2012 KTM Duke 690 first ride: Duke for the masses

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KTM’s 2012 690 Duke isn’t just an evolution of the hard core Duke – it’s a complete revolution: an all-new bike – 90% new in fact, with just 10% of its components shared with its predecessor.

The biggest surprise is in the looks department. Gone is the hard-edged supermotard appearance and in its place a more regular-looking naked bike albeit with KTM’s trademark aggressive styling and graphics.

The new design has been borne out of KTM’s desire to build a real world and useable bike. The new ergonomics have the rider sitting ‘in’ the bike on a relatively wide, comfortable seat instead of perched on top of a narrow one. The seat height is now 30mm lower which improves the overall ergonomics significantly, increases comfort and minimises buffeting.

On looks alone it would be easy to think that the new bike has been toned down but having ridden the bike for over six hours on a multitude of different roads I can assure you it hasn’t.

On the demanding and twisty mountain roads of Gran Canaria it’s an absolute blast to ride thanks to its perfect 50/50 weight distribution. It may not have the same aggressive looks as its predecessor, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s no less fun to ride.

KTM claim an impressive 70bhp for its 690cc single and combined with a refreshing light weight of 150kg results in a potent and engaging bike to ride. The new styling, comfort and ergonomics positions it in the same market place as the Kawasaki ER6 or Ducati Monster, but despite being a single in a world of twins it offers a superior or comparable power to weight ratio to its rivals.

Read the full test in this week’s issue of MCN (21 December), on sale now.


Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider