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If you think about all the naked bikes on sale today, you get a feeling of hooliganism, the market may consist mainly of tuned down sports bikes with the fairings removed, but this is not a bad thing. If like me, you quite like sports bikes, but you just don't fancy the aching wrists and back, and the cramped legs, then really this is a market that you should be looking into.
The KTM Superduke, for me is the king of this market. The one to go for is the 2007 onwards model, basically the latest edition. The reasoning for this is twofold. Firstly it looks a bit nicer, a bit more up to date. Secondly, they've sorted the bike out mechanically. While the older bike had a stingy 14.5 litre fuel tank which would run out at around 120-130 miles, this new model has an 18.5 litre tank, which is much more practical. It's also got clearer clocks, and the fueling, which used to be a little snatchy at slow speeds, is much smoother now. All in all, this is the more practical model.
What?! Practical?! I hear you cry. The Superduke is one of the last bikes that springs to mind at the mention of the word. You have no luggage options, a plastic tank which makes fitting a tank bag a hassle, absolutely no wind protection, and that seat isn't the most forgiving. But it's true, I really do consider this to be a practical machine. Ventura make a decent tailpack for the odd weekend away, KTM offer a higher screen, which doesn't look like it'll do much but it's bound to help, and it's only £30 too. The riding position is comfortable though. Your legs aren't cramped up, your arms aren't too high or too low, just perfect.
So you don't get heated grips, a fuel gauge, a gear indicator etc. You do get temperature, two trips, a clear digital speedo and a nice analogue tacho. It's not an abundance of fancy gadgetry, but it's enough, after all, knowing your average MPG is hardly what KTM is all about. It would be nice to have a fuel gauge though it must be said. Seriously though, this isn't what the bike's all about.
But enough about that. Those are just my excuses to justify buying one. This is the real reason...
Swing a leg over the Superduke and the first thing you notice is it's light weight. This thing feels like a bicycle, or at most a 125cc. Of course once you look down at the muscular shaping on the tank, you know that this is not the case. Before even firing up the engine you know what it's going to be like.
Fire up the 990cc V-twin (a tuned up version of the one in KTM's Adventure), and you'll be starting to ponder whether this is such a good idea. It's got about 125bhp, and a ludicrous amount of torque, all rolled into a 170kg package. If you look up insanity in a dictionary, there will be a picture of this bike. The noise is incredible, even with standard exhausts on, which include a restrictive catalytic converter. Stick some Akrapovics on there and you'll be setting off car alarms.
So riding it away, the throttle is smooth, you can negotiate slippery roundabouts with ease. However once you get the tyres warmed up and you're on a dry stretch of road, just wind that throttle on a little bit, and Woooooaaahhhh! Acceleration is too soft a word. Imagine somebody punching you in the chest, your arms tense up and cling on for dear life, and your vision is blurred. Take the pain out of being punched, and that's what you get. Now most bikes are fast, but this thing is just insane. It's not like with sports bikes though, where you have to be doing illegal speeds to get the rush of acceleration. You can get just as many thrills from the Superduke at under 50 mph.
So chuckling like a madman, you hit the first corner. The first few corners actually, will be taken in the shape of 50 pence peices, you'll have to readjust the way your brain works for this one, until you get used to it, the turn in is just so fast that you'll need to play for a while before you get it perfect. It's got quite a steep steering angle, which aids this turn in, but also makes it a little twitchy on fast sweeping bends, but not so much that it's a problem. The WP suspension is spot on, soaking up the bumps without making the bike feel wallowy, perhaps a little on the hard side but it's fully adjustable.
Thanks to that fast turn in you can see your way through traffic in no time. The clutch is a little heavy, but the KTM's so thin and small that you won't be doing much traffic, you can just aim for gaps.
The quality of the KTM is superb. Bearing in mind that the LC8 engine is pretty much bulletproof, the components scream quality, and the whole bike feels like a beautifully complete package.
It is a hooligan bike. As in, buy a BMX, wedge a thousand CC V-twin into the frame. But it's so much more than that, it's a commuter, a track bike, a tourer (all be it a basic one). It will do anything you ask of it, better than the majority of riders can cope with. One word sums up the Superduke like no other can. Fun.