15th Pictures


Tea single gets off to a refreshing start, as if the engineers had carved kilos of flywheel mass from all the waves.


Basic version: Above all, the suspension and brakes were saved on the standard Duke. The differences in practice are considerable.


KTM 690 Duke.


KTM 690 Duke.


The seat height has been increased by 30 mm to 865 mm compared to the standard Duke.


The new model is now available with a pillion seat cover.


The three driving modes, Rain, Street and Sport can be set here.




Only in the R: monobloc brake caliper.


… like the standard Duke made of stainless steel silencer.


The Duke thunders out of the Akrapovic bag of the R model, just as voluminous and bassy, …


Exclusively in the R version: the lean angle sensor.


The new TFT display (with night mode) is easy to read in all lighting conditions.


Empty the Duke weighs 148.5 kilograms and the R at 147.5 kilograms even one kilo less.

Peter Mayer

To make room for the balancer shaft, the camshaft moves to the left and actuates the intake valves directly. The exhaust valves are activated by a fork rocker arm (brown).

KTM 690 Duke / KTM 690 Duke R in the PS driving report

Power stew

Content of

An additional balancer shaft in the cylinder head is supposed to calm the fat single in the KTM 690 Duke. But that is only the half truth. PS drove the power stew – in the R version.

The upper body is almost on the tank, the view over the tip of the tiny windshield is aimed at the next straight. The red gear indicator has long been sounding the alarm. Switch! Because of, a little something is always possible. Hold full throttle and only step into the next gear a moment before the digital bar taps 9 on the rev counter. During a full-load gear change, the single briefly slaps into the void with a misfire, as if to say with a wink: "Hey, it works." Right, it works. And how. It is indeed in top form on the small Circuito Maspalomas race track on Gran Canaria, the new KTM 6th90 Duke R.

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KTM 690 Duke / KTM 690 Duke R in the PS driving report
Power stew

KTM 690 Duke R. A word of power. A duke has never been stronger. Definitely not another single-cylinder bike. A position from which the sovereignty grows to focus on other things. Above all on one thing: better running culture. Because despite the impressive fine-tuning that the Austrian technicians have given the Duke over the course of its 22 model years, the single ultimately remained what it always was: a big pot that never left any doubts about its stately moving masses. One who was still gruffly on the chain below 3000 rpm and urgently asked his pilot to shift up with a violent tingling sensation above 6000 rpm.

Second balancer shaft fits under the cylinder head cover

And now? The engineers implanted a second balance shaft in the fat man. The job wasn’t that easy. Because the space in the compact motor housing is exhausted. Which is why the vibration-damping newcomer quickly found shelter in the cylinder head. The solution, like simply grafting the balance weight onto the camshaft on the Aprilia RSV Mille, would have been technically easier to implement, but not as efficient due to the camshaft rotating at only half the crankshaft speed. Which is why the KTM engineers in the KTM 690 Duke R use the Unicam principle used by Honda in the new Africa Twin.

The camshaft moved backwards actuates the inlet valves directly and the exhaust valves via a fork rocker arm. This creates space for a separate balancer shaft that now operates at crankshaft speed thanks to a smaller drive pinion. Impressive: The integration of the new roommate was so compact that the ensemble fits under the cylinder head cover that was taken over from the previous model. And because not only rotating but also oscillating masses cause clatter, the engineers quickly shortened the stroke by 4.5 millimeters, leaving the displacement of the KTM 690 Duke R almost unchanged at 693 cm³ with a three millimeter larger bore.

Even at a leisurely pace, the R appears transformed

You don’t need a race track to feel the result of the intervention. On the contrary. The KTM 690 Duke R, which differs in many details from its standard sister (see differences between the KTM 690 Duke / 690 Duke R), shows itself to be transformed even at a stroll. That we don’t get it wrong, the LC4 propellant has not mutated into a cuddle kitten. It still doesn’t run completely smoothly below the 3000 mark. But the hacking has become much more subtle, milder and less intrusive. Above all, however, it no longer pushes itself to the fore in the emotional world of the Duke driver, but is overlaid by the appearance that the newly configured single staged above this limit.

As if the engineers had carved kilos of flywheel mass from all the waves, the KTM 690 Duke R single kicks off. It responds spontaneously to the slightest twist on the throttle, flicking through the rev range so refreshingly, briskly and mechanically, as if it wanted to distance itself from its long history in the first few seconds. We remember: shift at 6000 rpm. The pilot will never waste a thought on this brand for the revised unit, purring the lively propellant in the comfort range between 5000 and 8000 tours. Could now even push the short-stroke up to the rev limiter at the 9000 mark instead of the 8400 limit that was previously in effect. But he doesn’t have to. According to the data sheet, up to five hp should be distributed across the entire speed range between the previous and the current engine.

Three driving modes and MSR

One likes to believe that. The fine tingling that the rough shaking of the predecessor in its new guise has transformed into hardly detracts from the fun. Probably also because the Austrians are now opening up the full electronics arsenal for their single-cylinder. The Duke has had ride-by-wire and double ignition since the last model change in 2012. Now the orange men have added three driving modes and an engine drag torque control (MSR) to the engine of the KTM 690 Duke R. Is it because the little duchess can move so foolproof in the country road slalom? Downshifted too hectically before the hairpin? No issue, the anti-hopping clutch and the imperceptibly hidden MSR take over, only let the rear wheel be stamped with the grossest misconduct. Or rolled into a curve at too high a gear? Even then, bits, bytes and the balancer shaft smooth the drive, which has hitherto stuttered in these situations.

And the driving modes? The performance is not capped in any of the three votes. Nevertheless, the very cautiously appealing rain mode spoils the fun with the KTM 690 Duke R and lets you switch quickly to street mode while driving. Or straight into the sports vote. Because the difference between the duo remains marginal, the start cultivated even in the sharpest version. And the acoustics also contribute to the joy. Despite Euro 4 homologation, which forces the side emitters on the fork, a secondary air system and the return of the tank ventilation to the intake tract, the Duke thunders out of the silencer more voluminous and bassier than ever. It does this from the Akrapovic bag of the R model as well as from the stainless steel counterpart of the standard Duke. The fact that the volume remains moderate and that the system also works without an exhaust flap demands additional respect. compliment.

The electrical box was also used for the chassis

Which also applies to the chassis. Even if little has been changed. The previous R version also had spring travel 15 millimeters longer than the basic Duke. Fully adjustable compression and rebound damping for fork and shock absorber as well. Whether on the country road or the Canarian Circuito, the wagon from WP Suspension ensures a level of comfort adapted to the sporty concept and, above all, offers sufficient reserves. Which the Duke also uses on the racetrack. Because as with the engine, the designers also reached into the electrical box for the chassis. After the travel enduros, the KTM 690 Duke R is the first additional KTM model to be given lean angle-dependent traction control and cornering ABS. That is encouraging.

So use the handlebars that are flatter compared to the standard Duke and the footrests that have been moved backwards and upwards, put pressure on the front, keep clean, bend. And to be honest, even with damn fixed laps, the life-affirming Duke rider rarely comes up against the limits of the system. Nevertheless, it is good to know that the double bottom exists. Especially on the country road. On which the KTM 690 Duke R plays the very trump card of a single cylinder. KTM states 147.5 kilograms dry, while last year’s model, which is hardly heavier, still weighed a fluffy 164 kilograms with a full tank. The new flyweight tips over like a fighter jet in a dive, turning as effortlessly as if an extra portion of grease had been pressed into the steering head bearing. By then at the latest, not only the hardcore fan will be convinced by the successfully upgraded fun single and will get over the now five-digit tariff for the KTM 690 Duke R at 10,295 euros.

Differences between the KTM 690 Duke / R


The single gets off to a refreshing start, as if the engineers had carved kilos of flywheel mass from all the waves.


  • Peak power 75 hp (standard Duke: 73 hp)
  • Akrapovic silencer (1 kg lighter)

landing gear

  • Fully adjustable fork and shock absorber
  • Triple clamps milled instead of cast
  • Flatter handlebar
  • Front and rear suspension travel extended from 135 to 150 mm
  • Seat height increased by 30 mm to 865 mm
  • Front brake with radial brake pump and monoblock brake caliper
  • Footrests offset 60 mm backwards and 45 mm upwards


  • Cornering ABS
  • Traction control and three driving modes as standard
  • LED turn signals
  • Pillion seat cover
  • Orange frame and wheels.
  • Price (10.295 euros) 1900 euros higher than that of the standard Duke (8395 euros)

Technical data KTM 690 Duke / R


Basic version: Above all, the suspension and brakes were saved on the standard Duke. The differences in practice are considerable.

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