2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S | First Look Review

2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
New for 2018, KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure S is a street-oriented sport/adventure tourer based on the off-road-focused 1290 Super Adventure R. (Photos courtesy KTM)

When the KTM 1190 Adventure debuted for 2014, it was a revelation, brimming with a 131-horsepower V-twin, cornering ABS (the first motorcycle to offer this important safety innovation), multiple engine, traction control and ABS modes, semi-active suspension, a tire-pressure monitoring system and remarkable capability both on pavement and off-road.

Read our KTM 1190 Adventure/R long-term review

2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
The 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S has cast wheels (19-inch front, 17-inch rear) with 90/10 Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires, semi-active suspension and other changes that make it more suitable for street riding than the 1290 Super Adventure R.

Over the past few years, as the adventure touring segment stood out as one of the few bright spots in an otherwise sluggish motorcycle market, KTM has expanded and reconfigured its Adventure lineup. For 2018, there’s the dirt-focused, 125-horsepower 1090 Adventure R, the dirt-focused, 160-horsepower 1290 Super Adventure R (both are equipped with 21-inch front/18-inch rear spoked wheels and manually adjustable, extra-long-travel suspension), and the new, street-focused 1290 Super Adventure S.

Read our 2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R review

Read our 2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R vs Honda Africa Twin comparison review

2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
The 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is powered by the liquid-cooled, 1,301cc, 75-degree LC8 V-twin and makes a claimed 160 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque.

Based on the 1290 Super Adventure R that was introduced for 2017, the new S model is powered by the same 1,301cc version of the liquid-cooled, 75-degree LC8 V-twin that makes a claimed 160 horsepower at 8,750 rpm and 103 lb-ft of torque at 6,750 rpm and sends power to the rear wheel through a 6-speed transmission with a slipper clutch and chain final drive. Both models have four riding modes (Sport, Street, Offroad and Rain), Motorcycle Stability Control (which includes multi-mode cornering ABS and traction control, with settings that change based on riding mode), a chrome-moly steel trellis frame, Brembo brakes, an LED headlight with integrated cornering lights and a daytime running light, a 6.5-inch, full-color TFT instrument panel, heated grips and an on-the-go manually adjustable windscreen.

2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
In addition to the orange paint scheme shown above, the 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is available in gray.

Since the 1290 Super Adventure S is geared more toward street riding, it’s equipped with WP semi-active suspension with four damping settings (Sport, Street, Comfort and Offroad) and pushbutton-adjustable rear preload with four settings (solo, solo with luggage, two-up and two-up with luggage). Cast aluminum wheels with a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear are shod Pirelli Scorpion Trail II 90/10 adventure tires.

2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
Up front, the 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S has an LED headlight with integrated cornering lights and a daytime running light.

Other features include cruise control, a tire-pressure monitoring system, a waterproof smartphone compartment with an integrated USB charging socket, the Race On remote keyless system, auto-cancelling turn signals and integrated mounts for the accessory touring cases (36L left, 30L right, $1,199.99). The seat’s height is adjustable (33.9/34.4 inches), fuel capacity is 6.1 gallons and claimed dry weight is 489 pounds.

2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
The 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S has a 6.5-inch, full-color TFT display. As part of the optional Travel Pack, KTM My Ride allows Bluetooth connectivity for audio, phone and navigation.

The 2018 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is available now in gray or orange for an MSRP of $17,999. The optional Travel Pack ($524.99) adds Hill Hold Control, Motor Slip Regulation, Quickshifter + (up and down clutchless shifting) and the KTM My Ride system, which allows for display and control of incoming calls and audio via Bluetooth, as well as turn-by-turn navigation on the TFT dash when used in conjunction with the smartphone app.

Check out more new bikes in Rider’s guide to new/updated 2018 motorcycles


  1. Bought one Saturday. Looked at the new Ducati Multistrsda S and couldn’t justify the the Duc as priced by local dealer would be $5000 more—if both had bags. The Duc dealer is playing the “exclusive” card and not moving much on prices. No belt service on KTM either.

    • I guess your KTM will out strip the Duc with all that torque. Sat on a Multi a few years back and felt more like a super motard riding position, I.e slightly forward. It was also very ‘skinny’. Sat on the Super Adv 1290 Touring and felt like the real deal. Just a little bit jealous! Enjoy and be safe.

  2. I’ve ridden the Ducati Multistrada and REALLY liked it (seating position, windscreen protection, SOUND,) but I am more than a little concerned with the desmodromic valve and belt adjustments. The cost of the adjustments alone can be a small fortune (“If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it…”). One of the only two KTM dealers in Atlanta has finally gotten a 2018 1290 Super Adventure S in stock, still in its shipping crate. I told the dealer if this one has the available Travel Pack, I’m coming in to make a down payment this Saturday.

    • The travel pack is already included on every KTM SA S. It is just a software update away. The electronics and mechanical components are there they just have to be “turned on” for a price of course

  3. Herb, Tom is talking about the Ducati’s TIMING belts, not the DRIVE belt. Ducatis use a chain final drive, just like the KTMs.

    Tom Traynor, the Duck was $5,000 MORE than the KTM?! You’re not kidding about the “exclusive card.” Ducati is the Harley-Davidson of sportbikes. If it weren’t for Hollywood jamming them down everyone’s throat, they’d still be where they were 20-some years ago. “Who makes Ducati?”

  4. I’ve had my 1190 Adv (not the R) since June 2013 and it’s head-and-shoulders the best bike of about a dozen I’ve tried over the years. If the 1290 Adv S is anything like it–and there’s good reason to think it’s even better–then the time is definitely right for a new boney…

    • I’ve now had my anthracite-grey SA 1290 S for a month. Wow, what a bike! The most immediately obvious differences from the 1190, apart from the cosmetics (headlight, TFT display, wind screen controls, etc.) are threefold:

      1. Noticeably more low-end torque;
      2. Much firmer seat (bordering on hard); and
      3. The soundtrack’s more throaty and uneven (perhaps due to running-in mode).

      A biker friend who’s owned a SA 1290 R for several months told me that his bike accelerates marginally faster up to about 160 km/h (100 mph) than the Superduke R, though the latter has the upper hand on top end. Apparently he established this by direct competition with a Superduke R owner. (We’re at an altitude of about 5,500 ft.) I’m not really too surprised by that result, now that I’ve felt the SA’s amazing torque delivery.

  5. Can’t wait to buy one!! I know, I’m crazy, cause I’ll buy the 1290 adv S as my first motorcycle! At my age and height, it is just perfect! 😉

  6. Great bike. I’m an original LC8 adv owner (2003 950). Now also own 2017 1290 SAR. Awesome bike with slightly different riding bent than this bike. Still, the engines and most of the features are common between them. A friend of mine has the S and it is perfect for his purposes. More directed toward the crowd who would choose the BMW 1200 GSA. My wife owns a 1200 GS so I am intimately familiar with that bike’s capabilites and shortcomings. The BMW is a great bike for roads including some dirt tracks. The KTMs are much more capable in serious off highway use with equal rider capabilities. The 1290 SAS is also equal to the GS in on highway capabilities (from my experience with both). I chose the SAR because of its proclivity for serious offroad use. I also prefer to adjust/tweek the suspension myself. IMO, if you are looking for a BMW GSA alternative with better offroad capabilities, go with the KTM 1290 SAS.

  7. I bought a 2017 1290 Super Adventure S, this is an incredible machine
    I cannot fault it and absolutely love it best bike I have ever owned and there has been a lot!
    I have heated grips, heated comfort seat,Acrapovic pipe (DB killers removed),travel pack and more!!
    Stuart Roberts

    • Stuart, what’s your opinion of the difference in comfort between your present seat and the standard seat?


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