Best Value Motorcycle of 2020: KTM 890 Duke R

Best Value Motorcycle of 2020: KTM 890 Duke R

We generally associate value with cheap when, in reality, this isn’t (necessarily) the case. The KTM 890 Duke R is a perfect example. For under $12,000 you get a motorcycle packed with performance KTM could charge 15-large for, and you still wouldn’t feel ripped off.

When the 890 Duke R was unveiled, we were a little surprised. We knew a higher-spec R version of the 790 Duke would be inevitable, but for KTM to shove a new, bigger engine into the Duke was a complete surprise. Speaking of said engine, a modest 91cc bump in displacement may not sound like much, but in practical terms, the extra cc’s amount to a boost of power in the midrange – below 5,000 – where street riders and canyon carvers will spend a lot of their time. The extra rush is also felt in the top end, but riding the midrange rush is where it’s at.

Also impressive is the fuel mapping, with seemingly little to no hiccups or dips as far as I could feel. When the 890 is mid-corner, minute throttle adjustments don’t result in annoying lurches or surges. Just smooth, linear power correlating with the amount of twist you give with your wrist. A heavier crankshaft compared with the 790 helps keep the power from being jerky.

The reality, though, is that the Duke R’s not just about the engine. In fact, with a name like the Super Scalpel, there’s a very real case for the 890’s handling prowess to be even more noteworthy than the engine. Lower tapered bars put you in the attack position without being too aggressive, and they also give you the leverage to toss the bike wherever you want it to live up to its Super Scalpel moniker. WP APEX suspension keeps the chassis taut, while a Brembo MCS master cylinder, Stylema calipers, 320mm discs, and steel lines bring the thing to a stop, lickety-split. A six-axis IMU is the lynchpin to the 890’s advanced electronics suite (compared to the five-axis 790 Duke). This enables the things you’ve come to expect from IMU-aided rider aides, like traction control, launch control, wheelie control, and Cornering-ABS (including a Supermoto mode).

In case it wasn’t obvious already, the 890 Duke R is a damn good motorcycle, made even better by its paltry price tag. However, its glaring weakness lies in the transmission. With the 890, shifting from first to second using only the optional quickshifter required a decent amount of pull from your foot and was notchy and abrupt every time, no matter the rpm. The feeling was less pronounced, but still noticeable, from second to third, then fine after that. If you use the clutch then none of this applies, but what’s the point of a quickshifter at that point?

Nonetheless, we’re hopeful KTM resolves this transmission issue. And again, for the price, the 890 Duke R is a value proposition that’s nearly impossible to beat this year. It combines raw power and fun in a package that absolutely dwarfs everything else in the category. This is why it wins our Value award for 2020.


Best Value Motorcycle of 2020 Runner-Up: Yamaha Ténéré 700

Best Value Motorcycle of 2020 runner-up: Yamaha Tenere 700

It seems half of the time throughout the years the MOBO for the Best Value goes to an entry-level machine that provides such great bang for the buck we can’t deny them the award. Not as often does the value category contain machines at the forefront of their genre – last year’s runner-up Duke 790 excluded (We know why that one made it cough *Brasfield* cough). Usually that kind of performance is going to cost ya. Last year’s runner-up, this year’s winner and this year’s runner-up are all fantastic machines at the top of their respective genres and that’s something to be seriously excited about. We’ve seen prices and displacements soar over the years so it’s refreshing to see bikes like the KTM 890 Duke R and Yamaha Ténéré 700 holding it down for best value.

Ryan’s View: 2020 Yamaha Ténéré 700 Review – First Ride

It’s been a looooong wait for the Yamaha Ténéré 700 here in the states. Despite yours truly having a chance to ride the bike in Spain way back in March 2019, only now are U.S. dealers seeing Yamaha’s middleweight hit dealership floors. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. The Ténéré 700 fills an important niche within the Adventure category: an uncomplicated machine with a great base platform to build on and, perhaps most importantly, at the low low price of $9,999. The T7’s compact parallel Twin was already a known quantity in the MT-07 and XSR700 models. The first time I had the chance to test the motor was in the XSR700, and I could not wait to ride an adventure bike with that power plant. The Ténéré did not disappoint. In fact, some of the niggles from my first ride way back when are easily remedied with the immense aftermarket support that the Yamaha has garnered.

Evans’ View: 2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 Review – First Ride

With so many great middleweight adventure motorcycles in the market right now, would-be adventurers are spoilt for options. And what’s more is that the options out there can easily be delineated into specific motorcycles for specific riders. The Yamaha Ténéré 700 definitely takes the crown for the best value in adventure motorcycling, and is well placed as runner-up in the overall category.


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2020 Motorcycle of the Year

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