KTM 990Duke Incoming: Bigger and Better

Spy Shots Reveal Larger-engined KTM Duke Model is On The Way

990 is a special number in KTM history and now, it looks as if there is going to be a new model carrying the 990 name.

Spy Shots Reveal New KTM 990 Duke

KTM 990Duke Incoming: Bigger and Better
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Is This The New KTM 990 Duke?
Recent spy shots show new engine architecture for the parallel twin, with possibly longer stroke

Never let it be said that KTM isn’t afraid of pursuing different engine architecture. For so many years, the v-twin was KTM’s engine of choice for its adventure bikes. When the company branched out into road bikes, the v-twin went along with it.

Then, in 2017, the parallel-twin engined 790 Duke came to market, followed in 2019 by the enlarged 890 Duke: the KTM parallel-twin engine was quickly establishing itself in KTM’s future thinking.

KTM 990Duke Incoming: Bigger and Better
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Revised Bodywork
New bodywork maintains the KTM sharp, angular design language

Fast forward to right now and the next Duke update is about to emerge, probably in time for the 2023 model year. Not only is there a revamp visually, but the engine also looks to be significantly altered also, if the clues from these spy shots are to be believed.

Nothing official has been said about the new model being called ’990’ but it would follow precedent, after the 790 morphed into the 890 with a suitable increase in power. Pushing the engine close to 1000cc would give another important increase in power. This increase looks like it will come from an increased stroke, as evidenced by the taller cylinder block with revised bracing ribs on the LC8 engine in the prototype.

KTM 990Duke Incoming: Bigger and Better
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Underseat Fuel Tank?
IS that bulge under the seat the fuel tank? it would decrease the bulk at the front of the bike if it is

The cylinder head looks to be a little more compact to offset the increase in height caused by the longer stroke. A bulge has appeared on the left hand side of the cam cover: could this be a variable valve timing system?

What is happening inside the engine, in terms of crankpin offset can only be guessed at but it would be logical for KTM to stick to the 285° angle, which gives a firing interval similar to that of a v-twin. KTM have to be looking at a significant power hike with the new engine: is 130bhp too much to ask for?

KTM 990Duke Incoming: Bigger and Better
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KTM 890 Duke
Took over from the 790 Duke just as the 990 Duke will take over. Doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the 890, though

The styling of the new model is likely to follow established KTM practice: sharp, angular lines with a cast subframe. What is noticeable is a distinctly large shape under the seat which could mean that KTM has relocated the fuel tank to that position to make the bike narrower at the front.

The exhaust pipe is mounted in the traditional low position and not the high mounting of the 790 and 890 although that could change for the production models. Similarly, the headlight treatment has to be ignored as it is clearly just jury-rigged to make the bike road legal and to give as few clues away about final styling.

KTM 990Duke Incoming: Bigger and Better
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990 Adventure
KTM is likely to resurrect the iconic 990 Adventure name for a new adventure version of the 990 Duke.

The test bike is running WP Apex suspension and KTM-branded brake calipers, not the Brembo items that are found on the ’R’ models. Expect there to be a base and R model of the 990, in keeping with KTM practice.

If we follow KTM logic to its conclusion, then it’s very likely that an Adventure version will be launched some time after the 990 Duke. Bringing back the 990 Adventure would be a great marketing ploy but it would have big shoes to fill! Only time will tell.

Spy shots courtesy of BMH Images

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
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