KTM unleashes its "Super Scapel" on North America

KTM added to its mid-range naked-sportbike bracket with the 890 Duke R, now available in North America. Essentially, the factory took its proven 790 Duke and buffed it with fully-adjustable suspension, racier ergos, and better anchors. An all-new powerplant gives a boost in power and torque along with a handful of rider aids to add an element of control over the ride characteristics.

  • 2020 KTM 890 Duke R
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel Twin
  • Displacement:
    890 cc
  • Price:
    10399
  • Price:

2020 KTM 890 Duke R Design

  • Aggressive look
  • Easily-removed street components for race day
  • LED lighting
  • Color TFT display
2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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This 890 Duke R carries itself with plenty of that KTM look due to aggressive, if abbreviated, bodywork. That aggressive panache isn’t just for show. KTM designed this bike both for riders looking to progress to a larger machine as well as riders of large bikes who’re looking for something almost as powerful but more maneuverable. Additionally, the 890 Duke R leaves open the possibility of proper closed-circuit racing through easily-removed street components and an accessories catalog replete with weight-saving carbon fiber components and racing parts.

Not an ounce is wasted on the pared-down front fender that doubles as a guard for the inner fork tubes. A bug-like dual headlight can establishes an angle at the front end, an angle picked up by the narrow cheeks fairings making an important visual connection to the KTM family, but is far too small to serve as a shroud for the radiator. The fairings are all about the looks.

A 3.7-gallon fuel tank forms an almost adventure bike-like hump with shoulders hidden behind the covers that adds some visual weight up front. A steep drop to the 32.8 inch high saddle pulls the rider down into the bike for positive integration. The seat comes with a strong wane up front where it meets the tank to leave plenty of thigh room for comfort, but the rest of the seat looks like the usual uncomfortable slab KTM is known for. I mean, seriously guys, what is up with the upholstery?

Billet-aluminum footpegs and controls are in the accessories catalog, as well as a side-stand removal kit that lets you drop even more weight ahead of race days. LEDs provide the light all around with DRLs up front along with standoff-style turn signals that actually mount to the instrument bracket to keep them high and out of harm’s way. Just above the blinkers you’ll find a color TFT screen that handles the entirety of the instrumentation.

2020 KTM 890 Duke R Chassis

  • Fully adjustable WP Apex suspension
  • Bosch 9.1 MP ABS
  • Larger brake discs
  • High level of flickability
  • Corning traction control
2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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Welded chrome-molybdenum steel members make up the main structure on the 890 Duke R. It’s powder-coated orange, big surprise there, and it uses the engine as a stressed member to complete the structure. This displaces a large chunk of tubing to keep weight down, and toward that end the 890 Duke R weighs in at 366 pounds, dry.

A die-cast, yoke-style aluminum swingarm finishes out the standing structure. It’s engineered to be both strong and light to keep unsprung weight down. To finish out the skeleton, the cast-aluminum subframe doubles as the airbox housing to displace the weight of equipment.

A 24.3-degree steering head sets up toward the agile end of the spectrum but holds short to improve stability at speed. Suspension components come from the WP APEX line with split-function forks up front delivering the full trinity of adjustments, and a monoshock out back comes with the trio-plus-one that features a high- and low-speed compression-damping adjuster. Suspension travel measures at 5.5 inches and 5.9 inches at the front and rear, respectively.

Lightweight cast-alloy wheels round out the rolling chassis in KTM orange paint that really pops visually against all the surrounding blackout. Michelin Powercup II hypersport hoops make the final connection to the road in a Z rating that’ll handle up to and including track use.

Dual, four-pot, Brembo Stylema calipers and 320 mm discs haul down the front wheel with a 240 mm disc and single-piston caliper to manage the energy at the rear tire, all with Bosch 9.1 MP ABS on overwatch. It comes with a super-moto mode that allows you to lock up the rear wheel and is supported by an inertial measurement device that provides corner-sensitive protection. That said, the factory engineered the frame to deliver a high level of flickability and crisper handling than the large-bore machines.

Frame: Chromium-Molybdenum-steel
Subframe: Aluminum
Front suspension/Wheel travel: WP APEX 43, fully adjustable/ 5.5 in. (140 mm)
Rear suspension/Wheel travel: WP APEX Monoshock, fully adjustable/ 5.9 in. (150 mm)
Rake: 65.7°
Trail: 3.9 in. (99.7 mm)
Front brake: Dual 320 mm discs, Brembo Stylema Monobloc 4-piston, radially mounted caliper, ABS
Rear brake: 240 mm disc, Brembo single piston floating caliper, ABS
Front wheel: Cast aluminum, 3.50 x 17-in.
Rear wheel: Cast aluminum, 5.50 x 17-in.

2020 KTM 890 Duke R Drivetrain

  • Liquid-cooled, 890 cc, parallel twin engine
  • Independent throttle bodies
  • 13 percent more power and almost 14 percent more torque
  • Accessory quick shifter
2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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The new powerplant on the 890 Duke R rocks a 90.7 mm bore and 68.8 mm stroke for a total displacement of 890 cc. The parallel-twin mill uses an engine water jacket and radiator to carry off the waste heat and the factory doubles down on the thermal protection with a liquid-cooled heat exchanger to protect the engine’s lifeblood. More than just a bored out 790 engine, the redesigned head carries enlarged poppets with 37 mm intake valves and 30 mm exhaust valves for more efficient aspiration, and it relies on chain-driven dual over-head cams for timing. Plus, there’s a balance shaft to offset the vibes at higher revolutions.

A ride-by-wire throttle control communicates with an ECU with independent throttle bodies to feed each cylinder, but that’s just the start of the fandanglery. The Ride Modes feature lets you dial in the power-delivery personality you’d prefer with four choices from which to choose: “Rain,” “Track,” “Street,” and “Sport.” Traction control protects the integrity of the rear contact patch and KTM’s Motor Slip Regulation, which is a drag torque-defeating feature, prevents loss to traction due to heavy engine braking.

Power flows through a six-speed transmixxer and chain-type final drive to the tune of 119 horsepower and 73 pound-feet of torque to give it Duke-worthy acceleration. If you think you may want to race it, you can opt for the accessory up & down quickshifter and a Track Mode that is a separate function from the Ride Modes in that it enables a launch control and turns off the anti-wheelie feature so you can lift the front end at will.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, 4-stroke, parallel twin
Displacement: 890 cc
Bore x Stroke: 90.7 mm x 68.8 mm
Horsepower: 119 hp (89 kW) @ 9,250 rpm
Torque: 73 lb-ft (99 Nm) @ 7,750 rpm
Compression ratio: 13.5:1
Transmission: 6-speed
Fuel system: DKK Dellorto w/46 mm throttle body
Lubrication system: Pressure Lubrication w/2 oil pumps
Primary drive: 39:75
Final drive: 16:41
Clutch: Cable operated, w/PASC slipper
Engine Management: Bosch EMS w/RBW
Traction control: MTC (lean angle sensitive, 3-Mode, Track optional

2020 KTM 890 Duke R Pricing

2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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The U.S. price on the 890 Duke R is $11,699, which puts it a grand over the 790. Considering what you get, that seems like a grand well spent.

2020 KTM 890 Duke R Competitors

2018 - 2020 Ducati Monster 821
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2020 KTM 890 Duke R
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There’s a lot of ways I could go for a worthy competitor for the 890 Duke R, but I decided to head south to see what the Italians have in response. The Ducati Monster 821 seems to fit the bill quite nicely.

Ducati Monster 821

2018 - 2020 Ducati Monster 821
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As always, the Monster carries itself with none of the spikiness associated with KTM’s look, and it manages to convey a masculine air in spite of its sensuous curves. Ducati leaves little to the imagination through a dearth of body panels so everything from the Trellis frame to the powerplant is apparent at a glance. The 821 is a tribute piece for the Monster 900 that launched the family over a quarter-century ago.

Like the KTM, a stressed engine completes the frame, but Ducati falls behind in the suspension technology with only the obligatory spring-preload adjustment. The brakes also leave Ducati behind. Both come with Brembo anchors and Bosch ABS, but only KTM sends its entry out with cornering sensitivity built into the system.

Ducati relies on its Testastretta Desmodromic engine that carries a pair of cylinders as well, though arranged as an L-Twin instead of a vertical twin. No advantage either way, just pointing out the difference. The Duc packs 821 cc to the Duke’s 890 cc and that shows up in the power numbers with only 109 horsepower and 63 pounds o’ grunt against KTM’s solid 119/73 performance. In spite of the performance dropoff, the Duc still brings a stock electronics suite to the party that is more-or-less even with KTM’s fandanglery and would put many similar bikes to shame.

Price-wise, they’re too close to make a difference one way or the other, so feature preference and a test ride will be the deciding factor.

Read our full review of the Ducati Monster 821.

He Said

Ya know, I hate to say it but I am just shallow enough to roll with the Monster instead of the Duke on looks alone. Yep, it’s like that, folks. Still, I have to give KTM its props for risking the R&D money on an in-between sized bike, and I definitely see it as a viable alternative to the 1290 Super Duke R and the 790 Duke.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I’m a little surprised that the quick shifter is an option on the 890 when it is standard on the 790. When KTM added it to the standard equipment package on the 790, I thought we’d see it added up the range. The buyer for this kind of bike wants the quick-shifter, yes? So by reserving it for the options catalog, the MSRP is artificially low. I think this is a good displacement range for better flickability over the larger bikes.”

2020 KTM 890 Duke R Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, 4-stroke, parallel twin
Displacement: 890 cc
Bore x Stroke: 90.7 mm x 68.8 mm
Horsepower: 119 (89 kW) @ 9,250 rpm
Torque: 73 lb-ft (99 Nm) @ 7,750 rpm
Compression ratio: 13.5:1
Transmission: 6-speed
Fuel system: DKK Dellorto w/46 mm throttle body
Lubrication system: Pressure Lubrication w/2 oil pumps
Primary drive: 39:75
Final drive: 16:41
Clutch: Cable operated, w/PASC antihopping slipper
Engine Management: Bosch EMS w/RBW
Traction control: MTC (lean angle sensitive, 3-Mode, Track optional
Chassis:
Frame: Chromium-Molybdenum-steel using the engine as stressed element, powder coated
Subframe: Aluminum
Front suspension/Wheel travel: WP APEX 43, fully adjustable/ 5.5 in. (140 mm)
Rear suspension/Wheel travel: WP APEX Monoshock, fully adjustable/ 5.9 in. (150 mm)
Rake: 65.7°
Trail: 3.9 in. (99.7 mm)
Front brake: Dual 320 mm discs, Brembo Stylema Monobloc 4-piston, radially mounted caliper, ABS
Rear brake: 240 mm disc, Brembo single piston floating caliper, ABS
ABS: Bosch 9.1 MP (incl. Cornering ABS and super moto mode)
Front wheel: Cast aluminum, 3.50 x 17-in.
Rear wheel: Cast aluminum, 5.50 x 17-in.
Dimensions & Capacities:
Wheelbase: 58.3 in. (1,480 mm)
Ground clearance: 8.1 in. (206 mm)
Seat height: 32.8 in. (834 mm)
Fuel capacity: 3.7 gal. (14 l)
Fuel economy: 49.6 mpg (4.74 l/100 km)
Weight (dry, claimed): 366 lbs. (166 kg)

Further Reading

KTM

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TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: ducati.com, ktm.com, photographer credit: R. Schedl

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