2020 KTM 890 Duke R First Look

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

Meet the 790 Duke's big brother

What happens when you take the already potent KTM 790 Duke, bump its displacement to 890cc, add in fully-adjustable suspension components, and add top-notch brakes? You get the KTM 890Duke R! First the bad news, though: The KTM 890 Duke R will not come to the United States until the fall of 2020 as a 2021 model. Deal with it. Now, onto the cool stuff.

Getting the engine to 890cc was more than a mere bore and stroke update, though they did change to 90.7 mm and 68.8 mm, respectively. The head had to be completely reworked to handle the larger 37 mm intake and 30 mm exhaust valves. Also, new balancer shaft was added to match the increased RPM and rotating mass. You read that right, the 890 has a higher rpm-ceiling along with a higher compression ratio. On the fueling side, each throttle body receives new sensors to measure the manifold pressure and adjust the mixture on a per cylinder basis for improved throttle response and more precise throttle inputs. Add it all together, and you get a parallel-Twin that KTM claims puts out 121 hp and 73 lb-ft of torque. One surprising change to the engine package is that the Quickshifter + becomes an option on the 890 Duke R. However, cruise control becomes a new option. (No word is available as to whether this will be available as an update to existing 790 Dukes.)
Updated head to accommodate larger valves.

The frame itself remains unchanged save for the orange paint that graces KTM R model frames. However, that doesn’t mean that the chassis didn’t get massaged. The fork swapped its progressive springs for linear ones, and fully-adjustable WP Apex cartridges replaced the non-adjustable bits on the 790 Duke. Out back, a fully adjustable WP APEX shock, complete with high- and low-speed compression damping plus rebound adjustment. The rear preload enjoys a new hydraulic adjuster for easy suspension setup. The orange wheels appear to be unchanged from the 790 except for the racy color. However, the rubber selection is a set of Michelin Powercup II hypersport tires.

Brembo Stylema monoblock calipers and 320 mm discs!

If you thought the suspension changes were exciting, the brakes will have you over the moon. First, the master cylinder is a Brembo MCS radial unit that allows the rider to adjust the lever ratio to their preference. At the other end of the braided steel brake lines sits a pair of Brembo Stylema monoblock calipers gripping 320 mm discs that are 2.65 lb. lighter than those on the 790.

Fully-adjustable shock with hydraulic preload adjuster.

To handle all of the forces that the 890 generates, the handlebar is flatter and lower, and further adjustability is available via three rotational adjustments and 4 positions of fine-tuning on the triple clamp. The 33.1-inch seat is higher than that on the 790 and, when combined with the handlebar, gives a more aggressive riding position. New pegs are mounted higher and more rearward, too.

All of these changes combine to make the 890 Duke R an even sharper scalpel than its smaller sibling. Still, U.S. fans will have to wait until late 2020 to see them in showrooms. Price has not been set.

The KTM 890 Duke R drew crowds on the EICMA show floor.
Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

More by Evans Brasfield

Join the conversation
3 of 11 comments
  • Doctor117 Doctor117 on Nov 07, 2019

    Engine seems like a really incremental change, but the rest of the changes are pretty legit. With the F900R looking semi-competitive, this already really hot segment is getting hotter. I preferred the Striple to the 790 (contrary to Troy and everyone else on this site), but these changes might put it over the edge with me. I certainly still prefer how the Striple looks.

    • Eric Eric on Dec 23, 2019

      F900R will be much heavier and slower in comparison. But it does fall in the same class. Z900, 765RS, MT-09 would be closer to the 890R in theory. Even the GSX-S750 I hear wakes up a lot with an exhaust and ECU flash. CB1000R is probably equivalent since it's heavier and not making much more than Z900.

  • Eric Eric on Dec 23, 2019

    Fantastic machine. I demoed the 790 and it was a total hoot. Blast to ride. Felt mountain-bike light in the way it leaned and handled. Torque was solid and squirting away from a stoplight was very strong. Can't imagine what this update would feel like.

    Thinking about the other powerhouses in this middle-uppper range.....
    Z900 supposely makes 73 torque and 125 hp, but weighs in at 467 pounds wet.
    MT-09 runs about 64 torque and 115 hp, weighing about 425+ pounds wet.
    Street Trip 765RS makes 58 torque and 121 hp, weighing about 366 pounds DRY, identical weight for the 890R. For whatever reason KTM and Triumph refuse to publish wet weights. So frustrating.
    Being a 889cc twin, it's going to stop the Triumph in the torque department.

    Anyway, in terms of power to weight ratio this thing is going to be very hard to catch below 100 mph by most things, even superbikes. The lower gearing and beefy torque, with the lack of weight and solid suspension (quickshifter too) will be a rocketship off the line. Looking forward to later 2020. I think I'd rather trade up on the 890R than modify my MT-09.

    Just glad someone isn't skimping on hardware or electronics in this class of displacement. 890R won't need much, beyond the exhaust and fuel module.