On the surface, it looks like a 790 with a bigger engine, but the truth lies deeper

KTM just released the Duke 890 R – their Super Scalpel – to the North American market. We wanted to know if it is just the Duke 790 with a bigger engine or if it’s really worth all the hype.

The 790 Duke vs the 890 Duke in the engine

2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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Does the 890 Duke R just have a bigger engine? Well, The engine is bigger, but that’s not the whole story. The new 890 engine is based on the 790 engine, which was KTM’s first parallel twin, but with a myriad of changes. These changes add up to significantly increased performance to the tune of 13 percent more horsepower than the 790 and almost 14 percent more torque. That will certainly register on the ol’ heinie dyno, for sure.

While we’re talking percentages, the new crankshaft generates 20 percent more rotational mass and that translates directly into performance. The increase in rotational mass means more stability and retains agility in the corners.

The 890 engine has the same size throttle bodies as the 790, but the connection between them has been removed. Each cylinder has a new sensor that monitors manifold pressure and adjusts the fuel mixture and allows adjustment of the injection for each cylinder instead of a one-size-fits-all configuration. Shorter intake funnels and the new throttle bodies give you vicious throttle response, which would make for a more thrilling ride even without changes to the suspension.

ModelDuke 890 RDuke 790
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, 4-stroke, parallel twin Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, 4-stroke, parallel twin
Displacement: 890 cc 799 cc
Bore x Stroke: 90.7 mm x 68.8 mm 88 mm x 65.7 mm
Horsepower: 119 hp (89 kW) @ 9,250 rpm 105 hp (77 kW) @ 9,000 rpm
Torque: 73 lb-ft (99 Nm) @ 7,750 rpm 64.2 lb-ft (87 Nm) @ 8,000 rpm
Compression ratio: 13.5:1 12.7:1
Fuel system: DKK Dellorto w/46 mm throttle body DKK Dellorto w/46 mm throttle body
Lubrication system: Pressure Lubrication w/2 oil pumps Pressure Lubrication w/2 oil pumps
Starter: Electric starter Electric starter

The 790 Duke vs the 890 Duke in the chassis

What you need to know about the new KTM Duke 890 R
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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A lot of the chassis on the 890 Duke R is the same as the 790, but with small, yet significant, differences. The 890 weighs less, not because of any fancy new improvement, but because KTM put a solo seat and no passenger footpegs on the 890. Bam! Seven pounds gone.

Ride height is increased by 0.6 inch, which may not seem like much, but the result is a steeper angle on the swingarm and less squat. You’ll feel the difference in improved stability and acceleration from the apex. Rider ergonomics have also changed, allowing for a more aggressive riding position. The seat is higher, the footpegs are higher and moved more toward the rear. This puts you farther forward and in a more aggressive position than the 790.

Spec-wise, the 890 looks like the 790 in the suspension components, but the 890 comes with a fully adjustable, new WP APEX suspension better able to handle the increased horsepower. The Cornering ABS and next-generation Cornering Motorcycle Traction Control have a new 6D lean-angle sensor that detects side-to-side and forward/rearward pitch, but also detects drift positioning.

ModelDuke 890 RDuke 790
Frame: Chromium-Molybdenum-steel using the engine as stressed element, powder coated Chromium-Molybdenum-steel using the engine as stressed element, powder coated
Subframe: Aluminum Aluminum
Front suspension/Wheel travel: WP APEX 43, fully adjustable/ 5.5 in. (140 mm) WP APEX 43/ 5.5 in. (140 mm)
Rear suspension/Wheel travel: WP APEX Monoshock, fully adjustable/ 5.9 in. (150 mm) WP APEX Monoshock, fully adjustable/ 5.9 in. (150 mm)
Rake: 65.7° 66°
Trail: 3.9 in. (99.7 mm)
Front brake: Dual 320 mm discs, Brembo StylemaMonobloc 4-piston, radially mounted caliper, ABS Dual 300 mm discs, Brembo StylemaMonobloc 4-piston, radially mounted caliper, ABS
Rear brake: 240 mm disc, Brembo single piston floating caliper, ABS 240 mm disc, Brembo single piston floating caliper, ABS
ABS: Bosch 9.1 MP (incl. Cornering ABS and super moto mode) Bosch 9.1 MP (incl. Cornering ABS and super moto mode)
Front wheel: Cast aluminum, 3.50 x 17-in. Cast aluminum, 3.50 x 17-in.
Rear wheel: Cast aluminum, 5.50 x 17-in. Cast aluminum, 5.50 x 17-in.

Is it a 790 Duke with a bigger engine?

What you need to know about the new KTM Duke 890 R
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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What you need to know about the new KTM Duke 890 R
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Is the 890 Duke R just a 790 Duke with a bigger engine? No. There’s so much more that the specs list just doesn’t tell you. Put this all together and you have greater linear acceleration with anti-wheelie control. We thought the 790 was flickable and the 890 out-shines it. Cornering is spot-on. The latest transmission technology spawned on the 790 now has lighter spring action and shorter lever travel, which means faster shifting even if you don’t opt for the quickshifter.

Yeah, it’s really freakin’ nice.

ModelDuke 890 RDuke 790
Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, 4-stroke, parallel twin Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, 4-stroke, parallel twin
Displacement: 890 cc 799 cc
Bore x Stroke: 90.7 mm x 68.8 mm 88 mm x 65.7 mm
Horsepower: 119 hp (89 kW) @ 9,250 rpm 105 hp (77 kW) @ 9,000 rpm
Torque: 73 lb-ft (99 Nm) @ 7,750 rpm 64.2 lb-ft (87 Nm) @ 8,000 rpm
Compression ratio: 13.5:1 12.7:1
Fuel system: DKK Dellorto w/46 mm throttle body DKK Dellorto w/46 mm throttle body
Lubrication system: Pressure Lubrication w/2 oil pumps Pressure Lubrication w/2 oil pumps
Starter: Electric starter Electric starter
Transmission: 6-speed 6-speed
Clutch: Cable operated, w/PASC antihopping slipper Cable operated, w/PASC antihopping slipper
Engine Management: Bosch EMS w/RBW Bosch EMS w/RBW
Traction control: MTC (lean angle sensitive, 3-Mode, Track optional MTC (3-mode + Track, disengageable)
Chassis:
Frame: Chromium-Molybdenum-steel using the engine as stressed element, powder coated Chromium-Molybdenum-steel using the engine as stressed element, powder coated
Subframe: Aluminum Aluminum
Front suspension/Wheel travel: WP APEX 43, fully adjustable/ 5.5 in. (140 mm) WP APEX 43/ 5.5 in. (140 mm)
Rear suspension/Wheel travel: WP APEX Monoshock, fully adjustable/ 5.9 in. (150 mm) WP APEX Monoshock, fully adjustable/ 5.9 in. (150 mm)
Rake: 65.7° 66°
Trail: 3.9 in. (99.7 mm)
Front brake: Dual 320 mm discs, Brembo StylemaMonobloc 4-piston, radially mounted caliper, ABS Dual 300 mm discs, Brembo StylemaMonobloc 4-piston, radially mounted caliper, ABS
Rear brake: 240 mm disc, Brembo single piston floating caliper, ABS 240 mm disc, Brembo single piston floating caliper, ABS
ABS: Bosch 9.1 MP (incl. Cornering ABS and super moto mode) Bosch 9.1 MP (incl. Cornering ABS and super moto mode)
Front wheel: Cast aluminum, 3.50 x 17-in. Cast aluminum, 3.50 x 17-in.
Rear wheel: Cast aluminum, 5.50 x 17-in. Cast aluminum, 5.50 x 17-in.
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 58.3 in. (1,480 mm) 58.3 in. (1,480 mm)
Ground clearance: 8.1 in. (206 mm) 7.3 in. (186 mm)
Seat height: 32.8 in. (834 mm) 32.5 (825 mm)
Fuel capacity: 3.7 gal. (14 l) 3.7 gal. (14 l)
Fuel economy: 49.6 mpg (4.74 l/100 km) 53.5 mpg (4.4 l/100 km)
Weight (dry, claimed): 366 lbs. (166 kg) 372.6 lbs.(169 kg)

Further reading

KTM

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Allyn Hinton
Writer and Associate Motorcycle Editor - allyn@topspeed.com
If it had moving parts, it had Allyn's interest from a very early age. At age 11 when bicycles were too simple to hold her interest any longer, her father found her taking apart the lawn mower. When he asked why she was doing it, she replied, “I need to see how it works.” That curiosity and mechanical drive served her well over the next 40 years as she pursued careers in both the automotive and motorcycle industries. Having shared her love of motorcycles with her now husband, biker TJ Hinton, Allyn brings that love and knowledge to TopSpeed as writer and associate motorcycle editor.  Read More
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All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: ktm.com, photographer credit: R. Schedl

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