New big-bore parallel twin motor for upper-middleweight supernaked, the KTM Duke 990.
Is bigger always better? Well, yes, and no. Up until ten or fifteen years ago, the quest for more performance generally meant bigger engines, especially in the twin-cylinder class.
Ducati and KTM both grew their litre V-twins into 1100, 1200 and 1300 machines, giving even more of a big hit in terms of torque and power. But in recent years, smaller capacity twins have worked just as well: Ducati’s Multistrada 950 V-twin was considered at least as good as the mighty 1260 version by many, and KTM’s 890 Duke gave almost as much daft fun as the big Super Duke – sometimes more, depending on the roads you were on.
Around town, on twisty back roads or a small race track, 160+bhp is often wasted, and there’s definitely a lot of fun from using absolutely all of the performance a bike has, rather than constantly shutting off the throttle…
And the orange Austrian brand is now closing that gap further, with an all-new KTM Duke 990, using a bigger 947cc version of the 889cc motor out of the 890 Duke. Power is up to 123bhp from the 115bhp of the base 890, and torque is up by 11Nm from 92 to 103 – good numbers, though still some way off the 180bhp from the Super Duke 1290.
The updated LC8c engine gets new pistons, an updated crank and tougher conrods, while sticking with the basic DOHC 8-valve water-cooled layout, with twin balancer shafts, slipper clutch, semi-dry-sump oiling and ride-by-wire fuel injection.
Away from the uprated motor, the chassis has also had a bit of a revamp. The trademark steel tube trellis frame is still there of course, but there’s a new closed-lattice cast dual-sided swingarm, and premium WP APEX forks and shock, fully adjustable at both ends.
KTM-branded brakes have four-piston radial calipers up front, and there are sporty Bridgestone S22 tyres on the cast aluminium wheels. Kerb weight is a commendable 179kg, ready to ride.
There’s the usual high-spec list of electronic rider aids, all controlled via a new five inch, anti-scratch bonded glass dashboard. KTM has revised the graphics and menu structures for a claimed faster, more intuitive access to the 990’s various features.
There’s a new function that displays lean angle data, with an optional TRACK Mode complete with lap timer and telemetry stats. A new USB-C connection is also added for device charging duties.
KTM’s also updated the styling, though it’s clearly still very much a Duke. The new LED headlight is a bit controversial, though we’re sure we’ll all get used to it soon enough.
The main light incorporates the position and daytime running lights, for a more integrated look, and the new light setup features a neat follow-home mode, staying on for a few moments after you turn off so you can lock up the garage more easily.
The 2024 KTM 990 DUKE will be available in Electric Orange or Black colour schemes, at authorised KTM Dealers from February 2024 onwards, priced at a decent £12,999 OTR. More info: www.ktm.com