KTM has created a strong image around the 1290 Super Duke R ever since 2013, when the prototype nicknamed “Beast” snarled through numerous promo movies and was wheelied up Goodwood’s Festival of Speed hill by MotoGP ace and development rider Jeremy McWilliams. Some riders felt the following year’s rapid but refined production model didn’t quite match that wild image. Hence this even more powerful and performance-oriented follow-up, which the Austrian firm is calling Beast 2.0.
It lives up to the hype too, at least when fitted with the optional Track Pack, which adds a sharper riding mode, and allows the anti-wheelie control to be turned off without disabling the traction control. That subtle balance between ferocious performance and electronic refinement has always been at the heart of the 1290 Super Duke R’s appeal, and this updated model is improved in both respects. It’s beastly yet immaculately well-mannered; a streetfighter in a Savile Row suit. KTM’s naked hooligan machine has come a long way, but its essential character remains thrillingly intact.
Price tag of our bike: £14,726 (bike £13,999 plus £282 Track Pack for extra electronic functions, and £445 Performance Pack for features including gearbox quick-shifter and Bluetooth smartphone integration)
Photography by Marco Campelli & Sebas Romero