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KTM 690 Duke R

KTM 690 Duke R

3.7 from 3 reviews

Great bike let down by poor customer service

Great bike for suburbia, it’s light & manoeuvrable with enough power to leave the vast majority of cars behind (0-100 km/h takes somewhere around 4 seconds, according to Google)
Looks like a “small bike”, so cars will try to “drag you” at the lights more often than expected…. (Not necessarily a bad thing?)
Excellent suspension, enough ground clearance to clear most gutters & good visibility from your high perch
On the open road the vibration & lack of wind protection will become an issue over longer distances.
In the 2 & 1/2 years I've owned it I've had to replace the side stand once & the side stand spring twice!
Some KTM "big singles" have a problem with the case-hardening on the camshaft.
Mine was replaced under warranty but I was off the road for 3 MONTHS! (i.e. nearly 13 weeks) waiting for parts to come from overseas.
A great bike let down by crap service from KTM!

Date PurchasedJun 2016

Perfect Suburban Rocket

I have owned this 2014 model for 2 years and 12,000km, having bought it used with 8,000km on the clock.

It has never missed a beat, utterly reliable and remarkably comfortable for a single cylinder naked. It is the perfect tool for commuting through suburbia, with flickable handling and a point and shoot torque monster of a motor.
The only time it feels out of it's element is at high speed on the open road, where the lack of wind protection and relatively low gearing hamper it's progress.

Build quality is excellent and the level of fit finish a significant step above the (predominantly Japanese) competition. You will not find a roughly finished casting, hard edged plastic or antiquated cable actuated clutch on this bike. Additional to the basic bike, the R model has the amazing Brembo M50 monobloc front caliper, adjustable suspension and rearsets along with various KTM powerparts.

Easy to service and cheap to own, contrary to many online reports mine does not burn any oil and the the tyres have lasted well. The bike is still on it's original front Michelin at 20,000kms, with the rear still exhibiting reasonable tread 12,000km since last replaced.

Highly recommend this bike, great product.

Date PurchasedAug 2016

Agile misile!

Got to test ride a bike I have been wanting to ride for some time now and is on my short list of bikes to consider buying.
Rode the R version of this bike, which not only looks better but has better goodies included in the build, like an Akrapovic exhaust, fully adjustable suspension, crash bars and a rear seat cowl. The R version is $13,990 + ORC, I'll talk about this pricing more later.

Looks; Always a personal thing with motorcycles and personally I love it's look. Reminds me of a pitbull in it's aggressive stance. If you don't like the looks I doubt you'd be reading this far.

Sound; The R has the Akrapovic exhaust as standard and I assume it has a DB killer in it. The sound is good but amazing like a Husky Nuda or a Monster 821.

Power; Spot on! The torque is from very low in the rev range and pulls all the way to red line (around 8,000 rpm). It doesn't rev high compared to an inline 4 but the trade off is more torque lower down in the rpm, like a V-twin. It will power wheelie in the first 2 gears easily. It's only 51.5 kw but the power to weight (149.5kg) is it's weapon. The power is loads of fun and still very useable.

Handling; I think this is probably the best handling bike I've ridden. It's incredibly nimble and sure footed. It never felt vague but rather really well planted with excellent feel through the handle bars. Handling is definitely this bikes biggest selling point with power a close second. It's one of the few bikes where rider ability will peak before the bikes handling will. Just plain 1st class handling.

Brakes; The brakes are very good. The back brake worked really well in cornering, it gave me really good feedback and I felt very much in control. The front brake is good but not in the same league as the Street Triple R. Having said that, I personally think the StripleR's front brake is a bit grabby whereas the Duke doesn't surprise you, which can be a good thing with brakes.

Build quality; It's hard to critique this from a test ride, the bike I rode had only done 600 odd km's, but looking over it you can see it's a quality motorcycle with good quality parts. No issues from my POV.

Ride; A really fun bike, it's that simple. If you want to be picky the seat is a tad firm, however I liked the way I could move forward or back and change the angle of my body depending on the riding I was doing. Your upright, so there is 0 pressure on the wrists, you have great vision in traffic and it's perfect for lane splitting. Perhaps a negative is you have to tilt your head slightly to check your speed but I suspect if you're shorter than me that won't be problem.
A frustration was the vibration through the handle bars. It's NOT a deal breaker though but I noticed it, especially when I maintained a constant speed with revs around 4,000 rpm. I'm 179cm (5ft 10.5) and found the seat height fine. I was on the ball of my feet but not my tippy toes, so comfortable at a stop.

Price; In Australia it's $13,990 + ORC. It's a European bike that's actually built in Europe! That means a lot, bikes built in Asia (with the exception of Japan) are just not as well built, so I expect to pay for that, and KTM ask you too. But that's the same price as a Triumph Street Triple R, Aprilia Shiver and more expensive than a BMW F800R, Yamaha MT09 (ABS) and the Kawasaki Z800. Only the exotica's like the Ducati Monster 821 and MV B3 are more.
Out of that list the 821 is the best bike in my opinion but it's a lot more expensive, so of the bikes of the same price point or cheaper this KTM stacks up really well. For me the test of which bike is best is always which one would you actually buy when all is said and done. Well this is my order for what it's worth for this segment (not including Ducati or MV).

1. Street Triple R
2. BMW F800R/ KTM 690 Duke R
3. Aprilia Shiver/Kawa Z800
n.b. I haven't ridden the MT-09 so it's not in this list, if the Z800 wasn't so heavy it would be clear #2. If Husqvarna still made the Nuda R, that would #1!

Hope you got something out of this review, I really, really enjoyed riding this bike, it really is a great bike to ride. If you were buying a bike for handling and fun alone it would be the KTM.

Stay safe by riding like your invisible!

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690 Duke R
Release dateJun 2010
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