The mid-displacement sportbike category is hotting up, with recent introductions of Triumph’s all-new Street Triple and Yamaha’s updated FZ-09. And then there’s the 800cc Brutale from MV Agusta, too.

2017 Triumph Street Triple RS Review: First Ride

2017 Yamaha FZ-09 Review: First Ride

KTM also wants in on the action, as evidenced by these pictures of a 790 Duke undergoing suspension testing in Spain in advance of finalizing specifications. The Austrian manufacturer teased us at the big EICMA show in Milan, Italy, last fall with a concept version of the 790 Duke. And then our adrenaline spiked from a promo video KTM produced that featured a test rider mercilessly flogging the new Duke with wheelies and burnouts.

KTM 790 Duke Concept Unveiled At EICMA 2016

2017 KTM 790 Duke Video Preview

Do Not Watch This KTM 790 Duke Teaser Video

Now, we’ve got new photos that show the 790 Duke in what appears to be nearly in production form. These images were nabbed earlier this week in Catalunya, Spain, near KTM’s testing base, and ridden with the new 790 for comparison was a 690 Duke and Triumph’s 675cc Street Triple.

2018 KTM 790 Duke Spy Shots

The LC8c engine looks significantly more finished than the version shown at EICMA. The inclusion of color-matched accessory components, like the skid plate and oil filler, point to this being a near-production unit.

The heart of the new Duke is its new parallel-Twin powerplant, what KTM refers to as the LC8c, the lower-case c standing for “compact.” It uses a 270-degree crank arrangement like almost every other newly introduced inline-Twin motor, and we presume it uses ride-by-wire throttle technology. One of our favorite features of the concept version was its racy underseat exhaust system, but there’s no way it could meet the latest European and American emissions regulations. Instead, we have the twin header pipes leading to an exhaust collector under swingarm, with final pipe routing running parallel to the subframe along the right side.

SPIED: KTM 790 Adventure Prototype In Action

Reports out of Europe suggest KTM will produce a base model and an up-spec R version. The cheaper iteration will likely be limited to less than 100 hp to qualify for European A2 licensing, while the R version will probably produce more than 110 crankshaft horsepower. This will line up nicely with the new 765cc Street Triple from Triumph.

2018 KTM 790 Duke Spy Shots

The radial-mount J.Juan calipers and WP fork are clearly visible in the spy shots of this base model 790.

The bike in these photos is most likely the base edition, as it is fitted with J.Juan front brake calipers and not the Brembos typically used on KTMs. We’d expect Brembos on the R version. Suspension is, of course, by WP, a KTM subsidiary. Tire sizes appear to be a typical 120/70-17 up front, with a 180 at the rear.

2018 KTM 790 Duke Spy Shots

From the cobby muffler welds to the homemade-looking brake light support, the back of the 790 doesn’t look as finished as the rest of the bike. With power delivery as raucous as we expect the 790’s to be, we wonder if the adjustable seat bolster (a.k.a. butt slide stop) will make it to the production version.

The concept version shown at EICMA was a stripped-down naked, but this production version is equipped with some of the niceties we need on our street machines. Up front is a wind-deflecting flyscreen mounted above its warrior-like bifurcated headlight. Behind the screen appears to be a set of TFT instruments – along with what looks like a cell phone or GPS mounting bracket. Whether this is something destined for the street or merely some residual development hardware, we don’t know.

From the subframe (and swingarm) forward, the concept bike and prototype appear very similar. The subframe itself is clearly different, as it needs to be able to accommodate a passenger, license-plate bracket, turn indicators, exhaust, etc.

We expect the production version of the 790 Duke to be shown at EICMA this fall, with sales beginning early in 2018. Pricing is a guess at this point, but it might be reasonable to estimate the base version might start around $10,000, near the base Street Triple’s MSRP of $9,900. The 790 Duke R, with higher levels of suspension and electronic rider aids, could approach the $12,500 price tag of the Street Triple RS.

  • Old MOron

    I notice that Herr Hohne is credited with a lot of spy shots. Does he really spend his days stalking pre-production test rides, or do the OEM phone him up when they want to leak some photos? Either way, this should be a great bike!

    • Kevin Duke

      In this case, he says he went looking for the bike after seeing some spy shots of it somewhere else. But, yeah, sometimes it can seem like more than a coincidence of a prototype bike and pro photog running into each other.

      • Old MOron

        Whether they’re spy shots or leaked shots, I’m happy to see them 🙂

        • Kenneth

          I’m happy to see them, as well, but we know they’re neither spy shots nor leaked shots – they’re well-choreographed pre-production photos, surely encouraged by the manufacturer. But, I guess “Spy Shots” draws more interest/clicks from Google searches.

      • Kenneth

        Might it not, by now, Kevin, be time to consider calling obviously well-planned “spy” photos what we all know they more-accurately are: “Pre-Production Shots”?

  • allworld

    I definitely am looking forward to this bike. This is my favorite class of bike, and the competition, is really heating up.
    I can’t help to think that Ducati sort of blew it when it dropped the 821 Monster, for the 797 air cooled version. Aprillia revamped their Shiver,so now what will the Bavarians do?? Big congrats to Triumph, MV and Yamaha for keeping the pressure on.

    • Born to Ride

      821 is still listed as a current model on the Ducati USA website. The 821 and 899 motors were not euro 4 friendly. So if it’s dropped elsewhere, it’s not entirely their fault. I would expect a 939 monster next year.

  • World_rider

    CAN’T WAIT for the 790 Enduro R model to be (hopefully) announced shortly afterwards. If it can come in substantially lighter than the Africa Twin we should have a real dog fight on our hands, and I will purchase the winner.

    • Patriot159

      Me too. Love my DR650 but if the Enduro R comes in under 400 lbs. ready to ride I will find it very hard to not trade up!

    • Sayyed Bashir

      The 790 Adventure R will give the Africa Twin a run for its money,

  • Michael Mccormick

    I just hope they don’t discontinue the 690 featherweight super single.

    • Born to Ride

      It sells really badly. I wouldn’t get my hopes up for its continuity. I’d be more sad to see the 690 enduro go. They need to make a damn 690 Adventure already. That would be the only thing that would get me on an ADV bike in the dirt. 500+ lbs in the dirt does not sound manageable to me no matter how much the KTM test riders show off.

      • Michael Mccormick

        Of course it sells badly, but so does the Honds Cb1100. Still KTM needs a bike between the 390 and new 790 just to cover the price points. Not to mention for bragging to have the best single. If they made an Adventure model, it would steal sales from the high profit models. Husky doesn’t have a dealer network in the US. Dual sports are the under 500 pound bikes for off road. The big adventure bikes are no more than 2 wheeled SUV’s that rarely go trail riding.

        • spiff

          I don’t think they need to fill the gap. In Europe they have their A2 version, and in the States people will jump straight to the 790.

          • spiff

            The more I think about it KTM may very well bring a 790s to the States. They may want to offer the high quality without being high strung option, and the middle weights is where that makes sense.

          • Michael Mccormick

            In the States if they can afford the insurance, they buy gsxr’s and wreck them and we all pay for this in medical and motorcycle insurance premiums. At least we don’t have bullshit tiered licensing. We have the right to be stupid

          • spiff

            And I take full advantage of my rights!

            As I said below, they may bring a 790″s” to fill the gap between the 390 and 790r. Lower buy in and most likely less aggressive. They sell the 1290 and 1090 Adventure in “s” trim in Europe.

        • spiff

          Husqvarnas are sold side by side with KTM.

    • spiff

      I think Husky will fill that hole in the line up. I am interested in seeing their 1290 cafe racer.

    • gdbizns

      I don’t believe they will – because at least in Germany 390 and 690 dukes were 4th and 5th in the best sales list in july… Yes, it’s a different market. People seem to like light and capable bikes.

  • Bryan Spears

    With high spec middleweight prices encroaching on base spec literbikes.. I wonder who will be the first manufacturer to add cornering ABS. I understand that not everyone loves electronics, but this is a big one for me at least.

    • spiff

      KTM will be the first.

  • David Wales

    can you get the bloody watermarks off the pictures?? i can barely see it!

  • john phyyt

    Small ,sacrificial, engine plates below cases look to be just the thing. I hope that they stop scratching if bike falls over at zero mph. Easily replaced without the bother expense of new cases. . Knowing KTM they will be part of extensive accesory catelogue along with comfort seat . Which ,as has been said here before, should be standard.

  • spiff

    The exhaust location could prove useful on the adventure model. Out of the way for a crash or panniers.

  • mikstr

    Hopefully the engine will have an exciting “personality”. What’s with the J.Juan calipers? Sure hope it’s not some second-rate discount part on what seems to be an otherwise decent bike.

    • Kevin Duke

      Not positive it has a 270 crank, but a 315 arrangement has a few drawbacks that make it less likely. Having never ridden a Nuda, I’d be interested to sample that config.

      • mikstr

        A 315 is indeed an odd choice (as it was for the Nuda), but decisions are often made for reasons other than optimized engineering (case in point: a 45-degree Vee angle, and the list goes on…). Guess we`ll have to wait and see…

  • spiff

    The shape of the sub frame under the seat should make a nice place to grab when putting the Adventure version on it’s center stand.

  • Matt F

    After missing out on two exceptionally priced 690 Enduro R’s for sale, I picked up a 2014 690 Duke this past weekend. I’m really happy with my decision. I don’t off road anyway, I just wanted the option alongside a set of supermoto wheels. I am an all around Duke lover from 390 to SD, and the 790 is going to be sick. A great upgrade to the 690 in the future, no doubt.