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ADV BikesSpy Shots Reveal Big Changes Coming for KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Spy Shots Reveal Big Changes Coming for KTM 1290 Super Adventure

 New tech and features revealed in spy shots of the next-gen 1290 SA.

Published on 08.21.2019

Spy shots of KTM’s revamped 1290 Super Adventure are popping up and it looks like KTM has significant changes coming for the 2020/2021 model year. Photos indicate exciting new technology coming down the pipe, and new bodywork points to both visual and functional improvements for the next-generation Super Adventure.

First off, there’s a big hunk of new fairing covering almost all the otherwise familiar 1301cc LC8 V-twin engine. The angular lines give the new bodywork a more modern look and there’s some family resemblance to the 790 Adventure series. The reason for that is because this revamped 1290 carries its fuel down low on each side of the bike, just like the 790 Adventure R. Doing it this way makes sense for mass centralization and a lower center of gravity. It also appears there may be more fuel capacity than the 6.1 gallons available on the current 1290 Super Adventures 

KTM 1290 Super Adventure spied

Another thing that’s hard to miss: the larger twin headlights, which buck the trend of LED headlights becoming smaller and more integrated into a bike’s bodywork. Of course this is KTM’s premium adventure touring bike, so the increased size may be because they are incorporating more-powerful cornering lights. 


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Also note the large gap between and below those giant headlights – that’s where the big news is for 2020. It’s where KTM is apparently fitting the Bosch-made black box that’s the heart of a new adaptive cruise control, one of the high-tech features KTM demonstrated for journalists a year ago. That hole may eventually be covered with material invisible to radar, as it is on similarly equipped cars, but for now it’s on display for all the world to see. 

KTM 1290 Super Adventure headlight

This isn’t an emergency braking system; its purpose is to maintain a preset distance from a vehicle in front. The rider sets a speed and distance – the unit can sense a vehicle as small as another motorcycle – and the radar adjusts the speed slightly by applying throttle or brakes to maintain the gap. It is supposed to react faster than you could, and if you’ve ever been on the highway behind someone who can’t seem to pick a speed and stick with it, you’ll understand the reasoning behind this feature. 

Spy photos from the Austrian publication Motorrad Magazin also reveal a redesigned windshield that offers a little more wind protection, at least on the street-oriented S model, and looks to maintain adjustability. There’s no radiator visible behind the front wheel, a hint that KTM is using a split design with the dual units incorporated into the fairing. That means more cooling capacity, critical for engines that have to run leaner to meet strict Euro 5 emissions standards for 2020. Emissions rules, noise suppression and possibly a small bump in horsepower are probably the reason for the redesigned exhaust system, which features a massive stainless steel silencer minus the black end cap, at least on this pre-production version.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure revamped for 2020

While much of the frame is hidden by the new bodywork, it’s clear that it is still a trellis design featuring a new, possibly detachable, aluminum subframe. The swingarm is still a beefy lattice unit, similar to what’s found on the current model. We’d bet that that suspension is still electronically adjustable WP equipment at both ends, and that 1290 Super Adventures will still come in two flavors: the S model, shown in the spy shots, wearing 19-inch front and 17-inch rear cast wheels; and the off-road oriented R model, with a 21/18 wire-spoked combination. 

Photos by Motorrad Magazin

Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

Author: Bob Whitby
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13 thoughts on “Spy Shots Reveal Big Changes Coming for KTM 1290 Super Adventure

  1. Hopefully the new design reduces the incredible heat these bikes dump into the seat and riders’ legs. They’re unbearable in hot climates and a barrier to purchase for me.

  2. Will it still take half a day to replace an air filter? Will the wonky wheels that sometimes leak air around the spoke nipples be replaced with outboard-spoked wheels (see BMW)? And, as others have noted, will something be done about the ungodly heat in the seat area?

    • Betting that low fuel tank will make it almost umbelievably simple as it is now on my SMC R 690 (tank in rear). Snap off two panels and replace in literally two minutes.

    • Air filter replacement is a matter of a few minutes on the 790, because that engine sucks the air from the back into both cylinders. It’s a different story for a V2, where the intake needs to be between the cylinders, which places the airbox on the top and below the tank. So the tank always has to come off!

  3. That can looks like I could saddle it up and ride that all by itself. That and the cat would be one of the 1st things replaced. Its where at least half of the heat comes from. I like the aluminum subframe. Not so sure about the adaptive cruise. I like the cruise control on my 18 though. Nice to see KTM making changes. Nice write-up, Thanks!

  4. All that bodywork is gonna make for expensive tipovers. I wonder if KTM is going to make the 1290 more street oriented and keep the 1090 and 790 more in the dirt.

  5. Many times I have to squeeze between rocks on my 1190 that fold the pegs. Those low tanks could affect some trail-ability.

  6. These “Giant” heavy headlights are ridiculous on 2020 bikes – small LED projectors (Yamaha) are super effective at 3″Ø diameter. Ugly gets uglier thanks to their Kiska link (all they do is hide maintenance screws). Also when are KTM going to buy a proper Wind Tunnel 1:1 and make their bike stable at speed?

  7. I do not need radar whatever stuff and keyless go and all that. I need a decent fuel filter that does not have to be replaced every 5000 km (Yes I had that 2 times already on my 1190 in the middle of nowhere and only Guglatech has a solution for this insane set-up) and spoked wheels without stupid plastic rings to keep the air in. Rather a BMW like solution. Other than that this is the best bike in the world. Do not spoil it with more tech gadgets that nobody ever asked for and that leave you stranded in some remore desert!