More power and performance for KTM's 1290 Super Duke R and 390 Duke

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When your motto is “Ready to Race,” performance is king. So it’s no surprise that for 2017 KTM is giving their Duke line more of what has made them so successful.

2017 KTM Super Duke R

Originally dubbed, “The Beast”, it’s only fitting that the new version of the Super Duke pushes the spec sheet even further. Updates to the 1,301 cc LC8 V-twin include a shorter velocity stack, resonator chambers on the cylinder heads, flat designed titanium inlet valves with a chromium nitride coating and an increase in the compression ratio to 13.6:1. So what the hell does that mean for the rider?

KTM claims that the newly tuned engine will produce 177 horsepower, with a more “usable powerband.” Riders can expect smoother power at lower rpm. All of this power will be even easier to control with additional upgrades to the suspension and electronics package.

2017 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

The WP suspension has been upgraded to a 48 mm inverted front fork with separate damping circuits, stiffer springs, and even sportier settings with adjustments for rebound and compression. The rear WP shock receives a stiffer spring.

In addition to the advanced electronics package found on the previous model, the new Super Duke R will have an optional Performance Pack which includes Motor Slip Regulation (MSR), a Quickshifter+, and KTM MY RIDE. The “MY RIDE” feature will allow you to connect your smart phone to the motorcycle to control audio playback and accept phone calls while the new Quickshifter+ allows for clutchless upshifts and downshifts.

Lower handlebars give the Super Duke R a more aggressive seating position, which KTM claims will improve handling. For those of you looking to attack the track, there will be an optional competition closed course “Track Pack.” With the “Track” mode unlocked, riders will have access to three Drive Modes, TC slip adjust, launch control, and the ability to turn off anti-wheelie. If you plan to stick to the street, you’ll be happy to find that electronic cruise control is now standard.

Taking one look at the photos, you’ll notice that the style has been updated to match the newfound performance upgrades. The Super Duke R gets a new headlight assembly with LED running lights, TFT dash, and keyless ignition. Combine that with the aggressively redesigned bodywork to match the Super Duke R’s performance gains and you can see why this bike is being referred to as The Beast 2.0.

2017 KTM 390 Duke

The Duke 390

Riders who are not quite ready for the level of performance the Super Duke R lays out can consider the newly revised Duke 390. When I tested the initial 390 when it was released, I was pleased with how it performed compared to the other entry-level bikes on the market. KTM’s focus for 2017 appears to be on smoothing some of the rough edges on the initial offering.

While the engine remains unchanged, it is now controlled with KTM’s “Ride-By-Wire” system, which should elicit a smoother, more refined throttle response over the original bike. A new 43 mm open-cartridge WP front fork aids handling while a larger 320 mm rotor improves braking.

One of my biggest gripes with the original Duke was with the non-adjustable brake and clutch levers, so I was pleased to see that for 2017 the 390 Duke will get upgraded adjustable levers as standard equipment. Gone is the plastic gas tank, replaced by a steel unit upping petrol capacity to 3.5 gallons for improved range.

2017 KTM 390 Duke

Working in conjunction with the redesigned rider and passenger seats, side-mounted exhaust, and aggressively sharp lines, is a new LED headlight and running lights. The dash layout, which I found busy and distracting on the original model, is getting upgraded to a full-color TFT display. You’ll also have the option to install that same KTM MY RIDE feature found on the 390 Duke's big brother.

While we didn’t get a crazy new mid-sized Duke like we were hoping for from KTM, we did get solid upgrades to two of their more popular models. It’ll be interesting to see how these changes in performance translate to the street. Especially considering this Austrian manufacturer is set on proving to the world that they are much more than just a dirt bike company.

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