KTM makes a great new addition to the 2008 lineup. By its name, 690 Duke, the bike is best characterized with the help of its engine which sets the record as the most powerful single-cylinder to ever see the streets (65 HP). Additional equipment is also great and the overall bike doesn’t look like a disappointment either.
The new 690 Duke has the pleasure of introducing itself as one unique-looking motorcycle with performance to match. KTM made the revamp noticeable by building a new frame and fitting the bike with new fairings and seat, but what really makes this bike stand out is its powerful new engine together with the strong sound coming from a new under engine exhaust.
Very important is the fact that KTM made use of the 690 Supermoto in order to end up with this baby so the suspensions and brakes will remind you of its sister as they remain virtually the same.
KTM first introduced the Duke in 1994 as a supermoto bike featuring a 609cc single-cylinder which came to life using a kick start. It was the manufacturer’s first stock supermoto machine and it could be easily distinguished due to its unique styling and spoked wheels.
In the ‘90s, KTM would make sure that the Duke receives new features from two to two years so 1996 brought the much needed and desired electric starter together with an uprated oil pump.
As you could already guess, it is now all about 1998 model year when the most famous and beloved version was launched, the Duke ||. KTM preferred to mark this way the important displacement change (the engine was now a 625cc beast, not a 609cc one). Also ten years ago was when the bike would have featured stylish new headlights in a redesigned nose cone which helped make the 1998 model year easy recognizable.
The Duke || continued selling well and created quite a fan club even though the manufacturer stayed away of it for a while until in 2005 the Duke || Black entered the scene, followed by a Limited Edition model only a year after. This last version was painted in KTM orange (rims included), and it gave a feel of what was about to come after the 640 Duke || will inspire its looks on its 990cc brother. The result is what you can see today as a 2008 model year. KTM tried to set the bike apart from the Supermoto class in the attempt of individualizing the Dukes, but it still remains a Supermoto bike.
Despite the manufacturer’s attempt of not going with the crowd and have a separate supermoto line, even though the Duke practically started it all, I would like to compare it with real supermoto bikes. If not so, this bike has virtually no competition given to its engine, exterior design and riding position.
2008 Aprilia SXV 4.5-5.5
When it comes to Supermotards it is impossible for me not to mention the Aprilia SXV 4.5-5.5 as it is one of the most successful and versatile motorcycles out there. Given the fact that it features two cylinders positioned in the V configuration, it is easy to declare it a winner, but let’s not precipitate things. The Duke, despite its single cylinder, manages to put out 65 horses which are more than able to make a rider forget what determines its adrenaline rush. Many will consider the 550cc version more suitable and able to deal with such a powerful single-cylinder, but I’m not underestimating the 450cc V-twin Aprilia motor either
2008 Husqvarna SM 610
Husqvarva is also known for delivering awesome performing supermoto bikes and the SM 610 is one of its best. Featuring a 576cc 4-Stroke, 4 valves, SOHC, Liquid Cooled Single, this motorcycle seems more appropriate for the race against the subject of this review, the KTM 690 Duke. Shall I even mention that the Brembo brakes and Marzocchi suspensions make it seem like Husqvarna’s Duke? No, I guess you’ve already figured that out.
2008 KTM 690 Duke
Even though the middleweight Duke has a few years on its back, 2008 finds it practically as a combination between KTM’s 690 Supermoto (mechanical) and the bigger Duke, the 990 (design). This is also why you’ll have a hard time positioning it in a certain class and have it fight with the machines encountered there.
Designed to look aggressive and potent, this KTM gives you the impression that it’s moving even when it’s not and it is all due to its slightly leaned forward position. No, I’m not talking about how it accommodates its rider, but how it actually looks from 20 feet away.
The entire motorcycle is composed of angular shapes which are characteristic to KTM and make this sprinter look one-of-a-kind. For the untrained eye, the Duke would seem like a personalized motorcycle and I like to think it isn’t far from being one.
Each wheel features five spokes, this being KTM’s intention to have the bike taken as being street-oriented which means setting it apart from its past. If you don’t look closely you’ll even find yourself asking where’s the exhaust positioned and the surprise of discovering a big silencer positioned under the engine won’t be small.
Colors available for 2008 model year: KTM Orange or White both colors being combined with the Black body parts that don’t change, no matter what.
A complete revamp was exactly what the KTM 690 Duke needed in order to remain a successful bike without the years becoming noticeable on the design and technical features. Now that the dices were thrown we can only wait for such a beauty to become the main character in one of our test rides. I can’t wait!