2007 KTM Street Bike Intro

What's Angry, Orange, and Fun to Ride?


KTM. If you haven't heard the name, you've still probably seen the bright-orange blur of one of their products anywhere there's an off-road motorcycling event in the world. KTM has grown from an obscure maker of 100cc tiddlers to a dominant force in off-road competition, offering a wide array of enduro, moto-cross, Supermoto and other machines of all different displacements, from 65cc junior bikes to hulking 999cc adventure-enduros.

This year -- 2007 -- marks a huge step in the history of the 54 year-old Austrian company. They're getting into the vast US street market by expanding their dual-sport and Supermoto offerings and by introducing a few all-new models, including the 2007 990 Superduke. And to tell the world about it, they wisely invited Motorcycle.com to test it out on our home track, the Streets of Willows in scenic Rosamond, CA, the only town in California that somehow manages to be more horrible than Bakersfield*.

You want one, don't you? Yes, you do. KTM claims everything they make is "Ready to Race", but how does that equate to a product that is first and foremost a streetbike? Be patient, read on, and you will find out; plus you will find out all about the new 690 Supermoto and the 990 Adventure.

If you've enjoyed our new "Scotch Watch" feature (nominated for a 2006 MotoWeb Best Feature award**) I am sorry to disappoint you: KTM is a no-nonsense company that is all about riding and racing; no fancy dinners or cocktail receptions for the US press. We did enjoy a stunt show courtesy of KTM stunt rider Oliver Ronzheimer and some nice gifts from KTM's stylish accessory catalog before KTM's media relations and design people told us about their new product lineup.

This is what a professional rider on a closed circuit really looks like. KTM stunt rider Oliver Ronzheimer shows off. The big news is KTM's all-new 990 Superduke. KTM's designers wanted KTM's entry into the naked roadster market to have a "special, unique appearance," and their insectoid***-inspired vision has that, in spades. With sharp creases, bold colors, minimal bodywork and cool touches like the truncated exhausts and tiny "wind spoiler" mounted above the tiny instrument display, this KTM will get plenty of attention, even parked next to a wild custom chopper.

Plastic shrouds that look like they came off a giant motocrosser cover a 999.9cc liquid-cooled, DOHC four-valve V-twin motor that is extremely compact and lightweight thanks to its 75-degree V-angle and dry-sump design. A counterbalancer keeps things smooth. Fueling is by Kehin EFI, and the twin exhausts are catalyzed and have integrated heat shields, all neatly tucked up into the bike's abbreviated tailsection. Power output is around 120hp at the crank.

If this looks good to you, follow the big orange truck to a motorcycling event near you for some test-riding fun. Check http://www.ktmusa.com for more information. The motor goes into a chrome-moly trellis frame that is not only nice to look at, it's also about as light and rigid as a frame can be. Suspension is race-ready WP components, with a 48mm fully-adjustable upside-down cartridge fork and fully-adjustable linkage-less rear shock. The suspension is much more street-oriented, with two inches less wheel travel than the 950 Supermoto's. Tires are the grippy, proven Dunlop D208, with a 120/70-17 in front and a 180/55-17 in the back. Wheelbase is a stylishly short 56.6 inches, rake is a steep 23.5 degrees, and KTM claims the dry weight is only 406 pounds.

In 20 years these brakes will be on a middleweight cruiser.
To complete the package, there is a matte-finished 4.8-gallon plastic tank and a programmable instrument display. There's also a minimal seat with passenger pegs, and besides what might be the smallest windscreen on a motorcycle ever, there's not much else, really. The only component of this bike that isn't pared-down to the bare essentials is the price tag; $13,998.

Also a big deal was the all-new 690 Supermoto. The media people didn't know if the bike would arrive in time, as they were held up in customs, but at the last minute a truck arrived at the track with a small fleet of the new thumpers for us to sample.

This bike is a purpose-built streetbike, not a dirtbike with a wheel kit like many Supermotos. The frame is a trellis unit, with a huge space for an airbox and a distinctive cast-aluminum ribbed swingarm. Front suspension is the same fully-adjustable 48mm upside-down unit on the 990 Superduke, but with more travel. Wheels are spoked jobs, with Behr aluminum rims and Bridgestone BT-090 European-market street Supermoto tires, a 120/70-17 in front and a 160/60-17 in the back. Rear suspension is a fully-adjustable monoshock with a KTM "Pro-Lever" linkage.

Gabe contemplating a trip into the dirt.The front brake is a single four-piston radial-mount caliper with a 320mm floating disc. KTM claims it weighs 335 pounds dry.

The motor is as new as the rest of the bike. The new LC4 engine is a fuel-injected SOHC four-valve, liquid-cooled, counterbalanced 653.7cc four-stroke single with an all-new six-speed transmission and "Alder Power Torque" slipper clutch. Catalyzed exhaust enters the atmosphere via a pair of huge, vertically-mounted mufflers that look like they came off a semi-truck (but are actually similar to what KTM uses on their race thumpers). "KTM should offer some of those little flappers to put over the tips so they go ?lank-clank-clank' at idle," I helpfully offered to a KTM person. "Ha, ha," they responded, unconvincingly. It's all good for a claimed 63hp at the crank; look for about 54hp at the back wheel.

The bike is finished as minimally as you'd expect. There's a 3.7-gallon fuel tank, an all-new instrument cluster similar to the Superduke's, tapered aluminum handlebars, a dagger-shaped headlamp/fender unit, a tiny storage compartment under the seat, and an LED tail lamp. At press time, KTM didn't have a price, but expect it to be in the $7,000-$9,000 price range.

The other notable machine was the revised fuel-injected 990 Adventure/Adventure S. It uses the same 999.9cc motor as the 990 Superduke, but with shorter gearing (both the internal gear ratios as well as final drive) and tuned for more midrange. The chassis is also similar, with 48mm USD forks and rear monoshock; however, the wheelbase is five inches longer than the Superduke and the bike weighs in at 456.4 pounds (claimed, dry). Along with the fuel injection there's also a high-tech ABS system standard that weighs but three pounds (even though claimed weight overall is up 20 pounds compared to the 950 Adventure) and is easily deactivated by a dashboard switch. Pricing is $13,998, and an extra 200 bucks gets you the ?' model with blacked-out cosmetics.

After 40 minutes of tech briefings we're eager to ride these bikes, so as soon as it ends there's a comical race to change into leathers and dash outside to grab one of the six Superdukes available to ride. I'm able to get onto one in time, and I note the manageable (but still high) seat height and very comfortable ergonomics; the pegs aren't too far back or high, and the tapered bar puts me in a slight forward lean. The motor fires easily, with little vibration and a light feel from what must be a small, light flywheel. The exhaust note is distinctive, with a sharp, mechanical flatness that sounds mean as hell. I click into first and head for The Streets' front straight.

I was expecting it to feel like a modified version of the 950 Supermoto I rode last year, but trust me, this is no Supermoto. The motor revs to redline quickly, with power and torque in every gear, yet it is almost fussy in its precise power delivery, making it difficult to modulate power in very tight, slow corners. This is compounded by the much taller gearing of the Superduke, but give it some open road and the light, free-flowing nature of the powerband leaves no doubt; this is a very fast bike, with a motor perfectly suited to a naked roadster.

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