It’s exciting to see that Team Orange continues to innovate and reimagine its concepts with bold designs and forward-thinking bikes. The 2024 990 Duke, aimed at dominating the middleweight naked bike segment, features a new frame and impressive specifications.
While many people are eagerly anticipating the bike's launch and looking forward to getting their hands on it, I have mixed feelings about it. As an owner of a 790 Duke, I am quite attached to my bike, and the design of the 990 Duke doesn't appeal to me, at least not yet.
KTM's press release raises several questions in my mind. The 790 Duke had its flaws, and I'm sure KTM had valid reasons for making changes to the bike.
In the past, the Duke lineup had distinct characteristics for each model. The smaller Dukes (390 and below) offered a lightweight and agile package with a decent amount of power. The Super Dukes, on the other hand, had powerful engines that delivered an exhilarating ride. The 790 and 890 Dukes found a balance between the two, combining the agility of the smaller Dukes with the torque and power of the larger ones.
Now, KTM is moving away from the smaller bikes in its lineup, bringing the 990 Duke closer to the 1290s and the new 1390 Super Dukes. This shift is evident in the bike's bodywork. It is no longer as slim as before, which is disappointing to me. I loved the feel of the 790's tank, but the 990's bulkier design may provide a sense of security for riders who felt exposed on the 790.
One aspect that concerns me is the absence of the rear fender in the promotional materials. While the bike looks good from the back in the press photos, I suspect that the rear will look less appealing with the necessary legal attachments. The front of the bike is also perplexing, reminiscent of Yamaha's MT-10 facelift. Although KTM's design is different, I was hoping for an evolution of the mantis-like front-end, rather than a complete transformation.
The tank has grown in size, which is great for increased range, but the engine has also grown, potentially offsetting the fuel efficiency. The tank appears taller and wider than the 790/890 Dukes, but the added bulk only provides an additional half quart of fuel. Despite this, the 3.8-gallon tank is still an improvement. The increased size may offer ergonomic benefits, as resting my chest on the 790's tank was not entirely comfortable in a full tuck.
The 990 Duke retains KTM's trellis frame, which was successful in the 790 and 890 models. The new subframe design and closed-lattice swingarm at the back of the bike are significant changes. The suspension features a 43-millimeter WP APEX open cartridge fork with compression and rebound adjustability, as well as a gas-assisted rebound and preload-adjustable WP APEX Monotube shock at the back. These upgrades bring the suspension on par with the 890 Duke R.
The 2024 990 Duke features a refined frame design with reinforcements in key areas, enhancing the chassis stiffness. The swingarm and subframe have also been simplified and strengthened. The bike now has a bigger air intake that feeds into the 947cc twin engine. However, I am disappointed that the exhaust is no longer a high-mount, as I loved the sleek appearance it gave the previous models.
Other refinements include a lighter gravity die-cast closed-lattice swingarm and a stock Forged Aluminum Triple Clamp in the front. Bridgestone provides the standard tires for the 990 Duke, with a set of S22s.
The 990 Duke's 947cc parallel-twin LC8C engine is slightly larger than its predecessors but remains compact. With 123 horsepower and 76 pound-feet of torque, it is a powerful middleweight bike.
The bike's LED lights, full-color five-inch TFT display, and three ride modes (with two additional options) position the 990 Duke as a leader in the sub-1000cc segment. The TFT display is a significant improvement over previous models, and the inclusion of USB-C is a welcome addition. The demo mode, although questionable, offers riders the opportunity to experience the bike's performance. The Supermoto ABS feature allows for rear wheel skids, adding to the bike's character.
The 990 Duke's design has shifted away from the Supermoto-inspired ergonomics of its predecessors. The seat is now canted forward, forcing the rider towards the tank. The handlebar length remains the same as the 790 Duke, and the wider tank suggests a sporty riding position. While the changes may appeal to some riders, I will miss the unique charm of the previous models.
Overall, the 990 Duke represents a significant shift in KTM's direction. While the bike offers impressive technological advancements and performance, I have reservations about the design choices. The bulkier appearance and departure from the slim styling of previous models are disappointing to me. However, I am open to being proven wrong and hope that the 990 Duke will deliver an exceptional riding experience.