Spyshots: Updated KTM 990 Duke striding closer to production

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KTM’s parallel twin has won the brand plaudits and sales since its introduction in 2018, with the motor finding its way into multiple models since.

MCN revealed very early test mules last year, but now further shots have emerged which confirm KTM are finalising a replacement for their popular middleweight.

Cutting straight to the chase, it appears the firm are working on a heavily redesigned engine for the new bike. In previous photos all the engine cases were machined whereas now most of them appear to be cast, suggesting the changes are all but sealed.

Ever-tightening emissions standards both for pollution and noise, will have prompted some reworking while a capacity increase is expected to help offset those changes.

We’d expect KTM to grow the engine by 100cc again and call the new bike the 990 Duke R, similar to their range-topping naked from 10 years ago.

A side view of the KTM 990 spied in testing

Apart from small changes to the frame to accommodate the adapted engine, most of the chassis appears the same – except for the swingarm.

The new swingarm looks beefier in parts but also more aggressively hollowed out, suggesting the usual ‘lighter/stiffer’ work has gone on. It will also have been redesigned to clear the new exhaust positioning.

Wrapping the bike is a brand new set of bodywork including a new front mudguard, new tank surround and new radiator shrouds, which all lend a more aggressive look. Paired with this is a new subframe, again redesigned, complete with new seats for both passenger and rider.

KTM also appear to have taken a leaf out of Yamaha’s MT design book, opting for twin-stacked headlights. We know KTM are fans of radical design but we’re a little saddened they didn’t see the reaction to the Yamaha and give this one a rethink.

The 890 R is £11,999 in 2021 (a far cry from the £8499 the 790 started at…) and we’d expect the price to creep up a little again when it appears in dealers, likely in spring 2023.

KTM 990 Duke R explored

  • More of the same Performance boosts are likely to offset emissions losses – expect power around 120bhp.
  • Torque machine There’s one extra fin on the barrels, suggesting an increase in stroke rather than bore.
  • Piping hot To go with this new motor (and new regs) is a new exhaust with more traditional placement and routing.
  • Top kit Brakes, suspension and wheels all appear to have carried over from the 890 R.
  • Dash it all KTM have given the new 990 the dash from the 1290 Super Duke R, it is fast becoming standard across the company’s range.

Spyshots: New KTM 990 could shake up the road-going naked world

First published on 21 July 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Spy shots show a KTM 990 Duke in testing

KTM hit the mainstream with the 790 Duke in 2018, followed by a strong update this year boosting capacity to 890. Now spyshots suggest there’s another bike in the offing.

When the 790 became the 890, the basic building blocks of the bike remained the same, but that’s not the case with this new model. For a start the engine is new and, with the exception of one cover, every single part has been redesigned.

The suggestion is a capacity increase, likely to 990cc, to offset upcoming Euro5b work. That also explains the new exhaust and massive radiator. A big chunk of Euro5b relates to noise emissions, so expect manufacturers to fit steadily fatter exhausts and water jackets around engines to help deaden mechanical noise.

KTM 990 Duke spyshot right side

There has also been considerable work to the chassis, including a redesigned swingarm. Some of this will be to cope with increased power but a lot of the work appears to have gone into clearing the giant exhaust collector. At just 169kg (dry) the current 890 is a lovely lightweight machine and there’s no reason the new bike should get any heavier.

Up front KTM have been seen testing two suspension set ups, including a model with considerably more relaxed steering geometry. This could be to calm the bike for road riding but could point towards a range expansion.

KTM’s only sports tourer, the Super Duke GT has a 1290cc engine and heaps of power but plenty of people don’t want something quite so big – just look at the popularity of Yamaha’s Tracer 7 and Tracer 9.

Rumours have been swirling about a KTM sports tourer for some time and this new engine could be just the platform for it.

KTM 990 Duke spyshot front

There’s been no official word from KTM about this bike but even so, we don’t expect to see anything until 2022. The 890 is £9649, which is great for what you get and if KTM can bring the new bike in around £10,000 they’ll be onto a winner.