KTM goes big with three new street and adventure machines for 2020
KTM brought a bumper crop of new goodies out for EICMA 2019, including a capable-looking new 390 Adventure bike, a faster, firmer Duke 890 R to go alongside the "scalpel" Duke 790, and a fresh chassis overhaul for its 1290 Super Duke R flagship.
2020 KTM 1290 Super Duke R
Let's start with "the Beast" – one of the most well-rounded motorcycles we'd ever experienced when we rode the first edition back in 2014. The power and sheer grunt out of that 177-horsepower, 140-Nm (103-lb-ft) 1301cc V-twin motor are absolutely epic, and yet so beautifully controllable that it delivers an astonishing Jekyll-and-Hyde riding experience unmatched in the motorcycle world.
Thankfully, the engine's overall character hasn't changed much in the 2020 update. It's become a bit lighter, and more of a structural member in the revised chassis. It's got a faster-shifting gearbox, twin-spark plug ignition in each cylinder for improved efficiency, titanium inlet valves, a new ram air system, a new pressure-lubricated slipper clutch that's lighter at the lever, and redesigned cylinder heads engineered to bump up low-to-mid RPM torque, as if that were remotely necessary.
The frame, on the other hand, is completely different, and its use of the engine as a structural component makes the trellis parts of the bike much smaller while making the overall chassis a lot stiffer. If I'm honest, I find it less attractive than the previous model to look at, but then I do remember finding the earlier models a touch squidgy in the corners and wondering if a stiffer frame might make them even better. And the looks are evened out by the addition of a much funkier set of exhaust pipes.
The redesigned frame has allowed a longer swingarm to be fitted – all the better for the rear suspension's contribution to grip and feel. Speaking of the suspension, both ends get treated to WP's latest fully adjustable Apex gear, and the brakes are upgraded to Brembo's funky Stylemas. The subframe is a new, composite jobbie aimed at reducing weight, and the result is a reasonably significant drop from a dry weight of 195 kg (430 lb) on the previous model to 189 kg (417 lb) on the new one.
Bars and pegs are now adjustable, which is nice – and the new 5-inch TFT dash is as well, so you can angle it to suit yourself. The electronics suite is also very comprehensive, including traction and wheelie control, multi-mode ABS, cruise control, multiple riding modes, tire pressure monitors and a bidirectional quickshifter.
In short, a truly outstanding motorcycle has become significantly better, again. May god help us (to afford one). Look, a video!
2020 KTM 890 Duke R
Here's a new one we didn't see coming. The 790 Duke was nicknamed "the scalpel" due to its light weight, precise handling and wildly thrashable, 105-hp parallel twin motor. But KTM has decided there's room in its burgeoning road bike lineup for a "super scalpel" with a little bit more everything.
The 890 Duke R's parallel twin is both bored and stroked out, and offers 119 hp and 99 Nm (73 lb-ft), enough of a jump to make things spicy, especially considering it's also managed to shave off a few pounds for a super-flickable dry weight of 166 kg (366 lb).
The 890 gets the fancy, fresh WP Apex suspension at either end, and Brembo's Stylema brakes, and it's set up for racier handling. The brake calipers alone, despite running larger, 320-mm discs than the 790, save an impressive 1.2 kg (2.6 lb) of unsprung weight on the 890.
All in all, you can treat the 890 Duke R as a full-fat R upgrade to the 790. This thing should be massive fun, and will spend a considerable amount more time at the fun end of the throttle stop than the 1290. Here's a video:
2020 KTM 390 Adventure
KTM's final new machine for EICMA has been a long time coming. The brand's 373cc single has been a huge success in both naked and sportsbike formats as a super-approachable and accessible engine for new riders, and as a flexible and fun powerplant for more experienced riders that simply love lightweight bikes. It was only a matter of time before it made its way to an adventure bike format, where it now represents an entry point to the brand's huge range of off-road capable touring machines – and as many riders will agree, a lightweight 400 like this might be a much easier machine to wrangle than any of the bigger ones if you're really planning to get dirty during your travels.
At 158 kg (348 lb), the 390 Adventure is heavy for a dirt bike, and light for a roadie, so about right for the category. Its performance figures of 43 hp and 37 Nm (27 lb-ft) will do the job nicely and punch well in the segment. There are no surprises with the wheel sizes: 19 inches at the front and 17 at the rear. That's a nice combination for this kind of machine, offering a good blend of on-and off-road capability. They're not spoked, though, so try not to bash and bend them too much.
A 14.5 liter (3.8-gallon) tank might not sound like much, but the huge efficiency of this small engine pushes the bike's range out past 400 km (250 mi). Money has been spent on the suspension, with fully adjustable WP Apex gear on board offering 170 mm (6.7 in) of travel at the front and 177 mm (7 in) of travel at the rear. Money has been saved on the ByBre brakes, which should still be fine. The seat height, at 855 mm (33.7 in) is actually slightly higher than the 790 Adventure's – but still far friendlier than a full-on dirt bike.
The 390 Adventure can be optioned up with hard plastic or soft fabric panniers, and while there doesn't seem to be a top case option as yet, those won't be hard to find once the bike hits the market. In all, this bike puts a great little engine in a simple, capable chassis ready to introduce riders to a plethora of trails in between the main roads.