Ktm Duke 690 ѬS (2012-current): Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

     Engine: The single cylinder liquid cooled, 690 c.c., twin sparkplug engine, delivers 67 bhp/7500 rpm and 7 kgm/5500 rpm (50.6 lb ft/5500 rpm) torque, claimed figures. 
     There are three engine mappings which are selected by a rotational switch located under the pillion seat. Selecting mode 1, Comfort, engine power is restricted which makes it rather dull. The Standard mode 3 delivers full power in a slightly user friendly manner. Mode 2 Sport, delivers full power directly, which produces increased surging at the bottom end though. Performance figures shown below describe the operation of the Standard mode 3, which is the factory default. There are four more mappings which may be programmed according to the riderĘs needs.
      Pressing the mode button on the display, an indication of the selected speed on the gearbox may be provided. A self check is performed at the start. If the engine run-off switch is set to off, the display is turned off and the engine will not come to life.
      The clutch is very light. Opening the throttle, a minimum of 2 - 3000 rpm is required in order to obtain surge-free acceleration, depending on the selected gear. Immediately after that, between 3 - 4000 rpm the engine provides the characteristic for a big single cylinder oomph. It feels like a kick which is very pleasant at the 4000 rpm area.
      Engine spectrum up to 5000 rpm is adequate for town use, indicatively with 6th speed selected these rpm correspond to 120 km/h (75 mph). 
     Power is great yet linear from 5000 up to 8500 rpm where the rev limiter intervenes. Power is smoother than that of the ex-model, less explosive, that means more usable. 
      The operation of the ride-by-wire fuel injection is very good. Engine is equipped with anti-hop system, a slipper clutch that is to say. After refuelling the reserve indication lamp remains lit for some time. A fuel level indication would be welcomed. An indicative fuel consumption figure is 4.8 l / 100 km (59mpg Imperial). 
      Riding position: The height of the saddle is great, 835 mm, (32,87) in. It will be adequate to average stature riders or higher. The seat for the rider looks like a shovel (!) from a point of view. Pillion seat is separate, a little higher than the riderĘs, pillionĘs knees form a sharp angle. Thus, possibly its not a very convenient position for the pillion in case of touring. The cover on the saddles is a high-friction one. 
      The width of the bike is comparatively decreased, except from the handlebar and the plastic parts surrounding the fuel tank. Generally speaking, the dimensions of the Duke are considered average for the supermotard category standards. The bike is light, 150 nominal kg without fuel.
      Rider is placed mostly over the bike than in it, riding position is neutral, which is a surprise given the Duke family standards. 
      On the road: The wheel travel from the WP suspensions is 135 mm, (5.31 in.), front and rear. The spring preload at the shock is the only possible adjustment for the suspensions. The 43 mm fork feels relatively firm while the shock featuring a linkage, feels relatively soft. 
     OE tires are Michelin Pilot Power with dimensions 120/70-17 at the front and 160/60-17 at the rear. They are considered to be a superb choice, matching exactly with the bikeĘs character. On slippery roads they need some time to warm up. 
      In town, the neutral riding position, the agility provided, the lack of engine vibrations, the smooth engine operation together with the satisfying performance around 4000 rpm, transform commuting to a neutral and pleasant procedure. 
     This particular Duke may be used for browsing in town without compromises. The only requirement is engine rpms should be higher than 3000, nothing else really. 
      On downtown rides the agility provided contributes to the everyday use. The ABS sets the limits for powerful emergency braking whenever that is necessary. 
     Steering lock is quite good, it will be helpful to the rider up to a point, maneuvering the bike on traffic. 
     Filtering is average, mainly due to the wide handlebar. Additionally, either the height of the handlebar or the mirrors of the bike will be the same with carsĘ or SUVsĘ mirrors. Its definitely a compromise asked on traffic jams. 
     Urban street imperfections are absorbed really well. Duke is a very comfortable bike. 
      On B-roads the Duke will respect any riding will of the owner. It may be ridden slowly-leisurely, up to a very fast pace. 
     On a normal riding pace the Duke is a profoundly neutral bike. Rider enjoys short-shifting at the area of 4000 rpm, agility is as much as necessary, comfort to the rider is very good. As an exception, in case of a large bump, the reaction is slightly crude. 
      At the fast pace, rider gets surprised: Despite the user friendly character so far, the Duke is a competitive bike. A joyful character is provided, agility is excellent combined with stability, feedback to the rider is very good, an impressive lack-of-inertia feeling is provided to the rider, changing direction very quickly. 
     It should be noted that the above statements apply to a 70 Kg rider, (154 lbs), which is the editorĘs weight. The bike feels rock solid on high speed riding. It may be ridden on a street style on fast corners or on a supermotard riding style on tight bends. 
     It is certain that the joy of a track day is provided without any modifications. ItĘs a bike which will fulfill the track day expectations of an average rider, as long as there are not many sweepers and long straights, due to the moderate top power figure for such a use. 
      Because there are no suspension adjustments, no safe remarks may be concluded for heavier riders. This is a disadvantage due to the manufacturerĘs logo, Ready to Race. Hence for decent track days use,  changing the suspensions with fully adjustable ones and a more powerful initial bite by the front brake, are the top priority bike upgrades. 
      On the highway, the traveling speed is restricted to 150 km/h (93 mph), due to the upright riding position and the negligible air protection. 
     Engine operation is relaxed at such a pace, at about 6200 rpm. Top indicated speed is 200 km/h (124 mph). The saddle is comfortable. Tank range is 255 km, (169 miles). 
      On dirt roads, the Duke is a very comfortable bike. The street oriented tires will set the riding limits soon. 
      The ABS brakes consist of a 320 mm, (12.6 in) rotor at the front and a 240 mm (9.45 in) at the rear. A four piston radial caliper is provided at the front, a single piston caliper is featured at the rear. The ABS may be deactivated, the ABS light starts blinking then. 
     The front brake is very linear, no initial bite is provided, feedback and power provided are relatively good. That means itĘs a very user friendly front brake for a Duke. The rear brake is linear, providing good feedback and power. Due to the above, the ABS is not a top priority system on this bike because braking is user-friendly. However its always a great assistance to the bikerĘs safety. 
     Whenever the ABS intervenes, braking feedback is relatively good, pulsing on the levers is negligible. An expert rider would welcome a more powerful front brake initial bite combined with the activated ABS. 
      Model history/versions/optional/reliability/quality build: The Duke I was introduced in 1994. In 1998 it is replaced by the Duke II. In 2008 the Duke III 690 is introduced, the actual engine capacity is 654 c.c.. 
     In 2012 the new Duke 690 is introduced, featuring a new frame, ABS, suspensions, 690 c.c. engine instead of 654 c.c., comparatively lower tag price, increased service intervals 10000 km (6200 miles), new design. A limited “track” version of the new model is also available, only 200 bikes were manufactured. It costs around 10000 Euros, the weight is 10 kg less, power is increased by 9 bhp, suspensions are fully adjustable.
      A lower saddle is also an optional for the base model. Because itĘs a totally new model it could be considered that there are no specific reliability issues. Austria is the manufacturing country. Build quality is good. 
     Comments: The swingarm is one of the very few parts derived straight from the former Duke model. The Duke 690 graphics remind vividly the … Duke 125. The orange colored Trellis frame shows that it is the most important part of the bike. It seems really robust, capable of managing much higher power than the figure provided. 
      The large catalytic converter which is located under the engine, makes it possible to end up with a small silencer which forms a steep angle to the rear of the bike. The mirrors are located away from riderĘs on-road view. 
     Under the pillionĘs seat an adequate storage space is provided, as shown at the photo. The battery is also located there, together with the engine mapping switch. The front fender looks cool. 
      The engine performance becomes more and more user friendly on every new Duke. The actual bike potential remains constant though, its still an extremely fast bike despite the moderate, by the absolute power criteria, performance of the single cylinder engine. 
      Therefore, itĘs the first bike after so many years of efforts which could be considered to be a competent single-cylinder supersport (super single), eg YamahaĘs SZR 660 was really underpowered to challenge other bikes. Actually the high riding position, the wide handlebar and the single cylinder engine according to the standards of any other manufacturer, would classify the Duke at the supermotard bike category. 
     However Ktm considers this bike to be a naked (street). For a dedicated off-road manufacturer like Ktm, a politically correct bike like this, could feel like a street motorcycle. 
     From the other hand, the DukeĘs riding is between supermotards and naked. Certain people could presume TriumphĘs Street Triple, a three cylinder supermoto then, due to the upright riding position! This kind of thinking was also commented on the former Duke review. Whatever the case is, its better for someone to examine the soul of the bike, not the label describing it. 
      The new Duke is a motorcycle which may be transformed by any rider into a joyful slow or fast pace riding bike. 
     ‘his said differently, itĘs a version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde novel. ItĘs a deceivably user friendly bike, while at the very next moment, a weapon at the hands of a spirited rider, if that is necessary. Partially this was also described at the former DukeĘs model review, now its even more valid, due to the smoother engine operation. 
      Therefore its not really significant the bike category that the manufacturer places this motorbike. The superb tag price is a great advantage, providing a balanced bike, fulfilling everyday or spirited riding needs. 
 Price ABS version: 8000 Euros 

+ Two superb bike characters everyday and sporty, into one 

 + ‘ag price 

 - Non adjustable suspensions.



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