What’s really great about KTM’s ""orange army"" of motorbikes is that each one has at least one thing that makes it really stand out. In the case of the 2008 KTM Duke 690, it’s the inclusion of an engine that’s more powerful than any other single-cylinder engine on the road, a 654cc displacement, liquid-cooled beauty that delivers an exhilarating 64.3 horsepower with 49.4 lb-ft of torque. That means you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting this bike up over 100 mph. Essentially, the 2008 KTM Duke is a Supermoto that’s at home on the streets. Dependable and responsible Brembo disc brakes keep all this power in line, so you don’t have to worry too much about really opening things up, even on your downhill runs.
When you first lay eyes on this bike, you’ll probably notice that the 2008 KTM Duke has a unique style that separates it not only from other bikes, but from other KTM bikes. You can spot a Duke right away, with its sharp angles and unique design that resembles a mighty stag racing through the forest. The styling is not only aggressive, with a narrow, speedy feel, but the design also harkens back to the early years of the Duke, as this model has been around in some form for over a decade. You’ll also probably find that the bike looks and feels upscale, with attractive, durable, high-quality parts throughout. Of course, to provide all that while still keeping this bike economically competitive, you won’t find any extra frills on the Duke.
Single-cylinder motor bikes have an appeal to a lot of riders because they’re affordable and easy to ride. In many cases, this means you’re sacrificing a considerable amount of power. As mentioned earlier, that’s not the case with the 2008 KTM Duke, which has more power than you could possibly expect on a bike that’s not designed specifically for the track. The Duke allows you to keep all that power under control, however. The counter-balancer controls vibration, although you may find the Duke misbehaves a bit when you get it up to highway speeds. Meanwhile, the light weight of the bike makes it easy to control even while you’re zipping through those twisty mountain roads.
When you’re riding this bike, it’s going to be hard to believe that you’re on a single-cylinder and not a V-twin. Of course, there are plenty of V-twins with more power, but none that offer the kind of affordability and the kind of single-cylinder bike advantages of the Duke. Those advantages include quick, responsive steering, a well-tuned suspension, and general versatility.
Of course, there are a few downsides to this impetuous speedster. The 6-speed manual transmission isn’t as smooth or intuitive as with some bikes, so you will have to do a little work when getting into the higher gears. The seat configuration and design also might not be as comfortable as some riders may like. The seat is kind of high, isn’t that wide or well-cushioned and the material is a bit slick. All this means that bigger riders may have trouble getting comfortable behind the handlebars of the Duke, and it could get too frustrating. However, if you hop up on this bike and can find your comfort level, you’ll probably get too caught up in the speed, power, and responsiveness to worry about adjusting yourself on the seat.
Single-cylinder bikes obviously aren’t for everybody, but they’re for a lot of people, and if you’re one of them, but also like some fairly serious speed and power, the 2008 KTM Duke is a really nice option.