2021 KTM 890 Duke R First Look Preview

More power and better suspension and brakes than the 790 Duke.

The new 890 Duke R might have the optimum balance of nimbleness, power, and versatility for a street sportbike, but we’ll have to wait another 12 months till we can buy it.
The new 890 Duke R might have the optimum balance of nimbleness, power, and versatility for a street sportbike, but we’ll have to wait another 12 months till we can buy it.KTM

KTM's 790 Duke, dubbed "the scalpel," has been well received since its 2017 launch, but hardcore sport riders look down their noses at the bike's merely average suspension and brakes. That all changes with the introduction of the 890 Duke R, which is everything we hoped for from the 790 and even more. "Sharp just got sharper," boasts KTM.

The 890 Duke R is recognizable from its 790 sibling by its top-shelf Brembo Stylema monoblock brakes and fully adjustable WP Apex fork, as well as by its orange wheels shod with Michelin’s new Powercup II sport tires.
The 890 Duke R is recognizable from its 790 sibling by its top-shelf Brembo Stylema monoblock brakes and fully adjustable WP Apex fork, as well as by its orange wheels shod with Michelin’s new Powercup II sport tires. A claimed dry weight of just 366 pounds makes it 51 pounds lighter than its 1290 Super Duke R brother.KTM

Upgrading The 790 Duke To An 890 Duke R

First the obvious, a bigger engine. Bore and stroke sizes go up to produce a displacement of 889cc. Bigger valves and a higher compression ratio helps bump horsepower 16 ponies to a purported 119 at 9,250 rpm, 250 revs higher than the 790’s peak. Meanwhile, the added displacement pays torque dividends, producing an additional 9 pound-feet 250 rpm earlier than the 790, now up to 73 pound-feet.

The frame remains the same aside from its new orange color, but the suspension is all new, a certain upgrade from the somewhat flaccid and minimally adjustable units on the 790 Duke. WP’s latest Apex suspension graces the 890 Duke R, leading with a fully adjustable 43mm inverted fork. The Apex shock includes provisions for adjusting high- and low-speed compression damping as well as rebound damping. A hydraulic preload adjuster is a handy feature for setting up the bike for various loads.

The 890 Duke R gets brake and suspension upgrades compared to its 790 Duke brother, as well as a burlier motor.
The 890 Duke R gets brake and suspension upgrades compared to its 790 Duke brother, as well as a burlier motor.KTM

The new suspension and its greater wheel travel (5.5/5.9 inches front/rear) have an effect on the chassis geometry. Rake extends slightly from 24.0 to 24.3 degrees, while trail goes up a skosh from 98 to 99.7mm. Together with a wheelbase stretched a hair (58.1 to 58.3 inches), the 890 Duke R should have a tad extra stability. The seat height lifts from 32.5 to 32.8 inches.

Another sweet upgrade is the addition of Brembo’s wonderful Stylema Monoblock brake calipers, addressing one of the 790’s few weak points, biting on 320mm rotors. Other nice bits are the Brembo MCS radial-pump master cylinder (with adjustable lever ratio) and braided steel brake lines. The brake system is purportedly more than 2 pounds lighter than the 790’s components. An IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) informs a Bosch 9.1 MP controller to provide cornering ABS and switchable traction control. An optional Track mode adds another level of TC to the three-level-adjustable TC on the stock bike.

The 890 Duke R gets a new cylinder head with larger valves and a higher compression ratio to help it pump out an extra 16 horsepower over the 790 Duke.
The 890 Duke R gets a new cylinder head with larger valves and a higher compression ratio to help it pump out an extra 16 horsepower over the 790 Duke.KTM

Ergonomics are slightly racier, as its tapered aluminum handlebar is lower and the footpegs are higher and further rearward. The handlebar location is customizable to four positions via its mounting on the triple clamp as well as by rotating it. The fuel tank remains unchanged, still at a diminutive 3.7 gallons.

KTM says the 890 Duke R has lost 6.6 pounds compared to the 790 Duke, bringing its dry weight down to a petite 366 pounds. That’s an incredible 51 pounds lighter than the new Super Duke R, which should make the new 890 incredibly swift down a twisty canyon road.

Downside? The 890 Duke R won’t make it to our shores until late fall of next year as a 2021 model. We anxiously await!

The 2021 890 Duke R appears able to live up to KTM’s Ready To Race tagline.
The 890 Duke R appears able to live up to KTM’s Ready To Race tagline. Bummer we’ll have to wait till next fall to find out for ourselves. Its price has yet to be revealed, but it will surely cost at least a couple of grand more than the 790 Duke’s $10,499 MSRP.KTM

2021 KTM 890 Duke R Specifications

PRICE TBA
ENGINE 889cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, parallel twin; 8 valve
BORE x STROKE 90.7 x 68.8mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 13.5:1
FUEL DELIVERY Dell’Orto fuel injection w/ 46mm throttle bodies
CLUTCH Multiplate, PASC slipper
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
FRAME Chromoly steel tubular trellis
FRONT SUSPENSION 43mm inverted WP Apex fork, fully adjustable; 5.5-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION WP Apex shock, fully adjustable; 5.9-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo Stylema 4-piston calipers, 320mm discs w/ switchable ABS
REAR BRAKE Brembo 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc w/ switchable ABS
TIRES, FRONT/REAR 120/70-17 / 180/55-17
RAKE/TRAIL 24.3°, 99.7mm
WHEELBASE 58.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 32.8 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 3.7 gal.
CLAIMED DRY WEIGHT 366 lb.
WARRANTY 1 year
AVAILABLE Fall 2021
CONTACT ktm.com/us/