2012 KTM 690 Duke: lighter, faster, cheaper, not for the US

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MCN has scooped some early details of the 2012 KTM 690 Duke. The Austrian manufacturer appears to have achieved the impossible, meeting stringent new emissions regulations while also upping power and reducing weight and price. Power is said to increase from 64 to “around” 70bhp (the bike’s still in pre-production form, so hasn’t put down an official figure yet) thanks to high-tech new features like twin-spark ignition and a ride-by-wire throttle. That’s despite the giant new exhaust can and its under engine collector.

Those engine modifications, exhaust and a couple new production processes appear to be the biggest changes, with the frame and suspension remaining visually identical to the current Duke. New bodywork brings this new 690 more in line with the KTM 125 Duke, giving it a two-piece seat and less gawky headlight.

In addition to the ride-by-wire throttle and dual spark plugs, MCN says to expect optional ABS on the list of tech advances. “Twin-spark” technology is a fancy name for sticking two spark plugs into a single cylinder and was pioneered by Alfa Romeo, first on a grand prix car in 1914 and then on sports car racers in the 1960s before being adopted as a means to meet emissions standards on road cars in the 1980s. In theory, it can allow an engine to operate on a leaner fuel/air mixture, achieving more complete combustion using staggered spark timing. Burning more of the fuel that’s already being put into the cylinder results in both more power and cleaner emissions.

The current 690 Duke.

While the ginormous new exhaust is adding weight, KTM is reducing it through parts simplification. According to MCN, the subframe/seat and front cowl are now structural, combining bodywork and frame into a single part. No word on an exact weight yet, but the current 690 Duke weighs in at just 149kg (dry).

All that and there’s also talk of a price drop from the Duke’s current £6,945 to £6k even. Something that could have been achieved by farming out some production or parts to KTM’s indian partner, Bajaj.

MCN suggests that all this attention being paid to the middleweight naked is in an effort to create a clear in-brand upgrade path from KTM’s new entry level street bike, the 125 Duke and it’s 350cc big brother that’s planned for 2013. That strategy applies to Europe only, sadly. Here in the states, the 690 Duke has already been dropped from the company’s line up and there are no plans to import this new model. Once the company captures the interest of young American riders with the KTM 350 Duke, where does it plan to send them? It appears as if the new Super Duke 1290 will have to be the next step. That may not seem logical, but is a sad reality of the American market, where superbikes are considered appropriate fodder for less experienced riders.


  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

    New exhaust — yuck!

    Perhaps one of the aftermarket manufacturers will sell an all-underslung exhaust to replace it.

  • Gene

    Meh, it’s not like there’s a KTM dealer within a couple hundred miles anyways.

  • Taco

    Hey, when KTM says the 350 Duke is coming out in 2013, do they kinda mean late 2012? I can’t wait more than a year. I’m so restless restless.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    The new exhaust is quite the departure from the current model.

    And, seriously, I would buy a 690 over either the 350 or SuperDuke 1290.

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub the (unfortunate) roomate

      because you want something bigger than a 350 but smaller than a 1290?

      • Prof. Mudflap

        ridiculous! either you’re 18 and buying your first bike, or you’re 40 and buying the bike with the biggest #s because it sounds macho. the 690 makes the perfect all-rounder, a simple single cylinder, great ergos, lightning handling and low weight. the best bike to get hipsters off their damn cb750′s and it’s disappearing from the US market. but craigs got some bomb duke II’s still out there for a song.

  • Alex

    I think the old KTM looks better.
    new tech + old design would be key.

  • Penguin

    The 690 Duke is the most hilarious bike I have ever rode, the thing is just bat-shit in every way possible and bloody lovely too! The new one looks like even more of a laugh but it’s hard to justify owning such a crazy hooning tool as your only bike.

  • ursus

    Awesome bike. So – how hard is it to smuggle bikes into the country?

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    What the hell is wrong with these people who write the emissions rules???

    I mean they just force companies to spend more money in development, and the buyers just go and put on an aftermarket pipe and probably remove the cat all together.

    Damn politiking!!