KTM pulls Duke, SuperDuke from American market

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ktm-duke

KTM does not plan to import the 990 SuperDuke or 690 Duke to the North American market this year or next, citing unfavorable market conditions. In the case of the SuperDuke, the move is likely intended to clear dealer stock ahead of the new 1290cc bike which is arriving for the 2013 model year. Sadly, in the case of the single-cylinder Duke, it appears the new model isn’t destined for North America, so current stocks are all that remain of one of the most uniquely fun motorcycles currently available.

Photo: Schedi R.

While researching a story last week we noticed neither bike is currently listed on KTM’s US website and reached out to the company for confirmation. A week later, they responded, simply stating, “The 990 SuperDuke and 690 Duke are not being imported into North America for model year 2011. KTM continuously evaluates the motorcycle industry sales and our dealer inventory to ensure that we have the best line-up of motorcycle, parts and accessories for our customers.”

What they’re not telling you is that we scooped a leak of their North American model lineup for the next three years earlier this month. While it revealed the arrival of that new large-capacity 2013 KTM SuperDuke 1290, there was no mention of the revised 2012 KTM Duke, which has been spied several times in Europe.

What’s that tell us? Well, the little Duke was always an odd fit for the North American market. Designed to appeal to European commuters who want a lightweight, exploitable, single-cylinder naked fitted with high-end components, it was an odd fit for this continent’s relatively low-information market where literbikes, cruisers and dirtbikes are viewed as mainstream choices. Its $10,598 price tag — uncomfortably close to that of the discounts offered on most liter bikes — and KTM’s poor dealer presence also made it an odd fit. Anecdotally, it also appeared as if the bike had very little marketing put behind it on this side of the Atlantic and wasn’t even stocked in many of KTM’s already sparse dealers. A friend shopping for one early this year couldn’t find one in stock anywhere in the greater LA area.

The Duke’s disappearance could also be clearing room for arrival of new models like the KTM Duke 350 and KTM Freeride range of electric motorcycles, both of which are landing on these shores in 2013 and may be pitched at similar markets. 350, 690 and 1290cc nakeds could simply have been too crowded a range for a relatively small company to handle.

  • Myles

    The biggest issue with selling a bike that doesn’t fit a pre-defined role is the test ride. Spending a considerable amount of money without a test ride sucks, but it’s a truth for almost all bikes. This is one area where H-D really excels, and one reason why I still want an XR1200.

    The “Demo-Day” is, also, no replacement. This past weekend Suzuki was having a demo day at a local dealer. I got there at approximately 10:45. Signed up for the GSXR750 test ride. The next available was 1:30! I waited around a while, and a group came back. Everyone was pissed, no one even saw 60mph. Not one decent corner.

    When I hit the HD dealer out of boredom months ago dude took me out on the XR1200 (he rode some weird, low, glidey thing) we reached speeds above 80mph indicated and hit some nice roads.

    Manufacturers: If you want people to buy your bikes, let them fucking ride.

    • NitroPye

      Here here. BMW and Triumph have this down as well. Want to test ride a bike? “No problem, sign this and be back in 45 mins”

      • 80-wattHamster

        No doubt. Thanks to a Triumph demo day (short but better than Myles’ experience) I’m convinced my next bike will more than likely be a Street Triple.

      • Wereweazle

        The BMW/Harley dealer (strange as hell) down in Louisville is exactly the opposite. The first time I took a test ride there it was about 2 miles long and half of it was slow (~30mph) two-lane highway miles surrounded by cars. Lame. As. Hell. The second time I went to test ride a bike they suddenly told me I wasn’t old enough. I stated that I had test ridden a bike here before without a single problem. Their excuse was “they hadn’t closely read over my form” when I last came. Biggest load of bull ever.

    • smoke4ndmears

      +50

      HD dealers that cross pollinate are pretty good at this too.

      • Devin

        You can’t walk 10 feet in my local HD dealer without a saleman trying to get you take one for a test ride. The ride is decently spirited too. Same for the other HD dealer I’ve been at.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

      The KTM dealer down here has been great about giving test rides. It’s the only dealer in the DFW area that I’ve seen with such a policy. When I bought my Z1000, I had to pull some teeth to get a test ride and even that was ridiculously short.

      • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

        Bearing Devin’s above comment in mind, I should add the caveat… “It’s the only non-Harley/cruiser dealer” that regularly does test rides.

    • jp182

      maybe this is something Wes and company, hell all of us in general, should start pushing for. test rides could be a great way to sell more bikes. i wonder how many bikes get damaged during test rides though :-\

    • crawl

      I agree as well. I went to the Kawasaki demo day last Saturday in Houston. Arrived at 9:30 (it started at 9am) and from the estimates of others in line the wait was about two hours. One guy had moved 10 feet in over an hour. By the time I would have gotten to the registration table who knows what bikes would have been free, or what time slot I could ride them. Hours in a parking lot in 100 degree heat just wasn’t worth the 30 minute test ride on straight roads.

  • Zirq

    I quite enjoyed the KTM 690 Duke that I got to pilot for a few hundred miles. It was a great little bike.

    I can’t say that I blame KTM. I don’t believe that most American’s understand why a single cylinder of the style is worth the premium.

    I’ll add that in most areas of the United States, this type of motorcycle isn’t very practical. For the areas that are, you’re better off with something lighter and more agile like a WR250X, DRZ400SM or other such dirt based supermoto style motorcycle. They are more practical in a riding sense, half the price and parts and maintenance costs are far less. If I call correctly, the KTM 690 Duke required a very specific oil due to to the silver bearings within the engine which ran ~$25.00 a liter.

    • Roman

      Don’t know about the rest of the country, but the 690 Duke makes a perfect urban assault vehicle here in the Northeast. Yeah it’s a bit pricey, but it would work great as a city bike and then plenty of engine to get you to the beat-up twisties close to many of the cities (even in the Northeast corridor). That’s 60 million people right there, about the size France. Nobody knows about this bike, unfortunately.

      • Zirq

        It’s an absolutely fantastic urban assault vehicle. That being said, just how much urban assaulting can one do? And, at that, why assault the city with $11k of shoddy Austrian engineering when a perfectly capable Japanese supermoto can be had for half the price?

        There’s no replacement for displacement, but power-to-weight ratio and reliability certainly play a factor.

      • Myles

        From my understanding (and experience with other big singles) these things blow on the interstate. Regardless of how Urban your environment is, a lot of bikes need to do some time on the superslab. The only way I’d buy a bike that wasn’t comfortable at ~80mph for at least an hour or two is if I could have multiple bikes.

        Also, the best urban assault vehicles (for true urban environments) are scooters. I’m quick through the city (DC) on my bike (Honda 599), but absolutely blinding fast on my girl’s scooter (Kymco Like 200i).

        • Roman

          To each his own, I think it would work great and the big single would handle 50 miles of highway a pop. Supermoto could work great, but that’s a different type of bike.

          • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

            I’ve done 200 mi days on mine, no prob. The latest version of KTM’s LC4 engine is crazy smooth — nothing like the previous-gen LC4, which kicked my ass (and made my teeth go numb) after 20 miles.

            • Myles

              But how is at a true 80mph sustained on the interstate? You obviously have two (great!) bikes, and that’s kind of beyond my means at this point.

              • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

                Although I certainly prefer riding off the interstate, I have done a couple hours at a time on the highway at 70 MPH without any breaks. The Duke is WAY more comfortable all-around (in terms of butt, knee, chest, arm, and head comfort) than the Monster I used to own. But it’s not as comfortable as my Multistrada (no surprise).

                BTW, on the Duke, I swapped the standard windscreen for the KTM “touring” windscreen. That reduces the windblast (although the increased turbulence does add a bit of helmet noise, but there’s still less screen-induced turbulence/noise than what I experience on my Multistrada).

                I also switched to a Corbin seat (standard Corbin), which is wider/flatter where it counts, and it doesn’t have the stock seat’s passenger “wedges”, so now I can scoot my butt to different seating positions. My butt and perineum — as well as my back — no longer have anything to complain about.

                The biggest downside of riding the Duke on the highway isn’t the engine vibration, it’s the fact that crosswinds will affect my line — the Duke is so light (and quite tall/upright), that on windy days, I have to fight to stay in line.

        • http://www.anotherdamndj.com evilbahumut

          My duke handles 60 miles a day with no problems. Funny story: I bought my duke as a used demo from KTM directly. When it arrived, it was a total shlag with scars dents and a not so hot running engine.

          Come to find out, the bike had an smc ecu in it, but no duke computer. After some lenghty digging, KTM revals that my vin belongs to the very first demo dke 690 that arrived in the USA and that there was no us-spec ecu available at the tome the bike was imported (for journalist demos and shit).

          So I cleaned her up, did some, old maintenance and she runs great. Only difference is that my bike doesn’t have the ignition map elect switch like the other dukes, smcs, and enduros.

        • Zirq

          I completely agree with those points outside of my girl not riding a scooter. The slab is drab and riding the duke on it, while doable, is like breathing through a straw.

          I’d like to see an 800CC LC4. Or maybe V-Twin Duke since Suzuki doesn’t seem interested in punching out the SV.

          • Pat

            Before you know it you’ll be wanting an extra 200CC on your V-twin :)

  • http://www.ninja250blog.com R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    The 690 Duke is on my short list of wanted bikes. The pricing is a bit silly, though, even on used bikes. And they’re not easy to find.

  • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

    I love the little duke bit there was a bit too much cross-over with the 690 SMC.

    But that’s never stopped ktm before with no less than 4 450 dirt bikes: sx, exc, xc, xc-w.

  • stephen

    I don’t think they advertised enough or had enough dealers. Think I’ve only seen one or two on the road in the past few years.

  • Philip

    I have a 690 Duke and a WR250X. They are different. Here in LA, the WR is the perfect commuter/traffic bike, and the Duke is perfect for the the canyons and twisties. People comment of the price of the Duke, but if you tally up all the upgraded parts, and look at the quality of the finnish, you get to the selling price pretty quickly. I don’t think ANY of the European makes are any less expensive for what you get. But, the US is all about liter bikes, cruisers, and dirt, so if you need to trim, this is where you start. Oh well. Personally, after being around the block, I love the supermotos!!!

  • Taco

    We have to wait until 2013 for the Duke 350. You’re lost KTM. I’m totally lusting after the Husky Nuda. I might pull the trigger on that bad boy when it comes out.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    Awww, what the fuck?!

    I guess I am a European customer, born in a fat, lazy Americans body.

    • Denzel

      I’d like to think that the diversity and size of the U.S. population would translate into sufficient markets for bikes of all types too. But I guess not so much…

  • Endless Mike

    Unfortunate. This was a bike I was considering in the future, too, although I’d have to take one for a ride.

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

    terrible. makes the choice between the dorso and duke easier though i guess