First Look: New-Gen KTM 1290 Super Adv S

2 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: KTM Images

The third generation of KTM’s over-1000cc Adventure models is spearheaded by the just-revealed 1290 Super Adventure S – a versatile and high-performance sports-tourer with sweeping mods to engine, frame, swingarm, subframe, fuel tank, radiators, bodywork, ergos, instrumentation, and electronics package.

Here’s a snapshot of the standout mods that appear on this much-updated 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adv S (due to hit Anzac dealers this April), followed by the KTM factory’s more detailed technical insight into those upgrades…


  • New ergonomics – new fuel tank, lower seat and new plastics.
  • Reworked bodywork – shorter chassis, new subframe and longer swingarm.
  • Optimised weight distribution – added agility and comfort.
  • New generation electronics – innovative Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and reworked cornering Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC).
  • More intuitive 7” TFT display – optimal accessibility.
  • Redesigned handlebar switches, improved CCU.
  • Revised 1301cc LC8 engine – 160hp and 138Nm of torque.
  • Next generation of Semi-Active Suspension.
  • Remodelled optional technology – Suspension Pro, Rally Pack and Tech Pack.

Invigorating the Adventure motorcycle segment with the release of its over-1000cc Adventure models for the past eight years, KTM has taken full advantage of the development feedback to introduce a new era of rider-focused design and groundbreaking technology with the 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S.

Introducing a third generation of over-1000cc KTM Adventure models, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is the sportiest and most technologically advanced Adventure bike to ever roll its wheels off the production line in Mattighofen, Austria. Forged to provide the benefits of a versatile sports-tourer with diligence paid to ergonomics and comfort over any terrain, in brief it’s the ultimate high-performance Adventure bike.


Focusing on keener handling, the new KTM 1290 Super Adventure S introduces a chassis overhaul that further enhances weight distribution and riding agility. A sharper cornering sensation is achieved by moving the steering head back by 15mm and relocating the front section of the engine. Additionally, the longer open-lattice swingarm contributes to a more stable feeling under acceleration. The subframe has been crafted to provide a lower seat height without sacrificing durability or practicality.

Surrounding the rider is a new 23-litre, keyless-cap fuel tank and a set of bodywork that augment the bike’s agile feeling. Every centimetre of the panelling has been analysed in order not to impede the riding sensation. Providing additional comfort for the long rides, the new seat is two-tiered and adjustable by 20mm. Also customisable are the handlebar levers, the all-new TFT and the windshield that has been developed through wind tunnel testing and can be moved by 55mm. Overall, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S excels for its lower centralisation of masses and refined weight balance. It begs to be ridden hard or caressed to speed over long distances.


Regulating the ride is the new generation of electronic aids with a less intrusive level of traction control in ‘Rain’, ‘Street’, ‘Sport’, ‘Offroad’ and an updated (optional) ‘Rally’ mode. To take you to the best riding terrain with less fuss, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S introduces an innovative Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system as standard for 2021. Developed in collaboration with Bosch, the radar-based system automatically adjusts the safe distance to traffic ahead according to five stages that can be set with the re-designed handlebar switches.

The riding experience is further boosted with the brand new 7” TFT display that is hooked to a new Connectivity Unit for seamless smartphone pairing. The larger dashboard view has quicker and more practical menu systems as well as clear aesthetic infographics to clearly indicate various sections of the bike. The dash sits on top of a redesigned storage department with a USB charging socket. To communicate with the new display, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S comes with all-new switches on both sides of the handlebar, which offer a new and more seamless user experience. A new set of quick-select and favourites buttons will allow for set-up changes on the fly and while the rider stays focused on the roads ahead.


The heart of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is the revised and Euro5 compliant V-twin. The eye-widening 160hp and 138Nm come in a lighter form (-1.6kg), thanks to thinner engine cases and a new oil circuit. The engine breathes through an upgraded two-headed exhaust and shifts with a revised Pankl gear mechanism that brings big improvements in the optional Quickshifter+.

New pistons have further raised reliability and the whole unit retains better cooling, thanks to a new water/oil system. The two new radiators work with the redesigned bodywork to channel warm air away from the rider’s legs. 15,000km service intervals and low fuel consumption round off the re-energised powerplant.

Furthermore, the lean angle dependent Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC) has two different controllers, one for wheel slip and another for pitch angle, with their own data and strategies. The Cornering ABS and Offroad ABS systems are products of the new Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control, while Motor Slip Regulation is optional.

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S will hurtle along bumpy trails courtesy of a new generation of WP Apex Semi-Active Technology suspension. The SAT boasts augmented damping, thanks to new valves while the 6D lean-angle sensor inputs directly into the unit for a thorough outline of rider behaviour.

Part of the updated range of KTM PowerParts specifically designed for the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is the Suspension Pro package that offers individual damping for the fork and the shock, automatic preload adjustment and an on/off Anti Dive setting. With the additional Rally Pack featuring the ‘Rally’ riding mode and the respective MTC slip adjuster, all of the Suspension Pro and Rally Pack features together with the Quickshifter+, the Motor Slip Regulation, the Hill Hold Control and the adaptive brake light are included in the all-in-one Tech Pack.

According to Joachim Sauer, KTM Product Manager: “The 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is a sporty bike designed to offer unparalleled riding fun in any terrain. With this model, KTM enters its third generation of big Travel-Enduro bikes for street and gravel adventurers. Collecting feedback from the market, we focused on enhancing rider feeling and ergonomics while introducing groundbreaking advancements, such as the Adaptive Cruise Control, the KTM way. To appreciate the magic of our ACC, you need to consider that the ideal roads to experience the thrilling performance of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S may lie hours away. With highways in between, ACC will let you breeze through the transit, keeping you ready to strike whenever possible. The new generation model will carry you as far, long and as hard as you want while keeping the original KTM DNA strong with its elevated performance potential.”

The new generation KTM 1290 Super Adventure S will be available at authorised KTM dealers in Australia and New Zealand starting late April, 2021.

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