Ktm Duke 690 III (2008-2011): Daily racing mood

     Engine: The single cylinder liquid cooled 654 c.c. delivers 65 bhp / 7500 rpm and 6,83 Kgm/5500 rpm torque, claimed values.
     There is an engine three mode map switch, situated at the right hand side of the bike. Mode 1 is recommended on slippery road conditions producing smooth power output, which could be useful to novice riders riding downtown. Power output is restricted to 45 ponies.
     Mode 2 is intermediate, producing almost the full power output at the top, although its restricted at the lower part of the power band.
     Mode 3 releases instantly engineĘs full power throughout the power band. In theory, sometimes a vibration may be noticed applying the throttle at the very bottom of the power band, or some help with the clutch may be necessary. This was the engine mode selected for the bike test.
     Actually engine operation is smooth for the KTM standards, which means low noise and relatively few vibrations. Still the LC4 engine will need at least 3500 rpm in order to avoid low rpm surging, when applying the throttle. Sixth speed will require even higher rpm, that means 4000 rpm at least for full throttle action without a hint of surging.
     There is a noticeable power increase step at 6000 rpm. Engine performance  is linear and very powerful from that point up to the top of the power band, that is 8500 rpm, where the rev limiter intervenes.
     Like other Ktm engines, a decisive foot motion is necessary to shift gears, otherwise false neutral could be engaged. Engine is equipped with anti-hop system, a slipper clutch that is to say.
     Riding position: The seat is narrow. Its high also, 865 mm, average height riders or even higher will be satisfied. The dimensions of the bike are average, the width is small.
     Rider is positioned over the bike, riding position is upright, clearly sports, almost racing. The weight of the bike is 148.5 Kgs nominal empty, the bike feels heavier than what its expected from single – cylinder, fully committed supermoto.
     On the road: The fork is an upside down 48mm WP. The fully adjustable suspension was trimmed tight, favouring handling than ride. According to KTM this combination of settings is called hard, there are exact instructions for two other combinations, soft and medium. There is a linkage at the WP shock. A Trellis type frame is used.
     The factory fitted tyres are Metzelers Sportec M3, with dimensions 120/70-17 front and 160/60-17 rear. They consist a moderate choice for this type of bike especially on average friction factor roads.
     On city rides, the Duke excels due to the stability provided at the first place and agility, second. Initially the integrated sense of an absolute bike is dominant. Riding position creates alert to the rider, engine power delivery requires some revving in town to avoid low rpm surging. Additionally street imperfections are easily noticeable, which of course was exaggerated by the stiff suspension setting selected.
     Steering lock is good, in case it was greater, it would be even better in town congested traffic.
     In the process of filtering, the thin shape of the Duke combined with the high handlebar which is much greater than car mirrors, will be very helpful. The height of the handle bar is just about the same with that of SUV mirrors. Of course, DukeĘs mirrors are even higher.
     Consequently, Duke will require some compromises in town congested traffic. From the other hand, ordinary urban rides become much more interesting, due to the fun factor added.
     On B-roads, DukeĘs robustness and stability are overwhelming compared to agility provided. Handling is neutral, no matter the pace, which was something to be expected by the previous generations of Duke.
     At the fast pace Duke is very stable, inspiring confidence. Feedback to the rider is good, although for such a pace, tyres gradually become unsuitable. Entry drift is neutral. Sliding at the entrance or exit of the turn is progressive, well controlled and routine feeling technique.
     On high friction factor roads, bikeĘs cornering angle can be very steep. Cornering into fast bends, makes it possible for the rider to adopt a street bike cornering style, that is hanging to the inside of the turn. Specifically when the bikeĘs mirror is directly opposed to the riderĘs face, its time for a style change on normal B-roads. This results in easier and safer riding on sweepers.
     The two bulges on the seat, just between rider and pillion areas, will help the rider to find instantly the exact place on the saddle to exercise his weight. Also, it will make it easier to fully exploit the street bike style in riding.
     At the end of the day no matter slow or fast bends, the Duke is a very fast and high cornering speed motorcycle. Power provided is very useable, Duke will be a threatening bike for many more powerful or greater motorcycles.
     On the highway, the engine power will be the least problem for the rider. As an example, 7000 rpm and sixth speed at the gearbox, corresponds to 170 Km/h. However, air resistance above 160 Km/h is exhausting. The narrow saddle will also result in a problem for the rider after some travelling time.
     On dirt roads, Duke demonstrates itĘs soil roads origin. Specifically its a very playful bike, tempting the rider to charge. However the  road tyres will soon set the limits.
     Single disc brakes, 320 mm at the front and 240 mm at the rear are used. A four piston Brembo radial front calliper is equipped, a single piston Brembo calliper at the rear, steel brake lines to both ends. The front brake is very powerful, providing good feedback to the rider. The rear brake is more powerful than necessary, providing relatively good feedback.
     Braking is excellent, especially due to the front brake which sometimes gives the impression that it can tear apart the asphalt road. Of course on high friction factor roads, braking power is fully exploitable. On emergency braking despite the stiff suspension set up, sinking of the front end is considerable.
     Quality and reliability: The finish, assembly of plastic parts and equipment are very good indeed. There are no specific reliability issues reported, after so many years of being produced.
     Comments: The engine of the Duke 3 is greatly improved compared to that of Duke 2, producing more power combined with less vibration. Changing the three mode switch position cannot be done on the move of course, nor its handy for frequent changes. The most appropriate position would be on the handlebar...
     The low attached exhaust is very beautiful from the right side of the bike, looking rather ugly from the left side. Caution is required ascending or descending high pavements. Rider has to hold the fuel cap during refuelling. The tail light is LED type.
     There is also the Duke R version produced, engine capacity is increased to 690 cc, producing 70 bhp. Suspension is improved. The frame and shock are orange, a carbon fibre front fender is used. The tag price is increased, 9980 §.
     The character of Duke is getting more and more on-road oriented, over the years. Ktm consider the Duke to belong to the naked bike category, according to the official website, as it can be seen from the "More, specifications" link at the end of the review!  In our days, motorcycles from various manufacturers often resemble to each other, from the riding point of view, like eating at fast food restaurants. Contrary to this …habit, the Duke stands out from the crowd due to excessive character.
     There are cheaper bikes around to choose from, however itĘs the usual thing: What customer pays, is what he gets.
     From the other hand, except from the high price, the Duke is actually a bike targeting on a specific group. Riders willing to commute leisurely or wander around, will be better off on another bike in the long term.
     Especially if logical estimations outweigh feelings, regarding to the motorcycle selection. Fortunately, customers usually choose the other way around.

Price: 8490§

+ Great potential, neatly hidden during daily riding.

+ Handling

+ Fun factor

+ Character

- Expensive and uni-dimensional, if it is intended to be used solely as a town bike.

More, specifications


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