KTM SuperDuke R Article and Photo: Brian Cheyne

KTM SuperDuke R Article and Photo: Brian Cheyne

For years now, the Super Duke name has been synonymous with a mental machine which basically has an engine, wheels, a seat and something for you to cling onto. Monumental power and just sheer lunacy. In 2014 KTM introduced us to the Super Duke R which was even more bonkers. For 2017 they went even darker with the new Super Duke R.


KTM managed to wring another 7 horses out of the already powerful LC8 engine, bringing the power to 177hp. The 75 degree V produces around 140nm of torque. Then they bolted on a lightweight trellis frame, painted a seat on, and let the beast loose.


Some styling refinements were also made. Gone are the plastic surrounds around the pillion set, and they sharpened up the already aggressive lines, to make this a truly gnarly looking bike. The new LED running lights make the front looks alien-like, and this KTM can scare cars into retreating to the loser lane.


The seat is a comfortable height at around the 84cm mark and there is plenty of room to tuck your legs in. The ride was surprisingly comfortable for a naked bike. KTM made the bars wider and moved them forward and down, which results in a sportier stance for the rider. Radial mounted Brembo discs do duty to make the Duke come to a stop again.


When I got on the bike, the first thing I noticed was that the big dial from the old Duke was gone, replaced with a small TFT display, no bigger than my phone. Even with it being so small, getting on the bike and not seeing any part of the front wheel is disconcerting, but that also means short wheelbase which in turn translates to joy in the twisties. Throttle response is instant and at full tilt, you can feel the front wheel becoming light but the electronics keeps it neatly in check. The electronics tamed the beast adequately, but you can switch everything off if you are an experienced rider.


If you are into shouty bikes that attract attention and that can hold their own on a track, I doubt you will find a better companion than the Super Duke. If you are quiet and a bit of an introvert, parking away from the crowds, then I suggest you steer clear of this bike and rather look at ride-on lawnmowers.


The KTM SuperDuke R is yours for R214 999-00.