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.


  1. rapster 5 years ago

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

    Thank’s a lot!

    • Author
      admin 5 years ago

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

      • rapster 5 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 5 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 5 years ago

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

  2. Eddy 5 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 5 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 5 years ago

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

      • Thomas 3 years ago

        Where did you find that graphics kit?? I would love to get it on my Duke! Super clean

        • Author
          admin 3 years ago

          Thanks, I designed it myself. There is something similar coming out for the bike this year though.

  4. stefan 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 years ago

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

  6. Alvaro Cevallos 5 years ago

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

  7. Hùng Nguyễn 5 years ago

    waiting KTM authorised dealer in VN.

  8. espetaculo de motor.

  9. Louie Garcia 4 years ago

    KTM duke ilove it…

  10. Anthony Smith 4 years 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 4 years 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 4 years ago

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

  12. Jeetu Babu 3 years ago

    iwaching duke bikes today

  13. Biker.my 3 years ago

    Any idea how to get these mod in Malaysia?

  14. Pres Fabio 3 years ago

    wow!!! that graphic

  15. AGGELOS 1 year ago

    Hello man,can you tell me about your tail light if its original or from different bike bcs mine ia different than yours.Thank you

    • Author
      admin 1 year ago

      It’s a powerpart :)

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