The KTM Duke 690 is one of the best nakeds on the planet when it comes to canyon carving. For 2016, the Duke is getting some great updates to bring about more power, more refinement, and less vibrations. This little scalpel just got a bit sharper.
The Duke 690 is unlike any other naked. It changes directions almost telepathically, and its big single and low weight make it akin to riding a dirtbike which has been made slightly comfier. You can read my review of the 2013 model, which has gone unchanged until now, here.
This update to the little Duke addresses the vibrations felt by the rider, which was the biggest issue I had, while also adding more power and a ton of refinement.
I know what you’re thinking: surely the vibration can’t be that big of a deal and I’m being dramatic. One of the things I love about KTM is that “Ready To Race” attitude carries throughout their entire model range and even little nakeds like the Duke 690 come built more for rider feel than for dampening or rider comfort. The seats and suspension are always stiff, and the frills thrown out. On many of their bikes, this is what gives them that edge and is much appreciated, but on a big 690 cc single street bike - it just puts my hands to sleep and makes me want to avoid stints on the freeway longer than a few miles.
The Duke’s new powerplant remains almost the same size (it’s up 3 cc to 693), but has been reworked to have a larger bore and shorter stroke. It’s also added a second balancer shaft, which KTM decided was now necessary as this new motor configuration produces more power and spins up 1,000 rpm higher. Speaking of power, the new KTM Duke 690 adds seven percent more horsepower and six percent more torque to the current motor (69 hp and 52 ft.-lbs) and smoothes out power delivery at low revs. That might not sound like a big bump but, with a wet weight of 352 pounds, it will surely be noticeable.
While the 2013 model that I rode felt almost crude given its complete lack of care for comfort or amenities, the 2016 gets an instrument panel and electronic aids package that is up there with the best of them. In its base model configuration, the bike gets Bosch’s fantastic 9M+ switchable ABS, three rider maps, and KTM’s first TFT color screen. Traction control will be available as an option.
KTM also plan to release an R version, which will get fully adjustable WP suspension, higher-spec brakes, and more electronics. With an estimated 72 horsepower or so, the 2016 KTM Duke 690 will be right up there performance wise with the Yamaha FZ-07, Suzuki SV-650, Ducati Scrambler, and Kawasaki Ninja 650.
Look for full specs and details at EICMA come late November.