The Sniper The New Ktm 990 Duke Breaks Cover At Eicma
The massive annual motorcycle trade show, EICMA, is in full swing—and new releases keep coming out of the woodwork. This time it’s the turn of the Austrian powerhouse KTM, with the announcement of the new and much wilier KTM 990 Duke.
Following the success of the 790 Duke and 890 Duke, the KTM 990 Duke comes dangerously close to blurring the lines between middleweight and liter-plus bikes. KTM has dubbed it ‘The Sniper,’ and calls it the “lightest, sharpest, most performance-focused mid-class naked” to ever come from their Mattighofen factory.
Powering the 990 Duke is a brand new Euro 5+ compliant 947 cc LC8c parallel-twin engine. It features significant camshaft and valve timing changes to make it more rideable, and is cooled with the help of a bigger radiator. The all-new exhaust is a full stainless steel affair, with revised lambda sensors that promise more accurate data management.
The new LC8c is good for 123 hp at 9,500 rpm and 103 Nm of torque at 6,750 rpm, with a dry weight of 179 kilos [394.6 lbs]. That’s a small bump over the 120 hp that the current KTM 890 Duke R puts out, and a more noticeable boost over the 790 Duke’s 105 hp. It’s still a way off the 180 hp offered by the marque’s flagship 1290 Super Duke R—but, interestingly, the new 990 is closer to the 1290 than it is to the 890, visually.
Its new 14.5-liter [3.8-gallon] steel fuel tank is flanked by sharp side panels, styled in line with the Duke range’s usual kinetic aesthetic. The 990 Duke carries on KTM’s fine tradition of bizarre, alien-like headlights too, with a new hollowed-out LED unit that resembles the mandibles of a robotic insect.
No doubt, the Duke (which, coincidentally, turns 30 this year) is an acquired taste. But there’s no denying that the 990 Duke looks fast and razor sharp—and the cohesiveness of its frenetic geometry and myriad parallel lines is impressive. For 2024, you can get the 990 Duke in either orange or metallic black.
The 990 Duke’s seat’s been angled up at the front compared to the 890’s, to make the riding position more stable and stop the rider from sliding forward. The seat height clocks in at 825 mm, and the passenger seat sits 20 mm higher than before. 760 mm-wide handlebars are adjustable four ways; two on the forged aluminum offset yokes, and two on the risers, which can be rotated.
Everything sits on a new tubular steel frame, with 8% more sideways stiffness and 5% more torsional rigidity than before for sharper handling. The asymmetrical double-sided swingarm is new too, with a 35% reduction in stiffness that KTM says improves rear wheel traction during hard riding. It’s lighter too, and attaches to a revised swingarm pivot point with a forged pivot bolt.
One of the KTM 990 Duke’s raddest parts is its die-cast aluminum subframe. It’s not only been designed to offer maximum strength with the minimum amount of parts, but also to host the air intake and airbox. So those perforated panels under the seat are functional, feeding air to the intake.
As you’d expect from KTM, WP APEX Suspension components adorn the 990 Duke at both ends. The 43 mm upside-down forks use an open cartridge design, with compression and rebound damping handled by separate fork legs.
The 990 Duke gets its 17” alloy wheels from the 1290 Super Duke R, with modifications to the rear wheel to make it fit the 990’s swingarm. They’re wrapped in 120/70-R17 and 180/55-R17 Bridgestone S22 tires. Twin 300 mm brake discs sit up front, with a single 240 mm disc at the back; it goes without saying that ABS is standard too.
In the cockpit, a 5” TFT display (and a USB-C charger) offers access to the bike’s five electronic rider modes and various settings. KTM’s new menu design even allows riders to allocate features to four ‘favorites’ slots on the display’s home screen—including readouts like lean angle data. And there’s a track-specific rider mode that lets you mess with the anti-wheelie and launch controls.
KTM’s PowerParts catalog is stacked with a bunch of look-fast bits for the 990 Duke, along with a bunch of software upgrades. If you’re not familiar with KTM’s current modus operandi, they’re in the habit of pre-installing things like a quick-shifter or additional riding mode features, but leaving them disabled until you spring for the upgrade.
It’s the same story with the 990 Duke, except that KTM has now introduced a ‘demo’ feature, which turns all the optional software extras on for the first 1,500 km.
We’ve sampled both the KTM 890 Duke R and 1290 Super Duke R, and both are remarkably agile and trackable. If the 990 Duke’s changes are as effective as KTM claims, it should be an absolute riot. And although we’re still on the fence about how it looks, we’re secretly crushing on the all-black colorway.
Source: KTM | Outdoor and action images by Rudi Schedl
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