KTM 690 DUKE (2012-2015) Review

Published: 18 May 2012

"Spot on for commuting and hammering down twisty country roads, where bigger, more powerful bikes would struggle"

KTM 690 DUKE  (2012-2015)

"Spot on for commuting and hammering down twisty country roads, where bigger, more powerful bikes would struggle"

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

With the 2012 Duke KTM made a bike that can give an experienced rider the thrill they are looking for whilst being a more usable package with a broader appeal to a wider spectrum of riders than the previous version. The Duke is spot on for commuting and hammering down twisty country roads, where bigger, more powerful bikes would struggle. If you want a pure, no-nonsense bike that's good value, the 690 Duke should be top of your list.

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

Thanks to the small dimensions and low weight the Duke handles incredibly well. It can be flicked into corners with ease and has no problems holding a line. Find a twisty back road and take great pleasure in destroying sports bike riders.

Engine 5 out of 5

The twin spark single cylinder engine is impressive, just under 70bhp and 70NM of torque are more than enough when the Duke only weighs 150kg. The low and mid range torque make the Duke great fun through town and powering between bends on twisty back roads. It's even fine at motorway crusing speeds, with minimal vibrations.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Build quality doesn't feel quite as high as Japanese manufacturers but KTMs are still solid, reliable motorcycles.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

At under £7000 new the Duke was priced competitively with other funky naked bikes such as the Ducati Monster 696 and Yamaha MT-03 (the old 660cc single-cyilnder one). In terms of fun per pound spent the Duke is brilliant value, especially now used prices are starting to drop below £5000.

Insurance group: 11 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 5 out of 5

The KTM Duke has historically been an uncompromising hooligan weapon, but for 2012 it was tamed a little with the inclusion of ABS and switchable riding maps. The ABS works excellently, giving more confidence on the brakes and getting you out of trouble. As standard there are three riding modes, with another four which can be custom mapped to suit your needs. Basic compared to some other electronics-laiden bikes of today, but spot on for the little Duke.

Owners' Reviews

10 owners have reviewed their KTM 690 DUKE (2012-2015) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KTM 690 DUKE (2012-2015)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.7 out of 5
Engine 4.7 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.2 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.3 out of 5
Equipment 4.2 out of 5
3 out of 5

28 February 2017 by Bobbydigital

A lightweight fun bike, power when you need it and lots of goodies as standard. Terrible gearbox, the detent arm causes false neutrals. Unacceptable from KTM. Well behind the build quality, fit and finish of the Japanese bikes. Feels very plastic... Read more and it is.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
It's not too bad on the motorway, which is impressive for a single cylinder but it's amazingly good fun everywhere else. It does vibrate quite bit around 4000rpm, might be a bit of a shock if you're coming from smooth a 4 cylinder bike, but I was always having so much fun on the Duke that I wouldn't notice after a short while. It was never vibrating so bad that body parts went numb or I lost some teeth. It's a traffic destroyer, it's happy in the urban environment, it's like taking a small child to a huge toy store, the Duke doesn't see traffic, it sees a challenge, a small gap and tells you to go for it, it makes you a confident rider and takes city life in it's stride. Out on the tight twisty roads it floats along, out does more powerful but heavier bikes, down a few gears and the slipper takes over, the fly by wire throttle is like some sort of neural implant that's make you feel at one with the bike, you look where you want to go and you're there and the instantaneous torque leaves other riders struggling to keep up.
Engine
5 out of 5
For what it is, a single cylinder 690cc engine, I have to give it a 5. You expect a single to give you nice amount of bottom end power and this engine does just that, it also has a great mid range punch and well at 70bhp it isn't too bad up the top either. It does well on the motorway at 70mph, I thought it would be a struggle but the engine is pretty happy there and you can chug this engine to hell, I.E be in say 3rd gear at 20mph and it sounds like it wants to stall, twist throttle and it's pulling like a train without delay. It also doesn't drink much, even though the tank is pretty small you can go pretty far, I reckon anywhere between 45 and 65 mpg is normal, depends on your right hand. It's a wonderful thing.
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
Mirror snapped off when riding, they use the same cheap mirrors on their 390 for a £8k bike. Powder coating on the frame is quite badly done, some locations it's not smooth, weak power coating in other locations so it's quite easy to scratch. A detent arm, which selects the gears has been an issue for many years with the LC4 engine, yet KTM didn't bother to address the issue, you have to buy a factory pro detent kit from the USA to cure the problem because KTM won't. The quality parts are the ones that KTM buys from other manufactures, Brembo calipers for example. Mine never let me down or any reliability issues.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
It could get pretty expensive, these engines need a valve check every 6000 miles, if you can't do that yourself, that's going to be expensive. It is an easy job to do if you're confident, if not, and you're going to be doing a lot of miles each year, best to give your nearest KTM dealer a call and see what it's going to cost. Other than valve adjustment/check it was pretty bog standard stuff, oil filter, engine oil, check pads etc You can get Hi flow filters and other brands, the KTM branded stuff is 2/3 times the price.
Equipment
5 out of 5
Abs Slipper clutch Brembo calipers Hydraulic clutch WP suspension Fly by wire throttle Switchable engine maps Marchesini wheels I have to admit that's a nice line up, the Brembo front brake is amazing and the slipper clutch also, those are my 2 favorite features of this bike when it comes to equipment. A fuel gauge would be nice, all street bikes should have one. I'd say the standard exhaust restricts the bike a lot, I think it's due to those dictators in Brussels, the leaders of the eu and their emission laws, getting rid of the catalytic (cat) converter would be a good start oh and a factory pro detent arm for perfect shifting, that's a must! KTM engine bars a nicely made, not sure how well they perform in there intended application but protecting the Duke should be a priority in my opinion.
3 out of 5

Extremely fun, finish should be a lot better.

19 February 2017 by Bobbydigital

This bike is just pure, that's the best part of it, so much fun that I'm surprised the EU didn't ban it for urban use! The torque and the agility are the best parts for me and probably gearbox is the worst thing about this machine. This is... Read more actually my favorite bike that I've owned and I'd love to give it a five but that wouldn't fair to potential buyers if I revived it through rose tinted glasses. Some parts of it excel, the fun factor where as other aspect fall short like overall finish, if you want something fun this is a good choice, but only if you're prepared that you might need to spend a bit making it as good as it should have already been.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
It does vibrate a bit, more so about 4000rpm but you get used to this pretty quickly. You wouldn't want to spend too long on a large, fast open (70mph+) road for long as you'll get blown all over the place. For the city or A roads the ride quality is confidence inspiring, the Duke is a very light, agile bike with plenty of torque and really good brakes, even though the front is single disc, it does a great job, to the point where I was using the front brake in slow traffic because it's that flexible and easy to regulate. I couldn't imagine a bike that's this much fun in traffic, it destroys traffic.
Engine
5 out of 5
Great single cylinder, pulls in every gear and even has a decent amount of top end thanks to around 70hp. It's a superb engine.
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
I believe the LC4 engine has been around for a while now and still KTM didn't fix the detent arm on gear shifter/gearbox, so it often does false neutrals, 4th to 5th and 5th to 6th, not acceptable on a bike of this price. Going on to an A road and you end up coasting in neutral, it's dangerous. Some of the powder coating seems extremely weak, my mirror clamps on the handle bars, the paint just fell off of those and certain parts of the orange frame, the lower parts were not smoothly painted, also my RH mirror snapped whilst doing 70mph. It's all a bit hit and miss.
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
It's a single cylinder so valve checks are every 6k! Which could be expensive if you can't do them yourself, it needs oil and filter every 3000 miles, I didn't own the bike for 3000 miles worth of riding so couldn't come up with a price. I didn't fancy doing valve checks every few months!
Equipment
5 out of 5
I love the slipper clutch, just helps with confidence going down the gear box and also the hydraulic clutch makes slow speed riding and congested conditions a breeze. The ride by wire throttle is superb as well and ABS as standard is always nice, you can turn if off. Get rid of the catalytic converter, it restricts this bike so much!
5 out of 5

Love this bike

11 January 2016 by J

2014 KTM 690 Duke I have been lucky to have owned many motorcycles over the years, including big 1300cc monsters. Most of them take themselves way too serious. Tried the 690 duke for a change and I completely love it. Owned it for about two years... Read more now. It still makes me smile every time i get on it and i often catch myself glancing back at it after i've parked it. It's extremely easy to ride, lovely on twisty mountain passes and brilliant in town traffic. Not even bad off-road. The bike is well built. Low curb weight - Handles like a dream. The motor is economical and pretty strong. The short gearing is great for having fun (easy 1st gear power wheelies) and it's quick if you ride it hard. Managed to top it out at an indicated 125mph. Overall a well balanced bike. I have also done some medium distance touring on it, 250 mile stints, just because i love spending time on it, but the lack of wind protection makes for a very tiring experience plus the throttle is a little heavily sprung for my liking when it comes to cruising. Also don't recommend the track driving mode for road use. The throttle becomes overly sensitive, but these are small niggles that adds to its charm. This bike is a great commuter (nice and docile when you want it to be) and fun weekend bike. The KTM dealership is great. The after sales service is top notch.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Great in town and on twisty roads. Tiresome on longer journeys due to lack of wind protection. Seat is very comfortable and riding position is good.
Engine
5 out of 5
Perfomance is strong and torquey. 8000rpm redline is a bit low and engine vibrates, especially above 5000rpm.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Well built. No problems thus far.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
Part of the bike's character is the lack of equipment weighing it down. So personally I wouldn't spec it up, except for a performance exhaust. Standard exhaust is very muted. Standard tyres are very grippy and if treated with respect, gives good mileage too.
Buying experience

From a KTM dealer. Got a 10% discount of the advertised price in jan 2014.

5 out of 5

Ideal first bike! Or even if you just fancy some fun :))

25 September 2015 by KTM_Owner7

I would recommend this bike to anyone who is a new rider or even someone who fancies a change and a different way of riding. They are fun, have the looks and overall are very comfy. Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Having riden this machine on my own and also being pillion on this bike, I can say that it is very comfy and the sitting position is good for all around views of the road ahead. Brakes are good and responsive.
Engine
5 out of 5
As it is a single cylinder engine, the power appears almost instantaneously once you open the throttle - something that takes a bit of getting used to if you've never rode a single before! Great for bimbling along in traffic to and from work, and even on the motorway it is very comfortable and will not struggle to maintain motorway speeds.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
Good quality build, no corrosion to speak of.
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
The bike as standard is an overall great machine. I have added the Engine Bars and some Hand Guards (Both Orange!!) and would fully recommend both of those. The Engine Bars will protect the majority of the bodywork should you drop it and the Hand Guards allow you to be seen more by other road users as well as protect your hands from the harsh weather we sometimes have!
5 out of 5

Hooligan tool, with a soft side

21 October 2014 by pacman1967

On the twisty, bumpy devon roads where I live it's hard to beat the Duke. Great suspension, super stoppers(ABS is great) and a punchy engine. However if you are around town she's docile and friendly Read more

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Watch out for seized rocker bearings

24 November 2013 by urbanfireblade

Fab bike to ride. Very punchy and willing engine all to easy to hit the rev limiter. Mpg can be as high as 80! Good quality parts but the engine longevity is questionable due to the highly strung nature and also there is a big problem if you search... Read more the ktm forums of the valve rocker bearings failing due to poor quality of them, can happen at any milage, as little as 700 miles in some cases. Rough sounding engine and metal fragments on the magnetic oil sump plug are giveaways. Tho engine still runs half ok. There are German manufactured bearings available to replace the cheap Chinese ones if you are affected. Apparently not too big a job but almost inevitable that sooner rather than later this will happen to you. Aside from that its a stonking bike, going one tooth less on front sprocket helps with the mentioned snatchy juddering problem at low revs in traffic. Handling is great, little to no dive at the front when braking, as quick as a Fazer 600 from 40-90mph so it's a fast single, capable of an indicated 120mph,

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
3 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Great first bike

09 November 2013 by spread4

I brought my Duke after passing my test, I love the look of it with the orange. I cannot believe the lightness of this bike for a near on 700 feels like riding a much smaller capacity bike. That is until you twist your right wrist! The acceleration... Read more is great due to the abundance of torque, the handling is fantastic due to great weight distribution and wide bars. However there are some negatives to mention the bike judders at slow speed making it a bit of a pain in stop start traffic, no fuel gauge . These do not distract from the overall experience worth a try.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Still Loving It

01 June 2013 by pandora58

I have now done 4k miles on the Duke and am still having a great time. The better I get the more I am enjoying what this bike can actually do. I commute 70 miles a day in heavy traffic and the agility is brilliant. With a bigger screen the... Read more motorway work is fine, not sure I would want to do hours on a motorway, but that's not what this bike is about. The only complaint is the lack of a fuel gauge.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

Fantastic First Bike

27 December 2012 by pandora58

This is my first bike and I know it's not the fastest thing on two wheels but its amazing fun to ride. I do not get the feeling it's going to kill me if I make a mistake, but neither do I think it's going to be boring. I am still learning how to... Read more cope in very slow situations as it is a little lumpy but I think that's me and not the bike. I get round corners faster than I would have believed possible and the lack of weight is fantastic. Fear of dropping a heavy bike is probably at the front of most novices minds, the Duke just makes it all so easy. There is plenty of grip even in the wet, and the bike is more than comfortable enough for commuting. A real winner.

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
5 out of 5
-
4 out of 5

Still Running In

21 May 2012 by rog5150

I've spent around 12hours sat on the bike so far, two 4hour sessions and some shorter - so comfort is fine! Seems to make the same power whatever the mode, only the delivery is different. Using up to 6000RPM I got 64mpg for the first tank and 66mpg... Read more for the second. Brakes are fab, handling is fab and very stable, look at the forks - they are kicked out, not like my old MY-03 which was not as stable. Got a quality chain/lock under the seat, So so far all good and running in is no pain 6K is 90mph and even now it would murder my old MT-03. Can't wait to explore the rest of the rev range.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
-
Engine
4 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
Read all 10 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2012
Year discontinued 2015
Original price £6,999
Used price £4,000 to £6,500
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 11 of 17
Annual road tax £85
Annual service cost £90
Performance
Max power 67 bhp
Max torque 70 ft-lb
Top speed 115 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 56 mpg
Tank range 160 miles
Specification
Engine size 690cc
Engine type Single-cylinder, 4-stroke, spark-ignition engine, liquid-cooled
Frame type Tubular space frame made from chrome molybdenum steel, powder-coated
Fuel capacity 13.8 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 150kg
Front suspension WP Suspension 4357
Rear suspension WP Suspension 4618 EM with Pro‑Lever linkage
Front brake 320mmdDisc brake with radially mounted four-piston brake caliper; floating brake disc
Rear brake 240mm disc brake with single-piston brake caliper, floating
Front tyre size 120/70 ZR 17 (58W)
Rear tyre size 160/60 ZR 17 (69W)

History & Versions

Model history

2012 - model introduced

Other versions

KTM 690 Duke R

Photo Gallery

  • KTM 690 DUKE  (2012-2015)
  • KTM 690 DUKE  (2012-2015)
  • KTM 690 DUKE  (2012-2015)
  • KTM 690 DUKE  (2012-2015)
  • KTM 690 DUKE  (2012-2015)
  • KTM 690 DUKE  (2012-2015)
  • KTM 690 DUKE  (2012-2015)
All related reviews
All related bikes for sale