It's an iconic motorcycle, the KTM Duke, with a giant-slaying reputation that dates right from its first appearance on the scene in 1997 as a Duke 620. Back then, it was described as cantankerous but not without merit. Sixteen years on, KTM has released the fourth generation of the KTM Duke 690; which is said to be more accommodating with no loss to its feisty spirit.
In the interim, the KTM Duke has sired a family, starting with a 125cc, which is not available in Thailand, then a 200cc offering, and there's soon to be a Duke 390 version, all built in India. Overseeing the small engine bikes is the Austrian-built KTM Duke 690.
And what a feisty looking motorcycle the KTM Duke 690 is, with its burnt-orange trellis frame; radially mounted, single Brembo brake up front; lightweight, black alloy wheels; extended aluminum swingarm; dual seat; wide, tapered handlebars; and adjustable footpegs. The edgy fuel tank shape and designer decals are cool, too. Perhaps the least alluring aspect of the KTM Duke 690 is the bulky underslung collector that feeds the single, right-sided exhaust. It's also quiet, but a aftermarket performance muffler would rectify that. With around 90 percent of the KTM Duke 690 new, the latest bike is said to be a thorough revision, aimed at civilizing the beast – but no too much, mind you. It runs the latest iteration of the LC4 engine, a honking great liquid-cooled, four-valve, twin-cam single. New for 2013 are twin spark plugs, each with its own ignition map, which allow more efficient combustion; there's also a new ride-by-wire throttle, and revised exhaust and intake systems. Evidently, vibration has been reduced, while power of 50kW at 7,500rpm and torque of 70Nm at an easy 5,500rpm remain much the same as last year's model. The fuel economy is claimed to be reduced by 10 percent, down to 4.9 liters per 100 kilometers overall. The motorcycle's weight without fuel is a quoted 149.5kg, and we measured it fully fueled at 163kg.