• KTM Goes Backwards With 790 Duke Reappearance

After a year out of the catalogue, the 790 Duke is back.

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Bringing back a model name that has been defunct for a few decades is one thing, but bringing back a model that has only been out of the catalogue for one year is quite another. What is KTM up to?

The return of the KTM 790 Duke

KTM Goes Backwards With 790 Duke Reappearance
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KTM 790 Duke Reappears
After a year out of the catalogue, the Scalpel is back, now Euro5 compliant

We are by now used to model names from the past being resurrected in the chase to keep up with rivals - Scrambler, Katana, Z900, R90 - and that is all part of the retro or ’modern classic’ fun and games that the manufacturers are indulging in at the moment.

But when a model that was deleted from the catalogue - for the simple reason that it was superseded by an uprated model - makes a comeback a mere year after it was discontinued, that smacks of some strange form of desperation.

The thing is, the company that has done it is not short of models or, indeed, sales so why does it need to take a backward step in place of its normal giant strides forward?

KTM Goes Backwards With 790 Duke Reappearance
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A2-Licence Friendly
KTM says the 790 is easier to restrict to A2-licence configuration than the 890

Of course, by now you know that I’m talking about the KTM 790 Duke. Discontinued for the 2021 model year when it was replaced by the 890 Duke, it has now reappeared in the catalogue for certain countries and costs a chunk of change less than it did when it was last on sale in 2020.

It’s not as if there was anything wrong with the 790 other than what the Euro5 emission regulations caused. Like many manufacturers, KTM opted to offset the power sapping effect of the regulations with a cylinder capacity increase from 799cc to 889cc, hence the 890 Duke, which made the 790 obsolete.

A bit of furious back-pedalling by KTM sees the 790 becoming Euro5 compliant, with a power output of 95bhp, down from the original’s 105bhp. According to KTM, it is easier to make the 790 into an A2 licence-friendly version. A2 licence bikes can’t have more than 47bhp but can be de-restricted once the rider gains his or her A1 licence.

KTM Goes Backwards With 790 Duke Reappearance
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Power and Price Down
95bhp against 105 of the original, costs around 1,500 Euros less than in 2020!

KTM says the 790 offers a useful stepping-stone between the 390 Duke and 890 Duke models which, technically, it does, although it’s a bit of an odd spacing.

At one point in 2019, KTM was said to be developing a 490 model range, using a new parallel twin engine, which would have been a stepping stone itself between the 390 and 890. The arrival - or reappearance - of the 790 could suggest that development of the 490 has hit an insurmountable problem or at least a delay, prompting the company to bring back the 790. But, should the 490 eventually appear, will the 790 bite the dust once again or will KTM continue with both models, in which case the model line-up is getting a bit crowded.

KTM Goes Backwards With 790 Duke Reappearance
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Still as Sharp
Meant as a stepping stone between the 390 Duke and 890 Duke, but where is the 490 that was rumoured a couple of years ago?

There’s nothing wrong - nor was there ever - with the 790 so it’s not as if it’s a problem that it is back in the catalogue, unless you were one of those who bought one for 10,395 Euros in 2020. The ’new’ 790 will cost 8,999 Euros, which will impact the used market for 2020 790s. I bet the people who bought in 2020 are happy!

The ’new’ 790 Duke will be available in only a few selected countries (not the U.S. or Canada) and will come in two colour schemes - orange or black with orange highlights.

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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