The 2020 KTM 890 Duke R caught us by surprise when it was announced at EICMA last year, but it was certainly a welcome one. Just two years after the launch of the stellar 790 Duke, the 890 Duke R offers much more than just an increase in displacement. KTM has fixed almost all the problems that the previous generation had with a series of mechanical updates.
We spent the day riding the 2020 KTM 890 Duke R in the sunny canyons of Southern California, which gave us a chance to see if The Scalpel has indeed become The Super Scalpel. Now, let’s get to the quick facts.
1. The 890cc parallel twin is a real peach. The 890’s engine is fun, fast, and energetic – features shown in abundance with the 790. This time around, it just does everything a lot better. With 119 declared horsepower available, the 890 produces an additional 16 horsepower, giving this engine a wide, versatile and stable power band to play with. A 20 percent heavier crank helps the twin deliver delicious smooth torque from idle, pulling incredibly well for 6,500 rpm. Above that is where the 890 shakes its rear feathers with more high-end power than the 790 Duke. Importantly, it remains manageable throughout the rev range. It’s an engine that accommodates many different types of riders – those who are new to the saddle and still find their balance and maintain reasonable strides, while also helping to enable thrill-seeking behavior in riders who just know how. sound the whip.
2. The engine design is based on the 790, with serious updates to facilitate its performance increase. The bore widens to 88mm and the stroke lengthens to 68.8mm, and it still qualifies as a short-stroke engine. The new cylinder head also houses one millimeter larger intake and exhaust valves, which work in conjunction with a more aggressive cam profile to increase lift. The new connecting rods and three-ring pistons are lighter than before, despite being more substantial. What can be tangibly felt is the 20 percent heavier crank that has made the engine less prone to creep at low revs, in combination with revised balancer shafts that have dampened vibrations even more.
3. A new Dell’Orto fuel injection system, accompanied by 46mm throttle bodies, adjusts each cylinder independently, helps improve fueling response. Additionally, each cylinder is equipped with a multiple pressure sensor that is designed to maintain a higher level of precision in fuel delivery. The bottom line here is that throttle response is dramatically better in all modes.
4. The KTM Quickshifter + and optional gearbox are more refined. Engineers have shortened the lever pull when shifting and used a lighter spring action. All in all, you’re left with a tight, precise gearbox and lever action that makes shifting through gears a breeze. The optional quick raise / lower shift is the way the 890 Duke R should be mounted. While optional, it is $ 400 to factor into your purchase.
5. Oh, the blows you’ll make with the exhaust barks. The 435-degree firing order mimics the 1290 Super Duke R’s ridiculously powerful V-twin engine, much to my delight. However, with that extra power, the 890 has a bit more bass in its boom. I approve it. One downside is a 790 drag issue with the muffler slightly conflicting with the heel and takes up precious footrest space.
6. A full set of IMU 6D compliant electronics and driving modes is standard. In the original model, the 890 has Rain, Street and Sport modes. They are non-configurable drive modes that adjust the amount of ABS when cornering, traction control that senses lean angle, wheelie control, and throttle maps. The rain behaves as you might expect, maxing out all attendees with a smooth throttle response. Street propels you with a throttle that’s great for slower driving in traffic, as well as ABS and TC responses that are meant for casual driving. The sport lets the leader out a bit with crisp throttle response and allows for more than a little fun in the canyons, including lifting the front wheel on exits, braking on track with higher camber angles, and a harder driving. In general, electronics is …