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KTM Reveals Significant Upgrades to 690 Duke for 2016

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When we tested the current 690 Duke, we fell in love with the powerful, single cylinder machine weighing less than 330 pounds dry. It carved corners unlike most anything we had previously ridden.

Sure, it vibrated too much (like most singles), and could feel a bit unrefined, but the grin factor was off the charts. For 2016, KTM has decided to make some significant upgrades to this package.

These are pictures of the 2016 model, which will be formally introduced (together with a second color scheme) at EICMA this Fall, but this early production model has already been tested by at least one Italian magazine.

What is new? The engine gets several changes that reportedly result in lower vibration levels, increased horsepower and torque. Slightly increasing bore and reducing stroke results in a tiny displacement increase, but according to KTM, horsepower is up 7% and torque up 6% versus the existing model. The engine also can rev 1,000 rpm higher than the prior unit. In sum, KTM claims more power and torque spread more smoothly over a wider powerband. Sounds good to us!

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Other changes include three selectable engine maps and traction control, together with a new instrument cluster and exhaust system. The instrument panel can change colors, reportedly, depending on ambient light conditions.

New seating for both the pilot and passenger are claimed to improve comfort. More details will be available after the official announcement.

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The current 690 Duke is big fun on a twisty road.

107 Comments

  1. John says:

    This seems odd to me with, supposedly, new 600cc and 800cc twins coming out. Are these engines for new ADV bikes instead? That would be great, except for the nose bleed seats and pricing.

  2. xLaYN says:

    Note to myself:
    I read the article like “damn, another high performance and sexy KTM” but if you add some perspective I have always think about the CR450/YZ450 and other aluminum frame, race engine dirt bikes like “way to powerful and light… yay”… this KTM is even more of that.
    Then… my curiosity catch as I read somewhere else that the power figures are 75 hp… not sure if on the crank or the wheel but that is 90% of what the first CBR did… by a single… weighting 100 pounds less.
    Impressive engineering.

  3. Silver says:

    Does it burn more oil than ever before KTM? Oh that’s right, you don’t acknowledge those kinds of things, me bad.

    • DUKErider says:

      Indeed , my Duke 690R (last on in store with production date 2013) does consume a lot of oil too. On average a 1 liter can Motorex oil per 3000 km. I visited 2 KTM dealers in Belgium , they all confirm “Some don’t use that amount of oil , others do indeed.

      On top of all this it has trouble shutting down the engine in race mode ( dealer says it should not be put in race unless when on a track , seems logical , but looking at cars … a total different story ) , and it seems now after only 14500 kms , my clutch is not working any longer , dealer says KTM does not cover the clutch in warranty, but that seems pretty quick.

      Luckily it is such a blast to drive it when it works , so I decided to keep it , but please be warned , this biggest one cylinder bike in the world , does come with some issues…

  4. ApriliaRST says:

    If my 5’7″ passenger likes the seat to foot peg relationship, this bike will get a long look and possible purchase.

  5. RD350 says:

    A quote from the MotoIT test of this new Duke 690 with new “2nd” counter balancer courtesy of Google Translator.

    “The second countershaft does its job and reduces to zero the resonances of the motor on the handlebars (and) on the footrests (and) it eliminated the Achilles heel of the historic Duke, present from the first model launched in 1994”

    If this is true and not just over-emotional, Italian exuberance, then I find this development extremely exciting. Remember, this 690 single will end up in the Enduro, the KTM SM, perhaps an Adventure, the new Husky SM and the Husky cafe/naked thing that we saw the other day. I’ll take a retro style, Husky scrambler with 690 motor for myself please!

    A light weight 70+ hp single with negligible (or no!) vibration in a sub 300lb (or even sub 250lb?) package is a serious starting point for all of my future dream bikes.

    • Alex says:

      Ok, now you’re dreaming, but it’s a beautiful dream. I will dream it with you, and add a hot Vietnamese girl on the back holding a pork banh mi sandwich in one hand for when we stop, while she uses the other to caress my chest.

      • RD350 says:

        Thanks Alex .. in addition to KTM 690s, hot Vietnamese girls and a fresh banh mi are two of my favorite things, so you are welcome inside my dream. Do you know me or something?

        • Alex says:

          No, RD, I don’t know you, but if I did, I’d suggest a trip to Vietnam.
          We could feast on banh mi sandwiches during the day, eat noodle bowls with meats & seafood(bun thit nuong, I think)at night, race motorcycles and explore the country during the day, and make sweet, tender, love to delicate Viet beauties at night.
          Ah…

  6. TURBOMAN says:

    Is this unit also assembled in China by CF MOTO? Looks like a modified CF MOTO 650 NK

  7. beasty says:

    Wow! Should be a sales leader in the US! That gorgeous exhaust! Just needs a beak to complete the look. WTF. Another technological marvel, beaten by the ugly stick and loved by, maybe, 8 people here, none of whom will buy it.

  8. Kevin C. says:

    I think this is meant to fill the gap for a couple of years until the new mid displacement twins are ready for market. Once the 600 – 800cc twin is here, I’d drop this bike and bump the 390 to an honest 500cc with 55 – 60 RWHP, and hold the line on weight. This would give them an entry bike with a lot more headroom as new riders develop their skills, plus it would make an even better commuter / back road scratcher. They could just restrict it to meet those goofy EU requirements.

    Question: why are the 390 and 690 dukes so much heavier than their similar sized enduros?
    Seems like these should weigh in at about 250 – 275 gassed.

    Also whats with these thimble sized gas tanks? the Ninja 300 holds 4.5 gallons and looks good.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “Question: why are the 390 and 690 dukes so much heavier than their similar sized enduros?”

      They are not based on enduros. And the 690 Duke weighs about what the 690 Enduro weighs.

  9. Gary says:

    Still, I wish that KTM would just lose those trademark protrusions in front of their gas tanks. It’s an absurd styling cue that ads no value.

  10. Blackcayman says:

    I’m sure I would love it, but I’ve got a backyard to buy.

    Good Heavens, Which 3 bikes would I buy if I could divert those funds away from our Landscaper…

    • Tim says:

      I feel your pain. I also have a house and a yard to support. Last year it was landscaping. This year it was a sprinkler system and a new riding lawnmower. Next year I should probably replace the furnace and Air Conditioner.

      I’d rather be spending my money on more motorcycles, but my two car garage already contains 2 cars and 3 motorcycles, and my truck currently has to sit outside.

      Next year, instead of a new furnace and AC, I should invest in blowing out the back of the garage and expanding it. Unfortunately, my wife wants a new laundry room and a bigger kitche if we expand the garage.

      If not for my wife having other ideas, I could just buy more motorcycles, build a cheap ramp up to the house, and keep them in the living room. I would rather look at motorcycles than furniture anyway.

      • Yoyodyne says:

        I believe these are known as “first-world problems.” 😉

      • Hot Dog says:

        Tim, toss the exhaust and the wife. Put AC in your new garage along with a couple of new bikes.

        • TURBOMAN says:

          Don’t get married !Ride the bikes and they never talk back to you and then use the bike to get all the ladies you want..

      • ApriliaRST says:

        If you didn’t have any motorcycles, I’d be on your side, but with three… fix the house, LOL.

        • Stuki Moi says:

          A boring old house vs a KTM? Is that even a serious question? Houses don’t even wheelie last I checked… And if they did, they’d probably violate some silly building code or zoning law or whatnot…

      • thrus says:

        If you get rid of the sprinkler system you don’t need the riding mower as much. Then again I just don’t get the obsession that people have with making the green weeds they walk on look nice.

  11. Hot Dog says:

    That “bed pan” exhaust makes me look for the catheter tube.

    • RD350 says:

      Stock exhausts are made to pass emissions. Once they do, they are meant to go in the dumpster.

    • Mike says:

      Haaaaaaaaaaaa….and agree.

      Maybe having it shaped like a small fairing like many bikes have had in the past….then paint it black might have looked a weeee bit better……maybe!

      Go KTM though with all the great bikes they have introduced over the past 5 years. Amazing results for such a small company compared to some of the other massive motorcycle companies.

    • Dave says:

      I immediately thought “oil heater?”.

  12. RD350 says:

    I applaud KTM for listening to the people (er..ah..me actually) in coming out with an alternative to the racer boy orange. Some may have noticed my one man campaign on the interwebs. I think this one is basic black looks much better than the original color offerings. However, there is still room for improvement here … a real paint job in some classic colors could really make this bike shine imo.
    Smoothing out the engine a bit more is major, although I always felt that the 690 with counter-balancer was pretty darn smooth for a 70hp single. Way smoother than than my last 640 Duke which was a vision blurrer.
    How about bringing the “R” version to the States? Duke buyers are especially into “handling over HP” and really do appreciate premium suspension. I would swap the unnecessary new electronics package for the better forks/brakes any day.
    Still, this latest version of the latest version Duke is really very nice for the singles enthusiast. Next new bike purchase is either this or the Husky 701SM!

  13. Alex says:

    I’ve always had a sweet spot for the Duke 690 and the Super Duke, but lack of dealer support in my area tipped the balance against.

  14. iliketoeat says:

    Great, now can we get the 690SM here in the US? Pretty please?

  15. Serious Sam says:

    Nearly 10 Grands for a ‘Thump Thump’ is just way too much. Doesn’t matter how sophisticated, powerfull, unique or whatever…
    Suzuki is selling it’s Bandit 1250 (water-cooled inline-4) for LESS than this 690cc Single… Just some food for thought.

    • todd says:

      That Bandit would get eaten for lunch by this thing, no contest. Besides, the Bandit is more of a basic touring bike, the Duke is an all-out hooligan sport bike. Totally different customer.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The 690 Duke is a unique bike that is going to sell in small numbers to people who really like this recipe. If you like the taste of good components, light weight, power and “thump thump” in a streetable package, the 690 Duke is the only game in town. You could compare it against an FZ-07 or Street Triple (not to a Bandit!?) which are probably the closest approximations, but buyers of this bike aren’t really comparing it to anything.

      • peter harris says:

        If the vibes are really quelled – it is a very tempting bike. Hope they leave off the orange wheels.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Yeh, I test rode one when the current model was released. It vibrated a lot. Everywhere, not just the bars. It was so much fun that it was still tempting regardless, but it would be hard to live with for the type of riding I usually do.

    • Kent says:

      I have exactly zero interest in a 1250 4 cylinder commuter bike. Z-E-R-O.

      However, a light weight, reasonably high horsepower, narrow bike would be perfect for a lane-splitting commuter such as myself. I’d prefer a larger tank, so I could ride for a week without refilling.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        Narrow and Duke part ways at the handlebars. Out of kindness to your fingers and knuckles, I highly recommend some sturdy bark busters for fast and tight lane splitting duty……

        You have to love the dedication to their particular craft shown by KTM. People are complaining about drinking oil, breaking down at 5K miles, stalling at stoplights; and KTM responds by…. tah-dah… cashing in whatever smoothness gains and longevity an additional balancer might provide, by upping the redline to get more hp and torque…… Even Erik Buell would be hard pressed to more consistently stick to the hardcore or die mantra.

    • mkv says:

      You obviously never rode this bike before. Let me know when you find something very comparable to this knowing how lightweight this bike is for its class

    • xLaYN says:

      With you… based on a price vs displacement basis: you are right.
      Most of the replies to your comment are on the “this is a lightweight, agile and powerful machine” which is also a valid point of view.

      • Dave says:

        A motorcycle’s engine displacement has no bearing on it’s value. It’s just been the general way that motorcycle makers have built their lines. The only reason a 250cc MX bike costs less than a 450cc MX bike is consumer expectation. If the volume, features and technology are the same, so is the cost to produce.

        Re: “Doesn’t matter how sophisticated, powerfull, unique or whatever…”

        Yes, it does. It’s everything that matters.

        • xLaYN says:

          Serious Sam: “Doesn’t matter how sophisticated, powerful, unique or whatever…”
          Dave: “Yes, it does. It’s everything that matters.”
          With you it definitively does.

          A particularity of this website is how there is a mix of adventurers/power-nut/value minded/touring-zen/unique-kind readers therefore opinions may seem different and maybe even opposite if you don’t consider it.

          So for Serious Sam (this is my opinion) in this case the value offered by that particular model vs it’s price is better than the Duke.

          Q: heck x, this is so neutral, will you say something or what?
          A: If I were the owner of both of them; the bandit will be the touring option and the Duke the slash traffic, really tight canyon curves tool.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          “A motorcycle’s engine displacement has no bearing on it’s value.”

          Clearly it does, as value is determined by the individual consumer. Consumer expectation is not the reason a 450 MX bike cost more than 250. It cost more because it is more powerful, and more power has been something that consumers in general have always valued more than less power. More cc’s don’t always mean more power of course, but it is usually the case when comparing comparable motorcycles.

          Everything matters as you said, but how each attribute gets valued varies. The most expensive component on the 690 Duke is what isn’t there: weight. Some people place a very high value on that. Others don’t think that low weight provides enough value to justify paying $9,000 for a bike with 70hp, mid-grade components and such a narrow focus. Neither party is wrong. Things are only worth what people are willing to pay for them.

    • davyt says:

      Serious Sam,

      Actually, no, they’re not. The MSRP for the current U.S. model Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS is $9899; the MSRP for the current U.S. model KTM 690 Duke is $8999.

      That doesn’t mean they’re both not nice bikes…

      P.S. I looked at the article on the Moto.it website that Dirck mentioned and there they talk about an upcoming R version, with Brembo monoblock front calipers, adjustable WP suspension, Akrapovič exhaust, different handlebars and foot pegs, and maybe a couple more horses!

  16. Mark R says:

    Oh Dear KTM.
    Alas, years ago I asked you to build a 690 Adventure with that wonderful single (I had a 690sm).

    Go read the previous post… Honda has beaten you at the start.
    Please catch up.

    • Fitbar says:

      The enduro R is not cheap but can be adventurized as cheaply or as expensively as you like after market… Another option if the the Africa Twin doesn’t come close enough?

    • Mike says:

      Reply to Mark R…..thanks for your post.

      The CRF1000L Africa Twin has taken over two decades to reach production and be available in America…not sure this qualifies as “beating anything to the start.” Like most, I like this bike and think it has great sales potential.

      Adventure/Tour street legal variants have been available in America from many manufacturers for maybe four decades…so panning KTM for not making the exact bike you want might be a bit of a stretch.

      My view is KTM should be applauded for introducing so many new bikes over the last 5 years or so and yes there is a missing gap for the exact bike you want….maybe

      >>>>>>

      However, KTM does make a variant of the bike you might like which has had great success at the Paris-Decar rally (see link below)

      So there is hope for you and many others wanting this type bike! Given KTM brought the 300cc sport single into the USA….a 450 and 690 Paris-Decar version would seem possible.

      http://www.cycleworld.com/2014/01/22/marc-coma-2014-dakar-rally-winning-ktm-450-rally-photo-tour/

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      So out of curiosity, what changes to the current 690 Enduro would make a 690 Adventure?

  17. Provologna says:

    Nothing really wrong with the cosmetics, but overall it’s not inspiring. Has a bit of DIY look unfortunately. The cat converter doesn’t help, obviously. I know, I know, you’re looking the road while riding it…

    Now the Yamaha 300 single…that sucker rocks, at least style-wise, both the race replica and the naked.

  18. Pacer says:

    On my local CL there is an old xl or xr 500 supermoto. He wants quite a bit cor it, but a way cool city/urban ride.

  19. Pacer says:

    I hope this bike sells well. I would love to see a super singles shoot out.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Hard to have a shoot-out with just one bike. I can’t think of any other singles that would fall into this category.

      • Blackcayman says:

        Haven’t you heard? Suzuki is selling the Bandit 1250!

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Bahaha!

        • Pacer says:

          The Bandit, and all the other bikes that would be produced to compete in such a lucrative segment. 🙂

        • Pacer says:

          I would love to see Aprilia introduce some light weight bikes based on the SXV450/550 engine. Yes they need to address a couple of issues from the past, but screw it. Make the damn thing bullet proof, and dump it in a couple different chassis. Like a supermoto, something along the lines of the Duke, and a RS250 variant. I believe a line up like that would rule the small bike markert. Not a beginners market, but a small bike market. I would rather own something like this than a liter bike.

  20. momoto says:

    It’s taking wayyyyyy too long, but great to see KTM is refining the 690 lump. This mill could possibly be the perfect balance of low weight and high power. KTM: Please put this into an adventure spec chassis with single high mount exhaust, 5 gal fuel cap, max 350lb dry. You will sell millions.

  21. Butch says:

    Any easy way to make HP is to bump up the compression ratio.
    Every one I ever ridden was a hard hitting, ground pounder if you will and a hoot to ride.
    My neighbor has a 500 version and said the top end needs a rebuild after 100 hours.
    If you get the opportunity to ride one, it may surprise you.

    • Fivespeed302 says:

      A rebuild every 100 hours is all I need to hear to star far away from this probably fun bike.

      • Ed says:

        Oh puh-leese! It’s just a single cylinder engine, OK? You could change the piston and cylinder in 1 afternoon for crying out loud.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        The 500cc engine Butch is talking about is a race-spec dirt bike with blinkers, emissions equipment and 17-inch wheels. It isn’t remotely similar to the engine in this bike. There is a guy we ride with locally on occasion that has the previous generation of this bike, and he has 55,000 miles on it without ever having performed any internal maintenance other than valve adjustments and replacing a bad stator.

    • I’m sure somebody with actual expertise will jump in, but I doubt the 690 Duke has the same service interval as, what, an EXC 500?

      • The one I’m referring to by lacking expertise is of course myself, not having a service manual for either of those bikes in front of me right now.

      • Stratkat says:

        i had a 640 supermoto for 7 yrs, the only thing it required in 12,000 miles was typical valve clearance checks, oil changes were always and ordeal. it was a fantastic, fun bike, i loved it.
        the only reason i moved on was to get a 990 Super Duke, of which i put 36k miles on. neither of them left me stranded. well there was the one rectifier failure, forgot about that!
        ive owned all kinds of sportbikes. a GSXR1100, CRB990, 4 Ducatis and i can honestly say the KTMs have been the most fun crazy bikes ive ever had, hands down!

    • Walter says:

      Stop spreading misleading information Butch. The 500 (EXC family) is very different than the 690 (LC4 family). I’ve had a 1st gen 1996 620, Duke (over 12,000 miles) and a 2nd gen 2001 640E (15,000 miles) and both were as reliable and low maintenance as Japanese bikes. I recently ran into the fellow who bought the 640E and it was still running fine these 10 years later.

  22. Kajun says:

    Hey Dirck any word if these upgrades will be reaching the other bike that utilizes this power plant e.g. the ever popular Enduro R model?

  23. Skybullet says:

    If you have not ridden a Duke, DR650 or similar big thumper you don’t know what you are missing. They are really different in a good way. I have been looking hard at a 690 Duke to replace my aging DR650, this might push me over the edge.

    • RRocket says:

      If ANY version of a 690 Duke can’t get you to get rid of your DR, then nothing will. I owned a DR and a 690 Duke. The DR feels like a turd compared to a Duke.

      The Duke is still my favorite motorcycle I’ve ever owned….amd I’ve owned plenty in my lifetime.

      • Butch says:

        Sold my DR for an LC4 640.
        Your right, compared to the Zuke, the KTM was a beast.
        I rode the snot out of it expecting something to break.
        It never did.

      • red says:

        Pumper, airbox, exhaust mods plus appropriate springage and a decent seat is all it takes. Spend a couple bucks and it’s a reasonable comparison to an LC4. Torquey, smooth and easy-low maint with no drama. That’s why DR’s rack up > miles vs the fancy ktm’s.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Those mods will not get a DR anywhere near the performance envelope of the engine in this bike. You’d have to add high-compression piston, cams, and serious head work and porting to that list to get to around the 45 rwhp mark in the DR. And this KTM will still put 25 more hp to the ground. You can upgrade the DR’s suspension, but the suspension is still going to be bolted to a chassis made from penne pasta.

          • red says:

            Never ridden this bike or any 690. Butch said 640 which I do know about. Not +25hp.. maybe half that. And it comes at the price of bad vibes. Probably not going to race either and a DR is a more pleasant bike to ride and easier to keep. still say a set up DR is a reasonable match for an LC4. If you are a “beast-mode” guy the ktm will probably suit you better. I’m old and slow so I like the DR.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Sorry. While Butch did mention the 640, your reply in the thread was to RRocket who was referring specifically to the 690, so I had just assumed that is the bike you were drawing a comparison against as well.

          • mickey says:

            it’s the crazy way these replys are posted. Drives me crazy trying to follow conversations sometimes. There has to be a better way.

    • Stratkat says:

      everyone talks about the vibration. what they dont tell you is once the engine breaks in its marginal. in fact i never noticed it. id read all these test rides criticizing it for that and wanted to shout, “get over it and ride the bike!!”. i loved my LC4!

  24. Motorhead says:

    What’s the price of this little gem?

  25. North of Missoula says:

    Gotta love the 690 Duke.

    That pre-chamber looks like a pontoon that could assist the rider if he gets into deep water.

  26. xLaYN says:

    Someone should take this engine into the Sus “Savage” to make it… well… Savage.
    Impressive power figures from a single… I would throw the always pertinent question for a “heck of power” for a “not should be doing that much power” engine… how do reliability figures looks like?
    I wonder if power/weight relationship makes it illegal somewhere.

  27. Norm G. says:

    re: “The engine also can rev 1,000 rpm higher than the prior unit.”

    and that’s no mean feat coming from a single.