Looking at pictures, before the launch of the KTM 790 Duke I knew it would be a bike suited to the roads I ride in Spain. We don't live in the mountains but near enough to have some of them as a weekend playground. I first saw the new 790 Duke in the flesh at the Vive La Moto event in Madrid in April and then again at the Sobre2Ruedas event in Alicante, where the nice people from Moto Sport Carreres were taking signatures for their KTM Orange Days event in May.
I managed to sign myself up for two bikes, the first was the 1290 Super Adventure S which I rode first and then the 790 Duke.
After riding the 1290 with its tall screen, high seat and large road presence the 790 felt more like a mountain bike in comparison. The lower seat height meant I could get both feet flat on the floor with ease and the light weight made it a much easier to handle while stationary. Looking down at the TFT screen it was just a smaller simpler version of the 1290's with basically the same functions, the riding modes are however different.
Again I was given a run through of the controls and modes on the TFT and then we were off. It was a smaller group this time with just four of us out for the ride but I knew the route now. I had opted to try the Track mode first which sharpens the throttle response and alters the anti wheelie, traction control and ABS. This was an interesting choice whilst trying to keep a steady speed out of town, probably the wrong choice but once out onto the N325 it came into it's own.
This was the first bike in a while that I have used with a quick-shifter and the first ever with an auto-blipper. I am always a little sceptical of new technology and how useful it is compared to the possibility of failure, however in this case I was hooked.
On the first long straight I pinned the throttle and then just clicked up gears as the revs rose without easing off or touching the clutch. The KTM just surged forwards on what seemed like a never ending wave of power up to and beyond my ability to sit upright. At the end of the straight we were back in to a tight twisty section, I closed the throttle and clicked down a fews gears and the KTM's auto-blipper and motor slip control did the rest, keeping the bike stable and controllable throughout.
The TFT display in conjunction with the LED headlight did their best to provide wind protection and at normal road speeds it worked to good effect, once the pace increased I had to tuck in a bit to help the situation.
Once again we stopped for a few minutes to make adjustments and chat a bit, at this point i adjusted the mode to Sport, which softened the throttle response just like the 1290. Unlike the 1290 with it's semi-active suspension, the 790 has normal manually adjustable suspension at the rear and non-adjustable at the front, this you would imagine would be worse in comparison but somehow the KTM engineers have worked their magic and it just worked. Obviously with a pillion, adjustment to the rear preload would be a good idea but in standard form and on standard settings it worked perfectly for me.
At the end of my ride i spent a good few minutes looking over the 790 Duke, it is a wonderful bike as I expected with a little over 100bhp and a weighing in at under 170kg it is a hoot to ride, especially if you live somewhere like me. I can see it appealing to people commuting through a city to work as it is highly manoeuvrable and straightforward to ride with all of the safety features to keep you out of trouble. It's good for newer riders as there is an A2 friendly version.
I can also see it appealing to older sports bike fans like myself who want a weekend toy for blasting around the lanes or mountains near home.
All in all I had a great few hours at Moto Sport Carreres in Crevillente and can recommend them and the 790 Duke to everybody. Honestly if I'd had the money with me there would be a new KTM sat in the garage alongside the two Suzuki's.