Niall Mackenzie's long term review of the KTM SuperDuke
Since I took delivery of this black beauty in May ‘07 it has rarely failed to bring a smile to my face. Be it on a summer’s day, jacket and jeans blast (a rare occurrence last year I admit) or a full wet suit trudge up the M1 I have never tired of my stealth machine. The stealth description works on three counts; its black, it has sharp angular looks and it has an Austrian number plate. I’ll let you work out the last one. So mega fun on the road but the real revelation for me has been on the race track.
During the year I do a fair amount of instructing at circuits around the country so after noting the success of the Super Duke Battle race series I rested my R6 and started to use the Duke. Unsurprisingly it did lose out a bit on long straights compared to R1s and the like but the excellent brakes and great torque meant I could make up a load of time elsewhere. The best bit however (and it happened on most track days this year) was when the rain came down. Fitted with the superb Pirelli Diablo Corsa 111s I felt miles more confident on a wet track than I would have ever been on a sports bike. On occasions I foolishly let fellow instructors, James Whitham, Glen Richards and Hudson Kennaugh have a go then struggled to get it back for the rest of the day. It wasn’t perfect all of the time, as we all found if the fuel got low (even before the light came on) the Superduke would have a massive flat spot after entering corners while heavy braking and on a closed throttle. Our only explanation was the fuel must surge way up to the front of the tank starving the engine until things level out. This only ever happened on the track and never on the road so as soon as this happens I use it as a cue to fill up. Easy.
Apart from the fuel problem my machine has needed very little attention. The first service at 600 miles costs £230 - if you live in the Midlands. You might find this could be more expensive down south as labour costs can be higher so a good idea might be to negotiate when you buy new. I know my mate Tim at Redline KTM in Loughborough will factor it in if you buy a new bike from him. The next service which is a small one is at 4,000 miles and this will cost you £170. Again, this is at Midlands’s labour rates. And into the creaking bones and skiddy roads of winter my Super Duke continues to be the faithful servant. More a workhorse than a plaything though as I trudge up and down the M40 to Heathrow and Gatwick on overseas jobs. Any travelling that involves the M25 has to be on a bike to avoid congestion and of course the free parking for bikes at airports. Even substantial luggage has presented few problems as through trial and error I now have the perfect system. The most I’ve had is 30kgs in my Alpinestars kit bag which I thread my arms through and fasten with a cable tie at the front.
Once I’m on board I hardly know its there as it rests nicely on the pillion seat and only makes the front end a tiny bit light. I was caught out on the first trip however, with no cutting device at the other end. I did look slightly stupid carrying the world’s largest rucksack searching for a broken bottle. Luckily no security clocked me as I looked like a suicide bomber with enough gear to take out all four terminals! The KTM has very little in the way of protection on these cold days and unlike most bikes I still haven’t found a way of getting heat into my digits. No matter where I poke my hands nothing seems to work. I wouldn’t recommend this but over the years I have mastered controlling the throttle with my left hand while sourcing a hot spot to thaw out the right. Getting my right hand stuck at this point doesn’t bear thinking about...
The winter weather has had no real adverse effects on the Superduke as every time I give her a Muc Off birthday she comes up good as new!
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