Why The 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S Is A Great Ducati Multistrada V4 S Alternative

Ethel Walsh

KTM upgraded its flagship adventure tourer – the 1290 Super Adventure S for 2023 and here’s why we think it is better than the Multistrada V4.

Launched in 2015 for the first time, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure was (and still is) the only adventure tourer that had come close to the Ducati Multistrada in terms of power figures, and the constant improvements also meant that these machines now were technically way more advanced than they ever were.

One glance through the websites of both the manufacturers and you realize that the 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S starts at $20,299, whereas the Ducati website says that the Multistrada V4 S starts at $26,895.

That simply means that the 1290 Super Adventure S costs $6,596 lesser than its competitor. That is a considerable amount of money considering both these motorcycles offer more or less the same package, and touring abilities. But is there more than what meets the eye here?

Related: Why The New Ducati Multistrada V4 Rally Is An Unstoppable Adventure Motorcycle

The 1290 Super Adventure S Deliver Better Value For Money

2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure Image
Via: KTM

If only it was this simple to answer. KTM has been making motorcycles that have been winning the prestigious Dakar rally year after year, and they know how to make motorcycles that can tackle every possible terrain this planet has to offer. The Ducati Multistrada has remained a secret desire forever for most of the lovers of adventure touring. Where the Multistrada promises to be a tarmac-friendly tourer that can go off-road once in a while, the 1290 Super Adventure is exactly the opposite. The 1290 Super Adventure S loves to stay off the road for as long as you can. Something the Multistrada can’t say proudly.

The Ducati Multistrada V4 S has a 1,58cc Panigale V4 engine which has been tuned to be more touring friendly. The conventional spring valvetrain instead of the Desmodromic system extends the main-service intervals to 36,000 miles and oil service at 9300 miles. The Multistrada V4 S delivers 170 HP and 92 lb-ft of power and torque respectively. The 1,301cc LC8 V-twin engine of the 1290 Super Adventure S delivers a slightly less power at 160 HP, but more torque at 101.8 lb-ft. Where both the motorcycles come equipped with adaptive cruise control, Ducati’s Travel and Radar package help you stay aware of the blind spots as well.

Via: Ducati

The Multistrada has a 6.5” TFT color display that lets you access controls and navigate using the Ducati Connect system, and the 1290 Super Adventure S has a 7” TFT screen that also lets you switch between riding modes, and advanced navigation software with ease. KTM’s advanced semi-active suspension from WP works perfectly and surely matches Ducati’s semi-active Skyhook suspension. Both the motorcycles here weigh almost equal to each other which makes it a little less confusing to choose between them. Apart from a couple of things, which are not that big a deterrent, the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S seems like a better option between the two for every buck you spend. But that’s also because we prefer dirt over tarmac, and in dirt, the 1290 Super Adventure S shines. With each year, the Multistrada is improving its off-road skills and the Super Adventure is improving its behavior on the tarmac. But for now, we are still inclined towards the 1290 Super Adventure S.

Related: 10 Things We Love About KTM Street Bikes

Do Adventure Tourers Really Need To Be This Powerful?

2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S Three Quarters Image
Via: KTM

There have been many motorcycles that have dominated the adventure motorcycling segment for over many decades. Motorcycles like the Honda Africa Twin, the BMW R1200GS, the Ducati Multistrada, the Yamaha Tenere, and the KTM 990 Adventure are some of the famous ones that come to mind immediately when we talk about this segment. But these motorcycles were never about performance till the arrival of the Multistrada, and now the 1290 Super Adventure.

With their tall stance, enormous suspension travel, and more than enough ground clearance, adventure touring motorcycles have always meant business. Which also meant ‘a little’ compromise on the power of these motorcycles to ensure that they move from one continent to another without breaking a sweat. This perception has changed in the recent times, majority of which can be attributed to the Ducati Multistrada that introduced sports-bike like performance to the adventure tourers.

KTM joined the race somewhere around 2013 when it introduced the 1190 Adventure which was then succeeded by the 1290 Super Adventure. The engine of the Super Adventure has remained more or less unchanged till now with more and more technology making its way with each year passing. Depending on what kind of touring you want to do, both these motorcycles offer things that the other doesn’t. If most of your touring involves highways where speed isn’t an issue, the Ducati will surely catch your fancy. It’s a V4 after all. That too from the great Ducati Panigale. The extra torque on the V-twin 1290 Super Adventure S does help and deliver smiles most of the time. Most importantly, KTM rules the Dakar rally, and Ducati is the winner of this year’s MotoGP title. There must be a reason why each motorcycle is the king of its own jungle.

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