Those shy and retiring types at KTM have unveiled a replacement for its 890 Duke with the objective of becoming the ‘ultimate naked street motorcycle’ and, given the potency of the self-proclaimed ‘scalpel’, the new 990 Duke may well hit its target.
Powered by a new, 947cc, 123bhp, version of KTM’s LC8c engine, KTM claims the 990 Duke is pushing into levels of performance closer to that of the bonkers 1290 Super Duke. The chassis is completely new and there’s a whole load of new tech as KTM looks to go head-to-head with its rivals in a staggeringly competitive class which also includes the Ducati Monster, Triumph Street Triple R and Yamaha’s new MT-09 range. There’s no news of a higher spec R version to join this base 990 Duke, but we’d fully expect to see one emerge sooner rather than later too.
The first KTM to wear the Duke title came out in 1994, 30 years ago. The supermotard styled single-cylinder Duke 620 was KTM’s first pure road bike and the 2024’s ‘Electronic Orange’ colour option is said to pay homage to the early models (although, if we’re being honest it looks just as orange as most other KTMs!).
Regardless, the vivid orange certainly looks at home on the aggressive lines of the 990 – which looks short, stubby and like it was born to pull wheelies. The new frame is claimed to be stiffer than the one found on the 890 – 5% up on torsional stiffness and 8% on side stiffness – with the 1.5kg lighter swingarm offering significantly reduced flex to improve traction at the rear wheel.
Suspension, as with all KTMs, comes from the inhouse WP brand, with 43mm open cartridge forks up front allowing compression and rebound damping in the respective fork legs. The rear has five click rebound adjustment, with the ability to manually adjust preload too, while Bridgestone’s sporty S22 tyres are standard equipment.
Ergonomics are said to be different too, with the front of the seat moved slightly upwards to limit the rider moving forward. The 825mm seat height is around the class norm, while there are four possible handlebar settings to enable the rider to find a riding position that works best for them. Wet weight is claimed at 190kg, which is also right in the ballpark of competitors like the Street Triple and MT-09.
The bike comes loaded with top tech, although somewhat controversially some of it sits behind a paywall after the initial 900 mile trial period. So while the quickshifter is unlocked (along with the two sportiest ride modes) when the new owner rides out of the dealership, they’ll have to pay extra if they want to keep using them at the end of the demo period.
That said, the electronics remain pretty impressive, with three ride modes as standard and a 5” TFT dashboard displaying pretty much everything the rider would want to know, including a lean angle readout.