2016 KTM 690 Duke & 690 Duke R

Editor Score: 89.75%
Engine 19.0/20
Suspension/Handling 13.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.5/10
Brakes 8.5/10
Instruments/Controls4.25/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.5/10
Appearance/Quality 9.5/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 8.5/10
Overall Score89.75/100

KTM finds itself in the enviable position of having created a popular brand-within-a-brand with its Duke line of motorcycles. Don’t believe me? Take a look at KTM’s 2016 Duke line-up. Consisting of six different models (some of which, unfortunately, don’t make it to the American side of the Atlantic), the Duke line starts with the 125 Duke and tops out with the 1290 Super Duke R – yet still has room for a pair of Dukes in the displacement range that started the line in the form of the 609cc 620 Duke I. Before we go any further, we need to step back from the current KTM image to remember that, way back prior to 1994, KTM only manufactured dirt-focused motorcycles. The Duke was the company’s first street bike, and the meaty center of the 2016 Duke line is filled with that first Duke’s direct descendants, the 690 Duke and 690 Duke R.

2013 KTM 690 Duke Review + Video

The Duke line shares the same basic equation that launched KTM on its trajectory from dirt specialists to to including a range of street motorcycles, which has now become Europe’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. The Duke started with an off-road chassis and put it in street trim that was able to capitalize on the strengths of the light, upright, quick-steering motorcycle. Not much has changed with the latest Duke, and yet, everything has.

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Taming the Vibrations

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In performance-oriented, two-wheeled motorsports, the quest for more power and less weight is almost religion. However, the design goals for the LC4 extended beyond these to include broadening the powerband, providing better rideability, meeting Euro 4 emissions standards, and – most importantly for a big thumper – minimizing the single-cylinder’s inherent vibration.

2015 EICMA: KTM 690 Duke And 690 Duke R

Looks like a DOHC engine, no? The angle of the head/cam cover interface is visible here.

Looks like a DOHC engine, no? The angle of the head/cam cover interface is visible here.

When mounted in the chassis, the LC4 may only look a little different from the previous generation, but there are almost no parts shared between the two. Perhaps the most noticeable change to the LC4 is the top end, which, at first glance, appears to have changed from a SOHC to a DOHC arrangement. Yes, the new, silent timing chain is rotating a pair of sprockets, but only one is connected to a camshaft.

This relocated camshaft has moved from its previously more central position back towards the intake side of the head. The front side of the head, where one would typically find the exhaust cam, has a secondary balance shaft that works in conjunction with the crank-driven balance shaft to quell vibrations. The single camshaft utilizes three lobes to actuate the valves, with the two outer lobes directly opening the intake valves while the center lobe controls a dual-fingered rocker arm to take care of the exhaust valves. Some clever engineering makes it possible to check and adjust the valve clearances without the time-consuming labor of removing the cam. Additionally, the chances of accidentally altering the valve timing by skipping a tooth in the timing chain while reinstalling the cam is eliminated.

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The intake cam lobes are in blue while the exhaust rocker’s lobe is red. The exhaust valves are actuated by the two black fingers reaching below the secondary balance shaft.

The head has an angled mounting surface for the cam cover rather than the typical flat one. This allows for weight savings by reducing the comparatively heavy aluminum alloy of the head and replacing it with the light, 2mm-thick magnesium cover. Just three bolts secure the cover, shaving additional grams.

2016 KTM 690 Duke Announced

The connecting rod is lighter and smaller for less reciprocating mass. Plain bearings reduce frictional losses.

The connecting rod is lighter and smaller for less reciprocating mass. Plain bearings reduce frictional losses.

The top end isn’t the only place where parts were changed to decrease vibration. The cylinder bore increased by 3mm to 105mm, while the stroke dropped 4.5mm to 80mm, maintaining the 693cc displacement. While the forged piston is larger, its weight didn’t increase. When added to the new lightweight, more compact con-rod, the result is a decrease in the oscillating mass of the piston/crankshaft assembly. Coupled with the friction reduction of the crank’s plain bearings, these changes not only reduce vibration, but also help bump the power output while increasing the engine’s reliability.

In addition to the internal engine changes, the power delivery is massaged by the 50mm ride-by-wire throttle body and the resonator chamber attached to the intake tract which helps tune the power pulses within the engine. When combined with the ride-by-wire throttle and dual spark plugs (with separate ignition maps for each plug), the resulting power production (a claimed 7% increase to 73 hp and a 6% gain in torque to 54 lb-ft) comes across the entire rpm range and has had its rev limit increased by 1,000 rpm. All this doesn’t come, according to KTM, at the expense of fuel economy or emissions. The 690 is now Euro 4 homologated.

The new engine produces more power with a smoother curve than the previous generation.

The new engine produces more power with a smoother curve than the previous generation.

The Age of Electronics

Although the previous generation 690 had R-b-W, it didn’t take advantage of the electronic aids the technology makes available: ride modes and traction control. With the 2016 690 Duke, that issue has been addressed. The standard 690 receives the Street ride mode, while the optional €299 ($317) Track Pack adds Sport and Rain modes. In Rain Mode, the power delivery is softened to account for the lessened traction of the road surface. Sport and Street modes deliver the same peak power, but the throttle response in Sport is more direct. KTM also adds a two-channel Bosch 9M ABS system with an optional supermoto mode that disables ABS for the rear brake only.

The Favorites menu makes changing ride modes while riding a snap.

The Favorites menu makes changing ride modes while riding a snap.

TC is included with and linked to the ride modes. While all three ride modes use TC to arrest rear wheelspin, Sport allows for more slippage before it intervenes. Working in a similar – but opposite – manner, Motor Slip Regulation (MSR) prevents rear wheel skip or slide under sudden deceleration or abrupt downshifts by slightly increasing the engine speed. While this may seem to be unnecessary on a bike that includes, new for this model year, a slipper clutch, we expect a form of MSR to become the more common tool to limit wheel skip in the not too distant future.

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The Duke’s instrument cluster has been replaced with a color TFT dash. Aside from the more modern look, the display has the flexibility to deliver different, situation-specific screens.

When you see red, it’s time to think about shifting.

When you see red, it’s time to think about shifting.

For example, the bar-graph tachometer is blue when the engine is cold and changes to black once it is close to operating temperature. At high-rpm operation, both the gear indicator and the tachometer turn red, acting as a shift light. The screen also changes colors based on light intensity. During the day the background on the screen is a light gray with black digits. At night, the colors switch to white text over a dark gray background. In use on the road, all the important information, such as the rpm and speed, can be easily read regardless of the lighting conditions. However, in some daylight situations, sorting out the smaller text at the bottom of the screen can be a challenge.

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Suspend Your Disbelief

Even though the main tubular trellis frame remains unchanged, the chassis did receive some key upgrades aimed at refining the 690 Duke’s signature sporty-yet-versatile handling. Duke cognizanti may notice that the forged triple-clamp is new with an offset which has been decreased 4mm to 28mm, increasing trail 7mm to bring the figure to 4.8 inches. KTM states that the clamp stiffness has been tuned to match the 690’s non-adjustable 43mm inverted fork. A single WP shock supports the rear and is preload adjustable. The result is a suspension that is versatile enough to handle a wide variety of riding situations while retaining its characteristic sportiness.

Despite the lack of adjusters, the Duke’s WP fork works quite well.

Despite the lack of adjusters, the Duke’s WP fork works quite well.

The brakes follow a similar path. A single, floating 320mm front disc has the pleasure of being clamped by a radially-mounted, four-piston Brembo caliper. The rear disc measures 240mm with a floating single-piston caliper providing the slowing force.

Visit the KTM Duke Forum

A pair of 17-inch wheels with Metzeler M7RR rubber connect the chassis to the pavement. Constructed of cast aluminum, the wheels feature a 10-spoke design with the widths measuring 3.5 in. up front and 5.0 in. in the rear. Tire sizes are 120/70 17 and 160/60 17, respectively.

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The Tragedy of the 690 Duke R

Way back at the start of the article, you may remember that this is supposed to be a review of both the 690 Duke and the 690 Duke R. Well, they are essentially the same with a few exceptions that should be noted.

The Duke R’s claimed power output is 2 hp higher at 75 hp, thanks to the street-legal Akrapovic titanium slip-on muffler. In addition to increasing the engine’s power and giving noticeable deepening of the exhaust note, the upgraded muffler shaves 1 kg (2.2 lb.) off the bike’s weight. To help the rider take maximum advantage of the power bump, the features of the Track Pack are included in the R and are augmented by the Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC) that adds a lean-angle sensor, allowing the MTC to tune its response to the chassis attitude. The lean-angle sensor also feeds information into the Cornering ABS and MSR systems.

The Motorcycle Stability Control module links the with the ABS and TC to take lean angle into account when utilizing those systems.

The Motorcycle Stability Control module links the with the ABS and TC to take lean angle into account when utilizing those systems.

Naturally, the brake and suspension components get an upgrade. The front caliper becomes a Brembo M50 unit like ones for which EiC Kevin Duke has publicly declared his love (here and here) when mounted on other motorcycles. The triple clamp is machined from aluminum. The fork sprouts adjustments for preload, compression damping and rebound damping, while the shock also gains full adjustability. Additionally, 15mm of travel were added to both the front and rear suspension.

The Duke R has special colors, like an orange trellis frame instead of black. You may be thinking that all these improvements sound pretty good, so where’s the tragedy? The 690 Super Duke R will not be available in the United States. A KTM rep said it is purely a numbers-based decision, and the company feels that the increase in cost for the Duke R, roughly €2000 ($2,118), would make it a hard sell in the U.S.

The 690 Duke R, not for the U.S. market.

The 690 Duke R, not for the U.S. market.

Rubber, Meet Road

The 690 Duke has always been a strong performer thanks to its light weight. Couple that with a narrow profile and snappy steering, and you’ve got a sporty bike that excels where larger-bore sportbikes fear to tread. Before taking a look at the Duke in exciting situations, consider the mundane chores that a well-loved motorcycle is often subject to.

The upright, relaxed riding position on the Duke lends itself to urban use. The rider’s sight line is above the majority of vehicles it encounters, while the riding position and ease of maneuverability make quick work of navigating urban snarls. What has previously stood in the way of the 690 Duke was its engine’s ever-present vibration.

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While hardly intrusive in many situations, the thumper’s vibrations were always noticeable, but perhaps the reputation of a Single’s buzziness may have inhibited people’s decisions to buy a Duke. Well, all that has changed. The new 690 engine is otherworldly smooth. Yes, a high-frequency tingle moves into the pegs and the grips vibrate at super-high rpm, but in the real-world usable range where the engine spends most of its time, the result of the KTM engineers’ efforts is astoundingly obvious. Out on the road, the pulse felt from the engine feels more like that of a Twin than a Single. At highway cruising speeds of around 80 mph and higher, I downshifted from sixth to both fifth and fourth in search of the vibes that made the old Duke unsuitable for any extended highway use, without ever finding them

Around town, the 690 has always had a torque-filled bottom end, and this hasn’t changed. Lugging along in low-speed morning traffic in first gear, the easy-to-modulate clutch and the responsive throttle make it obvious that the 690 Duke can be a great commuter bike. The user-friendliness of the power delivery – particularly the smooth throttle response in Street Mode – could make the Duke a palatable choice for a performance-oriented new rider, giving him/her a bike that won’t be outgrown immediately.

The 690 Duke has always been at home on tight, undulating roads, but its horizons have expanded to include highways.

The 690 Duke has always been at home on tight, undulating roads, but its horizons have expanded to include highways.

The fuel metering provided by the 50mm throttle body is spot-on in most conditions. Street Mode provides smooth transitions in off-on-off-on conditions encountered during the press ride on the narrow, twisty roads of Grand Canaria island where the Duke introduction was held. Sport Mode provides snappier throttle response which worked quite well in higher speed, high-rpm situations, but when the roads got really tight and technical – think lower-rpm first-gear corners – I preferred the less instantaneous transitions of Street Mode. Because of the Favorites menu, switching ride modes on-the-fly was just a couple button-pushes away. I could quickly – from memory – switch modes on the road with just a quick glance down to confirm the change.

While the non-release of the Duke R to the U.S. market is upsetting, that can’t take away from how well-sorted the standard Duke’s non-adjustable front and preload-adjustable rear suspension is. Throughout the ride, depending on the current road conditions, the biggest criticism I could come up with was occasionally thinking that I’d like a click or two more rebound damping on a few sections of road. Of course someone who is either heavier or lighter than my 190-lb. frame – with gear on and a belly full of press-intro food – may wish for some adjustability. The ride is decidedly sporty, and in some situations with broken pavement, it bordered on harsh. Still, I’d rather have the suspenders err on the side of sportiness for fun rides. Stock suspensions are always an exercise in compromises, and KTM seems to have hit a sweet spot with the 690 Duke.

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Steering response from the new 690 Duke is exactly what it has always been, precise and immediate. The bike’s approximately 350-lb. weight (calculated from claimed dry weight plus 3.7 gallon fuel load) plays an important role here. However, the increased trail does contribute to a slightly more stable personality in higher-speed sweepers. The Duke is a bike that lives to go around corners and craves extended sections of side-to-side transitions.

Having a willing engine that offers plenty of grunt in the bottom end but still ramps up the horsepower to just before redline is a great accomplice to unwinding a twisty road. With the new smoothness of the mill, the extra 1,000 rpm is quite useable and appreciated. Only during the track sessions on the Duke R did I encounter the rev limiter unexpectedly – mostly because of the close proximity of another rider taking a bit of my attention. The slipper clutch and MSR provided silky-smooth downshifts – even at high-rpm, near-redline drops into first gear that had previous Dukes chirping.

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The 320mm front disc and the standard Brembo caliper offered plenty of power and feel, though it may not be as swoon-inducing as the M50 caliper. The ABS was seamless when invoked. One particular instance that had me grateful for ABS occurred at the entry to a downhill first-gear corner. Diving into the corner, hard on the brakes, a compression bump lightened the back wheel just as I initiated the turn. Although I’m experienced enough to have modulated the rear brake as the tire chirped, the whole process was much less dramatic with the ABS stepping in for a moment to assist. I simply felt the gentle pulse in the pedal and made a mental note to use this event in this story.

Given the Duke’s dirtbike roots, the 32.9 in. seat height shouldn’t be a surprise. (The Duke R bumps it up to 34.1 in.) Still, the height may be off-putting to new riders. The narrowness of the engine and the seat help a bit, but shorter-legged folks will be on their toes. Speaking of the seat, it is super firm but did not bother my finely-tuned hind parts. It’s narrowness made sitting forward against the tank natural and comfortable in the tight-n-twisty stuff, but the length of it allows the rider to slide back on the highway to get a little forward lean to combat the wind.

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The 690 Duke has truly broken new ground in the area of smoothness in single-cylinder engines, making it a bike that is desireable for more than just its impressive cornering ability. The 2016 690 Duke will be available “spring-ish” in dealerships for $8,999 – the same price as the previous version. The color options will be orange and white, and the standard Duke will be recognizable by its black frame (not that there will be any orange-framed Duke Rs around to compare it to).

2016 KTM 690 Duke & 690 Duke R
+ Highs

  • Smooth, powerful 693cc engine
  • Well-sorted suspension
  • More fun than humans should be allowed
– Sighs

  • Ride modes require optional Track Pack
  • Non-adjustable suspension
  • No Duke R in the U.S.

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KTM Communities

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Great fun bike at a reasonable price. Will give all those scramblers a run for their money.

    • Evans Brasfield

      I’m inclined to agree with you, and I’m waiting to see how it shakes out next year.

  • sfree1

    Looks like KTM has really done their homework. I have a 2014 Duke that I bought in July and I too was put off by the vibes…at first. But I just went over 10k miles on it and as the engine has broken-in it has smoothed out considerably. I have a daily 60 mile commute in So. Calif at an average speed of 70 mph @ 4500 rpm and it’s no worse than almost all the other 10+ bikes I’ve owned in the past 37 years. High up in the rev range you certainly know the bike is a big single, but that’s all offset by the light weight, sharp handling and great ergonomics. I just wish it had a bigger tank, my low fuel light comes on almost always at 120 miles and I can stretch that out to 140 or so before it’s on fumes. At any rate, it’s a keeper and I have no regrets about choosing it.

  • Alexander Pityuk

    I don’t like that front end look. Apart from that – awesome machine!

  • gjw1992

    So those negatives get wiped out if you live in a ‘market’ where the Duke R’ will be sold (and can ignore the not inconsiderable premium for the R)? Pricey against the middleweight twins like the mt/fz07. But I’m almost swayed. Will check out at the UK bike show this week.

    That front end look – not too bad. Better if they adopted LED and made the headlight all but disappear.

  • Craig Hoffman

    The updated 690 Enduro with this engine will be sweet indeed. As close to a do it all dual sport as one could hope for. 9Gs is a lot of money for a single though, no way around it.

    • Evans Brasfield

      I understand your point about the price, but I think that when the technology you get in comparison to other Singles – and even some Twins – is considered, you are getting what you pay for.

      • Craig Hoffman

        Oh I agree. The Duke (and the 1290R) are amazing bikes. You do get what you pay for. I just need more income – LOL

        As for the MX bikes costing nearly 9K, one has to be out of their mind to buy new. Nothing depreciates like a 3 year old dirt bike.

    • Born to Ride

      Consider this Craig, a brand new CRF450r costs a whopping 8700$. If a high performance, single cylinder, dirt bike with a friggin kickstarter can demand that price premium, then I don’t see how the Duke with its larger motor, larger brakes, more sophisticated electronics, expensive euro 4 emissions equipment, and road legal lighting and instrumentation cant be worth 8999$. We are just spoiled by seeing the low MSRP on cheaply made bikes like the FZ-07 and SV 650. If Suzuki or Yamaha built their bikes with the level of technology and componentry as this bike, they would not be so inexpensive.

      • Reid

        Also, until recently KTM was kind of playing catch-up to the Japanese brands. Now that KTM’s economy of scale has been improved thanks to spreading development costs – not to mention licensed production – of new engines with Bajaj in India, we could be seeing a turning point for KTM. When the new parallel twin-powered 690 Duke successor debuts I look for it to gain only a small amount of weight and a little more cost (for the higher-content models) over the current model but have a solid 20-30 more horsepower to better compete with the company’s Japanese and European (say, Triumph) rivals.

        • gjw1992

          The trouble is, 20 more hp is nice but a bit more weight – and you end up with what sounds like a F800, albeit a bit sharper. Worthy but still duller than this single. 40+hp, yes, a nice Triumph or even MV competitor. But a very different machine and more for faster flowing roads. And even though KTM dealers are like hens teeth around here, it might be worth a punt while it’s around…

  • Vrooom

    I had a KTM Duke over a decade ago (OK, approaching 2), it was a crazy bike, one of a few I regret letting go. Both ridiculous and impractical. On the one hand it was simply crazy fast not just for a single, but for anything in the 0-50 range. On a very tight road it was nearly unbeatable. It vibrated a lot, and as such it was limited to maybe 50 mile stints. It had no weather or wind protection (an issue in Oregon). It wasn’t the bike you chose to ride unless you were out to ride it like it was stolen. But still crazy stupid fun.

  • Auphliam

    Not for nothing, but it drives me crazy when a manufacturer says “We built this extra special version that you can’t have”.

    Is $2K really that big a leap from the standard pricing? I mean, are most folks going to drop that much into upgraded suspenders and brakes anyway? Or is the base model good enough to cloud that decision?

    • Evans Brasfield

      The base model with the Track Pack is very good and will probably satisfy the majority of riders. The adjustable suspension is largely geared towards those who will run track days on the Duke. That said, advanced riders who know what they’re doing will miss the ability to tweak their suspension to suit road conditions. Other bits, like the slip-on and the rearsets that I didn’t mention in the review, can be bought from the Duke catalog. You could also pop for the fancy triple clamp, but I don’t think it offers any functional difference.

      • DickRuble

        Not only track riders benefit from adjustable suspension. As you mentioned in the article, if your weight is very different from the one for which the suspension was set up in the factory (probably 175lbs), you’re out of luck with the regular Duke.

  • Nihal Kanbargi

    Great review! Can’t wait for a showdown with the FZ-07

    • Reid

      The FZ-07 will win based on value, and the FZ-09 will win based on performance, but neither of the Japanese bikes are as good all-around as the 690 Duke. The trouble is the economy of scale. When you make a single-cylinder bike this good, it ain’t gonna be cheap, thus it is beaten in the sales war by machines that are cheaper to build and get either the same or better performance with engines that aren’t limited by only having one lung.

      • Nihal Kanbargi

        It will still be interesting to see if the extra cash for the Duke is worth it. The single may not produce as much power, but the longer stroke should give it more torque all round. Plus it should be lighter and more agile.

        • Reid

          No doubt. The Duke is incredibly agile. Probably the most agile bike you will find for less than five figures. But for most people it’s about power power power. The light weight of the Duke is the biggest selling point for me, and there is hardly a time when I feel that it needs more power. However, as my skills and experience have increased with time I do find myself wanting more power, but that’s normal for everyone, right?

          • Nihal Kanbargi

            I agree, it should make for a sophisticated beginner bike, though for a beginner with a reasonable budget. I would prefer it to the FZs just for the electronics

  • Reid

    I’m always nervous about these articles, hoping that I won’t become insanely jealous of the newest model 690 Duke, as mine is a ’13. However, I have to say that, due to upgrading the cam, airbox, ECU tune and opting for the full Akra exhaust kit, I don’t have the immediate urge to run down to the shop to get the new ’16 model since mine was got at a steep discount + has way more power and is lighter than even the new version. The short version: I’m going to wait and see how the new parallel twin Duke is before I jump ship.

    • Born to Ride

      This is why a part of me is glad that Ducati doesn’t manufacture the air cooled monsters anymore. By now I’d already be itching to replace mine with a younger and more lithe iteration.

      • dougie_s

        i was *so* tempted to buy a used 690 duke – i found a nice one – 2013 – w/the full factory intake/cam/exhaust/fueling mods for $6k, which included $300 for shipping. these bikes are a blast, and the vibes are not at all bad, imo. tho i am sure the 2016 is also sweet, that’s a premium for buying new. the *r* issue, not being available, may be real, but for me, the small gas tank is an issue. which is why i ended up spending a little more, ($7.3k, also including shipping), for a nice 2010 ducati hypermotard evo sp. this price included the 6.4g tank, full aftermarket exhaust and rapidbike-evo fueling mod. not quite as light as the 690 duke, but 360lbs is still plenty light.

        so, if you’re leaning to a used duc, forget the monsters; the evo 1100 hypers have the best air-cooled motors ducati ever made…

        doug s.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    This is a great bike. But sadly I sold my 2013 after 15k miles. As fun and lightweight as it was, it is not a long distance machine. A good commuter but when you have to ride 30 miles to the nearest twisties you have to take a break before you have fun. The vibes from the handlebars and pegs were the reasons I sold it. I did everything to quell the vibes, Heavy bar ends, Lead shot, Handguards, gel and foam grips. Great bike for what it is. too bad mine destroyed/consumed oil like a newborn. This bike is very easy to work on also.

    • Born to Ride

      Basically, those that have owned or ridden the Duke 620-690 fall into two categories, vibration haters or vibration neutrals. I have heard accounts regarding the bike ranging from “cheaply built sh*t” to “dream bike”, and it seems to me that people that are averse to vibes cannot stand this bike for that fact alone.

      It strikes a chord with me to see a company take its customer’s feedback about their product and directly turn it into engineering goals to improve said product. The vibration, the oil consumption, and the expensive maintenance combine to sour the ownership experience for those I have spoken to about this bike. KTM chooses to not sit idly by and allow that to hamstring them by writing off flaws as “inherent design characteristics”. I respect that immensely.

    • Reid

      I haven’t observed mine using oil except right before it’s time for an oil change. Is your problem fairly common? I’m sorry you had a bad experience.

      • Mark Vizcarra

        I never had a bad experience, it’s just what I observed when I had the bike. The vibes werent bad, they were tolerable to a point that you will go numb and will have to get off.

        As far as oil consumption, some bikes burn a lot and some dont burn as much. I would have to add 0.5L of oil every 1000 miles and change it completely after 3000 miles. I knew when I had to add oil, it started to vibrate more than usual.

        Maintenance on this bike is as easy as it gets. Valve adjustments are very easy to do. You would be stupid to take it to the dealer.

  • Old MOron

    Great review, Evans. As someone who has put 50K miles on his DRZ, I’m pretty excited about this Duke. I’m also excited about Husky’s 701 Sumo and Vitpilen. I guess I’ll have to hang on to my money until the MOronic shootouts come around.

  • Michael Mccormick

    Every time I consider buying a KTM Duke, 390 or 690, I come back to reality: they are tuned like racing dirt bikes, very maintenance intensive,and the local dealer also sells another 4 brands. Guess I’m chicken but I’m 66 and have owned 40 bikes and only one KTM . Rode a 620 Duke and realize the unique benefits of light weight and great power, great suspension and brakes. Owned only one KTM a 400 street legal enduro, a dual sport for dirt only. I think I could have as much fun on a Ducati Scrambler for a lot less money and grief. Still want a Duke. Maybe that’s what the guys at KTM are up to

    • Sayyed Bashir

      You can follow your heart or follow your mind. You only live once. You haven’t really lived unless you have owned a Duke. Nothing else comes close. This is your chance to live.

      • Michael Mccormick

        I have to tell you I’ve owned 40 motorcycles in the last 50 years so I have in fact lived. From Honda 50s to Tl1000s, and every one made me feel alive, even the Harley’s and scooters.

        • Sayyed Bashir

          So the Duke is next?

    • Reid

      I’m a three-year owner and my bike is hardly ever put in a four-walled garage over night (NW Florida weather means at worst it’s raining or “pretty darn chilly” but never “bloody freezing” like in other parts of the country), and I probably don’t baby the Duke like many owners do their motorcycles. I can tell you that other than oil changes (every 6,000 miles), a new rear tire and probably six really thorough chain-cleanings the Duke has needed zero maintenance and it works faultlessly all the time, every time.

      • Old MOron

        Good info. Thanks. How many miles on your bike?

        • Reid

          I’m right at 14,000, so not a ton of miles, but I use it just for fun and commuting.

      • Michael Mccormick

        Glad to hear your experience. What did a valve adjustment set you back and how often are they required? Last I checked you need to use some super expensive Motorex 5w50 ester full synthetic. Reid, I’m just trying to convince myself not to buy one but I’m running out of excuses!

        • Reid

          The best excuse is that the successor/replacement model with a twin is coming soon and it will likely be everything the duke is and then some for not much more money. Unless you just have to have the best big single ever, I’d wait.

        • Reid

          The best excuse is that the successor/replacement model with a twin is coming soon and it will likely be everything the duke is and then some for not much more money. Unless you just have to have the best big single ever, I’d wait.

        • appliance5000

          The synthetic is due to the wet clutch. Mobil 1 makes a suitabe one for $11.00 a quart. With 6k changes, and 3 quarts, that’s not a lot of scratch. Another excuse shot down. – I’m in the same boat.

          • Michael Mccormick

            Most motorcycles have wet clutches and don’t require full synthetic. Jaso MA is the oil spec for wet clutches. Synthetic motorcycle oil is the best for highly stressed motors and longer change intervals. As far as I know Mobil 1 is not a full synthetic ester. Oil companies toss around the synthetic term but if you look at manufacturers recommended oils does Ktm say Mobil 1?

          • appliance5000

            I think you’re right. about why synthetics are specced.

            Mobil 1 is a family of oils. Some full synth, some not. Some JAso MA some not.

            Jaso MA is a motorcycle manufacturer designation. I think it acts as an assurance to buyers, but many non Jaso MA oils are fine to use. The key is to avoid extra additives for friction reduction etc.. I’ve used non Jaso mobil one with good results – I’ve found Jaso MA mobil one for the same price so I go with that presently.

            The only reason I mention Mobil 1 is that it’s cheaper than many Jaso MA oils that infer that because of that designation they’re super special, hence the high price. All oil has to meet government guidelines – Jaso just doesn’t have extra additives.

        • Rob Alexander

          For my ’08 690 SMR, service with valve adjustment costs me just under $300. $150 without. 690s are some of the cheapest bikes out there to run. Look at KTM’s web site where you can download the service times… The 2016 is noticeably reduced from earlier years and service intervals are 10K km. 52 vs 80 minutes for non-valve adjustment services and 111 vs 140 for service with valve adjustment… So the new bike got even cheaper to run.

      • Michael Mccormick

        Glad to hear your experience. What did a valve adjustment set you back and how often are they required? Last I checked you need to use some super expensive Motorex 5w50 ester full synthetic. Reid, I’m just trying to convince myself not to buy one but I’m running out of excuses!

  • Michael Mccormick

    Stop whining about not getting the R model unless you rode the base model, you tossers

  • Rob Alexander

    Oh yeah! I currently have a 2008 690 SMR which is my favorite bike I’ve ever owned (I like it better than my 990 SMT). I’ve always said it’s the one bike I’ll never get rid of, but this is making me rethink that!

  • Shlomi

    I’ve owned the 2012 Duke and wished for the R version ever since. KTM considers the US Market as low priority and never brought over the R version.
    Therefore, I sold my bike and got Triupmh Street Triple Rx. From some reason KTM continue to see US as low priority market. Every model they launched becomes available over the US almost 1 year later.
    Look at Ducati, BMW, Triumph, and Aprilia all provide US market with the same offering as Europe.
    I will not consider KTM until they consider US as top selling market.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      It all depends on the U.S. KTM dealers and KTM North America. They only buy the models they think they can sell. If people really want the 690 Duke R, they should go to their KTM dealer and ask for it. If there is enough demand, it will come to the U.S.

      • Shlomi

        what about the SMT? you cant tell me it does not have market over the US (see multistrada, and BMW S1000RX). KTM continues to discriminate the US market. On the other hand see Aprilia coming up with US only special addition RSV (last year)

        • Rob Alexander

          Did you see the “new SMT”, uh, I mean the Duke GT…. (BTW I own an SMT).

  • sandifop

    US rider here. I’d buy the R but may pass on the base model.

    I could live with a the base model, a Track Pack plus a few parts from the bin but hang on losing the lean angle sensor. Likely this requires the mono-block since it works with the ABS so I wonder if it will even be available. Even this article leaves its availability in question. KTM is unresponsive when I ask the question. I see this as a key feature.

    Elsewhere I read silly objections to a single front disk brake. When KTM is shaving grams from the cam cover does it make sense to add a redundant 2kg to an already excellent brake? In engineering, they seem to have made good choices all around. But the “NO R FOR YOU!” for a market as large as the US?

    Even I admit it seems silly. The bike ticks 90% of my needs and 70% wants. However, at $10k delivered for the base I think the KTM decision to withhold the R is questionable.

  • Dootinbob

    Sweet bike. I can’t imagine how much trouble i would have created for myself as a kid on this bike.

  • Rob Alexander

    One thing most people don’t seem to think about is the “kind” of vibes the engine puts off. The earlier 690s definitely vibrate but the frequency is such that it doesn’t really bother anything. I can ride mine for long rides at high speeds and my hands barely notice after I get off the bike. Contrast that to the “smoother” FZ-09 which seriously buzzed my hands after a 15 minute test ride. I wonder how the FZ-07 would do – it was epic on the test ride, but I haven’t had the chance to go a couple hundred miles on one. My old SV650 would buzz my hands after a long highway stretch at high speed.

    So, when are we going to see a matchup between the new Duke and FZ-07?

  • Rob Alexander

    So when do we get a rematch between this and the FZ-07 that narrowly beat the previous 690 Duke? Looks like KTM pretty much read that article and addressed every point it lost on…….