The One Thing About the KTM 890 Duke R that Has Us Disappointed [UPDATED]

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The KTM 890 Duke R didn’t get the press launch it deserved, thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, but this bike remains high on our list of machines that debuted for the 2020 model year.

In case you don’t know, the 890cc machine is the more burly sibling to the KTM 790 Duke, for only $1000 more out of your wallet. For that price, you get an obvious bump up in displacement, which is good for a 17hp increase (120hp for the KTM 890 Duke).

But, the 2020 KTM 890 Duke R also brings with it a bevy of upgraded pieces, namely brakes and suspension…but not as good of an upgrade as we were led to believe initially.

While KTM has touted the bike’s “fully adjustable suspension” on its website and marketing materials, looking at photos and confirmed by those lucky few who have taken delivery of the bike, the front suspension still does not have an adjustable preload  setting (just rebound and compression).

As you can see from the photos below in the gallery though, KTM will still very much sell you a set of aftermarket internals that are truly adjustable.

The move is a disappointing one from the Austrian brand, as the front suspension on the 890 is only minimally different from those found on the 790. Both are “APEX 43” units from with split-function forks for compression and rebound, but the 790 uses a progressive spring, whereas the 890 uses a linear one.

At the rear of the bike, things are a different story. The KTM 790 Duke comes with the very blank WP “APEX Monoshock” with only preload adjustment and a progressive spring.

Whereas on the KTM 890 Duke R, there is a very robust “APEX” shock that includes hi/lo adjustment for compression, rebound, and preload on a linear spring – or in other words, what you would expect from an “R” model from the “Ready to Race” brand.

Does this mean that the 2020 KTM 890 Duke R isn’t an amazing bang-for-the-buck motorcycle? No, it certainly still is quite the machine, for a very reasonable price…but just not as much so as we originally thought.

In truth, we wouldn’t mind seeing the KTM 890 Duke R having true fully adjustable suspension at the front, with a modest increase in the price tag to justify it – let’s call it an even $12,250 MSRP if we had to pick a number.

This would help separate the 890 a bit more from the 790 in the lineup, and it would help KTM save some face when designating a bike like the 890 as “R” spec.

Surely, the Austrians could manage a deal from its suspension supplier for this endeavor…they are part of the family, after all.

We are still not sure why KTM is misleading potential buyers on its website. We’ve reached out to them about it, and we’ll post their response when we get it.

UPDATE: Here is KTM’s response to our story:

“Thank you for pointing that out, in the preparation of these texts we may have been a bit overzealous in the descriptions, our apologies, we will correct it. The suspension on the 890 DUKE R is of a very high level, with a measured control of damping and the separate compression (30 clicks) and rebound (28 clicks) adjustment on the fork ensure that the bike can be setup properly for all riders.”

Photos: KTM