There are adventure bikes, and then there are Adventure Bikes, with both capital letters and a capital concept firmly lodged in your mind. Throughout the decades, BMW Motorrad has worked hard to keep its original Gelände/Straße spirit intact through multiple iterations. Fans can (and will) argue over how well it's done, but it's difficult to deny that it's managed to stay top of mind in the category all this time.

BMW isn't the only game either in or out of town, though. KTM is nothing if not competitive, so it naturally brought the fight to BMW in the premium adventure segment as well. While the GS might have the history, the 1290 Super Adventure R is here to keep BMW on its toes.

Sure, you could say that BMW was always going to continue to grow the GS platform until it reached its current completely reimagined R 1300 GS form. But evolution doesn't exist in a bubble, and is usually influenced by external factors. 

Racing is at its most fun when it's a close competition, not when there's a single leader and everyone else just queues behind them. In that spirit, let's see which mega adventure bike wins the specs battle on paper, shall we? Please note: All specification information is provided by the manufacturers.

Engine, Power, and Torque

  2024 BMW R 1300 GS 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R
Displacement 1,300cc 1,301cc
Engine Type Air and liquid-cooled boxer twin with BMW ShiftCam (double overhead cams, chain-driven) 75-degree liquid-cooled V-twin
Power 145 horsepower at 7,750 rpm and 110 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm 118 kilowatts (about 158.2 horsepower) and 138 newton-meters (about 101 pound-feet) of torque at unspecified revs
Gearbox Six-speed gearbox Six-speed gearbox

With BMW Motorrad's ground-up reimagining of its flagship GS, the new engine developed for the R 1300 GS is nearly identical in displacement to KTM's tried-and-true LC8 V-twin. It's a boxer (or flat twin) rather than a V-twin, and which configuration you prefer is largely down to your personal preference.

On paper, the R 1300 GS is slightly down on horsepower as compared to the 1290 Super Adventure R. At the same time, it has nine more peak pound-feet of torque on tap than the 1290. The fact that KTM doesn't list the revs for either its peak horsepower or torque figures is also not terribly helpful.

The power is so close, it's difficult to determine a winner until we find out what each of these bad bikes weighs. 

Round One Winner: Draw


  2024 BMW R 1300 GS 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R
Frame Two-part design with a main frame, a stressed member engine, and a bolt-on rear subframe Powder-coated tubular space frame
Front Suspension EVO-Telelever  WP XPLOR 48mm front fork 
Rear Suspension EVO-Paralever with single-sided swingarm, central WAD spring strut, and adjustable spring preload Fully adjustable PDS monoshock with an external handwheel
Wheels and Tires Cast aluminum 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels on the base and Triple Black; cross-spoked 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels with aluminum rings on the Trophy and Option 719 Tramuntana. Tires are Metzeler Tourance Next 2. Wheels are tubeless spoked aluminum units by Akront with an O-ring seal at each nipple for extra airtightness, with a 21-inch front and an 18-inch rear wheel. Tires are Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41s.
Brakes Front brakes are a pair of four-piston BMW-branded Brembo radial calipers with 310mm floating brake discs; rear brake is a single two-piston floating caliper and a single 285mm brake disc Front brakes are a pair of Brembo four-piston fixed calipers with 320mm discs. In the rear is a single 267mm brake disc.
Other notes   The 1290 Super Adventure R comes with a WP steering damper fitted as standard equipment.

In the chassis department, the R 1300 GS comes with a separate bolt-on rear subframe, which could come in handy in the event of damage. One advantage of a bolt-on subframe is that if something happens to it, you only have to replace it rather than an entire bike frame because it's a separate (and less expensive) piece. 

Suspension-wise, it seems like it's more a matter of preference than a clear case of one being miles better than the other. 

In terms of wheels, the R 1300 GS offers a choice of either cast or spoked wheels in a 19-inch front and a 17-inch rear size, depending on what kind of riding you plan to do. The 1290 Super Adventure R comes with tubeless spoked aluminum wheels in a 21-inch front and an 18-inch rear size.

Tires are both respectable adventure-focused options, and the real question here is once again personal preference rather than something quantifiable. Both the Metzeler Tourance Next 2 and the Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41 have their dedicated fans.

In the brake department, it's Brembo vs. Brembo, with the KTM having slightly larger front brake discs and the BMW having a slightly larger rear brake disc. However, the 1290 Super Adventure R comes with a stock steering damper, which the R 1300 GS does not.

Round Two Winner, by a hair: 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R


  2024 BMW R 1300 GS 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R
Wheelbase 59.8 inches 62.1 inches
Suspension Travel Front: 7.5 inches; Rear: 7.9 inches Front: 8.7 inches; Rear: 8.7 inches
Seat Height 33.4 inches 34.6 inches
Curb Weight 523 pounds 487.2 pounds dry weight (the only official weight given). Since the fuel tank holds 6.1 gallons, and since a gallon of gasoline weighs about six pounds, it can hold approximately 36.6 gallons of fuel. That means it weighs at least 523.8 pounds at the curb; probably a little more with all other fluids on board.
Fuel tank capacity 5 gallons 6.1 gallons in a special three-part fuel tank

The 1290 Super Adventure R has a slightly longer wheelbase than the R 1300 GS. It also has 8.7 inches of suspension travel front and rear, which is greater than the 7.5 inch front and 7.9 inch rear suspension travel offered on the R 1300 GS. 

However, the BMW is slightly more accessible to a wider variety of riders with its 33.4-inch seat height. The KTM, by contrast, has a 34.6 inch seat height, which is over an inch taller. Seat height on its own isn't everything, but it's something to keep in mind.

Although KTM gives an unhelpful dry weight and not a curb weight, a little simple math shows that the curb weights between the two should be roughly the same. The KTM might be slightly heavier, but not by much.

That negligible weight difference might also be worth it since the KTM's three-part fuel tank carries a full 1.1 gallons more, which could make a significant difference on your journey.

Round Three Winner: 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

Electronics and Other Features

  2024 BMW R 1300 GS 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R
Electronics Suite Four ride modes as standard,dynamic traction control, engine drag torque control, dynamic brake assist, hill start control, dynamic cruise control, and tire pressure monitoring (RDC). Motorcycle stability control, lean-sensitive cornering ABS, offroad ABS, tire pressure monitoring system, self-canceling turn signals, ride modes including offroad, offroad traction control and ABS, cruise control, KTMConnect bluetooth connectivity
Lighting LED LED
Display 6.5-inch full-color TFT dash 7-inch scratch resistant TFT dash with a six-way illuminated switch cube on the handlebar
Other features   Phone pocket with an integrated USB socket, so you don't even need a phone mount if you're not planning to look at your phone while riding anyway. Adjustable footpegs. Adjustable windscreen.

BMW continues to make a wide array of packages available on the R 1300 GS, but they're all options and are not included a standard equipment. To keep things as far as we could, we included only stock features when tallying up this showdo

Round Four Winner: Once again, the 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R just slightly edges out the R 1300 GS competition. 

Price and Warranty

  2024 BMW R 1300 GS 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R
MSRP (US; check with your local BMW dealer if you're in another geographic area) $18,895

US pricing not available at the time of writing. However, the UK price is £ 18,199, or about $23,169. 

For what it's worth, US pricing for the 2023 1290 Super Adventure R, which is basically the same bike but with different paint and graphics, started at $20,299. We'd expect the 2024 to be priced slightly higher than that.

Warranty Three years or 36,000 miles in the US; may vary by region elsewhere in the world KTM North America offers a 12-month warranty across the board on all its R models; may vary by region elsewhere in the world

Both on its MSRP and on US warranty terms, the winner is clear. However, there's a discussion to be had about whether the KTM's price is higher because it includes more standard features, or the BMW's price is lower because many features that people might want are only available as options rather than fitted as standard.

For example, the BMW R 1300 GS offers DSA, but that's an option and not a standard feature. It's a thing that would be very nice to have indeed, but it costs extra.

Round Five Winner: 2024 BMW R 1300 GS

Overall Winner: 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

Spec Showdown Winner: 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

The 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R's base price costs a little more, but with the base bike, you arguably get a little more bang for your buck than with the base 2024 BMW R 1300 GS.

However, it's worth noting that if factory customization and features are more your bag, BMW offers several packages full of additional features at additional charges. KTM offers its fair share of paid options as well.

If you have specific ideas in mind for what you want on your next big adventure bike, your results may vary based on what features you want, and what additional charges those features incur from either manufacturer.

We Ride Bikes, Not Spec Sheets

While having basic facts in mind is helpful, none of what we've told you here today can tell you how you'll feel when riding each of these two bikes. If you're seriously considering either a 2024 BMW R 1300 GS or a 2024 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R as your next bike, we'd suggest that you do your best to get a test ride on both bikes and see what suits you best.

Maybe the ergonomics on one suit you better than the other, or perhaps one bike carries its weight in a way that you seriously dislike. There's no way to know for sure until you throw a leg over and spend at least a little time in the saddle.

Our best advice to you, if you're seriously cross-shopping these (or really any) two bikes, is always to seek out a test ride on both before making decisions and forking over your hard-earned cash. 

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