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ADV BikesTrail-Tough KTM 1290 Super Adventure Build

Trail-Tough KTM 1290 Super Adventure Build

A well-equipped Super Adventure built for overlanding on tough terrain.

Published on 08.01.2016

When KTM introduced the 1290 Super Adventure in 2015, it was advertised as a bigger, smoother, long-range adventure touring bike. Not much was mentioned about its off-road capabilities and many assumed it would be too big and heavy for serious off-road use.

But there’s a lot of hidden off-road potential in the Super Adventure. Essentially, it’s a KTM 1190 Adventure (a known off-road performer) with a bigger tank and a few more comfort options added. It has the same off-road-oriented suspension as the standard 1190 Adventure, but with even more suspension travel. An advanced semi-active electronically-controlled suspension gives the bike an impressive ability to adapt to difficult terrain. Even in stock form, it’s far better off-road than its spec sheet would suggest.

We recently caught up with Kurt Forgét, owner of Black Dog Cycle Works, at the Overland Expo in Mormon Lake, Arizona. On display at the Black Dog booth was Kurt’s own personal bike, a completely farkled out KTM 1290 Super Adventure. And not surprising if you know Kurt, he rode the bike 1,300 miles to the event from Sandpoint, Idaho — much of it off-road and camping along the way.


Black Dog KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Kurt is a hardcore off-road rider himself and when the Super Adventure first came out, he immediately realized its dirt potential and knew he had to have one. All it needed was a few strategic upgrades to bring out its “Ready to Race” heritage. The Black Dog crew quickly developed a selection of aftermarket products for the 1290 Super Adventure, to improve its durability and performance for riding in some of the toughest terrain. They also sourced products from other top manufacturers to help create their idea of the ultimate KTM 1290 Super Adventure.

The result is a long-range adventure touring motorcycle that can handle nearly any trail and carry tons of gear, while still allowing you to ride 600-mile days in comfort on the highway as you travel from state-to-state in search of new regions to explore. So far Kurt has taken this 160 horsepower beast across the toughest high mountain passes on the COBDR and many of the roughest sections of the AZBDR. This versatile big bike has proven its ability to handle nearly any trail and the miles Kurt continues to rack up are a testament to how much he loves this machine!

Below is a list of the aftermarket upgrades that make up this trail-tough Black Dog KTM 1290 Super Adventure Build:

Continental TKC80 Front/Heidenau K60 Rear Dual Sport Tires

KTM 1290 Super Adventure Dual Sport Tires

The KTM’s stock street-biased Continental Trail Attack 2 tires just don’t cut it in deep sand and loose rocks. A set of grippy 50/50 dual sport tires are essential for the most difficult off-road terrain. The Black Dog KTM 1290 is set up with a mixture of rubber, utilizing the Continental TKC80 in the front and a Heidenau K60 Scout in the rear. This is a popular combination among seasoned Adventure Riders, giving the confidence of a true-knobby tire in the front with the longer wear and still-impressive grip of the Heidenau in the rear.

Rigid Industries DOT Dually LED Aux Lights

KTM 1290 Super Adventure - Rigid Industries DOT Dually LED Aux Lights

Good lighting is essential for safe off-road travel. A flat tire or other mechanical issue can easily set you back hours, forcing you to roll into camp far after dark. The Rigid Dually LED Auxiliary lights are a great set of lights for improving your night vision on the trail, with impressive long- and short-range light projection. They’re also DOT/SAE certified for street use so you don’t have to switch them off when oncoming traffic approaches. Each LED Aux light puts out 1,760 lumens of light while drawing only 33 watts. They also come with amber light covers that easily snap on to give better visibility in fog and make the bike stand out more to other motorists.

Rigid Industries 6″ SR2 LED Light Bar Kit


For serious nighttime expeditions, you need ultra-bright lighting that can illuminate hazards far down the road. The Rigid Industries 6″ SR2 LED Light Bar gets the job done, pumping out a whopping 3,375 Lumens of bright white light on the trail ahead. What’s more, the light bar is mounted to the fork with a billet aluminum BDCW fork mount, allowing the beam of light to shine in the direction of travel. The unique fork mount also lets you scan terrain at night by just turning the bars back-and-forth at a stop. Rigid LED Lights are known for being extremely durable as well, so you can feel confident they can handle the impact of flying rocks and debris.

BDCW Rear Rack and Pillion Rack

KTM 1290 Super Adventure Rear Rack and Pillion Rack System

Keeping all your gear secure and in place is incredibly important off-road, because a loose load can quickly become a safety hazard. When you are riding off-road, there’s usually no need for a passenger seat. The Black Dog Pillion Rack allows you to remove the passenger seat and install a luggage rack in its place. The Pillion Rack fits perfectly with Black Dog’s Rear Rack to create a large seamless platform for carrying everything you need for an extended trip into the backcountry. The solid 1/4-inch aluminum plate has several oversized tie-down holes to make positioning and strapping loads easier, and two hand holds are built in for lifting the big KTM. The extra surface area of the dual rack system also enables several different mounting options for RotopaX auxiliary fuel cans, or even a WARN winch.

BRP/Scott’s Steering Damper Kit

KTM 1290 Super Adventure Scott's Steering Damper

While the stock non-adjustable steering damper on the KTM 1290 Super Adventure works well for street duties, when you’ve got nearly 600 pounds dancing around in the whoops, you need more control. A BRP/Scott’s steering damper slows down the kickback as you hit obstacles on the trail and allows you to apply smoother steering movements at high-speed. The BRP/Scotts damper seconds as a rubber mounted bar riser, giving you more leverage and less energy-sapping vibration at the bars. The device is also fully adjustable so you can increase or decrease the amount of damping force depending on the terrain.

BDCW Heat Deflector Kit

KTM 1290 Super Adventure heat deflector shield

While having 160 horsepower has its advantages, it has a few drawbacks as well — like heat coming off the engine roasting your legs. This can really become noticeable when you are picking your way through a slow technical trail on a hot day. One way to get rid of this annoyance is a set of heat deflector plates. The four-piece heat deflector kit from Black Dog, significantly improves comfort and offers additional impact protection for the rear brake reservoir. Side visibility on the street is also improved with optional Rigid Industries amber LED lights mounted on the plates.

BDCW Ultimate Skid Plate 2.0

KTM 1290 Super Adventure skid plate

On a heavy bike like the KTM 1290 Super Adventure, having good sump protection is a must off-road. And if there’s one thing Black Dog Cycle Works is best known for, it’s their bulletproof skid plates. The company recently released version 2.0 of their rock crushing skid plate in an attempt to make it even better. It may have already been the most rugged, bombproof skidplate on the market, but now it has additional ventilation for more-efficient engine cooling, better coverage for the ignition cover, increased ground clearance and a stronger side stand relocation mount.

BDCW Radiator Guard

BDCW Radiator Guard for KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Flying debris can easily get past the stock plastic radiator guard and ruin your day with a coolant leak. Once a radiator is pierced, you can leak out valuable coolant and you may not notice you have overheated until it’s too late. The Black Dog Radiator Guard offers complete protection while still providing optimized airflow to the vulnerable radiator fins. Precision-cut aircraft alloy material with an anodized orange finish makes it durable and chip resistant.

BDCW Oil Cooler Guard

BDCW Oil Cooler Guard for KTM 1290 Super Adventure

The KTM 1290 Super Adventure’s exposed oil cooler uses radiator antifreeze to cool down the engine’s oil. An impact from a kicked up rock or tip over can damage the oil cooler and potentially cause oil and coolant to mix together in the engine. If not detected quickly, this could lead to expensive repairs at your local KTM dealer. The Black Dog aluminum oil cooler guard provides a little extra peace of mind when riding in remote regions where there’s no support truck to get you out of a jam.

BDCW Traction Platform Footpegs

BDCW Traction Footpegs for the KTM 1290 Super Adventure

The stock KTM 1290 Super Adventure pegs are too small to give good grip and support required for serious off-road riding. Black Dog’s Traction Footpegs feature aggressive serrated teeth on a large platform-style peg. A larger platform gives better support for stand-up riding, reducing fatigue and making it easier to get your footing on technical trails. The additional leverage also makes it easier to steer the bike with your feet. A set of removable spikes can also be installed to further enhance traction in muddy conditions. Precision-machined aircraft alloy construction makes them nearly indestructible, and of course each peg has Black Dog’s signature built-in bottle opener for your well-deserved cold beer at the end of the day!

DoubleTake Adventure Mirrors

KTM 1290 Super Adventure - DoubleTake Adventure Mirrors

Drop your KTM 1290 Super Adventure a few times off-road and you’ll most likely be in need of a new set of expensive KTM mirrors. DoubleTake adventure mirrors cost a lot less than the OEM mirrors and they collapse inward on impact, making them virtually unbreakable. DoubleTake recently released their new “Adventure Mirror” design that is far more stable at high speeds and still folds down out of the way on rougher trails.

Aftermarket Parts List

Aftermarket Product Price USD
 Continental TKC80 Front/Heidenau K60 Rear Dual Sport Tires $354.00
 Rigid Industries DOT Dually LED Aux Lights $369.00
 Rigid Industries 6″ SR2 LED Light Bar Kit $481.50
 BDCW Rear and Pillion Rack $385.00
 BRP/Scott’s Steering Damper Kit $670.00
 BDCW Heat Deflector Kit $124.00
 BDCW Ultimate Skid Plate 2.0 $590.00
 BDCW Radiator Guard $125.00
 BDCW Oil Cooler Guard $69.00
 BDCW Traction Platform Footpegs $229.00
 DoubleTake Adventure Mirror $120.00

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney

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August 1, 2016 10:59 am

Yeah it always puzzled me why KTM never had a dirt review done on this bike. It’s essentially just a bit heavier than the 1190 but still lighter and more likely just as or more dirt-capable than a 1200 GSA. This is a really cool build. But don’t forget Rottweiler. 😉

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
August 1, 2016 11:26 am
Reply to  Eric

Hey Eric. Our dirt review of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure is coming up soon! We’ll also be releasing a dirt-focused BMW R1200GSA vs KTM Super Adventure comparo, so stay tuned! Yes, you are right about not forgetting Rottweiler. They make great stuff for the big KTM as well!

Gary Taylor
Gary Taylor
August 7, 2016 5:28 am
Reply to  Eric

Eric, Actually KTM doesn’t consider the Super a dirt model, they call it a long distance enduro touring bike or “travel enduro”. Mine has amazed me with its off road manners, albeit just once when I found myself wading thru deep Michigan sand on a shortcut to Whitefish Point. Even with the stock tires it pushed thru easily, no drama!…… and weighs less (overall) than my 07 990!

Tim Lankins
Tim Lankins
August 3, 2016 3:27 pm

Love the quality of the products from BlackDogCycleWorks my 05.5 950ADV is outfitted with a bunch of theirs and CJDesigns products. 66,000 miles and climbing.

September 7, 2016 5:36 pm

600 miles a day in comfort—BS–i own one and the seat is crap

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
September 7, 2016 6:06 pm
Reply to  evil

Hey Evil. The ergos are excellent on the 1290 but I’d have to agree with you that the seat is not great. And with the extra large tank, you end up riding even longer between stops. A pair of MotoSkiveez helps a lot on those 600-mile days! Check them out here:

September 19, 2016 6:37 pm
Reply to  evil

I was use to the BMW K1200LT saddle when I got my Super Adventure. But I too it from SC to Alaska and back. The first 5000 miles were not bad. The next 5000 hurt! What have you done as a replacement?

September 25, 2016 8:39 pm
Reply to  evil

I put 16k miles on my 1290 the first year, including many 600 miles days,and a few 850 mile days. That’s >80% pavement, and most of the other <20% was gravel, forest roads, and a little sand in between.

Anytme you go 600+ it's a long day, but my stock seat is just fine for me.

September 23, 2016 12:32 pm

I am not sure about the KTM 1290 yet. I still drive the KTM 990. This summer I took a trip to Canada to ride the Trans Tiaga with a friend sporting a 2015 KTM 1290. Got all the way to Radisson, Quebec and his bike broke down. Cost him $2700 bucks to get it shipped back to Mpls….ended up, the timing chain wasn’t tight and jumped a cog! Only had 3200 miles on it. Certainly made for a disappointing summer adventure ride.

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
September 23, 2016 12:40 pm
Reply to  Russ

Hi Russ. Had a few minor issues with our 2015 test bike, but the 2016 was flawless. Seems like the first model year of any motorcycle tends to have a few problems. Check out our review if you haven’t seen it yet here…

KTM 1290 Superadventure S
February 22, 2017 2:08 pm

[…] Trail-Tough KTM 1290 Super Adventure Build – ADV Pulse Reply With Quote […]

Warren Day
Warren Day
March 19, 2021 3:50 pm

I picked my 1290 SA up from the factory in Mattighofen just after it’s release in May, 2015. We rode it around Europe for 7 weeks with no problems. It has done another 8 week tour of Europe in 2019 (2016 on an 1190R, 2017 on a GS) and was shipped over for another tour in 2020 pre-COVID. It did the trip over and back, but we didn’t. The comment about buying a new model is legitimate, but mine has done many dirt kilometres as well as big trips two-up in Australia and Europe with no real problems. In the interim I have had a 990 Adventure s, a 690e set up for big adventure, an 1190 Adventure R and a 790 Adventure R (wow) so I guess that I like KTMs. The 790, the 690, and the 1290 are still in the garage.
The 1290 is still my go-to bike for trips, shopping, etc and the partner has told me that it is not to go up for sale.


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