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If you thought that the 2020 890 Duke was the last power bike by KTM for a while, you’re wrong. The Austrian-based motorcycle manufacturer was spotted testing the new 990 Duke. The teaser shots reveal a larger motorbike that brings more power and capacity. It also sports several modifications that enhance its visual and technical features. 

Despite the few upgrades, the KTM 990 Duke’s engine and overall construction feature the same design as its predecessor in several aspects. Regardless, the 990 promises more fun, speed, and safety than the 2022 beginner-friendly RC 390. So, why should you be excited about the new 990 Duke model? 

What you need to know about the new KTM 990 Duke

A 2022 KTM 890 DUKE GP motorcycle promotional photo

The KTM Duke model stole the hearts of motorcycle enthusiasts since it debuted the LC8c 799cc engine in 2017. Two years later, the Austrian motorbike company unveiled the 2020 890 Duke concept model, which took power from 105 horsepower to 119 hp. This year, KTM produced the 990 Duke prototype, providing teaser images that reveal a motorcycle with several upgrades that will make a fan grin. 

The spy photos taken near the company’s production facility show the parallel-twin 990 being tested. They reveal a bike with an engine that has undergone slight changes. KMT also upgraded the exterior with new rear-end styling to create a picture-perfect product. Based on the sequence that KTM rolls out its Duke motorbikes, it would be safe to say that we can expect to see it on roads in 2023. 

The newly Duke retains the LC8c parallel-twin engine, but it gains more power and capacity – 100 more cc than the 2020 890 Duke model. The bustling activity around the KTM 990’s engine quickly catches the eye. The redesigned cylinder head is more compact, while the cam cover bulges on the left side. Cycle World presumes the bulging design facilitates variable valve timing. 

A brief history of KTM

KTM was established in 1934 as a diesel engine repair shop. It also sold motorcycles like the DKW and Opel. Hans Trunkenpolz, the founder, manufactured the first motorcycle in 1951, called the R100. Mass production began in 1953, with the company producing three motorbikes per day. By 1956, KTM had created three other models: the R125 Tourist, Grand Tourist, and Mirabell scooter. 

According to Race-Driven, the company manufactured its first dedicated racing bike in 1957. It was named the Trophy 125cc, and as its name suggested, it won many races. It also created the Mecky months later. By 1962, the company had added two more race-oriented models, including the Ponny I and Ponny 2. Demand for a street-worthy KTM bike increased, compelling KTM to engineer the Comet in 1963.

Over the ensuing 40 years, the company increased its workforce to 400 employees and manufactured over 40 models. It also produced radiators for other European car companies. In 1978, KTM expanded to the U.S., opening a subsidiary in Ohio. Today, KTM is one of the three globally acclaimed motorcycle manufacturers, including Harley-Davidson in the U.S. and the Asia-based Hero.

What else can we expect from the 2023 KTM 990 Duke?

Although the KTM 990 Duke features the original LC8c engine, KTM upgraded it to provide higher performance. The crankshaft is inclined at 285 degrees to achieve a firing interval similar to a 75-degree v-twin engine. Considering the increased capacity, shoppers can expect increased power. The flagship trim is claimed to have a horsepower rating above the 130hp mark. 

The bike boasts a sublime blend of sharp creases and flat planes that differentiate it from the standard retro-inspired designs. It also comes with a new chassis and styling that takes KTM’s folded paper design a notch higher. The front end features the familiar stacked headlight nose. 

The rear end of this game-changing bike has a unique, exposed cast alloy design, fabricated to provide styling instead of “invasive” cosmetic cladding. It has an upward curvature on the right side to accommodate the low-mounted exhaust, replacing the 890’s high-set pipe. If KMT sticks to schedule, we could see an official launch later this year, and the 990 Duke could hit the market in early 2023. 


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