After much teasing, we are finally getting an inside look at the 2020 KTM 890 Duke R. Although it’s an all-new model, look at it as the high-performance version of the 790 Duke. It takes the 790 and pumps it up in a wide variety of ways, so let us count them with Fast Facts about what KTM calls The Super Scalpel.
1. The engine gets big changes—the 790 did not merely get a bore job. To get to 890cc from 799cc, KTM widened the bore by 2.7mm to 88mm, and lengthened the stroke 3.1mm to 68.8mm. That means the 890 is a bit less oversquare than the 790, though it is still a short-stroke design. More air is let in, as the intake and exhaust valves in the new cylinder head each get a one-millimeter increase in diameter. The compression ratio is increased to 13.5:1 from 12.7:1. Further, the cam profiles are more aggressive with increased lift.
2. To keep the 2020 KTM 890 Duke R’s motor from being a difficult-to-ride lumpy twin, it gets a new crankshaft. We’re used to seeing lighter pieces on performance upgrades. In the case of the 890 Duke R, its crankshaft has 20 percent more rotational mass than the 790. That will smooth out the power pulses, and KTM claims it will aid in cornering. There are also new connecting rods and pistons. The three-ring pistons use a shorter pin and are lighter. To smooth things out even more, there’s a new balance shaft.
3. Additional tuning of the motor’s behavior comes via sophisticated Dell’Oroto fuel injection. There are 46mm throttle bodies for each cylinder, and they are tuned independently. According to KTM, this improves low-rpm performance. Each cylinder also gets a manifold pressure sensor, and that allows more fine-tuning by the fueling system.
4. Although the up/down quickshifter is optional, KTM has improved the action of the gearbox. The shift spring is lighter, and the lever travel shorter.
5. The 2020 KTM 890 Duke R gets plenty of electronic rider aids. With a new 6D lean angle sensor, the electronics package has an even better idea of what the motorcycle is doing. In addition to keeping track of the pitch and yaw of the 890, it also can read the drift positioning. With additional wheel speed sensors, the 890 Duke R can best control traction and apply ABS. Acceleration is enhanced by an anti-wheelie function, though it can be turned off by those who enjoy such antics. There is also an optional electronic slipper clutch that enhances the operation of the standard mechanical slipper clutch, with it helping most in low-traction environments.
7. The standard 890 Duke R has three power modes, with an optional Track mode. You get the traditional array of Sport, Street, and Rain—we all know what they do. The Track mode has launch control, nine levels of traction control, and wheelie interdiction is off.
8. KTM did not give the 2020 890 Duke R a new frame, but it did change the setup. The ride height is up 0.6 inches. This provides the 890 with more cornering clearance, as well as less squat coming out of corners thanks to the swingarm sitting at a steeper angle. A WP steering damper is standard.
9. Along with the new chassis setup comes much more sophisticated WP Apex suspension units. The fork has full damping adjustment, with the functions separated into each leg. As is sometimes the case with WP, the Apex fork has fixed spring preload. The piggyback-reservoir shock is fully adjustable, and that includes independent high- and low-speed compression damping tuning.
10. The 2020 KTM 890 Duke R has sportier ergonomics than the 790. KTM places the rider slightly higher and more forward on the 890, with the tapered aluminum handlebar lower and farther forward. The pegs are lifted up and back, and have more meat to them. With more weight on the front end, KTM went from steel to aluminum for the steering stem to save weight.
11. The 890 Duke R is a solo motorcycle. By removing the passenger pegs and seat, the R saves seven pounds.
12. High-end braking makes the 2020 KTM 890 Duke R faster. We all know that better braking means lower lap times, and the 890 gets premium Brembo Stylema monoblock brake calipers in the front, with lightweight aluminum carriers. KTM tossed aside the 790’s 300mm discs and replaced them with 320mm rotors. There’s less braking fluid, and that means shorter lever travel, and that equals aggressive braking. Riders are given the opportunity to personalize the brake feel via Brembo’s Multi Click System at the lever. It changes the lever ration, which mimics a change in the piston diameter. Riders who like a softer initial engagement that ramps up progressively will be pleased. With all the changes, the 890 Duke R’s braking package is 2.6 pounds lighter than the 790, while offering more performance.
13. Michelin Power Cup 2 tires are track-focused, per the manufacturer. Michelin says the Power Cup 2 is “designed for 90 percent track use.” It’s definitely a dry weather tire, as the land-to-sea ratio is unmistakable.
14. The 890’s plastic is the same as the 790, though the graphics are appropriately updated.
15. The 2020 KTM 890 Duke R in showrooms now with an MSRP of $11,699.
Photography by Erste Wahl and Kiska
2020 KTM 890 Duke R Specs
- Type: Parallel twin
- Displacement: 890cc
- Bore x stroke: 90.7 x 68.8mm
- Compression ratio: 13.5:1
- Valvetrain: DOHC, 8 valves
- Fueling: DKK Dell’Orto 46mm throttle body
- Lubrication: Pressure lubrication w/ 2 oil pumps
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: PASC slipper clutch
- Final drive: Chain
- Frame: Chromoly steel w/ aluminum subframe
- Front suspension; travel: Compression- and rebound-damping adjustable 43mm WP Apex fork; 5.5 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Fully adjustable WP Apex shock; 5.9 inches
- Wheels: Cast aluminum
- Front wheel: 3.5 x 17
- Rear wheel: 5.50 x 17
- Tires: Michelin Power Cup 2
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 180/55 x 17
- Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ Brembo Stylema calipers and Brembo MCS master cylinder
- Rear brake: 240mm disc w/ single-piston floating caliper
- ABS: Bosch 9.1 MP; defeatable w/ Cornering ABS and Supermoto mode
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 58.3 inches
- Rake: 24.3 degrees
- Trail: 3.9 inches
- Seat height: 32.8 inches
- Fuel capacity: 3.7 gallons
- Curb weight: 388 pounds
2020 KTM 890 Duke R Price:
- $12,599 MSRP