For 2012 KTM’s 690 Duke has copped a thorough makeover, receiving a re-worked single-cylinder engine, revised suspension, switchable ABS brakes, a claimed 10 per cent better economy and a lower (by 30mm) seat height.
KTM’s boffins have managed to extract 51.5kW (69hp) and 70.5Nm (52ft-lb) out of the Duke’s donk, and with the package weighing just under 164kg ready to roll, that’s a recipe for fun.
It’s a high-tech piece of gear, that engine. A liquid-cooled, fuel-injected four-valve unit, its new cylinder head has twin spark plugs each with separate ignition maps, while the ride-by-wire throttle has been mated to a choice of three fuelling maps (accessed, curiously, via a switch under the pillion seat).
The balance shaft works wonders. There's a bit of shimmy ’n’ shake at idle, but it soon smoothes out with a few revs, although the mirrors remain blurred. The fuelling’s spot on, but the bike is prone to a bit of driveline lash at low speeds, as I found in heavy traffic.
With an upright ride position, minimal weight and a low centre of gravity it’s a delight to punt through the urban jungle, where its broad ’bars don’t cause too many lane-splitting concerns. On a winding country road, however, it’s in its element.
Here the beastie charges through corners with impressive bottom-end and mid-range stomp. It sits on 4000rpm at 100km/h in sixth gear, so it’s relaxed enough for touring if need be, but this thing’s built for being thrown around like political promises before an election – yet it delivers every time. It’s just so light and responsive, and despite being a single it’s still entirely capable of go-directly-to-gaol speeds.
The ABS-equipped brakes do a top job and the slipper clutch is a nice bonus, although the gearbox isn’t the slickest I’ve sampled – but give it a fairly deliberate prod and it’s fine.
I got 25.5km/lt out of the Duke. That’s a brilliant working range of around 330km, and the comfy seat means that stretch is entirely ‘doable’.
Meanwhile, the 10,000km service intervals augur well for affordable running costs.
This is one sharply-styled naked that’s a blast to ride, but you’ll need to be sold on singles – there are plenty of multis available around this price point.
SPEX - 2012 KTM 690 Duke
Type: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, fourvalve, four-stroke, single-cylinder
Bore and stroke: 102mm x 84.5mm
Compression ratio: 12.6:1
Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection
Final drive: Chain
CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Frame: Tubular chromoly trellis
Front suspension: WP inverted 43mm fork, non-adjustable
Rear suspension: WP monoshock, adjustable for preload
Front brakes: Single 320mm disc with radial-mount Brembo four-piston caliper
Rear brake: 240mm disc with single-piston Brembo caliper
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Claimed wet weight (but without fuel): 150kg
Seat height: 835mm
Fuel capacity: 13.8lt
Max. power: 51.5kW (69hp) at 7500rpm
Max. torque: 70.5Nm (52ft-lb) at 5500rpm
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