Bikes

Up-Close with the KTM 790 Duke Prototype

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One of the machines that caught our eye at this year’s EICMA show in Milan is the KTM 790 Duke Prototype. Powered by an all-new 800cc parallel-twin engine that’s being developed by the Austrian brand, the KTM 790 Duke adds an interesting dimension to the Duke line of street bikes.

Fitting in between the single-cylinder KTM 690 Duke and the v-twin powered KTM 1290 Super Duke R, the KTM 790 Duke with its parallel-twin engine will hopefully provide riders with something neither of the other two machines provides.

Still, we are curious to see how KTM handles such an impacted lineup of street-hooning machines, especially as the 800cc market moves more towards a 900cc format, something the Husqvarna Nuda 900R designers understood. As with the Nuda, thinking outside of the 270° crankshaft angle might be of benefit for KTM.

Looking at the photos from EICMA, the design of the KTM 790 Duke prototype is striking, though we should expect as much from the folks at KISKA, especially after seeing the KTM 1290 Super Duke R prototype from a few years ago.

KTM is working hard to make a brand identity with is new LED headlight design – the same goes for the company’s trellised swingarm design.

If KTM intends to keep the 690 Duke in its lineup though, we wonder if a single-sided swingarm on the 790 Duke would help separate the machines more from each other, as Ducati does with bike like the Monster.



We do hope that the underseat exhaust stays in the finalized design, especially since it reminds us of the GP setup seen on the KTM RC16, the company’s MotoGP race bike.

As such, we will also be curious to see what the final seat and tail section looks like. We assume the gaps and ribs help circulate some air under the seat, which wold be welcomed, consider that the there is an exhaust pipe so close to the rider’s underside.

The triangle gap below the seat reminds us also of the design put forth by Adrian Morton, on the MV Agusta Veloce Turismo, and applied to the latest iteration of the MV Agusta Brutale 800.

The use of what looks like forged carbon on some of the fairings, a material we saw used with great application on Walt Siegl’s Bol d’Or for David Yurman, is also of note. We expect to see that exotic material making more and more of presence in the two-wheeled space.

Overall, the KTM 790 Duke prototype looks like another mean street bike from the Austrians. Parallel-twin bikes have a reputation for being a bit boring, but we think KTM has added enough spice to the recipe that the 790 Duke should do well. Look for it, as a 2018 model year machine.

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Photos: Courtesy of Our Friends at MotoFire



As always, Asphalt & Rubber will be covering all the new bikes debuting at EICMA this year. Be sure to follow our coverage for the most recent news and photos.

Jensen Beeler

Despite his best efforts, Jensen is called one of the most influential bloggers in the motorcycle industry, and sometimes consults for motorcycle companies, whether they've solicited his expertise or not.

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