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First look Duke special: KTM 790 Duke is back as bridge between 390 and 890 machines

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KTM 790 Duke

KTM 790 Duke

KTM's new 790 Duke produces 87Nm of torque

KTM's new 790 Duke produces 87Nm of torque

The KTM 790 Duke now has three standard riding modes controlled via the bike’s colour 10cm TFT display

The KTM 790 Duke now has three standard riding modes controlled via the bike’s colour 10cm TFT display

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KTM 790 Duke

KTM, let’s face it, is a brand with a bit of a reputation. I don’t mean for the bikes themselves, I mean for the people who ride the things.

Shy, self-effacing, shirking individuals they aren’t; power wheelieing, rolling-stoppie-performing, rolling-road-traffic-act-violating individuals that get the rest of us a bad reputation they tend to be perceived as.

I say tend to because that reputation is somewhat unfair at this point, as the company has moved on quite a lot from its early road bike days.

One of those more civilised machines was the 790 Duke. First brought to the market in 2017 it was quite the seller, moving 29,000 machines globally before getting a number of upgrades to an 890cc machine. With its simple-yet-effective LC8 motor, it quickly earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the better motorcycles in the middleweight class.

Now for this year there is a whole new Duke 790, which takes the concept and adds a dollop of that KTM ‘ready to race’ character to the new bike. Rather cleverly, KTM has held the power back in Europe where the new machine will ‘only’ produce 95hp compared with the rest of the world, where it’ll be putting out 105 from the latest incarnation of the LC8 parallel twin.

The reason for this is as simple as it is clever. It allows the bike to meet the requirements of the A2 licence holder and thereby fills the gap between the company’s 390 machine and the 890.

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The KTM 790 Duke now has three standard riding modes controlled via the bike’s colour 10cm TFT display

The KTM 790 Duke now has three standard riding modes controlled via the bike’s colour 10cm TFT display

The KTM 790 Duke now has three standard riding modes controlled via the bike’s colour 10cm TFT display

What the clever people at KTM have done is tune the new block for torque which, at 87Nm, is going to make short work of any country road or technical race track with or without that extra 10 ponies. Because of its excellent ECU and lean state of tune, it will manage to burn as little as 4.4 litres of juice for every 100 kilometres. Once again, it does this while still being a whole barrel of KTM-type fun to ride.

This is down to the engineers at KTM building something with the DNA of the older 990 machines that inspired such unconventional, free-spirited riding back in the day. The handling is light, sporty and ever-so agile. The geometry, meanwhile, is developed for the road. The WP suspension on both ends is tuned for real streets and not the track.

The electronics reflect this, with some proven technology that we have come to associate with much more expensive bikes. This includes that incompetence-forgiving cornering traction control as well as that incredibly kind cornering ABS. 

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KTM's new 790 Duke produces 87Nm of torque

KTM's new 790 Duke produces 87Nm of torque

KTM's new 790 Duke produces 87Nm of torque

There are now the standard three riding modes – Sport, Road and Rain – controlled via the bike’s colour 10cm TFT display. Just don’t metion setting a KTM Duke in rain mode in polite company.

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If this is, somehow, not enough, there are a suite of extras available including a fourth track mode on the ride selection menu as well as an up-and-down quick-shifter. There’s also motor slip regulation for a more positive ride and the bike’s street credentials can be enhanced with extras such as a tyre pressure monitoring system, cruise control and even hands free phone and music connection.

The new bike is available in the traditional KTM orange as well as a new grey and black colour scheme.

The new bike and all of the extras is available M50 Honda here in Dublin. While prices are not yet available, you can express your interest by giving Barry a call on 01438 1999. Let us know how you get on with yours, we still have our solicitor on speed dial…

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