New KTM 1290 Super Adventure S uncaged

KTM says it is introducing a new era of rider-focused design and ground-breaking technology, with the 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S tourer.

Representing a third generation of over-1000cc KTM Adventure motorcycles, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is the sportiest and most advanced KTM adventure bike yet. Built to provide the benefits of a versatile sports-tourer with an emphasis on ergonomics and comfort over any terrain, it’s Mattighofen’s ultimate high-performance adventure bike.

KTM Super Adventure S on a banked oval

Re-designed ergonomics

With a focus on more eager handling, the new KTM 1290 Super Adventure S underwent a chassis overhaul for enhanced weight distribution and agility. Designers achieved a sharper cornering feel by moving the steering head back by 15 mm and re-locating the front section of the engine. In addition, the longer open-lattice swingarm adds to a more stable feeling when accelerating. KTM crafted the subframe to provide a lower seat height without sacrificing strength or practicality, they say.

Surrounding the rider is a new 23-litre fuel tank with keyless-cap and a set of bodywork that amplifies the bike’s agile character. KTM says every centimetre of the panelling was analysed in order not to impede the riding sensation. Providing additional comfort for long rides, the new seat is two-tiered and its height adjustable by 20 mm. Owners can also adjust the handlebar levers, the all-new TFT screen and the windshield. The latter was developed through wind tunnel testing and can be moved by 55 mm.

The face of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

Technology to boost performance

The Adventure S has a 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 your destination and the best riding terrain with ease, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S introduces Adaptive Cruise Control as standard for 2021, KTM says. “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,” it says.

The brand new 7” (18 cm) TFT display and new Connectivity Unit allow for easy smartphone pairing. The larger dashboard view has quicker and more practical menu systems. Specific infographics clearly indicate various sections of the bike. The dash sits on top of a redesigned storage compartment that has a USB charging socket. The Adventure S comes with all-new switches on both sides of the handlebar. A new set of quick-select and favourites buttons allow set-up changes on the fly, while the rider can stay focused on the road ahead.

Advanced components

The heart of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is the revised and Euro5 compliant 1 301 cc, LC8 V-twin. Its 160 hp (119 kW) and 138 Nm come in a lighter form (-1.6 kg) thanks to thinner engine casings and a new oil circuit. The engine breathes through an upgraded two-headed exhaust. The transmission shifts with a revised gear mechanism that brings big improvements to the optional Quickshifter+. The engine’s output compares favourably to the 100 kW and 143 Nm maximum output of the BMW R 1250 GS.

KTM says new pistons increase reliability and the whole engine 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. Service intervals of 15 000 km and low fuel consumption round off the re-energized powerplant, the company states.

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

Instruments of the KTM 1290 SAS

Trick suspension

KTM says the 1290 Super Adventure S will fly along bumpy trails thanks to a new generation of WP APEX Semi-Active Technology (SAT) 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 damper, 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.

KTM Product Manager Joachim Sauer says “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 ground-breaking advancements, such as the Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), 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,” Sauer says.

The 1290 SAS popping a wheelie

Highlights of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

New ergonomics  New fuel tank, lower seat & new plastics
Reworked bodywork  Shorter chassis, new subframe & longer swingarm
Optimised weight distribution  Added agility & comfort
New generation electronics  Innovative ACC & reworked cornering MTC
More intuitive 7” TFT display  Optimal accessibility
Redesigned ergonomics  New handlebar switches
Revised engine  Upgraded 1 301 cc LC8 engine: 160 hp / 119 kW & 138 Nm
Next-generation dampers  Semi-Active Suspension
Remodeled optional technology  Suspension Pro, Rally Pack & Tech Pack

The new generation KTM 1290 Super Adventure S will be available at KTM dealers from March 2021. For more information please contact your local KTM dealer or visit