Most people can’t name the middle boy from The Brady Bunch despite watching the show for years. No matter how talented the middle child is, it rarely receives the attention it deserves.
The middle child of the Duke family is the 690 R and it too struggles for recognition.
It’s all part of our psyche of wanting the fastest and most powerful of anything, so many look past the 690 Duke R and go straight to the 1290 Super Duke R flagship.
In KTM’s Peter Brady, I discovered a machine that delivers pure riding enjoyment based on an old philosophy – if you can’t add power, subtract weight.
The 690 Duke R uses KTM’s dirt-bike arsenal to keep weight to a minimum and performance to a maximum. Its supermoto derived 690cc, big single differs from its smaller-displacement 390 Duke sibling with just a single overhead cam. Instead, it has twin sparkplugs, controlled independently by the engine management system to maximise combustion across the rev range.
European markets receive a standard 690 Duke, but our R version gains an Akrapovic slip-on for more bark and a power pep, fully adjustable WP suspension with extra travel and higher-set footpegs for improved lean angle.
Having just a single cylinder means the engine is narrow and light, with minimal rotating mass. During the design stage, this allowed the talented KTM engineers to produce a chassis made from thin-walled chromium-molybdenum tube, weighing just nine kilograms.
It adds up to a bike with a dry weight of 149.5kg, or a very flickable motorcycle that stops on a dime.
During our time with the feisty thing, I stretched its legs through the twists and turns of a brilliant mountain pass followed by a tight and technical race circuit. The 690 R excelled in all conditions, mainly due to its low- and mid-range torque. The power delivery is linear right across the rev range doing away with the need for any kind of traction control system as it drives the bike smoothly out of low- or high-speed bends.
It’s a cinch to fire through fast sweepers and ‘S’ bends, with just a finger on the brake lever for security. Being able to barrel into a tight hairpin with the slipper clutch doing its thing, and the Brembo Monobloc stoppers squeezed to the point of ABS intervention, means even with my average ability, the only thing to pass me all day on the track was a 1290 Super Duke being ridden by one of the KTM test team.
The 690 Duke R is priced from $14,495 ($NZ16,749) plus on-road costs, but the look on the faces of your friends when you hose their multi-cylinder sportsbikes with a single-cylinder naked will be priceless.
Article by Chris Dobie for MT 308
SPEX | KTM 690 Duke R
TYPE: Liquid-cooled, four-valves-per-cylinder, SOHC, single-cylinder
BORE & STROKE: 102 x 84.5mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 12.6:1
FUEL SYSTEM: Keihin EFI
TYPE: Six-speed, constant-mesh
FINAL DRIVE: Chain
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:
FRAME TYPE: Chromium-moly, steel trellis frame
FRONT SUSPENSION: Fully adjustable WP USD 43mm fork, 150mm travel
Fully adjustable WP monoshock, 150mm travel
FRONT BRAKE: 300mm disc with four-piston caliper, ABS
REAR BRAKE: 230mm disc with single-piston caliper, ABS
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:
DRY WEIGHT: 149.5kg
SEAT HEIGHT: 865mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 14L
WHEELS & TYRES:
FRONT: 17×3.5-inch cast aluminium with 120/70 R17
REAR: 17×5.0-inch cast aluminium with 160/60 R 17
TYRES: Metzeler Sportec M7 RR
POWER: 51.5kW (70hp) at 7500rpm
TORQUE: 70Nm at 5500rpm
PRICE: From $14,495 (plus on-road costs)
WARRANTY: 24 months, unlimited km
– Fun factor
– Analogue/digital dash combo
– More exhaust note needed