KTM’s 2021 1290 Super Adv R: Revealed

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

Just a month ago, KTM unveiled their new-generation 1290 Super Adventure S– the Austrian brand’s high-performance sports-tourer that comes with sweeping mods to engine, frame, swingarm, subframe, fuel tank, radiators, bodywork, ergos, instrumentation and electronics package for 2021.

And ever since, we’ve actually been hanging out to clap eyes on its more off-road capable cousin, the 1290 Super Adventure R. Just as we expected, the 2021 Super Adv R also comes with sweeping mods and class-leading performance.

Here are a few excerpts from KTM’s PR about the all-new 2021-model 1290 Super Adventure R…

The second installment in the new-generation of litre-class KTM Adventure models comes in the form of the all-new KTM 1290 Super Adventure R. Engineered to cross the wildest and most challenging terrain, this motorcycle has the capacity to take adventurers anywhere. Primed and ready to plant its flag anywhere on the planet, the 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R has been designed from the ground up with an extensive list of innovative upgrades.


  • All-new ergonomics offering extra agility
  • Redesigned seat with lower height
  • Reworked long-travel, adjustable WP XPLOR suspension
  • Optimized weight distribution with lower-placed fuel tanks
  • Cutting-edge electronics that enhance the ride
  • New, intuitive 7’’ TFT display with redesigned handlebar switches
  • New LED headlight with LED daytime light
  • Revised V-Twin engine with improved heat dissipation
  • New, Adventure-specced tyres by Bridgestone


Riding the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R across rough terrain in the easiest and most intuitive way has been a development priority for the completely reworked 2021 edition. All-new bodywork provides excellent ergonomics (and allows the fuel to be held in the tank as low as possible) and has been designed for better agility, a lower center of gravity and an even better feeling in all riding conditions.

A sharper cornering sensation has been achieved by moving the steering head back by 15mm, re-locating the front section of the engine and introducing a slightly longer new die-cast open-lattice swingarm for a greater depth of feeling under acceleration. KTM engineers have analysed and trimmed every centimetre of the new bodywork in order to provide the right thickness and the optimal rider-to-bike contact.

The sensation of control and balance is augmented by the new three-part fuel tank that holds 23 litres and is positioned lower to assist riding equilibrium. Like the chassis, the subframe has also been reconstructed and is topped with a sporty stepped seat at 880mm of height with slim dimensions and a handy storage underneath.

Further enhancing handling is the reworked 2021 WP suspension configuration. The KTM 1290 Super Adventure R streams elements of KTM’s prolificacy in off-road and embraces the best of WP XPLOR technology. The fully adjustable 48mm front forks with an impressive 220mm of travel feature split damping functions and quick modification potential with a twist of the respective dials. The same travel measurement graces the WP PDS shock. The competence of the system was achieved through tests in the Californian desert as well as long stretches of varied landscapes across Europe.


The 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is a vessel for the latest electronics packages and continuation of the collaboration with first-rate pioneers like Bosch. A new six-axis lean-angle sensor 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 forces of Offroad ABS. To fit the needs of the modern all-terrain riding enthusiast, all rider assists can be tweaked or disengaged.

Alongside the standard Rain, Street, Sport and Offroad ride modes, the optional Rally mode permits riders to set throttle response to aggressive and select one of nine different levels of wheelspin. The changes to suit any kind of topography are all charted through the all-new and more user-friendly 7’’ TFT dash, which is hooked to a new Connectivity Unit. The larger view has quicker and more practical menus and clearly shows turn-by-turn directions indicated by the KTM MY RIDE app.


The KTM 1290 Super Adventure R relies on the new Euro5-ready LC8 that is now 1.6kg lighter and froths out 160hp at 9000rpm and 138Nm of torque at 6500rpm for the best power-to-weight offering in the segment. KTM has combed through the internals of the V-Twin powerplant to improve heat dissipation and shave grams in the quest for improved rideability.

With a lot of effort going towards optimising the airflow through the bike, the 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R features two separate radiators instead of the one-piece unit of its predecessor. With cleverly designed air ducts, the amount of hot air streaming towards the rider’s legs has been significantly reduced and the difference becomes easily noticeable in the slow, tight sections.

Thanks to a reworked airbox, riders 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 airbox. Overall, a better design for hardcore adventurers.

Some additional engine updates include lighter engine cases, new pistons, improved shifting, altered coatings and easier filter access and a re-jigged two-header exhaust unit, with the updated package making the LC8 flighty, more reliable and more dependable for all types of trail. 15,000km service intervals have again been achieved with low fuel consumption at 5.7l/100km. Together with Pankl, KTM has also reworked the gearbox shifting mechanism for faster, lighter and more responsive actions. The full force of this update can be felt through the optional Quickshifter+, which now has a faster and even more precise operation.

To cope with the rigours of life away from the beaten track, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is armed with premium-level equipment. New, Adventure-specific Bridgestone tyres are wrapped around Alpina aluminium spoked wheels, which can be run tubeless with a reassuring O-ring sealant in the spoke nipples. This new generation 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R comes with modern and eye-catching paint and graphic set.

KTM RACE ON tech takes keyless ignition to a new level of autonomy, separate Tyre Pressure Monitor system sensors provide more detailed customization, and four piston radial mounted Brembo calipers bring the whole show to a fearsome stop or satisfying slide. The windshield, the levers, the pegs and the handlebars all are adjustable to further enhance rider adaptability.

As is the case with its S model counterpart, the new KTM 1290 Super Adventure R benefits from a remodelled optional software package policy. With the Rally Pack offering the Rally riding mode, the MTC slip adjuster and the adjustable throttle response, the all-in-one Tech Pack includes the Quickshifter+, the Motor Slip Regulation, the Hill Hold Control, the adaptive brake light and all the features of the Rally Pack

According to KTM Product Manager, Joachim Sauer, “For KTM, ‘R’ stands for ‘Rally’ and ‘Racing’, so with the new KTM 1290 Super Adventure R we really feel in our element. Adopting all the great benefits of the recently launched S model, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is here to set new standards of all-terrain performance. With this new off-road powerhouse, we wanted even more rideability and to achieve it, we looked into rider-focused ergonomics and improved suspension performance. The new bike also offers a big step forward in terms of weight distribution and riding agility. Making gains with the overall performance of our LC8, we were also able to give the 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R innovative technical features. If some of the best moments of adventuring come about by discovering the unknown, with this bike riders could not have a better tool for the job.”

The new-generation KTM 1290 Super Adventure R will be available at authorised KTM dealers in Australia and New Zealand from May, 2021. Pricing is yet to be confirmed.

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