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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > Issue 323 February 2017 > THE BEAST IS BACK

THE BEAST IS BACK

Chastened by criticismthat the 1290 Super Duke R been castrated by electronicsand a cuddly soft setup, the Austrians have hit back – big time…

Back in 2013, I remember exactly where I was when I phoned BJ up to see how phenomenal the new KTM 1290 Super Duke R was at the launch. Standing on a platform on Luton’s train station, I was holding the phone away from my ear so as to protect it from the bombardment of shouted superlatives conjoined with swear words that would soo to emitted by my phone’s speaker about the Beast. None was forthcoming.

“It’s good,” BJ said in an uncharacteristic quiet voice that screamed non-commitment “but it’s not the Beast we were promised.” Expecting to be maimed every time he touched the throttle, the image dreamed up by KTM’s marketers of this slick-shod, open-piped, rabid weapon just didn’t resonate on the road now that the Beast ha been given a more sensible name, castratin electronics, a set of lights and a reg plate.

I didn’t want to believe this narrative, still sold on the Beast concept. But my dreams were dashed on my first ride, directly beneath the spectacular Millau Bridge in France. The butterflies in my stomach soon slumbered back into their cocoon when I didn’t come anywhere close to a spectacular accident within the first few miles of a ride. Switching off the electronics stirred them back into life, for now I was to be greeted with the full hit of everything the Super Duke possessed. The last time I felt like this I’d just accidentally trodden on a bouncer’s toes.I didn’t know how he’d react, and as my eyes rose from his feet to his face I was expecting the worse.

The grin on his face, however, diffused the situation immediately - as did the gorgeous floating wheelie the KTM had committed now that the traction control system had been turned off, smearing a smile between my cheeks too. Now in undiluted form, it was easy to fathom that this wasn’t the Beast, but rather a performing bear Still viciously dangerous if abused, and morally deplorable in the modem world, but capabte of entertainment galore if coaxed in the right manner - just the sort of bike we love.

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Fast Bikes is home to the best sportsbike tests on the planet and is packed with new bike launches, technical insight, hardcore action, masterclasses, racing, reviews and loads more.
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