Electronics-wise KTM has thrown the whole gamut of latest technology at the 790 Duke. An impeccable two-way quick-shifter joins a Bosch engine-management system with riding modes and motor-slip regulation to assist the mechanical slipper clutch. The Duke also boasts the latest lean-angle ABS and traction control. It is all switchable through the bars via a fairly intuitive menu system, with a track mode offering nine levels of traction control intervention, and launch control. You can even turn off the quick-shifter if you so desire.
The tech then continues through to full LED lighting and a great TFT display, which, via an optional Bluetooth plug, can also display turn-by-turn GPS navigation functions and enables you to control your music from the menu system. Of course, the music functions require your phone to be paired with not only the machine but also your own Bluetooth helmet in order for you to enjoy tunes. The words ‘fully-loaded’ come to mind… For more on the KTM My Ride functionality click the link below.
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Styling-wise, KTM has gone for the less is more approach. The bolt-on sub-frame is actually a visible component integral to the bike’s styling.It also houses the air-box, with the air intakes visible as strakes below the rider’s seat. At first glance these parts look like a simple styling accoutrement, but they are a fully functional part of the integrated sub-frame design which sees the rear part of the machine clean of any plastic covers or bracketry. Clever.
The compact packaging of the engine also allowed KTM to provide 186mm of ground clearance and excellent cornering clearance, while achieving a modest seat-height of 825mm. An optional lower seat brings that down to 805mm, while a lowering package is also available that brings it down even further to a duck-friendly 780mm.
Both clutch and brake levers are span adjustable and the tapered alloy bars can be mounted in four different clamp positions facilitated by the triple-clamp design, and can also be rotated through three different positions. At 169 kg dry, the Duke should prove manageable for even the slightest of riders.
A 14-litre steel fuel cell feeds the engine and provides a range of over 200km at even the headiest pace. We did not do boring highway commutes so I can’t really gauge the touring and commuting convenience of the bike, but I would suggest it is more practical and comfortable than first glances might suggest.
Maxxis tyres worked with KTM to produce the 120/70-17 and 180/55-17 Supermaxx ST tyre package for the 790 Duke. After a frenetic day in the mountains and at the track it is fair to say the riders were more frazzled and worn out than the tyres from Taiwan. Good job.
So how much and when?
KTM Australia is not expected to calculate its final pricing until around May, ahead of the first deliveries around July. It has told us, however, it is hoping to price the machine at around 15k, plus on-road costs.
I think in this segment of the market the retail price will be the deciding factor as to the success of the machine here in Australia. It is a hotly contested segment, especially at this mid-capacity size. But with a machine this sorted, this smart, and this fun, KTM and its 790 Duke mount a very significant argument to buyers looking at this style of machine.
Obviously with the huge investment in this new engine it will subsequently appear in a range of new models to come. The next one will be the eagerly awaited 790 Adventure that will no doubt do very well in Australia. Alas the 790 Adventure is still more than 12 months away. Perhaps the SMT moniker will also be revived for a slightly more touring and comfort-oriented version of the 790 Duke.
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