The Duke R comes with the traditional KTM orange frame but in addition the 690 gets anodized orange yokes, fully adjustable WP suspension, an Akrapovic exhaust, single seat cover, crash bars, altered airbox and upgraded brakes. Alongside the Ducati Panigale, the 690 Duke R is the only bike to use Brembo’s monobloc M50 caliper while the master cylinder is also higher specification than the stock 690 Duke’s item. Somewhat disappointingly the R doesn’t get the EJC bike’s altered profile cam and therefore power is only up 2hp on the stocker at 70hp while torque remains the same 52lb ft. The true EJC bike made nearer 79hp, although it had a race exhaust as well. The cost of these modifications? £8,795 which is a boost of £2,000 on the £6,795 stocker. Is it worth the cash?
Damn you rain!
The stock 690 Duke is a cracking little bike for blatting around on and its single cylinder engine is remarkably peppy. The most powerful single cylinder on the market, KTM’s use of ride by wire technology and an extremely refined fuel injection system mean that the usual roughness you get with a big single is missing while the thumping character remains. It’s a charming engine that with 70hp isn’t exactly lacking power as long as the road conditions suit it. Hit the motorway and it can all get a little dull as there is minimal wind protection and the riding position is upright and exposed, however attack some back roads and the Duke makes sense.
The upgraded suspension delivers a slightly plusher ride while the brakes are also stronger. As the road was damp I didn’t get the chance to really hammer the single caliper, however the ABS seems responsive and I didn’t fall off so I’m guessing it worked well enough. Is it that much of a difference? Unless you rode them back to back I reckon you would be hard pushed to split them on the road, however if you are planning a few trackdays the R would certainly shine. Styling-wise I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the anodized orange yokes, but each to their own.
£2,000 or an R model?
The stock 690 Duke is a brilliant bike and while I liked the R, in the cold light of day I’d probably get the stocker and pay a few hundred quid for the altered cam to boost its performance. I’ve got nothing against the R, which is a very cool bike, but unless you are planning on trackdays the stock Duke is every bit as good for 90 per cent of the time. If you add up the individual additional components (I also quite like the different seat) the R is good value for money, but I’m not quite sure it justifies £2,000 over the base model and I reckon you could upgrade the standard bike’s motor as well as sorting its suspension for less. That said, I’d certainly invest in a set of KTM crash bars as you can easily get a bit too excited!
2013 KTM 690 DUKE R
Engine: 690cc single
Torque: 52lb ft@5,500rpm
Top speed: 130mph (est)
Weight: 149.5kg (dry)
MPG: 42 (est)