KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

Bryn Davies tests out the big KTM’s pillion carrying credentials.

While I’ve been taking great pleasure in calling the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R ‘my’ bike over the past few months of ownership, the reality is that it’s also my partner’s. She likes to join me on a lot of my rides and, in this issue, she came along to the Yorkshire Dales.

This was the first journey of over 100 miles that she’d sat in the pillion seat on the KTM, and her experiences were quite interesting. I tried to get her to put her thoughts to paper, but according to her, that’s my job, so I dutifully listened, and this is what I discovered. 


PRICE: £14,499
1301cc V-Twin

TORQUE: 103ftlb @ 6,750rpm

BRAKES: Front; 2x320mm discs, Brembo 4 pistons, radially mounted caliper. Rear; 267mm disc, Brembo 2 piston caliper

GEARBOX: 6-speed

TYRES: Front: 90/90 21. Rear: 150/70 18

WEIGHT: 217kg (dry)
23 litres
890 mm

On a 200ish-mile ride around the Yorkshire Dales, it didn’t take long before every photo stop was accompanied by a report into how uncomfortable her butt was.

Then, sometime after lunch, came the reports of the pillion pegs forcing too much of a leg bend that led to fatigue and discomfort in the knees. There were also mentions of how cramped she felt back there.

I must admit, while Naomi’s experience was one of pain endurance, everything was all sunshine and rainbows from my perch.

But, as I’m a nice guy, in an effort to appease the better half, I’m going to be fitting a KTM Ergo Pillion Seat which adds 15mm to the seat height and, along with an ‘optimised’ shape, helps offer increased legroom.

It will also work with the bike’s existing heated seat setting. Hopefully this will help ease my pillion’s woes, and for £417.24 you’d hope it does. 

Aside from learning about the experience from a pillion’s point of view, recent rides have also allowed me to see how the bike handles two-up touring from a rider’s perspective.

Given the sheer size of the 1290, you’d expect it to excel in this area, and it does. There’s virtually no change to the handling, acceleration, or braking when carrying a pillion, and this makes everything dandy from the front seat. 

While rivals in the form of the Ducati Multistrada Enduro and the BMW R1200GS Adventure will come with electronically adjustable suspension, the KTM is all manual, so you’ll want to fiddle around to get the perfect setup when riding two-up with luggage.

In my eyes, while it might mean a bit more hassle, manual adjustments allow you to get a far more precise set-up, and all the information you’ll need to get it right can be found in the bike’s manual, or on YouTube.