Dubbed the “light heavyweight” by its Austrian creators, the entry-level 2020 KTM 200 Duke should wear the great Muhammad Ali’s quote, “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” on its sleeve, with its nimble handling and rev-happy 199.5cc single-cylinder engine. But its price is the real haymaker — at $3,999, KTM hopes that the 200 Duke will get serious attention from a new generation of riders.
Manufactured in India, the 200 Duke has been available in other countries since 2012, but has never made an appearance in the United States until now. This year also marks the platform’s first major update — it gets the 390 Duke’s entire chassis, revamped styling in the current Duke family image and an all-new Euro 5 compliant engine.
Toss a leg over the Dukette and you’re met with backswept handlebars that prop the rider up in a neutral position, still allowing you to get your elbows out in the corners, and a low 31.6-inch seat height that’s unique to the U.S., European and Philippine markets.
That’s one-inch lower than the 390 Duke’s seat, thanks to a shorter shock spring and reduced fork stroke. Combine that spec-sheet figure with the slender chassis and my 32-inch inseam can reach terra firma easily, which is attractive for new and shorter-statured riders. However, I did notice more knee-bend than I’d normally like with my boots on the grippy rubber-covered footpegs.
Plastics are shared between the 200 and 390 Duke, and the 200 also boasts the predatory headlight design first seen on the mighty 1290 Super Duke R. As a cost saving measure, the 200 also features an LED daytime running light and a halogen bulb for illumination.
Although the 199.5cc displacement is the same as the prior generation, the peppy thumper engine is all-new for 2020. The dual overhead camshafts are paired with ultra-hard, carbon-coated cam followers that help reduce weight in the valve train and contribute to the thumper’s free-revving, lively personality.
Most of the claimed 26 horsepower and 14.4 lb-ft of torque live above the 6,000-rpm mark, but considering how quickly 200’s engine wicks up, it’s a great companion when darting around city streets to work or school. It’s also freeway legal and topped out at an indicated 86 mph, which is impressive for a bike of this size. Crank-driven counterbalancers do their best to hide vibration, but some buzz is felt when wringing its neck. A completely updated exhaust system with dual catalysts is said to make the wee-Duke meet stringent emissions standards.
It’s hard not twist to the grip and grin riding the 200 Duke, which encourages riders to whack through its 6-speed gearbox. It shifts well, but doesn’t have the same precision as its costlier brothers in the Duke family, nor is the clutch pull as light or refined as some other lightweight bikes that feature slip-and-assist clutches.
Both the non-adjustable 43mm WP fork with 4.6-inches of travel and WP shock featuring 5.0-inches of travel and spring preload adjustment are damped for comfort, soaking up rough urban tarmac well. Between the compliant suspension and communicative steel trellis frame, the 200 Duke is wonderfully agile, yet stays composed when cornering or hard on the binders.
A radially mounted ByBre 4-piston brake caliper clamps onto a 300mm rotor up front, with plenty of stopping power for the speeds you can achieve, and decent feel at the lever. In the rear, a single-piston floating caliper grabs upon a 230mm disc with a relaxed bite and good stopping power. ABS is standard, as is a Supermoto Mode that disables ABS in the rear only — KTM is never one to shy away from hooliganism.
In 2020, the prospective rider has a wide variety of awesome bikes to choose from. Save for a few unrefined points, the KTM 200 Duke’s proposition is a strong one, with its spunky single-cylinder engine, great handling and ergonomics that are neophyte friendly — not to mention the serious $3,999 value.
A mere two years after the 790 Adventure platform was launched, KTM has announced an update to its middleweight adventure motorcycle lineup, with the 2021 KTM 890 Adventure R and limited edition 890 Adventure R Rally.
The 2021 KTM 890 Adventure R is positioned as KTM’s new off-road-ready mass-production ADV offering. However, the limited edition 890 Adventure R Rally is loaded with race-spec inspired components. Its development utilized feedback from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team riders, Toby Price, and Sam Sunderland. Only 700 units of the 890 Adventure R Rally will be produced worldwide, with 200 slated for the North American market. At their core, the two models share all critical componentry.
The standout upgrade for both the 890 Adventure R and Rally variants is the revised 890 powerplant, first featured in the 2020 KTM 890 Duke R, boasting a claimed 105 horsepower @ 8,000 rpm and 73.8 lb-ft of torque @ 6,500 rpm — netting a 10 horsepower and 8-9 lb-ft increase above the 790.
Improvements to the 889cc DOHC parallel-twin engine are in the form of a larger 90.7 x 68.8mm bore and stroke, leading to a 91cc displacement increase and notably higher 13.5: compression ratio. A redesigned cylinder head uses one-millimeter larger intake and exhaust valves, working in conjunction with a more aggressive camshaft profile to increase lift. Lightened forged pistons and connecting rods are used to decrease rotating mass. In contrast, a 20-percent heavier crank is used to improve low-rev behavior — surely, something that will come in handy when dealing with tight, technical off-road terrain, and improve chassis response when riding at pace.
The 890 Adventure motorcycles will enjoy all of the upgrades seen on the 890 Duke R, with the revised clutch, sportier shifting thanks to a shortened shift lever stroke, and lighter shift-detent spring, and improved throttle-by-wire response.
The new 890 models feature a fuel map tuned for adventure riding and an exhaust system specific to the ADV models. Lastly, the Adventure R Rally sports titanium Akrapovič slip-on exhaust muffler that is 35% lighter than the standard muffler.
There is a chassis update for the 890 Adventure R and Rally, which now uses an aluminum head-tube and lighter subframe for 2021. KTM has not stated a weight difference between the 890 and 790 Adventure motorcycles, and geometry remains the same, as does the 5.3-gallon fuel tank.
When it comes to suspension, the 2021 890 Adventure R uses the same fully-adjustable 48mm WP XPLOR fork and WP XPLOR PDS shock as before, with updated suspension settings. In contrast, the 890 Adventure R Rally is equipped with WP Pro components, a WP XPLOR Pro 7548 fork, featuring cone valve technology, and a WP EXPLOR PRO 6746 shock with 270mm of travel, 30mm more than the 890 Adventure R.
Braking hardware did not go unaltered with the update for both models. The dual 320mm floating rotors and 4-piston calipers return, while the front master cylinder has been replaced and is said to offer improved feedback at the lever. In the rear, the 2-piston caliper now uses isolated pistons, and isolation plates between the brake pads and pistons said to increase heat stability, control, and feel during long descents. Also, the rear brake system now uses a steel-braided brake line, again, to manage heat and improve braking performance.
KTM’s Bosch IMU-supported rider aids continue to be developed, such as the cornering ABS and lean-angle-detecting traction control (Motorcycle Traction Control). KTM says that these aids have been improved for 2021. Meanwhile, the bevy of rider modes return, with Street, Off-road, Rain and optional Rally. Motor Slip Regulation is still optional, as is KTM’s Quickshifter+, heated grips and cruise control.
Spoked 21- and 18-inch wheels return on both Adventure R and Rally models, and this year they get anodized hubs. Also, Continental TKC 80 tires are featured on both models instead of the off-road biased Metzeler Karoo rubber. However, the Adventure R Rally makes its dirt-focused intentions clear with narrower, 21 x 2.15-inch front and 18 x 4.00-inch rear, DID DirtStar rims.
2021 KTM 890 Adventure R Rally — Model Highlights: Limited-edition, 700 units (500 Int’l and 200 U.S.) Updated engine and electronics WP XPLOR Pro Components Suspension Akrapovič exhaust (35% lighter than standard) Flat racing seat (with 35.8-inch height) RALLY mode and Quickshifter+ included Narrow anodized wheel rims with tubes Clear screen winglets and racing graphics and colors Carbon fiber tank protectors and Rally footrests
2021 KTM 890 Adventure R — Model Highlights: New 889 cc engine with an added 90 cc of displacement Engine featuring 20% more rotating masses More power and torque Reinforced clutch Improved ABS and Traction Control Reworked shifting for faster gear changes Updated Quickshifter+ (optional) New handlebar switch for Cruise Control function Chassis upgrades with aluminum steering head tube and lighter subframe Reworked front and rear brakes New suspension settings
2021 KTM 890 Adventure R and 890 Adventure R Rally Photo Gallery:
One short year after the 790 Duke’s release, the 2020 KTM 890 Duke R took everyone by surprise when it was unveiled at the EICMA show. The Austrian firm promised that the 890 Duke R would remedy a few performance shortcomings in the original “Scalpel’s” non-adjustable WP suspension and J-Juan brakes. The verdict: it does, and it does so in spades.
Dubbed the “Super Scalpel” by KTM, the 890 Duke R is the sharpest tool in the middleweight naked sportbike shed, thanks to its impressive agility, raucously fun powerplant, quality components and top-spec electronics package.
Based on the 790 powerplant, the 889cc DOHC parallel-twin engine has gone under the knife and come out ready for the limelight. Bore and stroke grow to 90.7 x 68.8mm, creating a 91cc displacement increase along with a significantly higher 13.5:1 compression ratio. A new cylinder head accommodates one-millimeter larger intake and exhaust valves, paired with a more aggressive camshaft profile to increase lift. The 890’s mill also gets lightened forged pistons and connecting rods, which decrease rotating mass. In contrast, a 20-percent heavier crank is employed to improve low-rev manners. Of course, the redline is raised by 1,000 rpm for good measure.
All of these changes add up to more power at the rear wheel, and on the Jett Tuning dyno, the 890 Duke R put out 111.0 horsepower at 9,500 rpm and 67.0 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm at the rear wheel. For those keeping score, that’s 13.1 more ponies and 9 lb-ft of torque over the 790, but the real takeaway is that the 890 makes more power across the entire rev range.
From the moment you hit the starter and hear the 75-degree offset with a 475-degree firing interval’s bass-laden bark, you know you’re in for a good time. The 889cc engine spools up with more urgency than its predecessor, delivering stellar low-end grunt, which feeds directly into power-wheelie-inducing mid-range that kicks off at 6,200 rpm. And, it pulls hard to 9,500 rpm, where things trail off. All of that is delivered tractably, which will surely be appreciated by riders anywhere on the spectrum of skill. Thanks to the redesigned dual counterbalancers, the engine is noticeably smoother than before, too.
The Duke R hits the sweet spot in performance, offering an experience that seasoned pilots will revel in and something that newer riders can wrap their heads around — unlike many of the Super Naked bikes of today. Most importantly, it’s power that can be used on the street.
What is undeniably clear is the 20-percent heavier crank, which has removed some lugginess that the 790 expressed when cruising at low speed, also gives it a more brawny feel, making the 890 more adaptable to a casual urban riding or when opening it up in the canyons.
The sporty gearbox also received some TLC this year. It now features a shorter lever-throw and lighter detent spring, making shifting that much sportier. At lower revs and in the first three gears, specifically, shifting is a tad notchy. It’s all the more reason to pick up the optional up/down Quickshifter+ ($399.99), so you can blast through the gears on the gas. You’ll also have a high-quality PASC slipper clutch that alleviates wheel-hop when aggressively downshifting.
It’s tough to say whether the beefier crank and new ECU tuning is responsible for the linear throttle response; perhaps it’s both. The throttle-by-wire response is vastly improved in every ride mode, especially Track.
Helping you and the 890 perform your best is a top-shelf electronics package derived from the mighty 1290 Super Duke R. A 6-axis Bosch IMU supports cornering ABS, lean-angle-detecting traction control and wheelie control. Cruise control is a $249.99 option.
Three standard ride modes are available (Rain, Street and Sport), which have predetermined intervention settings and work well. However, to adjust your rider aids, you’ll need KTM’s optional Tech Pack ($739.99; includes Track Pack, Motor Slip Regulation, and up/down Quickshifter+). Everything in the Tech Pack is standard on the 790, but strangely not on the 890.
Track mode allows you to use any throttle map, dial in the nine-level traction control on the fly, disable wheelie control, enable launch control or go into Supermoto ABS (disabling ABS in the rear only). For spirited or track riding, Track mode is a must — choose your throttle map, turn off wheelie control, lower the TC a bit and put those sticky Michelin Power Cup 2 tires to work.
Despite its non-adjustable suspension, the 790 Duke’s chassis proved to be incredibly agile and communicative but showed signs of weakness when pushed hard. To help manage the 890’s higher horsepower, KTM upgraded the 43mm WP Apex fork with compression and rebound damping adjustment and a fully adjustable WP shock. Now the weak link is the monkey sitting behind the handlebars.
The uprated suspension only highlights the positive attributes of the chassis we noted on the previous model, as the 890 Duke R’s suspenders keep the bike planted in the corners, boasting loads of confidence-boosting chassis-generated grip when riding aggressively. Our 890 weighed in at mere 405 pounds wet, so the Duke R not only feels light and nimble when flicking side to side — it is. Sure, static rate springs and firmer damping trade off some comfort on harsh roads, but it’s a trade I’ll make all day in the name of handling prowess like this.
The wide, adjustable handlebar is lowered and pushed forward to encourage more weight over the front end. At the same time, the rearsets are scooted rearward, giving this bike a marginally sportier rider triangle. One can sit bolt upright or throw their elbows out and get low. The narrow chassis helps my 32-inch inseam reach the ground, despite the bike’s slightly taller 32.8-inch seat height. Better yet, I have plenty of legroom, though the muffler still awkwardly kicks your heel out and takes up precious real estate on the right footpeg.
Superbike-spec dual Brembo Stylema calipers and larger 320mm rotors take care of braking duties up front, while a single Brembo caliper clamps onto a 240mm rotor in the rear. Stopping power and feel is impeccable, even when trailing into corners. The Brembo MCS lever is seriously trick. It features ratio adjustment settings, letting you dial in brake feel, not just distance from the grip; keep it sharp for the track or soften it up for the street.
The KTM 890 Duke R has set a new gold err…orange standard in the middleweight class, and mechanically, the list of complaints are virtually non-existent. My grumbling is squarely aimed at costly options that should be factored into the price and were once standard features. Otherwise KTM has delivered a true “R” model, with a stellar engine, brilliant handling, awesome brakes and an excellent electronics package, all of which add up to a serious all-around sport machine.
KTM has just announced a new entry-level addition to the Duke family, the 2020 KTM 200 Duke. Availability in North America is slated for this month.
The “Ready to Race” brand’s latest lightweight naked sportbike is being aimed squarely at first-time riders with its extremely competitive MSRP of $3,999. This price point puts the 200 Duke in a comparable price bracket to the Honda Grom ($3,399) and Kawasaki Z125 Pro ($3,199) while offering the riding experience of a full-sized motorcycle.
A 199.5cc single-cylinder DOHC thumper engine powers the 200 Duke. It boasts a sporty 11.5:1 compression ratio with four valves, two overhead camshafts and ultra-hard, carbon-coated cam followers. KTM states that these features will improve reliability and longevity. No claimed performance figures have been released as of yet but we anticipate approachable levels of horsepower and torque for newcomers.
KTM says that the refined fuel injection system, as well as a close-ratio 6-speed transmission should not only encourage spirited riding, but also improve fuel efficiency. Combined with a decently sized 3.5-gallon fuel tank, this bike could prove to be quite economical in terms of MPG.
The 200 Duke keeps with tradition for the Duke lineup, using a steel trellis frame with a bolt-on subframe and aluminum swingarm. A short wheelbase of 53.4 ± 0.6 inches and a steep rake of 25 degrees will surely make the lightweight Duke a nimble motorcycle.
A non-adjustable WP Apex inverted fork with 4.6 inches of travel and a WP Apex linkless shock featuring 5 inches of travel, as well as spring preload adjustment, handle suspension duties.
Riders of all sizes should find the 31.6-inch seat height accommodating, especially when we consider how narrow these single-cylinder powered Dukes tend to be. Riders with shorter inseam lengths will be able to reach the ground confidently. In addition, a backswept handlebar will aid in a comfortable, neutral riding position.
When we say lightweight, we mean it. KTM has stated that the littlest Duke weighs in at an impressive 308.6 pounds, without fuel. Quick math tells us that the 200 Duke could tip our scales at just 337.6 pounds, which is whopping 21.2 pounds lighter than the weight of our last 390 Duke test bike.
The KTM 200 Duke is not equipped with the flashy full-color TFT instrument panels that are prominently featured on the 390, 790, 890 and 1290 models and opts for a conventional LCD as a cost saving measure. The LCD panel appears to be the same unit that is on the RC 390.
Seventeen-inch alloy wheels are shod with 110/70 front and 150/60 tires. A radially mounted four-piston ByBre brake caliper clamps onto a 300mm disc. In the rear, a single-piston floating caliper works in conjunction with a 230mm disc. Two-channel Bosch 10 MB ABS is standard. Supermoto ABS is available, allowing riders to slide the rear and begin their hooligan careers from the get-go.
We’re excited by the prospect of an entry-level Duke and can’t wait to test one ourselves.
2020 KTM 200 Duke Specs:
Website: ktm.com Base Price: $3,999 Engine Type: Liquid-cooled single, DOHC, four valves per cyl. Bore x Stroke: 72 x 49mm Displacement: 199.5cc Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch Final Drive: O-ring chain Wheelbase: 53.4 ± 0.6 in. Rake/Trail: 25 degrees / NA Seat Height: 31.3 in. Claimed Dry Weight: 308.6 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 3.5 gals.
Narrowly focused hyper-sportbikes just aren’t my thing anymore. Used to love ’em, but now the ol’ bod protests against low clip-on handlebars, high rearset footpegs and peaky powerbands that demand the motorcycle be ridden like you stole it, or it will buck and complain as if you’re lugging an old truck. Some V-twin sportbikes in particular don’t smooth out until you’re well north of legal speed in anything above second gear. That sort of unbroken-thoroughbred behavior is fine for track days, I suppose, but if it’s your only bike, most of us want something more versatile.
While the performance potential of such sportbikes is attractive, to get my full attention comfortable seating is mandatory, with a wide, tallish one-piece handlebar that adjusts, and further adjustability in reasonably located footpegs, levers and pedal is desirable as well. At its heart a V-twin would have to be a model of civility at lower engine speeds, whether by nature or electronic riding mode, so that it can be ridden around town or on a commute without feeling the need to wear racing leathers. And in addition to the expected screaming top-end, it would require a ton of midrange power to make it easy to ride briskly without a lot of shifting, with all of the braking and electronic rider aids aboard to rein the beast in from full throttle and protect me from myself.
Did someone say “beast”? Reread my description above—there is a V-twin sportbike that fits it, one not so ironically nicknamed The Beast by its creators at KTM. Since its introduction for 2014, the 1290 Super Duke R has mixed comfort with track-level handling, and strong, usable lowspeed and midrange power with explosive top end. For 2020 the 1290 SDR has become ever more the all-purpose sportbike—although so much has been changed that it’s essentially an all-new machine, Super Duke R fans will appreciate that the basic versatile formula is retained and improved.
Along with new top-feeder fuel injectors and 56mm throttle bodies, the 1290 SDR’s liquid-cooled, 1,301cc LC8 75-degree V-twin gets a new ram-air intake and larger exhaust headers, all of which contribute to its claimed 180 horsepower (up 3) at 9,500 rpm (redline is 10,100) at the crankshaft and 103 lb-ft of torque at 8,000. Engine cases are thinner to save weight, and new cast-in engine mounts allowed the pivot for the longer swingarm to be raised 5mm for improved stability. The bike has always shifted well, yet the Pankl gearbox has also been refined for quicker shifts and shorter action—shifting is racebike quality now, and the throw can be fine-tuned to two positions.
The engine refinements are immediately noticeable from the moment you fire up the 1290. Power delivery is smoother throughout the powerband yet no less hell-for-strong, with an urge that builds without any bucking from low-speed to afterburners, and a ripping- velvet feel and throaty exhaust note. The most obvious improvement is to the bike’s handling and stability, which comes chiefly from the stiffer, lighter new chrome-moly steel frame and composite subframe in place of the former trellis. New lighter CAD-designed wheels mounted with specially designed Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tires increase stability and grip in corners, too, and together with a .5-gallon smaller fuel tank the bike has shaved about 15 pounds wet overall.
In the electronics department, as you might imagine on a bike that makes this much power, there is a setting for just about anything you can imagine, and a bushel-basket full of rider interventions that redline our acronym meter. MSC (Motorcycle Stability Control) with cornering and Supermoto mode ABS; Rain, Street and Sport ride modes and multi-stage, lean-angle sensitive Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC) are standard. The MTC uses a 6-axis lean angle sensor and two different controllers to keep things in check. A wheel-slip controller regulates the amount of spin at the rear wheel, and a pitch angle controller identifies and regulates abrupt changes in front wheel lift. For track days or racing, an optional Track Pack adds Track and Performance modes with launch control, a 9-level spin adjuster, a track ride mode and anti-wheelie off function. Performance mode has the basic settings of Track mode, but is for the street and allows Cruise Control and KTM My Ride (a Bluetooth connection with the rider’s smartphone) to function. A dealer-installed $750 Tech Pack includes the Track Pack, Motor Slip Regulation (MSR) and KTM’s excellent up/down Quickshifter+. I especially like the new rotatable 5-inch TFT display, updated display menu and paddle switches, and keyless ignition, steering lock and gas cap.
Throwing a leg over the 1290 SDR, it can’t be emphasized enough how friendly it is ergonomically compared to most sportbikes in this class, with the exception for shorter riders of the high seat. With my 29-inch inseam I can easily plant one foot on the ground at stops, but only the balls of both feet. Still, the bike is so light that it’s easily pushed and paddled around, and once underway offers a relaxed but sporty riding position that is comfortable enough for longer rides but allows the rider to attack corners aggressively.
Updated and lighter fully adjustable front and rear WP Apex suspension can be quickly changed from commuter comfortable and controlled to track-day ready thanks to damping thumbscrews atop the fork legs and a remote rear preload adjuster. Brakes with new Brembo Stylema radial-mount calipers and a radialpump lever up front inspire bags of confidence that you can rein in all of the bike’s power. Between the suspension and new frame the bike feels much more controlled and stable when it’s really pushed, particularly on a bumpy road.
As a rider who typically only sees racetracks on TV, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R makes way more power than I would ever need—were I to invest in one of its naked sport bikes, it would probably be a 790 or 890 Duke. But it’s hard to ignore the 1290’s combination of comfort, convenience and breathtaking performance, all of which there is more of for 2020.
“Who woulda thunk it,” as my dad would say. A KTM adventure bike that costs less and makes more power than a Kawasaki KLR650, has fuel injection, electronic rider aids and weighs nearly 50 fewer pounds to boot? What mythical beast is this? It’s the 2020 KTM 390 Adventure, and it’s no myth. In fact I’ve spent the last few days on one, cruising the urban streets, farm roads and mountain highways near my home (taking a rain check on the hard core off-road stuff in these unusual times — see our “To Ride, or Not to Ride…?” editorial here).
With a base price of just $6,199, the new 390 Adventure is a lot of bike for the money, with an impressive list of standard features that make it a serious threat to value-oriented Japanese competitors like the Honda CB500X and Kawasaki Versys-X 300, as well as BMW’s G 310 GS. Adjustable front and rear WP suspension, a full-color TFT display, lean-angle sensitive traction control and Bosch 2-channel cornering ABS are all standard, with a quickshifter offered as an option.
Powering the 390 Adventure is the same 373cc, 4-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled single used in the popular RC 390 and 390 Duke sport bikes, which generated 44 horsepower at 8,800 rpm and 27 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm when we last put it on the Jett Tuning dyno — that’s nearly as much as the Honda CB500X’s larger parallel twin. It’s fitted with a gear-driven counterbalancer to tame the worst of the vibes, although we noticed a fair amount in the grips and the cleated footpegs (rubber inserts are included but were removed from our test bike). Passing at freeway speeds, especially on hills, requires either a little patience or a downshift, but the 390 cruises at the SoCal traffic standard of 75 mph without complaint. The feisty single is mated to a 6-speed gearbox fitted with a slipper clutch and, in the case of our test bike, KTM’s excellent up/down Quickshifter+.
Up front is a 43mm WP Apex USD fork with 6.7 inches of travel and adjustable compression and rebound damping; in the back is a WP Apex shock with 7 inches of travel and adjustable spring preload and rebound damping. Brakes are BYBRE, Brembo’s Indian subsidiary, with a 4-piston radial caliper gripping a single 320mm disc up front and a single-piston floating caliper/230mm disc combo in the rear.
Bosch 9.1MP cornering ABS has two settings: on and off-road, which disables it in back (it cannot be completely disabled). Lean-angle sensitive MTC (traction control), on the other hand, is either on or off (there are no special modes) and can be changed on the fly, although you’ll have to hold a button on the left switchgear and release the throttle for several seconds to do so. Off-road enthusiasts take note: the MTC will revert to the on position when you shut the bike off using the ignition key, but as far as we can tell it stays off if you only use the kill switch. Like its larger siblings, the 390 Adventure includes a 12V power socket as standard, located front and center underneath the TFT display, so mounting a phone for use as a GPS or just keeping it charged in a strap-on tank bag atop the plastic fuel tank is easy.
With its 19-inch front/17-inch rear cast wheels, 70/30 Continental TKC 70 tires, plastic skid plate (augmented with metal in front of and below the exhaust pipe), and modest suspension travel and ground clearance (we measured seven inches), straight off the showroom floor the 390 Adventure is best suited to gravel and fire roads. While the WP suspension is stiff enough to perform well on smooth, sporty rides and soaks up gnarly pavement and rough dirt roads, I would want to keep extended rocky encounters to a minimum. On the plus side, bikes for the U.S. market come standard with tipover bars that protect the sides of the engine and radiator. Spoon on some knobbier tires, bolt on KTM’s accessory aluminum skid plate and you’re ready for some hard-core adventure.
For a bike of such modest size, power and entry-level pretensions, we were somewhat surprised by the height of the 390 Adventure’s seat. On paper it’s not so bad, listed at 33.6 inches, but the seat is hard and fairly flat, with sharp edges that make it difficult to get your feet on the ground. It narrows a bit toward the front, but at that point it also slopes up and gets even taller. Even with my 34-inch inseam, if I’m wearing stiff ADV-style boots I’m on my tiptoes at a stop, and forget about backing up even the slightest of inclines while seated on the bike. Fortunately the 390 is a featherweight, tipping the scales at just 387 pounds fully fueled, adding confidence to one-footed stops and making it easy to push around. And there’s another upshot: the long reach from seat to footpegs leads to a relaxed bend in the knees and makes standing up for off-road riding a cinch.
Elemental protection from the short, non-adjustable windscreen isn’t bad, although I definitely experienced some windblast, especially at freeway speeds, on my upper chest, shoulders and helmet. Ergonomics are smaller-frame-friendly (well, apart from that tall seat), with a short reach across the 3.8-gallon tank to the handlebar and its backlit switchgear. At 5 feet, 9 inches, I found the handlebar to be too low for stand-up riding, requiring a pronounced forward lean; a bar riser would be on my must-have list.
Romping through a set of corners is a joy, with the 390 exhibiting a taut, stable character that might surprise those who expect less from a small, “entry level” motorcycle. Brakes are above average for a bike in this price range, with solid bite and good feedback in front, though the back feels a bit wooden initially. Combined with a stiff chassis and firm but compliant suspension, this is a truly fun to ride machine, and those riders who pick up a 390 Adventure with no aspirations of ever touching dirt, perhaps drawn primarily to the upright, commanding “ADV” riding position, can look forward to miles of curvy smiles. The bike responds best to a firm hand, especially off idle; too gentle with the throttle and the fueling cuts out, threatening a stall — possibly the price paid for Euro 5 certification on such a high-strung motor. Once underway it still prefers to be wrung out a bit, and doesn’t respond with much below about 4,000 rpm; keep it north of that and you’ll have a ball. It’s also worth noting that even with a heavy throttle hand, fuel economy averaged 53 mpg, for an estimated range of 202 miles.
KTM already has a laundry list of accessories for its 390 Adventure, including a slip-on Akrapovič silencer that shaves off another 2.2 pounds, Ergo rider and passenger seats, hard and soft side bags and more. A centerstand, unfortunately, is not on the list. Other than that, though, it wouldn’t take much to turn the 390 Adventure into a capable on- or off-road adventurer, and even in stock form it’s a fantastic commuter that’s ready for just about anything.
2020 KTM 390 Adventure Specs
Base Price: $6,199 Price as Tested: $6,559 (Quickshifter+) Warranty: 2 yrs., 24,000 Miles Website:ktm.com
Type: Liquid-cooled single Displacement: 373cc Bore x Stroke: 89.0 x 60.0mm Compression Ratio: 12.6:1 Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl. Valve Insp. Interval: 9,300 miles Fuel Delivery: Bosch EFI w/ 46mm throttle body Lubrication System: Wet sump, 1.8-qt. cap. Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet slipper clutch Final Drive: X-ring chain
We needed some good news, and KTM North America has delivered, announcing the early availability of the brand new 890 Duke R, unveiled in Milan last November and originally intended to launch in late 2020 as a MY2021 machine. Instead, KTM will be bringing in a “very limited number” of 890 Duke R models this spring as 2020 models.
Basically a more powerful and aggressive version of the impressive-in-its-own-right 790 Duke, the 2020 890 Duke R features a new 890cc parallel twin with an increased bore and stroke, higher compression ratio and redline, larger valves, a new piston design with new connecting rods and a new crankshaft, new individual mapping adjustment on each cylinder, a knock sensor and new engine cases. The new mill churns out more horsepower and torque, and KTM also says it provides better rideability due to increased rotating mass.
Brakes are by Brembo, with larger discs and Bosch ABS that includes a Supermoto setting, suspension is fully-adjustable WP Apex front and rear, and electronic rider aids include new-generation traction control and ride modes with optional Track mode and Quickshifter+, all aided by a new 6D lean angle sensor.
Befitting its “super scalpel” mission, the 890 Duke R has a lower, flatter handlebar and footpegs that are higher and more rear-set for a sportier riding position and greater lean angle. It makes no pretensions at being anything other than a twisty-munching or track-attacking machine, with a solo seat and no pillion footpegs. It’s you and Mr. Duke, that’s it.
Pricing has yet to be announced, but barring any supply chain disruptions we should see the bike in dealerships sometime this spring.
KTM has garnered a reputation (deservedly) for building high-performance, hard-edged machines that cater to what we might call the “one percent” of adventure riders. Let’s just say, you don’t hear jokes about KTMs and Starbucks parking lots. Its highly anticipated, new-for-2019 790 Adventure exemplifies that philosophy (read our comprehensive on- and off-road review here): an eminently capable lightweight ADV tourer that was designed for excursions into some pretty gnarly territory, especially in the off-road oriented R variation.
But what if you aren’t necessarily a “one percenter?” You like the idea of an adventure bike that isn’t gargantuan (a seat height of less than 35 inches would be great, thanks), but is comfortable, with adequate power for touring and high-speed passing and ample luggage capacity. Yet it can still tackle whatever “shortcut” your GPS throws at you — or worse — without breaking a sweat.
That pretty much describes me, so when our KTM 790 Adventure test bike showed up I snagged the keys and have clung to them stubbornly ever since, logging more than 3,000 miles commuting, canyon carving and road tripping, including a weekend ride up the coast for Babes Ride Out and this weeklong road trip to New Mexico to visit my mom and stepdad. They live on 80 acres of desert about 10 miles southeast of Deming, and getting there involves considerable highway slabbing along with a home stretch of a few miles of sandy dirt road, plus a quarter-mile of washed-out dirt driveway. In between are numerous opportunities to scrub the edges of the tires on pavement as well as non-paved detours to mines and other points of interest. Adventure bike territory.
Escaping Southern California took the better part of a day, heavy Orange County traffic giving way to sweeping low mountain vistas and finally, in Borrego Springs, at the bottom of a long, winding descent, the low, sprawling Colorado Desert, part of the 100,000-square-mile Sonoran Desert that covers much of southwestern Arizona and spreads southward into Baja California Sur and Sonora, Mexico. It is home to several unique species, including the iconic symbol of the American Southwest, the saguaro (“sah-WAH-roh”) cactus.
I’d timed my trip well; a week later, heavy rain poured for days, part of the massive winter storm that would wreak havoc on Thanksgiving holiday travel for much of the U.S. But on this ride, the skies were sunny and dry, and with lightly insulated gloves I only needed my heated liners in the early morning (our test bike was not equipped with the optional heated grips). The 790 has a comprehensive electronics package that includes three ride modes, Street, Rain and Offroad, that alter throttle response and IMU-based MTC (traction control), plus separately switchable Bosch 9.1 MP cornering ABS.
With its firm, flat, adjustable two-piece seat in the lower (32.7-inch) position, the 790 Adventure put me, at 5 feet, 9 inches, into a comfortably compact riding position while nearly allowing me to get both feet flat on the ground. Footpegs, which have rubber inserts to muffle any vibration, are high enough to allow ample off-road ground clearance and the handlebar, which is adjustable in six positions over a 1.2-inch range, is not as wide as some other larger ADV bikes. I put the windscreen into the higher of its two positions and found it deflected air around my helmet with very little buffeting.
Therefore I was comfortable and smiling the next day as I rolled into the town of Ajo (“AH-ho”), Arizona, some 38 miles from the U.S./Mexico border. This old mining town is experiencing a revival of sorts, with its gleaming whitewashed Spanish-style buildings lining the central plaza, a beautiful old school that’s been renovated into apartments for artists-in-residence and a hotel and conference center, as well as new coffee shops, cafés and artisans’ markets. It’s the kind of place that gives you hope for the future, with residents representing what they call the Three Nations: Caucasian American, Mexican-American and native Tohono O’odham.
Part of the appeal of an adventure tourer is the ability to explore at will, so when a local told me about a gravel road that looped around the old pit mine I was keen to check it out. The 790 Adventure’s 21-inch spoked front wheel, shod with tubeless Avon Trailrider 90/10 tires, rolled easily over the low rocky shelves and washouts, its 7.9 inches of suspension travel front and rear (non-adjustable except for rear preload) taking everything in stride, if a bit stiffly at the lower speeds at which I was traveling. It’s not just on dirt and gravel that a bike like the 790 Adventure shines, however. Keen to avoid the traffic in Tucson, later that day I found myself on narrow, bumpy, twisty Arivaca Sasabe Road, connecting State Route 286 with Interstate 19 through a lonely landscape where the only other vehicles I saw were U.S. Customs & Border Patrol units.
Another highlight was Apache Trail, a.k.a. Arizona State Route 88, a perfect ribbon of sinuous asphalt rippling into the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. I’d intended to go all the way to Roosevelt, with the asphalt giving way to dirt less than halfway up, but the road was inexplicably closed at Tortilla Flat. Too bad. I just had to turn around and retrace my corner-carving steps — carefully, as this was clearly a popular road for local riders as well as sports car-driving racer wannabes and pickups trundling along with boats in tow, headed to and from Canyon Lake.
Not all roads on this trip were so fun, however, with several hours-long 75-to-80-mph slogs on Interstates 8 and 10. The 790 Adventure’s 799cc liquid-cooled LC8c parallel twin has dual counterbalancers for smoothness, with a 75-degree crankpin offset and 435-degree firing order for V-twin-like character, and with 88.4 peak horsepower and 59.4 lb-ft of torque on tap (per the Jett Tuning dyno), it’s got enough spunk to hang at those speeds with room to spare, though sometimes at the expense of fuel economy. In a stiff headwind and at freeway speeds my mileage dipped as low as 34 mpg, but favorable conditions brought a high of 63 on this trip, averaging somewhere in the 50s, which meant my 5.3-gallon tank was good for close to 300 miles between fill-ups. The one caveat is that the 790 requires premium, which can be tough to find in the loneliest desert areas.
Apart from that minor detail, though, the KTM 790 Adventure is the rare lightweight adventure tourer that, depending on whether you choose the R version and how you equip it, works for the “100 percent”: it’s supremely capable off-road yet a pleasure to ride on long highways, and it’s downright fun in the twisties. Perfecting it for me would mean adding the optional centerstand, heated grips and cruise control, and maybe even some hard luggage, but even without all that I enjoyed all 1,787 (give or take) miles of my trip—and will continue to enjoy more until it’s time to give it back. With the 790 Adventure, the only question becomes: where do you want to go?
2019 KTM 790 Adventure Specs
Base Price: $12,699 Price as Tested: $13,059 (Quickshifter+) Warranty: 2 yrs., 24,000 miles Website: ktm.com
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel twin Displacement: 799cc Bore x Stroke: 88.0 x 65.7mm Compression Ratio: 12.7:1 Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl. Valve Insp. Interval: 18,600 miles Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ 42mm throttle bodies x 2 Lubrication System: Semi-dry sump, 3.1-qt. cap. Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated assist-and-slipper clutch Final Drive: X-ring chain
America has announced its nationwide Ride Orange Street Demo Tour for 2020,
giving U.S. motorcyclists more opportunities than ever before to test ride KTM’s
lineup of Street models.
The 2020 Ride Orange Street Demo Tour is set to kick off Saturday, February 29, and Sunday, March 1, at KTM’s North American headquarters in Murrieta, California. The tour will continue making stops across the nation with participating KTM dealers at some of the largest motorcycle events in the country. Among the tour’s nearly 30 events are a stop at the U.S. MotoGP at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), several stops in conjunction with the American Flat Track Championship and a stop the American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) in early October.
take part in the KTM Ride Orange Street Demo program will ride KTM’s 2020
Street model range pre-planned routes that navigate through some great riding
areas. Participants will also receive a $500 Ride Orange VIP voucher for KTM
PowerParts, PowerWear and SpareParts on select Street models (model year 2020
the KTM Ride Orange Street Demo must be 25 years or older for motorcycles 690cc
and above and at least 21 years or older for 390cc machines. Participants 21 to
24-years-old can ONLY ride 390cc motorcycles. Experienced riders only (no
beginners). All riders must show a government-issued photo ID with motorcycle
endorsement. Demos are on a first-come first-served basis and registration will
take place on-site the morning of the event.
For a list of Ride Orange Street Demo Tour locations and to connect with your local participating dealer, please visit ktm.com/us/events/ or email [email protected] Follow KTM USA on all social media platforms for the most up-to-date information on events.
KTM’s 1290 Super Duke GT is a sport tourer that checks all the right boxes. It has a powerful, torque-rich, visceral V-twin, high-tech yet easy-to-use electronics, transcendent semi-active suspension, 30-liter locking saddlebags and enough comfort and wind protection for long-haul days, all in a svelte, lightweight package. Acceleration is addictive. Handling is sublime.
When the GT debuted for 2017, we gushed. EIC Tuttle described it as “nearly flawless, the perfect sport-touring bike for a rider who doesn’t want to give up sportbike levels of engine performance and handling.” The superlatives continued following our six-month, 3,500 mile test: “the GT is designed to excite you more than pamper you…few bikes feel so eager, so ready to take your breath away” (also in Rider, April 2017). No surprise, then, that it was on our short list for 2017 Motorcycle of the Year.
Updates for 2019 gave us an excuse to request a new 1290 Super Duke GT for our indulgence…er, I mean, testing purposes. Its liquid-cooled, 1,301cc LC8 V-twin has new lightweight titanium inlet valves and intake resonator chambers for smoother low to midrange torque delivery. Its WP semi-active suspension, which has three modes (Sport, Street and Comfort), has been revised. Other newfangled newness includes an LED headlight, hand guards, cruise control switches moved to the left handlebar, a reshaped windscreen with a manual height adjuster, a redesigned front fairing and the 6.5-inch, full-color TFT display with KTM My Ride navigation we’ve seen on other models. As before, the GT has riding modes, multi-mode cornering ABS and traction control, an up/down quickshifter, keyless ignition and fuel filler cap, heated grips, tire-pressure monitoring and a 6.1-gallon fuel tank.
Even though it’s gained a few pounds (our 2019 tipped the scales at 533 pounds, up from 524), the GT’s on-road performance is every bit as thrilling as it was before; it goes fast, turns fast and stops fast with a level of precision and control that’s hard to beat. On Jett Tuning’s dyno, the 2019 GT cranked out 157 horsepower at 10,100 rpm and 92 lb-ft of torque at 7,400 rpm at its rear Pirelli Angel GT sport-touring radial. Being tall of gear, the 1290 chugs along at 60 mph in top gear at just 3,200 rpm. Set the cruise control and leave your worries behind. Or exit the highway, find a sinuous road and watch the TC light flash as it tames the torque that easily lifts the front wheel on every brisk corner exit.
Issues we raised in earlier tests — a speedo that reads too high, a low-fuel warning that comes on too early and excessive engine heat on warm days — have yet to be resolved. The first two are easy to live with; the engine heat can be a real drag when you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in August, but such may be the price for having such a potent engine right between one’s knees. To my eye, the 2019 styling refresh was a step backwards. All of the sharp angles and surfaces on Kiska-designed KTMs have always been fine by me, but the GT’s new proboscis is too disconnected from the windscreen above it. I’ve always been more of a function-over-form guy, so all it takes is a twist of the throttle to make me forget about aesthetics. Bring on the blurred scenery!
2019 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT Specs
Website:ktm.com Base Price: $20,499 ($20,599 for 2020 model) Motor Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 75-degree V-twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl. Displacement: 1,301cc Bore x Stroke: 108.0 x 71.0mm Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet assist-and-slipper clutch Final Drive: X-ring chain Wheelbase: 58.3 in. Rake/Trail: 24.9 degrees/4.2 in. Seat Height: 32.9 in. Wet Weight: 533 lbs. Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gals., last 0.9 gal. warning light on MPG: 91 AKI min. (low/avg/high) 35.2/37.3/40.5