The 890 Duke R leads KTM’s middleweight naked bike charge, and is the most performance-oriented model within the 890 Duke family.

The 890 Duke R leads KTM’s middleweight naked bike charge, and is the most performance-oriented model within the 890 Duke family. (KTM/)

Ups

  • Stronger engine than 790 Duke
  • Varying performance/comfort depending on model
  • 890 Duke R is a track-ready performer

Downs

  • Premium “Track” electronics add cost
  • More expensive than outgoing 790 Duke

Verdict

No one ever really complained about the 790 Duke’s performance, but KTM saw fit to replace it with a much improved, more expensive 890 Duke R in 2020. Now the 890 Duke family is a three-model lineup with something for everybody.

The 890′s engine is better in almost every way than its predecessor, and the R model’s suspension is a vast improvement over the 790′s nonadjustable (save for rear spring preload) units. The base-model 890 Duke’s comfort level has increased, while the GP model is easy on the eyes thanks to paint inspired by Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s RC16 MotoGP bikes.

Be prepared for a higher sticker price, especially with the extras required to unlock some of the electronics.

Love the 890 Duke R but looking for something that prioritizes comfort over track-focused performance? The 890 Duke uses a more street-oriented engine map, more modest hardware, and a relaxed rider triangle.

Love the 890 Duke R but looking for something that prioritizes comfort over track-focused performance? The 890 Duke uses a more street-oriented engine map, more modest hardware, and a relaxed rider triangle. (KTM/)

Overview

When the 790 Duke was released in 2018, it soon became obvious that KTM had a winner on its hands. Equally at home commuting through the daily urban grind or carving up twisty roads, KTM’s first go at a middleweight parallel-twin naked/standard bike hit the performance bull’s-eye.

The Austrian company could have continued with minor polishing of details for years and no one would have given it a second thought. But “Ready to Race” is KTM’s slogan, and the company’s competitive mentality couldn’t let the status quo continue, so an 890 Duke R was unleashed for 2020. The 790 was great indeed, but the 890 family of bikes have even greater overall competence.

The star of the 890 lineup is the 890 Duke R, which gets adjustable suspension, more performance-oriented tires, and sportier engine mapping. Consider this the primary option within the 890 Duke lineup, the bike that most dealers will feature on showroom floors.

The 890 Duke GP slots in between the base model and R, by using KTM’s more mellow engine map, but adding GP-inspired paint, orange wheels, and a passenger seat cover.

The 890 Duke GP slots in between the base model and R, by using KTM’s more mellow engine map, but adding GP-inspired paint, orange wheels, and a passenger seat cover. (KTM/)

The 890 Duke sits at the opposite end of the lineup and is more street oriented. The parallel-twin engine is the same as the R’s, but power is reduced thanks to its own mapping. Nonadjustable WP Apex suspension is better suited to relaxed highway riding, and the ergonomics have been adjusted for everyday comfort.

The GP model adds an orange-and-black MotoGP-inspired livery, including an orange passenger seat cover. The GP model’s engine output is also on par with the base 890 Duke.

Updates for 2022

There are no updates to the 890 Duke or Duke R with the exception of an Atlantic Blue colorway, although the Duke GP was technically an all-new model for 2022.

Model Variants

As mentioned, the 890 Duke is available in three variations: a standard 890 Duke, 890 Duke R, and 890 Duke GP.

While the 890 Duke’s more relaxed rider triangle and lower price tag will appeal to many, the 890 Duke R’s added performance is an incredible bargain and genuinely lives up to its “Super Scalpel” nickname. The GP represents a nice middle ground, though it could be argued that anything with GP in its name should come with performance-minded features.

KTM’s “Ready to Race” philosophy shows through in the on-track performance of the 890 Duke R.

KTM’s “Ready to Race” philosophy shows through in the on-track performance of the 890 Duke R. (KTM/)

Pricing

The standard KTM 890 Duke is certainly on the higher end price-wise for a middleweight naked bike, retailing for $11,299. The upgraded 890 Duke R runs a bit higher at $12,399, although the engine and chassis parts are easily worth the extra cost. Whether the graphics/paint on the $11,899 890 Duke GP justify the additional $600 over the standard model is up to the buyer.

Competition

The middleweight naked bike category includes stiff competition from nearly every major manufacturer, with interesting variations in displacements and engine types across the category. Traditional middleweight twin options include the Suzuki SV650 ($7,399), Kawasaki Z650 ($7,749), and the Yamaha MT-07 ($7,899). Options from Triumph and Aprilia include the Trident 660 ($8,395) and Tuono 660 ($10,499), respectively.

Four-cylinder options in the space include the Suzuki GSX-S750 ($8,549), Honda CB650R ABS ($9,299), and Kawasaki Z900 ABS ($9,399). Buyers might also consider bikes with a bolder mix of performance and personality, such as the BMW F 900 R ($8,995), Yamaha MT-09 ($9,499), Triumph Street Triple ($10,945), and Ducati Monster ($12,695).

The 890 engine is based on the 790 Duke’s powerplant with a larger bore and stroke, higher compression ratio and rpm ceiling, larger valves, a new piston design, new connecting rods, and a new crankshaft, all wrapped in new engine cases. The crankshaft has 20 percent more rotating mass for added character and improved cornering stability.

The 890 engine is based on the 790 Duke’s powerplant with a larger bore and stroke, higher compression ratio and rpm ceiling, larger valves, a new piston design, new connecting rods, and a new crankshaft, all wrapped in new engine cases. The crankshaft has 20 percent more rotating mass for added character and improved cornering stability. (KTM/)

Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance

KTM’s 889cc DOHC parallel-twin engine is a bored/stroked version of the 790 Duke’s powerplant, which earned ample praise during its somewhat short two-year life span. As expected, the 890′s larger engine is everything it should be, especially the uniquely tuned 890 Duke R variant, which KTM claims is good for an extra 5 hp compared to the 890 Duke and 890 Duke GP.

Cycle World has not tested the standard 890 Duke, we can say that when strapped to the Cycle World dyno, the 890 Duke R recorded 106.2 hp at 9,900 rpm and 60.4 lb.-ft. of torque at 8,700 rpm, 11 hp over the 790 Duke. While the 2 lb.-ft. torque gain doesn’t sound like much, there’s an increase between 3,500 to 6,000 rpm that adds to the KTM’s low-to-midrange grunt: “Horsepower figures enjoy a bump throughout the powerband, most notably matching the 790′s peak power 1,000 rpm earlier, then smashing it all the way until its increased redline,” CW’s Michael Gilbert said in his First Ride Review of the 890 Duke R.

A buttery initial power delivery sets the bike in motion, building to an addicting punch in the midrange. At 7,000 rpm, the 890 Duke R lofts the front end to the air in the first three gears. Power builds fast and quickly makes its way through the rev range, pulling strongly into high revs and just tapering off before redline.

Handling

Nicknamed “The Scalpel” and “The Super Scalpel” thanks to their aggressive steering geometry, the 890 Duke and 890 Duke R thrive on twisty pavement with superb agility and pinpoint handling that allows riders to put the bikes anywhere in a corner. The Duke has a lightweight and slim feel between the legs, and flicking the bike side-to-side requires very little effort.

The updated suspension, especially on the upgrade R model, addresses one of the few weak points of the 790 Duke, which had trouble dealing with rough, imperfect pavement; the 890 Duke R “effortlessly glides over small chatter bumps in stark contrast to the 790,” Gilbert said in his First Ride Review, “while providing adequate support for the [suspension-]travel-munching dips and heavy braking zones. And it’s sweet to have adjustability too.”

Tires play less of a role in overall handling, though it’s important to mention that the R model rolls on Michelin Power Cup tires, while base 890 Duke is fitted with street-oriented Continental ContiRoad rubber.

Even more differences between R and standard/GP models: While the 890 Duke R is fitted with Brembo Stylema Monoblock calipers and 320mm discs, the standard model uses KTM-branded J.Juan four-piston radial-mount calipers biting on 300mm discs.

Even more differences between R and standard/GP models: While the 890 Duke R is fitted with Brembo Stylema Monoblock calipers and 320mm discs, the standard model uses KTM-branded J.Juan four-piston radial-mount calipers biting on 300mm discs. (KTM/)

Brakes

The standard 890 Duke and 890 Duke GP feature KTM-branded J.Juan four-piston radial-mount calipers biting on 300mm discs, a slightly less performance-oriented setup than what’s found on the R.

R models take a next step in terms of components, with Brembo Stylema Monoblock calipers and 320mm discs combining for great feel and braking performance in track riding. Meanwhile, a Brembo MCS master cylinder with adjustment for lever ratio and brake feel results in superb braking action, in addition to dropping 2.6 pounds of unsprung weight that surely plays a role in the improved fork action.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

There are no miles-per-gallon figures available for the 890 Duke or its variants.

The 890 Duke has a 0.6-inch-lower seat height compared to the R model, and the pegs are lower for more legroom. The result is a more comfortable motorcycle for street riding, but slightly less ground clearance.

The 890 Duke has a 0.6-inch-lower seat height compared to the R model, and the pegs are lower for more legroom. The result is a more comfortable motorcycle for street riding, but slightly less ground clearance. (KTM/)

Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility

Although the 890 Duke’s riding position is a bit aggressive, with a longer reach to the handlebar that puts your torso farther forward than most naked bikes, it doesn’t put excessive pressure on the wrists.

The 890 Duke R’s ergos are decidedly racier, with a lower handlebar and rearset footpegs that reflect its higher-performance intentions, but the riding position is still comfortable enough to handle everyday riding. The R and GP models also do away with the passenger seat, while the R goes a step further by also doing away with the passenger footpegs.

Riders who prioritize comfort may want to look at the base-model 890 Duke.

Electronics

All versions of the 890 come with an extensive electronic rider aids suite designed around a 6D lean angle sensor that keeps track of the angle of the bike and sends information to the ECU to improve traction control and ABS actuation. Three ride modes have preset settings for throttle response and traction control: Sport is for aggressive riding, Street is for everyday riding, and Rain is for slippery pavement.

An optional Track mode allows the rider to choose throttle response and TC settings, disable wheelie control, and allows access to a Launch Control, but this requires the purchase of a software upgrade. A bidirectional quickshifter and MSR (Motor Slip Regulation, which works with the slipper clutch to reduce engine-braking) are also available as an option, part of one of the software upgrades. Lean-angle-sensitive Cornering ABS is standard on all 890 Duke models, as is the Supermoto mode that allows deactivation of the rear ABS to allow rear wheel slides under braking. Dashboard is a full-color TFT display, and lighting is all LED on all 890 Duke models.

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

The 890 Duke and 890 Duke GP come with KTM’s 24-month/24,000-mile transferable warranty, while the R model comes with KTM’s standard 12-month/12,000-mile transferable warranty.

Quality

KTM has always set some pretty high standards for quality, and it shows in the components and construction of all the 890 Duke models. Fit and finish is excellent.

2022 KTM 890 Duke/R/GP Claimed Specifications

MSRP: $11,299 (standard)/$12,399 (R)/$11,899 (GP)
Engine: 889cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin; 8 valves
Bore x Stroke: 90.7 x 68.8mm
Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain
Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection w/ 46mm throttle bodies
Clutch: Wet, multiple disc; cable operation
Engine Management/Ignition: Ride-by-wire/TCI
Frame: Chromoly steel tube chassis
Front Suspension: 43mm WP Apex inverted fork, nonadjustable (standard, GP) / compression and rebound damping adjustable (R); 5.5 in. travel
Rear Suspension: WP Apex shock, spring preload adjustable (standard, GP) / spring preload (remote hydraulic), rebound, high- and low-speed compression damping adjustable (R model); 5.9 in. travel
Front Brake: 4-piston caliper, dual 300mm discs (standard, GP) / Brembo Stylema 4-piston Monoblock radial-mount caliper, dual 320mm discs (R)
Rear Brake: 1-piston slide-pin caliper, 240mm disc w/ ABS (standard, GP) / Brembo 2-piston caliper, 240mm disc (R)
Wheels, Front/Rear: Cast aluminum; 17 x 3.50 in. / 17 x 5.50 in.
Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70ZR-17 / 180/55ZR-17
Rake/Trail: 24.0°/3.9 in. (standard, GP) / 24.3°/3.9 in. (R)
Wheelbase: 58.1 in.
Ground Clearance: 7.5 in. (standard, GP) / 8.1 in. (R)
Seat Height: 32.2 in. (standard, GP) / 32.8 in. (R)
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal.
Wet Weight (without fuel): 372.6 lb. (standard, GP); 365.9 lbs. (R)
Contact: ktm.com
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