– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

MD Currently Testing Honda CB1000R and KTM 790 Duke: The Two Most Significant Standards?

Perhaps the two most significant naked/standard-style motorcycles recently introduced are currently in the MD garage and undergoing testing. The KTM 790 Duke and the Honda CB1000R have both been highly anticipated by motorcycle enthusiasts, and represent cutting edge style as interpreted by Honda and KTM.

These two bikes are simultaneously the same and different. The similarities include efforts by both manufactures to build extremely lightweight machines featuring very powerful (for their respective engine classes) engines and styling that is both progressive and potentially polarizing. The differences, in addition to the obvious engine displacements and configurations, relate to the spare KTM style versus the more elaborate Honda.

Although we do not plan a direct comparison between the two, stay tuned for MD reports on the 799cc parallel-twin Duke and the 998cc inline-four CB.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. It’s interesting to hear folks lamenting that they got rid of their Kawasaki ZRX1100/1200s. I would submit that the further away from ownership we get, the better the bike was. Having done that something over 50 times, I might be an expert.

    • austin zzr 1200 says:

      Aye. The original SV 650/ vstrom 650, FZ1, FFZ-07, Honda Hornet 919, duc multi 620 all fall into that category…all standards that were ‘perfect’ from the get-go

  2. Fred says:

    I test rode the new CB1000R for around 90 minutes and found the killer for me was the the stretch from handle bars to seat. It is too much of a reach as my arms were fully straight, and this is very tiring. I am 6′ tall of average build. Braking downhill throw’s all the weight on the hand and elbow joints and is disappointing outcome in otherwise good bike.

    Honda knew this, because the seat cushion ramps up onto the tank. This is where my body wanted to be.
    If the seat was 2″ further forward (the front of the silver tank stripe) it would be more comfortable.
    Supersports bikes like a CBR1000RR have a taller tank to allow the rider to get closer to the bars with the riders arms more vertical than a 45 degree lock position, so this bike is a styling exercise over functionality.
    Otherwise, it was an enjoyable ride, but suited to people over 6’4″ tall or those with gorilla body stature proportions of really long arm’s and short legs.

  3. blitz 11 says:

    I told my daughter that if she finished her engineering degree in 4 years, i’d buy her a motorcycle (it’s much cheaper than another year of college.) Her choice? The 790 duke. She’s ridden my 690 for about 10K of the 13K miles it has on it, and she wanted the light weight, but another cylinder and more power. I put my $500 down in August, and the word on the street is that it will be here in November. That gives us her Christmas break to take it apart, go through it, lube steering head and swing arm bearings, and add the necessary farkles.

    Should be a sweet ride. The kid’s worked her tail off, so she’s earned it. (It also helps that she’s my favorite riding buddy.)

    • Pacer says:


    • John says:

      Best dad of the year award. Congrats on having a child that was smart and motivated enough to MAKE it into an engineering program and now graduate.

    • bmbktmracer says:

      As the father of 3 daughters, none of whom share my passion for motorcycles, I’m very proud of you for getting through to the young lady. Also, as an engineer (electronics), I admire the young lady for her accomplishment. The 790 is well-deserved and hopefully in 5 or 6 years she’ll reward you with a new one of your own.

  4. Jim Logan says:

    Wow, aren’t you guys lucky.Two of the coolest bikes in production today and you get to ride them both. I currently own a SuperDuke R and an older Speed Triple. I have been thinking of switching to a smaller (lighter weight) bike. The KTM is near the top of the list. I am not sure the Honda is any lighter than what I currently own.

    • Pacer says:

      Quick comparison between the sdr and speed (year)?

      • Jim Logan says:

        2002 S3 and 2015 SDR. The SuperDuke is way more comfortable, has terrific brakes and the general overall bike is much more modern. Big comfort difference is the longer seat to foot peg distance and plush suspension. The KTM is REALLY FAST.
        The Triumph handles better, much better front end feel. The Triumph’s engine is also smoother and more tractable at lower revs. For some reason riding it is just a hoot. The older S3s were livelier than the current generation and a bit rough around the edge, lending it a lot of character. I will never sell it.
        The Triumph appears to be built a lot tougher. Mine has 87,000 miles and little maintenance except for 3 alternators(British Electrics?). The valves have never required adjustment. By comparison, the SDR’s rear cylinder valves were out of adjustment by 9,000 miles and the airbox required modification because it doesn’t do much to keep the dirt out. I have also seen some ominous shavings on the magnetic chip detectors in the sump. Time will see how well it holds up.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see either of these bikes as “standards” peg position negates that appellation. That aside, the Honda is a fairly good looking bike. The KTM, not so much.

    • joe b says:

      I have a ’12 CB1000R, very similar other than small changes to styling and performance changes, the handlebars and footpegs are very “standard” in the mirror image of the early CB750 or GS750 standards. Certainly the handlebars are not wide and pull back, and the footpegs are somewhat more rear set, than the obviously out of place peg placement of many of early standards. I would think, if you sat or rode on one, you would agree. I worked at the dealer level for 30 years, and I would consider at least the Honda, a standard, in the seating, handlebar, and peg placements.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Certainly the handlebars are not wide and pull back, and the footpegs are somewhat more rear set, than the obviously out of place peg placement of many of early standards.”
        I’m gonna disagree with you on the out of place peg placement of many early standards. That mid control peg placement is one of the things that defines a “standard”. Has been for decades.
        I have sat on a new “standard” or naked. Purchased a Z900. Had to be the single most uncomfortable bike I’ve ever owned. Coupled with the worst suspension of any bike I’ve ever owned, it was, by definition, a real POS.I know there are folks who can ride for hours in that position, but I can’t be in the PPP for more than half an hour at most.

    • paquo says:

      that’s like your opinion man

  6. Don says:

    Wow! Honda finally made a good looking bike. Hot damn, that’s nice. After the boring, uninspired CB1100 I didn’t think they had it in them.

  7. VLJ says:

    Regarding the back ends and license plate protuberances of these two bikes, well, unless you opt for a retro standard with a long, low, flat tailsection that hugs the rear tire, like the CB1100 or Bonneville, these two designs are what you’re going to get. The DOT requirement of having the license plate behind the rear wheel means that any bike with a sporty, elevated tail section either has to sport the CB1000’s Ducati-style swingarm-mounted wrap-around piece, or you get the KTM’s more common solution of the long, plastic protuberance.

    The Z900RS would be one exception to this new rule. That bike avoids the long protuberance thing by virtue of its plastic bodywork behind the long, flat seat.

    In all honesty, I simply don’t give a crap about such things. They affect neither the ride nor my feeling about the bike. In any case, if they’re that offensive, the aftermarket will always provide solutions. Otherwise, the KTM looks like all current KTMs, with an excess of over-styled, sharply angled plastic shards shrouding the tank area, and bug-eyed headlights mounted low on the forks. The Honda looks fantastic to me, both in the pictures and in the flesh. In person, it seems very small. That cool, futuristic dash that seems so prominent in all the video reviews? It looks tiny in person. The rest of the bike features exquisite detailing everywhere. It’s a quality piece, through and through.

    Shame about the giant hole in the midrange, though. Also, a claimed 143 hp that was reportedly tuned for torque really ought to translate to more than a mere 120 rwhp, including a massive dip in the midrange, to where the motor makes significantly less power than the supposedly less powerful motor it replaced.

    • Provologna says:

      What do you think caused the CB’s weak mid range? Emissions requirements?

      The “standard” or almost naked (1/4 fairing) bike I’d find most hard to resist would be Suzuki’s so far non-existent remake of the GS1000S. I hope they make it, and I encourage Suzuki to install 18″18″ front/rear wheels to more closely mimic bikes of that era (the original GS1000S had 19″/18″ front/rear). Some British performance bikes a few years prior to the GS had 19″/19″ front/rear.

      • VLJ says:

        Yes, the big dip in the midrange is almost certainly the result of making sure the thing meets Euro4/Euro5 emissions standards. Still, there are too many other bikes out there that meet those same standards, and don’t have a massive hole in the midrange. Take, for example, the very bike the CB1000R replaces. That bike was still being sold in many markets around the world, and it positively stomps the new one in the midrange. For all of Honda’s talk about how the new one made a significant jump in hp over the old one, nope, the two bikes make nearly the same peak hp, while the old model makes much more hp and torque nearly everywhere else.

        Most of us here would like to see a new Wes Cooley-replica GS1000S, but it simply ain’t gonna happen, not as a truly authentic homage, anyway. No way Suzuki goes the Honda CB1100 route with a real air-cooled motor. More likely, it would be similar to the Z900RS or Z900RS Cafe, which is probably our current best bet for retro(ish) styling combined with light(ish) weight and decent modern performance.

        I just don’t like the Z900RS, and I’m 99% certain the forward lean required by the Cafe version is a bridge too far for my reconstructed neck. I haven’t been able to sit on one yet to confirm my fears. I know the seating position on the new CB1000R and Ducati Scrambler 1100 don’t work for me. So, if anything, I’d probably be looking at the new 1200 Scrambler from Triumph. Either that, or I’d try to deal with the funky seating position on the Z900, which, obviously, is decidedly un-retro in every sense of the word.

  8. PD says:

    I don’t know, I just don’t get all that jazzed over the looks of the Honda the way some others do.

  9. Tommy D says:

    There are bikes you see in photos and they grab your attention. Then you see them in person and they wow you even further. That is this 2018 Honda CB1000R. Something so clean and elegant about this bike. Maybe its my age of 56 that has me hearken back to the days or old when simple UJM’s roamed the earth. This bike captures that vibe but it does it in the same way Porsche morphed their iconic 911 over the years and keep it looking fresh and modern. This future retro design really works for me. The monochromatic blend of black and polished silver work for a lot of bikes. Harley’s to Ducati’s xDiavel are bathed in that treatment and it pays off in the looks department. I don’t ride those type of motorcycles so this treatment done on a standard motorcycle has me debating how to drum up the cash to make this happen. Does it have the character of an RnineT? The maddening drive of a Tuono? No… But it looks like a fitted tuxedo. Sharp, Not ostentatious while delivering a powerful presence. Much like a testosterone advert. Damn I want that!!!

  10. mickey says:

    long time readers will not be surprised by my opinion.. the KTM looks like Spy VS Spy and the Honda looks like a semi truck ran into the back wadding it up against the tank. I can’t see owning either.

    I just acquired a CB500X in the garage to go with the CB1100 dlx and FJR. Nice little bike, but that’s about as weird of looking bike that I care to ride.

  11. Dave says:

    I’m kind of surprised at how “homely” the KTM looks next to the Honda. the tall gas tank, the exposed airbox under it (should’ve covered that with more shroud area..). I’ve no doubt both are great bikes but the Honda’s styling, even if it’s the more bulky bike is stunning.

  12. Neil says:

    I like them both. The KTM is lighter but the CB is better for the highway with the inline 4. Can’t go wrong with either one. I had a 919 and it was a good machine.

  13. Frank says:

    The CB is one beautifully styled bike. Nothing close to it in this category on the market today. Makes the KTM look a bit homely and ordinary. Probabaly both great riding bikes, but my nod goes to the Honda…Great job.

  14. common sense says:

    If your partner scoots back too far and falls off into a spinning wheel they are probably a moron and weren’t holding on to you.

  15. Wendy says:

    I am psyched for the KTM.

  16. Kevin Curtis says:

    I’ve been riding a 2017 Honda CB1100 EX for two years. Great traditionalist bike. Retro style with strong pull and plenty of torque at low revs. Doesn’t have the CB 1000 R mono shock and fat tires, but 90 HP, fuel injected, air cooled and so creamy it feels like a turbine. Incredible fit and finish. There are so many great bike choices available today.

  17. Fastship says:

    When I make my move to the north west highlands of Scotland where many of the roads are single track and mountainous, everything I’ve seen about that KTM makes it my first choice. It looks perfect for that environment.

  18. randy says:

    so if your passenger scoots too far back on the Honda she gets to fall into a spinning tire??

  19. bmbktmracer says:

    I bet they’re a hoot to ride and once you’ve bonded with them their appearance will grow on you. I do have to agree with the comments about the rear-end styling of the Honda. WSHart may have summed it up the best. I’m still trying to get past the visual…

  20. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    Oh kee doe kee. Here’s what needs to be done to the double Duke. Grind off the stupid pointy tank shroud to a nice Triumph natural curve. Amputate the cancerous bulge at the end of the first seat, and replace with a same level as the first section. Paint the swing arm the same glorious orange as the afore mentioned orange.Replace the bug face head light with an adult Large normal bucket reflector and bulb. Now you have a pleasant Sunday ride.

    • Reginald Van Blunt says:

      I think there have been some failures of the front wheel spokes in India on Dukes with samo wheels. Looks teensy weense to a full scale guy.

  21. Jim says:

    Something is visually wrong with the Duke’s proportions. It looks like a 125cc Chinese knockoff.

  22. Gary says:

    Love both bikes, but the KTM seems to be the goldilocks ride. I can’t wait for the full reviews.

  23. WSHart says:

    The people responsible for the hideous styling (especially so the tail sections) on both of these turdlings should be stoned to death with Styrofoam packing peanuts.

    • Bob K says:

      This will be the first time I agree with you on something.
      It’s not even the tail…the whole enchilada is horrible. I can’t look at any of them without wanting to hurl.
      Every part looks like it is built for a purpose, as it should. Fine as stand alone parts. But there is no aesthetic integration of all the parts. It’s just that, a collection of dissimilar parts all bolted together, mish-mashed, cobbled up and lacking a cohesive look. Neither company put an effort into making either of these contraption pleasing to look at.

    • Mark says:

      DOT standards dictate the license plate must be BEHIND the rear wheel, hence the proboscus sticking out underneath the tail and, even worse, that stupid half fender armadillo humping the tire thingy.
      I don’t know if Euro specs are the same. I suspect they are.

  24. Kevin P says:

    Two interesting choices. I’ll be curious to hear prices and impressions. To be fair to the Honda’s esthetics, at least one picture of the right side showing off that naked wheel without the swing arm and the exhaust would have been nice. What a tease! Just kidding! Cool bikes.

    Also, I agree with anonymous above that the ZRX1200R is likely to be more iconic.

  25. CrazyJoe says:

    It’s hard to do something new with a bike looks without doing something weird like with the seat but the Neo look does it for me. I would have love to see a comparison between a Neo 300 and the Ktm. You know beginners bikes. That 1000 replaces a very good naked bike. Standard being the new naked?

  26. Anonymous says:

    Most Significant Standard? My vote goes to the Kawasaki ZRX 1200R that Dirck reviewed on March 26, 2001. Seventeen years later, owners (including me) still rave about them. Will the same be true of these two new standards in 2035?

    • WSHart says:

      No they will not and all because they look like ass (and not good ass but fugly toothless granny droopy hobo ass) and the ZRX1200 looks like class.

      When will style be back in style? Next the new Triumph 1200 Scrambler Twiins, the KTM and Honda look like cow patties waiting for flies.

    • Mike says:

      I should have never let go of my ZRX1100

    • Dave says:

      I have to believe the most significant standard is the Honda CB series of bikes. These carried us out of the 2-stroke era and shortly after popularized the I4 engine configuration, as well as larger displacements benefitting riders on our unique highway system (at that time).

      Not taking anything from the ZRX1100/1200, those are great bikes.

wordscape cheatgun mayhem 2 unblocked games