KTM 690 Duke review

KTM 690 Duke review

Let me begin with a confession. Last spring when I saw the prototype of the new Duke in the Kiska design studio for the first time my reaction was along the lines of, WTF, that’s not a Duke! Only a few weeks earlier I had bought the previous generation of Duke and was really in love with it. It was a bike I had wanted for years, I loved the styling, the fast single cylinder engine, the supermoto like handling, but also the comfort of it on long journeys. It was in my eyes the perfect bike for the mountain roads and passes around Salzburg. It was also great in traffic thanks to the high ride height. I overlooked the slightly chattery engine at low speed, the mild vibrations and the fact that I had to almost stand on tiptoes when at standstill.

This new Duke just wasn’t the same, it wasn’t a Duke!

It sat there in the studio with me glowering at it for a couple of months and trying to ignore it. But then one day the powerparts version showed up for us to make a sticker kit and a few other things for it for EICMA. And the powerparts version was nice. Really nice.

Cut to this summer. My old duke had been traded in for a 2012 150SX and I had a new 0.0 km Duke on loan from KTM. To be honest though, I wasn’t expecting much. I guess I should have been. KTM is not the retro brand, for the most part they don’t give a sh!t about their heritage. They are forward thinking, progressive. They are all about making the best bike possible, and that is always the next one.

So, on to the KTM 690 Duke review. The bike straight away sounded much better than my old Duke with the Acrapovic slip on. I could also touch the ground easily thanks to the 30 mm lower riding position. And with the powerparts seat it was super comfy and grippier than my old seat which was annoyingly slippery. Super light clutch in, first gear, easy on the throttle and let out the clutch. The drive-by-wire throttle was immediately noticeable. Way smoother and lighter than the old duke, but the power kicking in as I shifted up through the gears was considerably greater. The front wheel didn’t want to stay down. I didn’t want it to stay down either so that was ok. I already had a ridiculous grin on my face and I hadn’t even hit the first corner yet.

…first corner coming quick, bang it down a few gears and lean it in, dam this thing is light! Next corner was tighter, hard on the brakes, WTF, this thing is kicking back at me? oh yea ABS. I had never tried ABS before and it was pretty annoying. It was kicking in much too early in my opinion. As it should though I guess. But it felt kind of spongy. I stopped and turned it off by pressing a button on the dash. Much better, I could brake later and harder.

I had another problem though. The bike had crashbars on it like the EJC version, but I didn’t have the R footrests and it was preventing me from shifting properly. In most positions my shin was hitting the bar so I had to twist my foot at a strange angle to shift. A word of warning then, don’t buy the crash bars unless you get the R footpegs too.

Anyway, apart from that I had a really fun ride up to the top of Rossfeld at 1600m. I had a quick smoke and set off back down. A funny thing happened on the way though. I started with the ABS on as that is the default setting, and really noticed it kicking in the corners again. Some of the road in the shade was a little slippery and cold, so maybe it was really telling me to relax with the braking, but I stopped to turn it off again anyway and immediately felt uncertain how much grip I had. I stopped again and turned it back on and immediately felt more comfortable. hmmm.

You really sit in the new Duke rather than on it, and It feels significantly shorter and smaller too. It’s really easy to ride, fun, uses next to no fuel and is wickedly fast. It is not a supermoto anymore. It is not the Duke of old. But it makes sense next to the 125, 200 and other upcoming Duke models. If you want a supermoto, get the new pimped out SMC-R with the slipper clutch. If you can find one anyway, as they are sold out. ha. For general riding though I would take this any day. Not that you can find these either though, KTM has sold all of them. You might see a few left in dealers if you are lucky, but I am guessing they wont be there long.

I wasn’t expecting to, but I really like this bike. I like it a lot more than my old duke. Vibrations are less than the old one but noticeable when you stay around 170 kmh for an extended period of time on the German Autobahn, but then that’s not really what this bike was made for. What is it made for then? Well, pretty much everything else I would say.

Some more photos below.

Lots of nice carbon Fiber powerparts.

First test with some new foils using the Kiska Gerber edge printer.

Some proper riding photos and video coming eventually. My wife took these heading to work. I don’t want to give it back in 2 months.

ABS off.

51 Comments

  1. rapster 2 years ago

    Can you tell me where i can get the Akra elbow protection?

    Thank’s a lot!

    • Author
      admin 2 years ago

      From KTM Powerparts , I guess your local KTM dealer can help.

      • rapster 2 years ago

        Thank you for your quick response.

        Do you have a Part-Number of this? Because my KTM-Dealer has it not on his list of Duke 2012 PowerParts.

        Thank’s in advance.

        • Author
          admin 2 years ago

          This was originally a KTM show bike so it might be that it was just a prototype part maybe if your dealer doesn’t have it but i will see if i can find out for you.

          • rapster 2 years ago

            If you can found a part number would be very great.
            Thank you very much for your help!

  2. Eddy 2 years ago

    Hi! First off, amazing graphics kit, would love to get one for my duke:) also I have a question about the turn signals, I couldn’t find them anywhere, is it ktm? If so could you maybe give me the part number, or the full name of them? Thanks a lot

  3. Eddy 2 years ago

    Hi! First off, awesome graphics kit, would love to get one for my duke! Also I have a question about the turn signals, where can I find them? Or maybe you could give me their full name? Thanks a lot.

    • ptsp 2 years ago

      Thanks man. The turn signals are from the 125 duke :)

  4. stefan 2 years ago

    Hi, how tall is the driver with red shirt? Do you think im too big for this bike? i´m 183cm

    • Author
      admin 2 years ago

      that’s me in the red shirt and I am 5ft 10 whatever that is in CM. The new Duke has a really low seat height. Best thing is to go sit on one though at your local KTM dealer.

  5. nicola 2 years ago

    Hi i really like your duke, would you please tell me how or where u got that graphic set? i really like it a lot and i would like to owe one on my duke but the pp catalogue only does have a silver/black set, i haven’t also found a file with the stamps of the stickers to reproduce them with a custom pattern/design. thx in advance

    • Author
      admin 2 years ago

      Thanks. I just made the one kit for this bike, not available to buy, sorry.

  6. Alvaro Cevallos 1 year ago

    your duke is so cool, I love the graphic kit!

  7. Hùng Nguyễn 1 year ago

    waiting KTM authorised dealer in VN.

  8. espetaculo de motor.

  9. Louie Garcia 11 months ago

    KTM duke ilove it…

  10. Anthony Smith 9 months ago

    I bought my duke new from ktm 2012
    I have had nothing but trouble with it
    Some problem 5 times now
    1 of the bolts keep breaking on the clutch
    The other day i was riding in 6gear and the bolt broke and took off the clutch cover which was never found
    Do you know why this keeps happening
    I dony ride the bike hard i was doing 130 kmh

    • Author
      admin 9 months ago

      Hey sorry to hear that. I never had any problems with mine. Your KTM dealer should get it all fixed up for you for free if it’s new.

  11. Greg 6 months ago

    Drool Quotient – 11/10!!!…these pictures unwittingly push me to the horizons of self-transcendence and into a KTM nirvana.

  12. Jeetu Babu 2 months ago

    iwaching duke bikes today

  13. Biker.my 1 month ago

    Any idea how to get these mod in Malaysia?

  14. Nacho 2 years ago

    I have a question who i wanted to ask you for a long time. Can you tell me what model of shoes you have in the photos? I see it’s like confortable to travel motorbike, and i search something like it and i only found boots and other similars.

    I hope in one or 2 years take a duke…..Thanks you!!

  15. kev 2 years ago

    man, I so want one! Think I’m gonna take a test drive in a couple of weeks :)

    just wondering what the vibes are like under 170 kmh ? at say 145kmh or 130kmh?

    I’ve got an 2008 er6 which is pretty vibey at all speeds and i’ve owned a DRZ400SM (single and not refinded) which was really vibey but I loved the bike so much, the most fun I’ve had since owning a 125

  16. patrick 2 years ago

    I’d say get proper motorcycle boots. Cause if you end up loosing those sneakers and sliding across tarmac with your bare feet and ankles after going down hard you’ll wish you had done so. The red laces might be alluring, but don’t do everything people here on this website do. Especially not Piers ;b

  17. Anders 2 years ago

    That’ a great looking bike. Is it ok if I use some of the images on my blog?

  18. CH 2 years ago

    Hey Piers! Why isn’t that the proper Powerparts sticker kit? this one rocks it ‘s tits off! When are we going to have the Derestricted – HKR bike done? Reading this and seing the bike really makes us want a Derestricted touch up too!

  19. Michael kortbek 2 years ago

    Mate that’s a Nice sticker kit you Got there :0) did you make that yourself ?

  20. Vincent 2 years ago

    Hi,

    I also have a powerparts 2012 duke 690. Very pleased with the bike. Only 2 few things that I’m having problems with is the powerparts seat coming loose at the front right side and the dash resetting itself every time I push it into the red… This is my duke. (Not finished yet) http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f294/Quaddriver2/Supermotard%20KTM%202012/DSC01004.jpg

    Regards from Belgium

  21. Nacho 2 years ago

    gracias!!!

  22. kev 2 years ago

    hi, I was just wondering about the R footrests you mentioned, do they move the position of your feet somewhere?

  23. paul 2 years ago

    Can you tell me where I can get the cool sticker set? Ive got the same bike and love the look of those stickers you have in this article

  24. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    Hey man, yea these are Adidas GBR’s from the local outlet. Different to the ones I wore last year in the photos which were timberland special edition things I got in San Francisco. Both got red laces though.

  25. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    vibes are really not a big deal at all. If you travel longer than a couple of hours and push it you do feel it when u stop but when u ride you never think about it. But yea take a test drive, its a fun bike. try and get one with the acrapovic pipe with the DB eater out though, night and day difference.

  26. ptsp 2 years ago

    Well said Patrick. I wear my Alpinestars if I am doing proper riding.

  27. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    Thanks, and for sure man, go ahead.

  28. patrick 2 years ago

    I knew you were a responsible fellow rider and role model :)

  29. ptsp 2 years ago

    Yea that’s just photoshop anyway, I wasn’t really doing an endo :)

  30. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    thanks man, yes I did. Think I will make another soon too in a different color. Just seeing what is possible with this new gerber edge printer. Pretty rad.

  31. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    Very nice man. Those anodized triple clamps are mint. I wanted them on this Duke too but they are totally sold out too and KTM didnt even have any. Didnt have the seat come lose yet, will write another review before I give the bike back and will let you know if I have any issues with it. Cheers.

  32. Yun 2 years ago

    Guys, any suggestions for tail tidy kits??

    Cant seem to find them here in Asia.

    RGDS frm Malaysia

  33. Michael kortbek 2 years ago

    Is it possible to buy some of you ? I get my duke on friday can’t wait :0)

  34. Vincent 2 years ago

    I ordered all the parts together when I ordered the bike. A LOT of parts were in back order. Example; I had to wait more then 3 months for the pillion seat cover. Still waiting for a GPR exhaust which should have been on also -.-

    I see you painted some parts in black, nice touch.
    And what you say about the crashbars is true. I wear sidi crossfire srs and I touch the crashbars all the time. Very annoying… I have the Pivot Pegz which are orginally designed for the SMC 690 but I fitted them on my duke. I like those more then the GP. (Supermoto ^^)

  35. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    Hey man, stoked for you getting one. I absolutely love it, especially with the acrapovich pipe with the DB eater out. Makes it sound sooo much better.

    Cant really sell a kit to you as we just have presentation foil. It’s ok for a few months but not thick like the powerparts kits so I wouldn’t feel right selling it as it doesn’t last all that long.

  36. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    yea, they really underestimated the demand for this bike and the powerparts. Playing it safe I guess.

    I took the bars off after one ride. They are pretty heavy too so it makes the bike lighter without them, plus its then much more comfortable to sit on. I actually think it looks better too without them, although I didnt before. Will save the bike if you bin it, but the downsides just outweighted the benefits in my opinion.

  37. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    Oh yea, and for the black parts, we just sprayed them with a rattle can, using matt black and it works great. Hasnt rubbed off anywhere yet. We should have done the rear footrests too I think.

  38. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    haha thanks man, I guess i just been looking at the other one too long, wanted to try something else. I like the powerparts kit a lot, but I wanted to try something bolder and simpler for this one.

  39. Michael Kortbek 2 years ago

    Okay :O) Is it possible you can email me the file then. I’ll try to get it done at a local wrap shop. I like the power parts stiker kit. But it would be nice if there were more to choose from. I’ve also thought of a monster energy theme. Think it would look cool ;O)

  40. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    KTM/Kiska own the files man, not mine to give away unfortunately.

    Either you can make templates yourself off the parts, or just buy a powerparts kit and scan the shapes and give em to the guys who make your kit to make new GFX.

  41. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    I have the ktm powerparts Numberplate and I think KTM put on the 125 indicators which are smaller.

  42. Author
    admin 2 years ago

    Yeap, they move them up and back.

  43. ptsp 2 years ago

    Hi Paul thanks for your comment. As I explained above its just a one off kit im afraid. If I get enough people asking I can speak to Ktm but at the moment there are no plans to make a proper kit for sale. I enjoyed your duke review on your site by the way :)

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