New KTM 790 is scalpel-sharp

Published: 15 February 2017

KTM prepares to put stunning 790 concept bike into production

KTM are getting ready to unleash this sharp-looking 790 weapon. MCN managed to get hold of these spy shots as the Austrian firm held secret tests of the bike it showed in concept form at the big European motorcycle shows at the end of last year.

The Scalpel got a lot of attention – as did subsequent videos of it doing wheelies, stoppies and generally making a nuisance of itself. Looking at the photos of the test bike, a surprising amount of the concept bike has remained.

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Missing in action

Sadly gone is the underseat exhaust fitted to the Scalpel. There is no way that the underseat system would pass emissions regulations, but it’s still a shame. It has been replaced by a conical unit on the right of the bike with an additional collector under the swingarm, similar to the 790 Adventure we have seen previously

Making way for normality, there is also a new subframe along with rider and pillion seats. The whole lot looks very well finished, which suggests this is likely the final design. There’s a small gauze port under the seat too, which could well be the opening for the airbox although on the subframe of the Scalpel it was just a bit of decoration.

Speaking to MCN at EICMA last year Hubert Trunkenpolz, KTM’s Chief Sales Officer, said that there will be two versions of the 790 Duke: a standard model and an R. Trunkenpolz said that the R would be 115bhp, while the standard Duke would be 97bhp to remain A2 licence-friendly. It’s possible that the R will have a single seat and slightly tastier exhaust more akin to the prototype.

The front end is also different to the Scalpel’s. The 790 Duke has gained mirrors, switches, indicators and the new headlight fitted to the rest of the 2017 Duke range. The indicators appear to be mounted on clear plastic – this could be something to do with the Euro4 daytime running light regulations but it’s more likely to be some rapid prototyping that’s not been replaced. The 790 Duke has also gained the TFT dash that is present on many 2017 KTMs, confirming KTMs suggestion this will be a premium model.

Them’s the brakes

That said, costs have to be reined in somewhere and in the case of the 790 Duke it’s the brakes. While they may look like fancy Brembos from a distance, they are in fact J.Juan. We imagine these will be branded up as KTM on the final production bike.

So when can we expect to see the finished bike? Well Trunkenpolz said that the 790 Duke will be launched later this year, with stock hitting showrooms in 2018. While he wouldn’t be drawn on price, Trunkenpolz said it would not be a cheap model to compete with the MT-07 – but more expensive as it attempts to take on bikes like the new Triumph Street Triple – which KTM has been testing against.

Two models: Standard and R
Both feature 800cc parallel twin
Standard model 97bhp, R model 115bhp
Price TBC but expect premium
On sale early-2018

Braking even

The J.Juan calipers fitted to the prototype are most likely a cost saving exercise. The Spanish firm provide OEM brakes for a wide range of brands, but it’s possible the R version will come with Brembos.

 

Collector gadget

KTM seem to be experimenting with two-stage collectors on their new parallel twins. Both the Duke and Adventure prototypes we have seen carry a small collector before the end can. 

The light stuff

While KTM’s new lights might not be to everyone’s taste, they are very effective on the road and are essential parts of meeting the Euro4 regs. It appears to be a standard light, just covered in gaffer tape, but the clear plastic indicator mounts are new. We imagine there are just a prototype and will be black on the production bike.

 

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