Top Speed 2019 KTM Streetbike Buying Guide
KTM’s 2019 Street Bikes Explainedby Allyn Hinton, on
The KTM-AG falls under the ownership of the CROSS KraftFahrZeug Holding GmbH and the Bajaj Auto Limited International Holdings B.V. at a rate of 51.28-percent and 47.99-percent, respectively. Based in Mattighofen, Austria, KTM builds streetbikes, racebikes, dirtbikes/enduros and sports cars, but for the purposes of this guide we will stick to the street-friendly, two-wheeled models. Famous for their single-cylinder, thumper-style engines and high performance machines with distinctive orange/white/black livery, KTM has established itself as a marque that doesn’t necessary hold to convention and has a tendency to do things their own way; much to the delight of its fans.
The current iteration of the KTM AG dates back to 1992, but if you consider the entire history of the company name you can argue it actually started all the way back in 1934 when Austrian engineer Johann Trunkenpolz launched his car repair shop. After three years in business, he started carrying DKW motorcycles, and with that, a legacy was born.
By 1951, he had designed and produced his first motorcycle that used a majority of in-house parts for the chassis, the R100, and only farmed out the propulsion by using a Fichtel & Sachs “Rotax” engine. Only a few short years later, the factory was in full-production of the R100 and turned out three units per day with only 20 employees.
The engineers were doing something right early on, evidenced by their success on the track. In 1954, the factory brought home the Austrian 125 cc national championship, and in 1956, racer Egon Dornauer captured the gold at the International Six Days Trials event to cement KTM’s place in racing history.
The next decade saw an expansion into mopeds and bicycles, and by 1971, it was operating with a 400-strong roster. A bit of a global expansion was next with the establishment of KTM North America Incorporated in 1978, but the next decade saw a decline in scooter/moped sales prompting the factory to drop them altogether in favor of the remaining products.
In 1992, the marque was split into four distinct divisions with the KTM Sportmotorcycle GmgH (sic), and it released what would become the symbol of the factory’s street machines; the Duke. The company started to snap up subsidiaries with the acquisition of Swedish marque Husaberg AB and the unfortunately-named White Power Suspension in 1995.
A liquid-cooled, twin-cylinder lump saw light of day in 1997 in KTM’s adventure bike and Supermoto models, and a decade later, the factory released its wild-looking X-Bow that technically qualifies as a sports car as it has side-by-side seating and an automotive-style steering wheel. Bajaj Auto bought into the conglomerate in 2007, and in 2013, KTM acquired Husqvarna from BMW to complete its collection of companies. The marque currently holds both the KTM and Husqvarna brands under its umbrella.
MTC: KTM’s Motorcycle Traction Control system that delivers corner-sensitive protection based on data from an inertial-measurement unit.
Combined ABS: Like the MTC, it calculates the available traction based on inertial data and modulates the level of intervention to prevent over-braking in the corners.
TPMA: Tire Pressure Monitoring System that monitors the state of both tires and displays the metric in real time.
HHC: Hill Hold Control that holds the rear brake so you can deploy both feet to the ground for stability during takeoff on a grade.
MSR: Motor Slip Regulator feature that monitors for rear-wheel slip due to excessive backtorque and opens the throttle electronically to maintain traction.
KTM MY RIDE: Wireless connection to network the bike with your smartphone so you can field calls, jam out to your favorite tunes or pull up navigation aids.
KTM Street Models
KTM puts together a robust line of dual-surface machines that range from the desert-busting 450 Rally at the bottom of the totem pole all the way up to the 1290 Super Adventure R that’s worthy of Dakar-level performance. The rider’s triangle is laid out in such a way as to allow for an upright seated position as well as a standing posture for technical work. Essentially, all of them are dual-surface capable, but the 1290 Super Adventure R, Super Adventure S and 790 Adventure have a street-bias while the rest of the range focuses more on off-road performance. KTM keeps to its performance roots with a whopping 160 horsepower from its big-bore, 1290 plant and 95 horsepower from its 790.
|450 Rally||$30,500||449 cc|
|690 Enduro R||$11,699||693 cc|
|790 Adventure||$12,499||799 cc|
|790 Adventure R||$13,499||799 cc|
|1090 Adventure R||$14,999||1,050 cc|
|1290 Super Adventure R||$18,499||1,301 cc|
|1290 Super Adventure S||$18,499||1,301 cc|
The Super Duke DNA crosses over to the sports-touring sector with the 1290 Super Duke GT. This is the only model currently under the Sport-Tourer category, but it brings everything the factory has in the way of power, comfort and control to the table. Powerful enough to also qualify as a stupidfast ride with a 75-horsepower lump, the GT definitely leans toward the “sport” end of the spectrum. Since the rider’s triangle is somewhat relaxed, the GT also makes a great commuter, especially once you throw on some panniers.
|1290 Super Duke GT||$20,499||1,301 cc|
If SuperMoto-style racing, hooligan/trickster riding or drifting is your thing, then the 690 SMC R may be your Huckleberry. WP Apex suspension components support the machine on the full trinity of adjustments so you can dial in for your style of riding, and the 693 cc thumper delivers 74 horsepower with Ride Modes, MTC and ABS in the electronics suite. The overall construction gives it a flattish flyline with plenty of room for body English and extreme stunt-riding maneuvers.
|690 SMC R||$11,699||693 cc|
KTM’s naked line benefits from the 1290 DNA as well with its 174-horsepower Super Duke R at the top of the range. The factory offers a 790, a 690 and a 390 to cover most of the rider types, and this particular line gets a bona-fide entry-level machine in its 125 Duke model, though not currently available in the U.S. market. In spite of the reduced body paneling, or perhaps because of it, KTM’s distinctively angular fairings dominate the look across the range. The 125 model produces 15 horsepower, and the output measures at 43 horsepower for the 390, 72 horsepower for the 690 and 103 from the 790, plus the electronics are comparable to the other categories for the same element of safety and comfort.
|390 Duke||$5,499||373 cc|
|690 Duke||$8,999||690 cc|
|790 Duke||$10,499||799 cc|
|1290 Super Duke R||$18,199||1,301 cc|
KTM keeps to the industry standards with its supersport line that brings relatively full body panels to the table along with handling attributes that are meant to appeal to the would-be knee-draggers out there. The range rocks the 43-horsepower RC 390 at the top end with the 14.7-horsepower RC 125 at the bottom and the 25-horsepower RC 200 in the middle, though only the 390 is available in the U.S. market currently. This lineup makes for a nice introduction to proper racebikes with big-bike handling in spite of the smallish displacements. Raw riding is the hallmark of this line as it carries only the ABS feature for its rider-aid electronics.
|RC 390||$5,549||373 cc|
KTM 390 Duke
See our review of the KTM 390 Duke.
KTM 450 Rally
KTM 690 Duke
See our review of the KTM 690 Duke.
KTM 690 Enduro R
See our review of the KTM 690 Enduro R.
KTM 690 SMC R
See our review of the KTM 690 SMC R.
KTM 790 Adventure / 790 Adventure R
See our review of the KTM 790 Adventure / 790 Adventure R.
KTM 790 Duke
See our review of the KTM 790 Duke.
KTM 1090 Adventure R
KTM 1290 Super Adventure R
KTM 1290 Super Adventure S
See our review of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S.
KTM 1290 Super Duke GT
See our review of the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.
KTM 1290 Super Duke R
See our review of the KTM 1290 Super Duke R.
KTM RC 390
Read more KTM news.