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A bit of a review

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 12:56 am
by Bruce Wayne
I've had the 1290 GT for a few months now and I guess this review can serve as my introduction. Hopefully it will help out anyone who's interested in getting a GT, I certainly relied on info from owners to inform my decision. Sorry, it's a bit of a long read.

For reference I'm 6'0" and 81kgs, a rider for 15 years. My previous bike was a 1200 Aprilia Caponord and I'd had a GSX-R 1000 and other super bikes before that. I don't commute and my bike is purely a weekend fun machine for me. That said, I do 10-12K kms a year. I stick to country roads and my bikes only find themselves on freeways if I've %$^ed up the navigation. I loved the comfort and practicality of the Caponord but, after owning superbikes before, ended up missing the raw power of those bikes. As soon as I heard about the GT for the first time, my interest was piqued. It sounded like the bike I'd been looking for for years. So what is it like to own?

This engine is just awesome! It's pretty much guaranteed to have you grinning from ear to ear whenever you open up the throttle. It would have to be the best engine for the street of any of the bikes I've ever ridden. It isn't a low reving twin though, to get it moving you want to have that tach spinning a bit.

It might be a monster but it's a monster that does exactly what is asked of it. The kind of small throttle openings that often cause an issue with injected bikes are taken in stride. Mine stays in Sport mode for anything other than the most torrential of downpoars. It is a great mix of performance and character in a package that's also easy to live with.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fuel range on the GT. I would have thought the engine wouldn't be that fuel efficient but getting 400kms out of a tank is easily done, even when having fun with it.

The quickshifter works well in a range of scenarios. First to second can be clunky at moderate revs/throttle but it's a big twin and I don't think that should be unexpected. I'd always just use the clutch in this scenario anyway. Sure, I'd love a downshift blipper function but this bike does have pretty much everything else. Like many I found the bike didn't like going from 1st to neutral when new, now the bike's run in this no longer happens.

The GT's brakes are powerful and have great feel. Definitely capable of simulating the feeling of hitting a wall. Initially my bike wasn't quite as sharp as the one I'd test ridden. I had the dealership bleed the system and we were back in business. The sheer stopping power combined with a very stable chassis under hard braking is quite confidence inspiring.

Traction control and ABS are both top notch. I've spent a bit of time deliberately pushing these systems (as much as I dare anyway) and found they just can't be faulted.

I'll run through the different suspension modes separately but one thing they all have in common is that the bike does soften as things bed in. It takes around 1,000kms for this to happen. When brand new, the GT's suspension is a little stiff.

Comfort setting is the closest to the dynamic dampening the Caponord had. This was one of that bike's strongest points. I'd have to say the Caponord did this a little better, the suspension seemed to be faster to react to changing surface quality and smoothed out bumps better, while still retaining good handling. That's not to say the GT is bad but it's just not class leading.

The street setting is a good compromise between handling dynamics and comfort. You'll feel the road well but you won't get bashed around by bigger hits. This is the sweet spot for me most of the time.

Sport is fantastic - provided the roads you're on are good quality. It is pretty firm and doesn't handle the pock-marked roads we have all over Australia as well as street mode. It definitely feels like having a firmly sprung sports bike and active elements of the suspension don't filter out the hits from sharp bumps. When the roads get really bad, you're much better off in street even if your focus is handling above all else. It can also get a bit fatiguing over the course of a long day if left in this mode.

I tend to use comfort or street mode in the suburbs and a mix of street and sport as soon as I hit the back roads. When I'm going through twisties I know to be smooth, I'll switch to sport.

I wasn't sold on the menu/switching system at first but, having used it for a while and set up my favorites, I'm finding it quite practical. Heated grips are the setting I switch the most and by having them as the first favorite, I can cycle through the levels using only a single button. Why the Heating portion of the favorites screen always shows as 'On', irrespective of settings is a bit of a mystery though. It's all pretty intuitive and, once you're used to it, can be done on the move with minimum of hassle.

The screens show a great level of detail and it is all very easy to read. Australian conditions throw a couple of curve balls here though. The main screen can throw some pretty annoying reflections when the sun is behind you and at a particular angle. As well as making it impossible to read, it can be distracting even when not looking at the dials. I plan to buy an anti-glare film designed for a tablet screen and cut to size to see if this will resolve it. Much less of an issue is the left hand screen. If the bike is left with the screen in direct sunlight on a summer's day, the screen will fade and take about 10 mins to get back to normal. Bear in mind these are both very situational.

I had cruise control on the Caponord but never utilized it due to poor implementation. The GT is miles better, even though it might have been better to have the button on the left handlebar. Seems to hold speed well once set but I haven't used it much, simply due to the type of riding I do.

Even the 60 min test ride was enough to let me know the stock seat wasn't going to be good enough. The shape of the seat, combined with lack of padding meant it made the inside of my thighs sore pretty quickly. I ordered the Powerparts Ergo seat with the bike and the extra padding in this area makes it much more comfortable. I don't have much padding on my legs, so your mileage may vary. The ergo seat is a bit higher than the stock as well which provided me with a little extra room for my legs around the tank cutouts. I notice the extra height when stopped but it is still not as tall as my Caponord and easy to manage.

I haven't played with the adjustment available in the bars. I asked the dealer to set it up at the highest level, with bars toward the rider and I'm quite happy with it there. I find I'm slightly forward canted and very comfortable while sitting upright. When you're in the twisties, you are still well positioned to lean forward more. A nice balance for the kind of riding I do.

I've only spent a little time with a pillion. Although the pillion seating is slightly more cramped than on the Caponord, they reported being comfortable on the back for the 90 minute legs of that trip.

The stock screen does a decent job of minimizing wind blast but isn't the best for weather protection. I find it is good in the low position but the high position generates a fair bit of wind noise for my helmet. I quite like the system for adjustment. Super simple but works flawlessly and can be done with one hand while riding.

My panniers were delivered straight from the factory in April '17. Based on who you listen to that may mean they are a slightly different design from earlier units, I honestly have no idea. Mine do not have the gaps that other people have seen on theirs but you do have to apply pressure across both sides when closing to get them to close properly. Hoping mine don't develop an issue with more use. The panniers look great on the bike and KTM did a really good job on designing the mounting system. I love how the carry handles flip up once you've turned the key to remove them. One of the slicker integrated pannier setups I've seen.

The kick stand is overly long and the bike stands fairly straight when on it. It's ok on a flat surface but if there's a gradient towards the left of the bike it makes me too worried to park it there.

I'm very happy with my purchase so far. Sports tourers seem to have always erred towards the touring side of things and KTM have pushed the needle way back in the other direction. Acceleration, braking and cornering are all extremely close to what you'd be able to achieve on the most focused sports bike on the road. On the GT you'll be able to run longer on a tank, carry luggage and travel in comfort to boot. Pretty bloody awesome if you ask me!

Re: A bit of a review

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:20 am
by DaveNZ
Good read, thanx for taking the time. not much i can disagree with. my only grip with the bike is the suspension, i prefer a more sports direct suspension setting. so 2 things id love to change on mine. i ride in street mode, or sports mode with luggage setting, reason-is to get the rear higher with having more preload, and less rider sag. So KTM, if you read this, the rear NEEDS more rebound dampning, it just rebounds way too fast in these modes, (pogoie on bumpy roads) and 2ndly up front the comp needs reducing a smidgen, not much, just a bit. these 2 things and this bike will be improved so so much.

Re: A bit of a review

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:05 am
by Bruce Wayne
Cheers Dave! I actually forgot to mention in my write up that I'm also using the luggage mode when riding with just myself on the bike.

Re: A bit of a review

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:56 am
by DaveNZ
Bruce Wayne wrote:Cheers Dave! I actually forgot to mention in my write up that I'm also using the luggage mode when riding with just myself on the bike.
I find with the luggage mode, it reduces the rider sag from 45mm to 37mm, much closer to a more sports orientated sag (35mm ideal for me) but the down side is, it reduces the rebound dampning, and speeds up the rebound, i guess this is for the expected extra weight. but with a rider only its too fast. it would be great if there was a way to increase the preload in solo rider mode, as i find the rebound is ok in this mode.

A bit of a review

Posted: Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:51 am
by MR C
Great write up fella, my bike was one of the first gen and I do now notice a large gap around the pannier front and was worried about water ingress ! However they have never let water in, but the gap is big is this a warranty issue ?

Agree totally on the cruise, infact I'm going to buy the new SDR left switchgear with cruise on left and see if I can reconfigure the GT .

Re: A bit of a review

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:34 am
MR C wrote:Agree totally on the cruise, infact I'm going to buy the new SDR left switchgear with cruise on left and see if I can reconfigure the GT .
Mr C, please keep us informed of that project...I would love to have cruise on the left and your way would be a lot cheaper than the bike LOL

Re: A bit of a review

Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:39 am
Great write was like I was there with you while on our GT, but you are better with the words. I have been able to spend way too much time on the boards...have not ridden since 4/14...and not sure when the bike will be done and I cant ride until at least 7/25

My wife and I love ours, other than commuting on it sometimes it is almost exclusively 2-up with my wife and I and could not be happier, we have done the ergo/heated seats and risers and I have installed a passenger grab handle that attaches to the fuel cap ring of bolts.

I definitely do not have the sport bike ass to feel the delicate nuances as some coming from a Valkyrie bobber...but from a guy who has got his first sport bike type as a tourer...wish I had done it sooner

Re: A bit of a review

Posted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:35 am
by Bruce Wayne
MR C, I've heard of some people getting exchanges on their panniers through warranty but (if memory serves) the ones in question were letting in water.

RDKLL, I've seen the details of your crash and the saga that followed. I hope you get yours sorted and back on the road asap!

Re: A bit of a review

Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:33 am
by Aussie Dave
Cheers Batman...... great write-up. I agree with my NZ copy about a smidge more rebound on the rear and a wiff less on the front but otherwise I can find a setting to cover most Aussie goat tracks.. :lol:

I use the cruise control quite often, and the heated grips work nice - oh, I put a set of "Acerbis Dual Road" and guards on and that works well for me here in Qld Aus.

Even though I use lower tyre pressures the GT still gets upset on corrugations mid corner, but I cover that ok. (I'll most likely change from the Angel GT's to PR4 when they wear out......they aren't the best for feel and the profile is errrr not as nice as the Michelin's..... ;) ).

All in all, it's a hoot to ride and I'm smiling all the time I'm riding it..... :D

Ps (phone rang mid post...) the panniers are ok - not as good as Givi but they are fine if you are careful loading the 'lid', I basically pack my stuff in the base, and there is enough room in the odd shaped lid to put my "Rebock's" that I wear as dressy off bike shoes (one shoe in each lid)......and nothing else......and the lid sits nice and tight. For anybody yet to buy the cases......there is the option of the SW Motech rack system that suits Givi cases = probably the better option for travelling with a passenger and more gear than I carry.... :lol: ).

Oh bugger.....nearly forgot......I often push the cruise control button 'on' and just leave it on. It stays on all day even after switching the ignition off. I have no problem hitting the set/resume rocker switch.....only the push on activation button, so on a trip I just leave it 'on' and set cruise when I want.