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Thread: The KTM 790 Duke after 2 years

  1. #1
    Join Date
    22nd October 2002 - 11:00
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    2019 KTM Duke 790
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    The KTM 790 Duke after 2 years

    It’s been two years today since I picked up the Duke 790 from Boyds in Hamilton. There was a lot of thought before committing to purchase, mainly because KTM has had a spotty reputation for reliability on various models. I wanted something light as a nod to short legs and being in my early 70’s, but something which handled and had sporting performance. It boiled down to the 765 Street Triple R and the Duke but after test riding both, the Duke simply made me laugh more. Put it another way, it’s a larrikin of a bike!

    I can honestly say after 2 years that it’s given me more fun than any other bike I’ve owned over the last 2 or 3 decades. Just shows how important the emotional appeal is, as well as looking at the technical specs. It’s not the best-looking bike I’ve owned but overall, it’s hard to beat. Utterly fit for purpose.

    This isn’t intended to be a full review but here are some thoughts.

    Handling. Simply the best bike I’ve owned. The Scalpel nickname is well-earned. The downside is that the OEM Maxxis pure sport tyres are shit. Couldn’t get enough heat into them on cold, wet days. Put Bridgestone T31’s on which were good but started going out of shape at 6000 km. Now on sport-touring Michelin Road 5’s which are superb in all conditions. The profile is still excellent at over 8000 km.

    Ergonomics. Fantastic for an ageing body with shagged knees. Seat is firm but 600 km+ days are not an issue.

    Range. Better than I imagined from a 14 litre tank. A quickish ride will give a range of 260 km. Nearly 300 km in touring mode.

    Performance. More than most people need for road riding. A weight below 170 kg and 105 bhp gives it a decent power to weight ratio and a top speed of around 230 clicks. However, it’s the torque spread that makes it really effective in a normal road situation.

    Technical features. It’s the first time I’ve had a quick shifter on a bike. I still tend to use the clutch on upshifts as it needs more throttle than I normally use to get a smooth shift. I use it on downshifts all the time – so smooth and easy. Lean-sensitive traction control seems to work well, no anxious moments at all. There are multi-option ride modes. I tend to use rain mode in the wet as it really smooths out power delivery. I also use street mode and sport mode depending on the sort of ride I’m doing. The further you move up the sporting scale, the less flexible it is for city riding and can be snatchy. I haven’t even bothered to play about with track mode, launch control etc. The LED headlight is surprisingly effective and I’d be happy to ride through the night with it.

    Touring. This wasn’t a consideration when buying but I did a 6 day tour in Feb 2020 with a tail pack and yachting dry bag Rok-strapped to it plus a back pack and it was fine.

    Extras. Not big on bling, but have added aftermarket levers as the originals looked comparatively crude. Radiator guard, front guard extension, crash protection, mini-screen and a carbon end can, tail pack plus GPS. EBC HH pads really score over the OEM pads.

    Negatives. Minor considering KTM’s earlier reputation for “quirky” bikes. A slight oil misting from the cam cover seal and warped front disc rotors which were quickly replaced under warranty with no hassles.

    It’s a bike which has made this old geezer extremely happy. It makes me laugh every time I go for a ride. Can’t say fairer than that, can you?

    Cheers,

    Geoff
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    14th June 2007 - 22:39
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    Obsolete ones.
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    Good to read positive things about the Katooms.

    I'm following a thread or two on the 790R Adventure thingy, some real horror stories for a few owners.

    I notice they have made some decent changes to the new 890 motor which address perceived issues with the 790.
    Manopausal.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    22nd October 2002 - 11:00
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    Quote Originally Posted by george formby View Post
    Good to read positive things about the Katooms.

    I'm following a thread or two on the 790R Adventure thingy, some real horror stories for a few owners.

    I notice they have made some decent changes to the new 890 motor which address perceived issues with the 790.
    I'm a member of the 790/890 forum and there have been a few issues posted on there. Immobilizer failure, particularly in the US market seems to have been an issue which looks to have been resolved. Various leaks which are straightforward to address were relatively common too. Curiously, none of the Kiwis on the forum seem to have had much bother. The 890 is much more focused to pure sport with less luggage carrying capacity but gets great reviews. Too tall for me though . With the light weight and sublime handling, I also find that it's quite easy to keep up a good pace for long periods without getting too fatigued.

  4. #4
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    24th November 2015 - 11:20
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    Nice update there Geoff. It sounds as though you've managed to find most, if not all, of the features you were looking for when you bought the bike.

    As you say the emotional attachment is really important and if you have that then you can't really go wrong. I've a similar feeling about my Moto Guzzi V85 which I prefer to the MV I visited you on last year. The Guzzi isn't as powerful (80Bhp versus 110) and doesn't have semi-active suspenders but somehow manages to feel more 'Welcoming'. As though it is happy in its work whereas the MV has a more digitised feel to all the major contact points. It's hard to accurately describe but I think you know what I mean.

    I'll try and bring that when I'm next up your way

  5. #5
    Join Date
    22nd October 2002 - 11:00
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    Quote Originally Posted by Navy Boy View Post
    Nice update there Geoff. It sounds as though you've managed to find most, if not all, of the features you were looking for when you bought the bike.

    As you say the emotional attachment is really important and if you have that then you can't really go wrong. I've a similar feeling about my Moto Guzzi V85 which I prefer to the MV I visited you on last year. The Guzzi isn't as powerful (80Bhp versus 110) and doesn't have semi-active suspenders but somehow manages to feel more 'Welcoming'. As though it is happy in its work whereas the MV has a more digitised feel to all the major contact points. It's hard to accurately describe but I think you know what I mean.

    I'll try and bring that when I'm next up your way
    Thanks Lee, it's pretty much the perfect bike for what I need and want at this point in my riding career.

    I fully understand where you're coming from. A good example would be the GSX-S 1000 versions which we both owned. Performance to burn, real value for money and yet they had no soul. Not long after I bought it, there was that nagging feeling of regret that I'd made a mistake. No such feeling with the 790

  6. #6
    Join Date
    25th March 2004 - 17:22
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    Yeah good write up, makes me want to try one. Not on my radar before.

    My 675 Street does everything I need without the weight of previous bikes. Although I do question if I should have got the Daytona while I can still bend.
    I've been told. Dreaming`s free.
    Think I'll go, back to sleep.
    Everybody listen, voices in my head
    Everybody listen, do yours say, what mine says?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    22nd October 2002 - 11:00
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    Quote Originally Posted by F5 Dave View Post
    Yeah good write up, makes me want to try one. Not on my radar before.

    My 675 Street does everything I need without the weight of previous bikes. Although I do question if I should have got the Daytona while I can still bend.
    Yep, I loved my standard 675 which I bought in 2009 and had for 6 years. The 790 has similar traits but a different power delivery which really appealed. I've ridden a Daytona and enjoyed the experience but after 50km, my damaged knees were in serious pain. The weird thing about the Daytona compared with the Street Triple is the front end is so low that you can't actually see it without looking right down. I felt a bit exposed, sort of perched out right in front of everything.

  8. #8
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    9th May 2008 - 21:23
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    Cool write-up Geoff

    Pleased to hear you're still chuffed with your scalpel and even better that you've not had any real dramas that KTMs seemed to be renowned for.

    So there's no what bike is next kinda thinking going on at present then?
    If the words I say offend you, imagine the ones I keep to myself...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    22nd October 2002 - 11:00
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    Quote Originally Posted by caspernz View Post
    Cool write-up Geoff

    Pleased to hear you're still chuffed with your scalpel and even better that you've not had any real dramas that KTMs seemed to be renowned for.

    So there's no what bike is next kinda thinking going on at present then?
    Hi Rob, thanks!

    You might say that it helps to keep me young at heart . No thinking about another bike, partially because of complete satisfaction with the 790 and not entirely sure whether it will be my last bike or not. Don't take that as a strong intent, just a stray thought.

  10. #10
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    28th October 2020 - 19:09
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    I enjoy reading your post and looking at these photos.

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