A compression ratio of 13.2:1 on a massive v-twin would have been virtually impossible a few years ago, but thanks to the latest cylinder head design smarts and engine management systems KTM have been able to achieve exactly that, while also maintaining excellent low rpm running characteristics.
The GT has an improved cylinder head and combustion chamber design over the Superduke R which allows it to achieve the same peak power, despite having to achieve Euro 4 emissions regulations, while also delivering better low and mid-range grunt.
High compression ratios provide instant torque and throttle response, and this is no doubt a large reason why the GT feels like such an animal. That KTM have been able to produce such a smooth running machine, considering that heady compression and massive 56 mm throttle bodies, is an impressive feat, and one that would not have been possible before now.
Despite excellent fuelling and a beautifully smooth pick up from a closed throttle, on anything less than clean and dry roads the Pirelli Angel GT sports-touring rubber has no chance of maintaining traction.
Thankfully the traction control system is excellent, the intervention fast, but subtle enough not to be too overly annoying, and drive is restored quickly once traction regained. I broke the rear tyre away more than five times in the first damp kilometre onboard the GT. The first time by accident, but then I kept repeating it by deliberate provocation, incredulous at how easy it was to turn the rear tyre. This was on a relatively decent road surface in the suburban roads around Palma.
Once up in the hills of Mallorca traction got worse, much worse. The road surface gave so little grip it was like riding on icy roads. Even exiting 40 km/h corners in second or even third gear, the back would slide as soon as the throttle was picked up, even on a trailing throttle the rear tyre nibbled away on the limits of adhesion. Conditions were some of the most treacherous I have ever experienced.
On the few mostly dry stages, where the throttle could be truly used in anger, the Superduke GT proved breathtakingly fast. Where the 990 SMT was a plaything, its 115 horsepower never too threatening, and thus luring the rider into riding like a loony and treating it like the overgrown Supermoto bike it was, the GT does not have the same sort of character. It’s just too damn fast to be treated with anything but the utmost respect. Despite the best safety aids that current technology allows on affordable production motorcycles, I caution that this is not a motorcycle for riders of below average skill levels. It’s not often I am surprised these days but I have to admit I uttered expletives many times as I became accustomed to the massive urge on tap everywhere in the rev range.
It is smooth enough and well tuned enough to still be very manageable around town, dip as low as 2000rpm in third gear and the GT still pulls away nicely without too much grumbling. On damp sketchy roads, or in peak hour CBD traffic, there are definite benefits in selecting ‘Rain’ mode. This limits power to 100hp and 100Nm but drive is still very strong and throttle response more than acceptable, the GT never feels slow even in this neutered mode. Continue…
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