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My First Ride and Initial Review of the KTM 690 Duke and KTM RC8 Street Bikes.

Yesterday I was over at Volusia Motorsports in New Smynra Beach, Fl checking out some of the 2013 KTM Street lineup. Until recently my impression of the KTM street bikes was a dirt bike with turn signals, boy I couldnt be more off base.


First bike I got to ride was the 690 Duke.

I really didnt expect much out of it since it is only 690cc's and a single cylinder bike. My thoughts kept going back to the Suzuki S40 with its 650cc single cylinder and that bike was so anemic it took the fun out of riding. So I start up the bike and let it idle for a bit, it sounds like was of those antique pieces of farm equipment you find at your county fair.

Pop.....pop.....pop.....pop.... I am not sure how to categorize this bike but I guess it would be a standard style? Well time to head out. I jump on the bike and head towards the road. Lots of traffic so I head to Pioneer Trail to try out the twisty's. First thing that happens is one of New Smyrna's Finest pulls in behind me, I look down at my speedo and it is in kilometers. Crap, should have studied more in elementary school since I forgot how to do the conversion! So I just pull into a parking lot and let him go by.

Okay now back to riding. I am sitting at the stop light getting ready to go and figure I will goose it and see if this thing moves. Well not only did it move but the front wheel came off the ground and my grin got bigger. So, now it is time to try it in second. Again the wheel comes off the ground with very little effort. So now it is time to stop playing and see how this thing rides. Hitting the first set of bends I laid off a little to get use to the bike but there was no need to, you looked it went almost without doing a thing. Second set, got a little aggressive (Shhh Dont tell Andy). The bike was made to do this type of stuff, it pulls hard in every gear even when you seem to be lugging the motor. So far hitting the winding road at just under 100kph was a piece of cake. The bike was firm but comfortable and the seat wasnt all that bad.

Now to try highway speeds, I was sure the bike would fail being a single cylinder and weighing in at 330lbs. I get stuck behind a tractor trailer in the right lane and a car in the left, I am surprised I am not getting blown all over the road. Finally the car slows down enough so I can jump in the left lane and open it up. Before I know it I am doing 158kph, I dont know (at the time) how fast that is but I know I am moving. Still not getting blown around and the bike seems like it still has a lot left but I dont want to go to jail so I back off. With no windscreen or any other protection from the wind I am still able to sit straight up without feeling like a parachute. I end the ride back at Volusia and am all grins. 

This is a great bike with very few downsides. I talk with Andy about the specs on the bike and he tells me it is 80 something horsepower! Just WOW, do the math on that weight to horsepower ratio. Torque is relatively mild at 55ftlbs but heck it still is only a 330lb bike. The price tag is under $8,000.00 msrp. Downside to this bike is that for such a great all around bike and it has a ton of performance accessories KTM missed the mark by not making accessories for it such as a trunk or saddlebags. This really could be the perfect all around commuter bike if it had some storage. Well hopefully the aftermarket industry will jump in on that. The next generation Duke will be available with an 1190cc motor pushing 200hp. That will be something to see Happy-)


Next up is KTM's superbike the RC8.

This bike is just awesome to look at and screams ride me like you stole me.

Andy asked me to be gentle on the bike since it was his but hell, thats like giving my ex the TV remote and expecting her not to change the channel constantly. Getting on this bike was awkward at best. The tail end sit higher then any bike I have ever been on and required me to do a hop to get on.

This bike comes with a 1190cc V-TWIN 175hp motor, I have never heard of such a thing on a sportbike! So off I go taking the same route through the twisty's. First thing I notice at the stop light is that it is a chore to look up and see the light. This bikes seating position is made to keep your eyes looking down at the road.

Heading down the road I decide to adjust my mirrors so I dont get an unexpected surprise visit from the officer I seen earlier. I quickly realize that the mirrors are for show only and were only put on to get DOT approval since they are useless. Comfort is just not there with this bike, the seat feels like a piece of leather covering a sheet of plywood but lets face it, this bike was not built for comfort. I hit the twisty's and unlike the Duke the RC8 requires effort to go through the turns. No doubt it will out handle the Duke but you really have to apply pressure to get the bike down on its side in the turns.

Coming out of the turns the V-Twin screams. I got to get on it a few times and it is a very impressive bike but honestly the V-Twin hurts the bike in the straight aways and I cant see it keeping up with a Japanese equivalent at half the price. Also, unlike the Duke the RC8 gets moved around by the wind a lot. Now the rain sets in and forget any sort of protection, I get soaked.

To me this bike is in the ego category and thats where it loses. I cant see it winning to many races if the track has a long straight away so it is mainly a look at me bike. When you get into the $17,000.00 price range there are quite a few look at me bikes and I think most would lean towards a Ducati or Aprilla for the wow factor. The bike did put a smile on my face but the price is a killer for it. $2,000.00 less and I think it would be the right price, just high enough that the Ducati wannabee owner can afford and low enough that that GSXR owner looking to take the next step can afford.


Since it rained I could not do my last ride which is pictured below. The 990 Adventure Baja Edition. Another V-Twin pushing 115hp... Why do you need a 115hp dirtbike? I guess because you This bike is HUGE and something Mad Max would be proud to own. Hopefully in the upcoming weeks I can jump on it.



Well, I am excited to see the full lineup of KTM's coming to Volusia Motorsports this summer... Until then, ride safe.

Last update on March 24 2013, 9:50 am by Andy.

Great Review! Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences and post them (and the photos) here on The VOG!

So DSJR70, is there a KTM 690 Duke in your future? 

Last update on March 24 2013, 9:51 am by Andy.
Founder Of The VOG
  likes this.

Good write up - good review.  Thanks for the time and effort.  I have several friends that are committed KTM dirt bike riders (desert and trail). These guys were hardcore MX riders in their younger days.  So they know their way around a dirt bike.  They sing praises to KTM.  They love'm. 

2008 Kingpin, 2010 Street Glide

Here's a video review of the features of the KTM 690 Duke:

Founder Of The VOG
Curious that they named it Duke. Looks like a direct competitor to the Monster. Don't those guys call their bikes Dukes?
100" Kingpin, 115 hp 124 tq
110" Vision, 128 hp 130 tq

Hey Don, thanks for posting the review. Nice job!!

2011 Cross Roads. Zoo Crew Member.

iabob said...
Curious that they named it Duke. Looks like a direct competitor to the Monster. Don't those guys call their bikes Dukes?

Yes, I wonder too about that.  The open frame design reminds me of several Ducati's.

Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada.
2012 Victory Cross Country Tour, Sunset Red.
2012 Victory Vegas, Sunset Red and White.

bikerdeano said...


Yes, I wonder too about that.  The open frame design reminds me of several Ducati's.

The open frame design has been very popular in Europe for a long time.  Ducati seems to have been the first to market it in the US successfully. 


Andy said...

Great Review! Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences and post them (and the photos) here on The VOG!

So DSJR70, is there a KTM 690 Duke in your future? 

I dont know yet.  It is a really fun bike but I would love to ride a 1190 Duke.  From what I understand there was a 1290 offered in Europe a couple of years back and it was supposed to be a blast.  This really was a fun bike, I hope they bring the whole Duke line up to the US. 


Good read!!  Thanks

Last update on March 24 2013, 12:22 pm by bubba.
Look in the mirror, laugh at's healthy!

Frank Coletto
2006 KP Custom />
Retired Bikes:
2011 Blue XC
2009 Vision Tour Premium (Black)
2007 Hammer S
2005 Custom KP
2002 Touring Cruiser Deluxe
2000 Custom C
2006 TC <br