Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 8th March 2018

KTM is a brand that built its reputation by building off road motorcycles. They’ve won everything that there is to win in motocross and enduro racing, and are undefeated in the notorious Dakar Rally since 2001. It’s only in the last decade or so that they’ve become a common sight on our roads.

The 690 Duke is one of their best selling models and it’s easy to see why. The design still owes a fair bit to the Austrian company’s off-road heritage, with it’s single cylinder motor, tall suspension and wide bars. It weighs in at only 150kg and the 690cc double overhead cam engine produces 69bhp. This gives the Duke a top whack of 115mph, if you can hang on.

The styling is pure hyper motard, a perfect mix of power and handling, while the KTM 690 Duke’s softer side appeals to new riders, while still having more than enough to entertain an experienced rider.

The 2012 model saw KTM change 90% of the parts of the outgoing model. The suspension is taken care of by WP and is excellent quality, while ABS was also a new addition.

ktm duke 690

What’s it like to ride?

The single cylinder engine makes for a narrow bike, which is perfect for city riding. You might be thinking that it is going to be a real bone shaker but, thankfully, you’d be wrong. The 690 engine uses a counter balancer, this largely keeps unwanted vibrations at bay and allows you enjoy those 69 horses.

Around town the only negative is its ability to get into its stride cleanly, below 3,000 revs the power delivery does feel a bit fluffy. Once you’re over that,  it comes alive though. The 690 Duke will happily chug along a motorway too, although its limiting factor is the lack of wind and weather protection.

This is a fun bike, and adding to the smiles is the fuel economy, with around 50mpg easily achievable on the urban cycle and around 60mpg on a good steady run. With a 3.1 gallon tank that’s a 180 mile range. The saddle and riding position is relaxed and comfy, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the trip meter because with no fuel gauge fitted running out of petrol is very possible. There’s plenty of adjustment in the WP suspension, allowing you to set the forks and shock absorber to suit your weight and preferred settings.

ktm duke 690

What to look for?

We spoke to Vinny Styles, Sales Manager at Wheels Motorcycles Peterborough. He said “Popularity of the KTM brand continues to grow, but one area where the KTM struggles to compete with Japanese brands is in the finish of the bikes. They can look tatty very prematurely, and that’s when owners have looked after them! The 690 Duke carries a bit of a hooligan tag, the styling appeals to younger riders and the running and insurance costs are also an attraction to new riders who maybe just want a bike for pleasure.

“In the event of a bike going over there isn’t too much to touch down, slow speed drops rarely cause more damage than bent bars and scuffed foot pegs. Aftermarket exhausts are a common fitment and this isn’t a bad thing.”

ktm duke 690

What goes wrong with them?

We spoke to Chris Tombleson from the workshops at Grumpy 1260, who added: “The engine is pretty robust, even more so if service intervals are adhered to. The valve clearances need checking and adjusting every 6,000 miles, though some owners prefer to have them checked around 4,000 mile intervals. Oil and filter changes are due every 3,000 miles, it’s well within the capabilities of a home mechanic. If you want to keep the costs down pattern oil and air filters are up to job and cost around over half the price of a genuine KTM filter.”

Get your KTM bike nsurance from Clarole Nash.