Austrian hypernaked now makes 190bhp from new 1,350cc variable-valve timing engine
2024 marks 30 years since the very first KTM Duke roadster hit the streets, and the firm’s just released this, the KTM Super Duke 1390, which is the craziest version yet. The orange brand’s engineers have updated the engine, electronics, suspension and design, giving a fearsome performance boost to the already-nuts 1290 Super Duke.
The headline upgrade is to the LC8 engine, which gets a 2mm oversize rebore, new 110mm pistons and the same 71mm stroke as before, to give a new capacity of 1,350cc, up from 1,301cc.
That’s not a massive jump in displacement, but the new motor has a solid power gain, up to a claimed 190bhp from ‘just’ 180bhp on the old machine. That’s down to the additional changes, including a new variable valve timing setup in the DOHC cylinder heads, which has two separate cam profiles, for high-and low-speed running, allowing optimisation for lift at different rev ranges.
It does the same job as the ShiftCam setups on BMW’s big twins, and is as essential for emissions and fuel consumption as it is for pure performance, so is an all-round winner for any engine design.
There’s also bigger throttle bodies, up 4mm to 60mm, with a repositioned top-feed fuel injector nozzle and a redesigned airbox with a more direct ram-air system, all of which should help push the top-end drive to an even-wilder level.
KTM claims that the new motor has kept any increase in mass to a minimum (though it doesn’t give any figures for weight on the engine, or indeed the whole bike in early press releases).
The new engine also makes more torque – up 5Nm to 145Nm@8,000rpm, and it also has longer service intervals, now only needing valve checks after 60,000km, and there are new gearbox ratios in fifth and sixth gears to improve drive further.
This flash new motor lives in a chassis that’s based on the 1290 EVO setup, with the same steel tube trellis frame and single-sided aluminium swingarm setup. Brakes are the excellent Brembo Stylema calipers up front, while the standard tyre fitment is the new Michelin Power GP, with a 200-section rear, and a claimed 1.2kg less mass than before.
Meanwhile, there’s new suspension from the firm’s WP in-house brand, with the 1390 R having updates conventional WP APEX suspension components: a fully-adjustable split-function open cartridge 48mm USD front fork and a fully adjustable rear piggyback monoshock with separate high-and low-speed compression adjusters.
The posher 1390 R EVO Super Duke gets a new third-generation semi-active suspension setup, with electronically controlled magnetic valves for variable damping, giving a wide range of adjustability, from maximum comfort to track-ready stiffness at the press of a button.
Here, an electronic SCU (Suspension Control Unit) adapts the damping rates via the magnetic valves in real-time to the riding surface and rider style, based on the information provided by stroke sensors and the inertial measurement unit (IMU).
the settings for the suspension can be tweaked via the dashboard, with a selection of five different damping modes(AUTO, COMFORT, RAIN, STREET, and SPORT) on the TFT screen.
But there’s even more: you get a further two modes with the optional Suspension Pro pack, which unlocks Track and Pro modes. Suspension Pro offers three automatic preload auto-levelling settings which change the preload automatically based on the weight of the rider and recreate 3 defined geometries, auto-standard, auto-low, and auto-high.
There’s also an anti-dive setting, which keeps the front end stiff and stable even under hard braking, but the most intriguing part is the new ‘Factory Start’ mode. This emulates a MotoGP ‘holeshot’ device, dropping the bike down for the ultimate launch off the line.
The rest of the rider aids electronics are just as impressive, from a five-way wheelie control that goes all the way up to 22.25 degrees (which will feel much higher than it sounds), new engine brake control, more advanced traction and ABS, plus optional Track and Performance modes, all aimed at fine-tuning the bike’s response when on the limit on the race track.
On a more practical level, there’s tyre pressure monitoring, cruise control and a new TFT dash with a USB-C port for high-power accessories and charging.
The main story in the styling is the new KTM Duke family headlight surround, which has a very radical ‘Predator’ style face, which you either love or hate. It incorporates a trick new LED headlight setup with auto-adjusting position lights and daytime running lights around the edges, which is also 700g lighter than before.
The rest of the bodywork has been tweaked, but is still recognisable as a KTM Duke, and you get an extra 1.5 litres of petrol in the new 17.5 litre fuel tank – always welcome we reckon. There are new aerodynamic winglets which claim to improve downforce, and much more aggressive lines around the radiator covers and tank sidepanels.
So – a fitting upgrade for the Duke’s 30th anniversary. No final word on price or availability as yet – but there’ll be more info at the KTM website: www.ktm.com where hopefully the firm will also fill in some gaps from the early press communications, including the weight of the new bike.