First Look: 2021 KTM Super Adventure 1290 S

Published: January 27, 2021

Sharper chassis, tweaked motor and radar-assisted cruise control for KTM’s giant traillie

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
2021 KTM Super Adventure 1290 S

A super-strong V-twin motor, capable chassis, top electronics and aggressive styling – there’s a lot to like about the KTM Super Adventure 1290 S. We were big fans of it when we tested it against the BMW R1250 GS a while back. And now, for 2021, the Austrian firm has ratcheted up the tech and performance even more, with uprated Euro5 motor, tweaked chassis, new semi-active electronic suspension and radar-assisted cruise control.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
2021 KTM Super Adventure 1290 S

The 1,301cc V-twin engine isn’t massively changed for 2021 – still making 160bhp and 138Nm – but is more compact and 1.6kg  lighter, thanks to thinner cases. There’s a new exhaust system and pistons, and a load of detail mods to the cooling system. The motor has always been a belter to be fair, so there wasn’t a lot needed in terms of huge changes.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
The KTM Super Adventure 1290 S has a new exhaust system

On the chassis front, you get next-generation WP APEX SAT semi-active suspension with all-new valving internally, which is assisted by the new six-axis IMU unit. There’s also an optional Suspension Pro upgrade package which offers individual damping for the fork and the shock, automatic preload adjustment and an on/off Anti Dive setting. Brakes are Brembo as usual, and there’s a new Bosch cornering ABS setup. The frame is also tweaked, with a new forged aluminium rear subframe and shorter dimensions.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
2021 KTM Super Adventure 1290 S

The KTM engineers worked to improve comfort and ergonomics on the new 1290 too – so there’s a new fuel tank, lower seat and all-new fairing panels. The chassis is shorter overall too, with a longer swingarm and that new subframe. The result is better mass distribution, which is claimed to improve agility and comfort over the old bike.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
We’re looking forward to having a spin!

The dashboard is easier to use, with its new, massive 7” TFT LCD full colour display and updated versions of KTM’s excellent switchgear. And the latest gizmo – ACC Adaptive Cruise Control is easily accessed here, with five settings to control how far you sit from traffic in front. It keeps working when you change gear, and also adds a quick burst of acceleration when you change lanes to overtake, which sounds like it might be a teeny bit freaky at first…

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
7” Full LCD Display

Of course, being a KTM, the new bike has all the usual bells and whistles: advanced lean-sensitive traction control, smart ABS, up/down quickshifter, keyless ignition, rider power modes, Bluetooth connection, tyre pressure monitoring, semi-active suspension control, LED lighting, cornering headlight and more. Our only query is the choice of standard tyres – Mitas Terra Force-R rubber, rather than something from the bigger, more established mainstream brands. We’ll suspend judgement till we try them of course.

The new Super Adventure S will be in the dealers in March – but there’s no final word on price just yet. We’re very much looking forward to having a wee spin on one this spring for sure!

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