The teasing about KTM’s latest new model is over.  The Austrian manufacturer is unveiling its new liter-sized adventure machine.  And that machine is the 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S.  KTM says that this latest version of the 1290 Super Adventure lineup is its “…sportiest and most technologically advanced Adventure bike to ever roll its wheels off the production line in Mattighofen, Austria.”

Re-engineered ergonomics

The bike’s handling receives upgrades through several changes.  First, a chassis overhaul is said to enhance weight distribution and riding agility.  For the new model, the bike’s steering head moves back 15mm, while the front section of the engine has been relocated.

ktm 1290 super adventure S

The new 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S.

Also, a longer open-lattice swingarm contributes to additional stability under acceleration.  And in a nod to day to day usability, a new subframe allows a lower seat height without sacrificing durability or practicality.

To provide additional comfort and usability, KTM says that the bike sports a new two-tier seat that is adjustable by 20mm (.867 inches).  The bike’s handlebar levers, an all-new TFT color display, and the windshield are now adjustable.  The new wind tunnel developed windshield can now be moved vertically 55mm (2.17 inches).  Overall, KTM says that the 2021 1290 Super Adventure S excels for its lower mass centralization and refined weight and balance.

Performance enhancing technology

Although last year’s 1290 Super Adventure series bikes already have ride modes like Rain, Street, Sport, Offroad, and optionally Rally, the 2021 1290 Super Adventure S has a new generation of electronics for a less intrusive level of traction control.

For 2021, the bike’s lean angle-dependent Motorcycle Traction Control has two different controllers.  One tracks wheel slip, while the other calculates pitch angle.  Both use their own data and strategies.

Cornering ABS and Offroad ABS systems come from a new Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control, while Motor Slip Regulation is optional.

ktm 1290 super adventure S

You can see the antenna for the new Bosch Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) at the bottom of the headlight cluster.

But the star of new tech on the bike is its Adaptive Cruise Control system as standard.  The system is a joint development of KTM and Bosch.  Using radar, the system automatically adjusts the safe distance to traffic ahead according to five stages that can be set with the machine’s front handlebar switches.

New display

The bike has an all-new TFT display.  It connects to a new “Connectivity Unit” for seamless smartphone pairing.  KTM says that the display’s larger dashboard view has “…quicker and more practical menu systems as well as clear aesthetic infographics to clearly indicate various sections of the bike.”  The dash now sits on top of a redesigned storage compartment complete with a USB charging socket.

ktm 1290 super adventure S tft display

The new KTM TFT color display.

Communications with the display are now easier thanks to all-new switches on both sides of the handlebar. The setup is said to offer a more seamless experience.  A revised set of quick select and favorites buttons allows for setup changes on the fly “…while the rider stays focused on the roads ahead.”

New components

The 2021 Super Adventure S meets Euro5 standards and still delivers a claimed 160 hp and 102 lb-ft of torque.  But the engine is 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs) lighter thanks to thinner engine cases and a new oil circuit.  The engine now breathes more easily with an upgraded exhaust.  And, shifting ease improves with a revised Pankl gear mechanism that improves the optional Quickshifter+ action.

Inside the engine are new pistons for improved reliability, while the whole package stays cooler thanks to a new “water/oil” system.  Keeping things cooler are two new radiators that work in concert with the bike’s revised bodywork to move warm air away from the rider’s legs.

Suspension upgrades

For 2021, the 1290 Super Adventure S receives a new generation of WP Apex Semi-Active Technology (SAT) suspension.  With its new valving, the SAT provides augmented damping.  A Suspension Pro package offers additional damping for both the fork and shock, automatic preload adjustment, and an on/off anti-dive setting.


To sum up the 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S’s highlights:

  • New ergonomics – new fuel tank, lower seat & new plastics
  • Reworked bodywork – shorter chassis, new subframe & longer swingarm
  • Optimized weight distribution – added agility & comfort
  • New generation electronics – innovative ACC & reworked cornering MTC
  •  More intuitive 7” TFT display – optimal accessibility
  • Redesigned handlebar switches, improved CCU
  • Revised 1301cc LC8 engine – 160 hp & 138 Nm
  • The next generation of Semi-Active Suspension
  • Remodeled optional technology – Suspension Pro, Rally Pack & Tech Pack

KTM philosophy

In talking about the bike’s changes, Joachim Sauer, KTM Product Manager, said:

“The 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S is a sporty bike designed to offer unparalleled riding fun in any terrain. With this model KTM enters its third generation of big Travel-Enduro bikes for street and gravel adventurers. Collecting feedback from the market, we focused on enhancing rider feeling and ergonomics while introducing ground-breaking advancements, such as the Adaptive Cruise Control, the KTM way. To appreciate the magic of our ACC, you need to consider that the ideal roads to experience the thrilling performance of the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S may lie hours away. With highways in between, ACC will let you breeze through the transit keeping you ready to strike whenever possible. The new generation model will carry you as far, long and as hard as you want while keeping the original KTM DNA strong with its elevated performance potential.”

The 2021 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S will be available internationally (excluding North America) in March 2021.  International pricing and North American pricing and availability are TBA.

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