Fun factor is always huge on a bike like this since you are not going to break any track records and that is where this motorcycle comes up huge. I have to admit I used to watch riders on track with these type of hybrid bikes and wonder why they would choose to ride them on the track instead of a purpose built sportbike. Well the Super Duke gave me the simple answer . . . because they are a blast.
The Super Duke benefits from a very short feel and I was really able to get over the front of the bike and flick it at will into the corners. The bike transitioned effortlessly and was beautiful on turn in. Dry weight on the Super Duke is a nice trim 410 pounds and wheelbase is set at 57.1 inches. The only thing that really felt odd was the bar. While they did give good leverage there was an awkward bend at the bar ends which turns your wrists up and out. This felt slightly uncomfortable and I found myself having to reposition my hands in the tight corners to get the feel right. Trying to tuck in on the Super Duke is a also a bit of a challenge with no fairing or windscreen. You are almost totally exposed to the wind so you really have to try to keep the body as tight to the tank and frame as possible.
KTM installed super sticky Dunlop DOT race rubber which was huge in giving me the confidence I needed to ride the KTM hard. While the Superduke responded well, at an accelerated pace the front fork started to feel slightly soft and mushy. This is to be expected however as the Superduke was never intended to be a hardcore sportbike. The rear shock stood up to the punishment quite well and I had no complaints from the fully adjustable WP shock.
The tubular chrome-moly chassis stayed composed under hard thrashing. There was no head-shake under hard acceleration or over Fontana\'s bumpy patches. Stability was also good on the brakes and the Brembo 4-piston fixed caliper brakes with 305mm discs up front provided ample stopping power, but like the RC8 could have benefitted from slightly less of an abruptness on initial lever pull to help smooth out the braking.
Shifting of the 6-speed transmission was smooth with an even slightly more positive feel and action than the RC8. Unlike the RC8, vibration at the bars was not an issue and you should not find your hands going numb after a day in the saddle.
The Super Duke features a versatile 999cc liquid-cooled, 75-degree, dual-cam V-twin motor. The motor produces 118BHP and was extremely easy to use. Like most v-twins it produces a pulsating grunty power that gives you a healthy pull out of the corners. The Super Duke does suffer from spotty fuel injection down low in the RPM\'s however. Negotiating through slower corners is a little tougher work as you are having to correct the stumbles the fuel injection is transferring through the bike.
I like both the radical looks of the Super Duke and the ergonomics, which are quite good.
As excited as I was to ride the RC8 I am surprised to say that the Super Duke may have just won me over for the day. No longer will I question why track day junkies all over the country are buying bikes like the KTM Super Duke. While it may not be the sharpest scalpel on the track, the Super Duke has the field covered in character and the ever so important fun factor.