I’m looking to get something a bit sportier than the GS (which has been incredible and even on the ride home impressed) but still capable of big miles for touring for next season, so I took a couple of test-rides with InMoto on a couple of 2016 models. Both bikes are being updated for 2017, both with better electronic packages and some other tweaks, but nothing major, so taking the current models out should still give most of the impression.
My favourite before riding it was the Tuono, as I’ve owned an RSV4 before, and really loved that bike. I kinda regretted letting it go. First impressions were “meh”, but that turned out to be down to half-inflated tyres! Quick top up and a back out to some country roads and wow, it was a real shock to be back on something hard and low-slung. After ten miles or so it became apparent that whilst it was an amazing bike, it wasn’t quite for me. It was just too focused a sports bike for what I need in a bike, and that’s a great road bike that can do big miles, and still put a smile on my face. My wrist alone thanked me when I got off on the end. The clutch pull is super heavy. No fun in city traffic.
This was a little confusing to me, as I was expecting a bike that was more road than race. You get race with the RSV4, so do you really need such a firm ride, long first gear and heavy clutch on a road bike? I think they’re too similar, the Tuono and RSV4.
Back to the shop, swap over to the KTM Superduke R, which I was expecting to be totally compromised, i.e. only able to do nutter mode and wow, what a surprise, it was sublime from the get-go. Smooth, slightly slow steering (put this down to tyre pressures, despite having 2.4/2.5 bar in), much better seating position, being higher making me able to see through traffic far better than the Aprilia, and much more like my GS, in fact, it felt taller than the GS! Instant ability to thread through traffic. It felt like I’d owned the bike for years, we gelled instantly.
Switch up to Sport mode, and wow, it pulls like a train! Bit more confidence gained through some twisties and instantly I knew this was the bike for me. It can bimble around town with it’s smooth as silk power delivery, any gear overtake ability and super visibility down road. Open it up when the roads open up and the steering improves massively, it just wants to get you in the corner and gives much more feedback over bad roads, whether it’s from bumps or crap on the road, which inspires a ton of confidence.
Sound wise, you can’t be the Tuono’s V4 when it’s on song, but for 80% of the time when you’re a slower speeds, the KTM sounds downright naughty. It grunts, pops, bangs, roars and purrs. They call it the beast, but to me, it felt more like a Lion. It can roar and it can slink along without gaining undue attention when you need it to. When you’re gassing the KTM, there’s not much attention available to admire the sound as you’re too busy going “OMFGGGGGGGGGG” and trying to keep the front wheel down or not slide the back out. It’s bonkers. I like it
I didn’t want to take the Superduke back, it was that good. I’m happy to buy one as soon as the new model comes out, but I’m going to test-ride the new Superduke GT in a couple of weeks to see how the electronic suspension and bigger fuel tank improve things for distance riding.
Big thanks to http://www.inmoto.com for the rides.