My love for the KTM 790 Duke has been well documented on MO, but the reality is that had KTM been a little less tight-lipped when I was laying down my hard-earned cash for the bike, I might never have owned it. Instead, an 890 Duke R would probably be parked in my garage. That doesn’t lessen my attachment to the 790, but it helps to explain my desire to squeeze as much power out of the parallel-Twin as I can, while maintaining its social acceptability on exhaust sound. (OK, maybe being mocked in the comments when the Akrapovic slip-on resulted in slightly lower peak power has a little to do with my search for power, too.) Regardless, my unspoken goal for my performance modifications has been to get as close as possible to a stock 890’s mid-range power. From the moment Rottweiler Performance released its Rally Edition Full Intake System for the 790/890 Adventure, I’ve been salivating at the prospect of installing an adapted version on my Duke. Well, with the release of the Rottweiler Performance Intake System for the KTM 790/890 Duke, that wait is over, and man, does it kick some butt.
By now, my ongoing relationship with my 2019 KTM 790 Duke is possibly one of the most documented motorcycle love affairs of recent history. That’s okay. I can live with the ribbing from my coworkers. If that’s all they can think of to tease me about, I’m coming out way ahead in the game. Still, they have a point. I bought my 790 fully expecting that there would be a Duke R in the upcoming model year or two. I just didn’t expect it to have an 890 in front of it.
Are you sick of us talking about KTM Dukes yet? And by “us” I primarily mean Evans. Anyone who’s followed this space knows he bought a 790 Duke and has modified it to his version of what an R model should be. The list is relatively short and sweet, and covers the primary weaknesses of the 790. So let’s go down the list:
Back in the era of my misspent youth, things used to be so much simpler. You’d take your new motorcycle home, bolt-on a “Closed Course Only” aftermarket exhaust, and (if you were smart) install a jet kit in the carburetors. The result was significant power gains and weight loss. Today, things are a little more complicated. Carburetor jet kits are illegal in some states, and the OEMs are making it tougher for EFI piggyback systems to alter what the EPA dictates your air/fuel tuning should be. Additionally, it is much more difficult to get aftermarket exhausts in some places.
News flash: OEM suspensions are designed to a price point. So, unless you’re riding a flagship literbike, those suspenders are full of compromises. The stock suspension on the vast majority of bikes out there is designed for an average rider, going an average pace, over an average road. Get outside of those parameters, and the suspension’s performance is compromised.
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.
We’d kind of written Royal Enfield off as a niche builder of weird bikes for weirder people, but 1.4 billion Indians can’t all be wrong. Five years ago RE enlisted the help of Harris Performance in England to build the frame for its pretty little Continental GT (which sadly contained a really old Single left over from colonial days).
Usually when we have a shootout here at Motorcycle.com, the participants are somewhat defined for us. First, we choose a class of motorcycle, and then, we put the latest versions of those bikes in a head-to-head-competition. This time we’re doing something a little different. Each MO editor chose whatever bike they wanted to ride to Monterey, CA, for the U.S. round of World Superbike. The only caveat would be that the bike had to be capable of participating in the annual Pirelli Track Day that takes place the day after the races finish at Laguna Seca. Okay, there was one other rule that I tried to enforce, but the one editor just couldn’t bring himself to choose a bike that had OEM bags available for it.
I’ll just begin with this: I haven’t had this much fun with a motorcycle in years. Seriously. When I’m around the 790 Duke, I’m as giddy as I was when I first started riding. Even my wife, who usually rolls her eyes when I start talking about motorcycles, has told me that she hasn’t seen me this excited about a bike in as long as she can remember. The other staff MOrons also tease me about the 790. If I weren’t so dang happy, I’d be embarrassed.
You’ll see a theme if you scroll back the last decade or so on MO: we have a thing for the Triumph Street Triple. After numerous rides and shootouts each time it gets updated, it’s safe to say we love that little 675cc three-cylinder. The sound it makes is outrageously cool, the power it delivers is fun without being overwhelming, and the overall package is an absolute blast. Yeah, the looks are kinda polarizing, but none of that matters once you twist the grip.
Every year Motorcycle.com gets invited to the press introductions for several new motorcycles – it’s the biggest perk of our job, and the reason all of us have stuck around as long as we have! The cycle goes like this: at the end of one year or the beginning of the next, manufacturers talk a big game about a new model launch, and/or the internet goes wild with social media rumors and opinions about a new bike. In turn we, the media, can’t wait to be the first to throw a leg over said bike to see what the fuss is about. Sometimes the motorcycle in question is a dud, other times it exceeds beyond our wildest dreams. Then you get the rare model that didn’t get much fanfare but turns out to be unexpectedly awesome.
Markus Kramer said it so nonchalantly when I asked him. “Three months ago,” he said. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, so I asked in a different way. “You mean to tell me this motorcycle didn’t exist four months ago?” Again, the response was simple. “Yep.” Markus isn’t a man of many words, but that’s when I knew this ride aboard the GP2 Prototype from Kramer Motorcycles was going to be different. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Back when KTM’s 790 Duke was first announced, I knocked on Joe Karvonen’s social media door, asking the sole importer for Kramer Motorcycles USA whether the 790 Twin engine would make its way into a Kramer.
From the moment the rumor mill first started hinting at KTM developing an 800cc parallel Twin way back in 2014, droves of performance-minded motorcyclists, myself included, have been salivating at the thought of throwing a leg over one. Stuffed into a light, nimble chassis, this engine could power what middleweight fans have been dreaming of for years: A razor-sharp instrument for dissecting any twisty road thrown at it.