setting and select one of nine different levels of wheel spin.

An all-new and more user-friendly 7’’ TFT dashboard – which sits like a tablet in front your face – displaying which settings you’re using and much more. Pair it with the new Connectivity Unit and you get a larger view with quicker and more practical menus that display turn-by-turn directions indicated via the KTM MY RIDE app.

You can also opt for the upgraded “Rally Pack” from your KTM dealer which means Rally riding mode is added and further adjustability for the rider including MTC slip adjuster and the adjustable throttle response. The all-in-one Tech Pack includes a Quickshifter, Motor Slip Regulation, Hill Hold Control and an adaptive brake light.

The LC8 power plant

The KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R houses a new Euro 5-ready LC8 engine that is 1.6kg lighter than the previous model and produces a claimed 160hp at 9,000 rpm and a healthy 138Nm of torque at 6,500rpm. KTM claim that means it has the best power-to-weight offering in the segment.

KTM has also “combed through” the V-Twin engine to improve heat dissipation and shave grams with a lot of effort going towards improving the air flow through the bike. Chiefly that manifests in the 2021 model featuring two separate radiators instead of the one-piece unit of its predecessor.

A lot of testing of the big KTM bikes takes place in America these days, under the attentive boots of Quinn Cody. There can’t be many aspects of the new 1290 Super Adventure R which show the results of his desert testing more than a detailed look at how the hot air exits the bike around the rider legs. KTM say they amount of hot air streaming towards the rider´s legs has been significantly reduced and is easily noticeable in slower riding. Fans of bigger bikes will know things can get pretty hot down there.

Easy-access air filter

A reworked airbox is a practical touch which means you can now easily access the air filter by simply removing four screws. The filter itself now features vertical ribs, instead of horizontal, which helps direct dust or sand towards the bottom of the air box rather than storing it nicely as previously – again, this has to be proof of Cody’s desert testing regime. Overall it shows KTM are thinking practically about the end user out on the trail and not just on the street.

Other engine updates include lighter engine cases, new pistons, improved gear shifting mechanism, the easier filter access and a re-jigged two-header exhaust unit. All-in, the updated LC8 promises to be more reliable and dependable they say.

15,000km service intervals are pretty handy and practically-speaking they claim low fuel consumption of 5.7litres (1.5 US Gal) per 100km (62 miles).

2021 KTM Super Adventure R technical specifications:

ENGINE TYPE: 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, DOHC, liquid-cooled, V 75


BORE / STROKE: 108/71mm

POWER: 118 kW (160 hp) @ 9,000rpm

TORQUE: 138 Nm @ 6,500rpm


STARTER/BATTERY: Electric starter / 12V  11.2Ah


FUEL SYSTEM: Keihin EFI (throttle body Ø 52 mm)

LUBRICATION: Pressure lubrication with 3 Eaton pumps

ENGINE OIL: Motorex, SAE 10W-50



CLUTCH: PASC slipper clutch, hydraulically operated

ENGINE  MANAGEMENT/IGNITION: Keihin EMS with RBW and cruise control, double ignition

TRACTION CONTROL: MTC (lean-angle sensitive, 4 modes, disengageable)

CO2  (GRAM / KM): 134 g/km


FRAME: Chromium-Molybdenum-Steel trellis frame, powder coated

SUBFRAME: Aluminium, powder coated

HANDLEBAR: Aluminium, tapered, Ø 28/22mm

FRONT SUSPENSION: WP XPLOR Upside-Down Ø 48mm forks, compression, rebound, preload adjustable

REAR SUSPENSION: WP XPLOR PDS shock absorber, compression (high and low speed), rebound, hydraulic preload adjustable


FRONT BRAKE: 2 × Brembo 4-piston, radially mounted caliper, 320mm disc

REAR BRAKE: Brembo 2-piston, fixed caliper, 267mm disc

ABS: Bosch 10.3 ME Combined-ABS (incl. Cornering ABS and OFFROAD mode)

WHEELS FRONT/REAR: Forged aluminium spoked rims 2.5 × 21, 4.25 × 18

TYRES FRONT/REAR: 90/90 21; 150/70 ZR 18 (Off-road option: 90/90 × 21; 150/70 × 18)

CHAIN: 525 X-ring chain

SILENCER: Stainless steel silencer 


WHEELBASE: 1,577 ± 15mm



TANK CAPACITY: 23 litres/5 l reserve



Cost: £15,999/$TBA/€19,799

Available from: March 2021


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