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Old 22nd May 2020, 19:31   #1
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Default Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-ktm-edited.jpg

The year 2020 isnít the best for most people. In fact with this Corona pandemic wreaking havoc, its probably the worst since a couple of decades. But before it became really worse it was going to be the year that I realise my long cherished dream. Well to be honest I did not know it was going to be Ďtheí year for me, but then when you have been wanting something for the longest, the universe just helps you get there.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_1617.jpg

To cut a long story short, my Ninja 250 whose thread you can find here was replaced by the KTM RC390 which was used only and only for my weekend rides and I did manage to take it to Kari for a track day. But other than that the RC was a proper garage queen. For all my commutes and the long rides, it was always my Bullet 500 (whose thread you will also find on the forum). My goal however was always to get a big bike, and I was convinced about a 1000cc supersports but my bank balance never did. So I assumed its never going to happen and I should be happy with whatever my pocket can afford.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200229_170622.jpg

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-bullet-500.jpg

With both the Bullet and the KTM bought in 2014, they had completed 6 years with me. While the RC kept me smiling every time I rode it, I was getting a little bored with the Bullet. And then out came the KTM ADV 390. While its no SBK, I was hoping it would bring in a change of motorcycling genre for me. And I was completely ok with having a SS and an ADV in my garage. But then after pondering and pondering some more there was this thought. The Bullet and the KTM were as different as chalk and cheese and that was one of the reason why I enjoyed switching between them. They just offered such different riding experiences.

But if I did get the ADV 390, both the bikes would essentially have the same engine. The only difference would be in the riding posture and the riding surfaces. And Iím pretty sure I would have gotten bored of the RC390 because the 390 ADV would do almost everything the RC could. Now this was a bad situation to be in.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200607_091441.jpg

Cut to sometime in November last year, I managed to take the KTM 790 Duke for a short spin. I loved it to death. It was quick, it was refined and it was comfortable. Even though I loved it, naked's never really did pull my heart strings. Like I mentioned before, I was obsessed with supersports.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200315_160444.jpg

Now coming back to my dilemma, I was still in the middle of it and that meant often visiting the KTM showroom and checking out the ADV and think. In the midst of all this came the news of price reduction for the 790 Duke. Even after the drop in prices, it would still be a significant stretch compared to the 390 ADV but it could be considered. Now since I could stretch for a 790, I started dreaming about some used supersports too.

Some of my favourite bikes that i considered were:
  • Triumph Daytona 675
  • Honda Fireblades
  • Suzuki Hayabusaís

But the really good and sparingly used ones were out of my budget and the ones I could afford werenít the best kept machines. Now I have always been a sucker for new machines and apart from a Yamaha RXZ (again whose ownership thread is also on the forum) was the only bike that I had bought used. So the idea of a used motorcycle was also eating me away from the inside.

So I decided a change of thought was needed. Why not a naked? The RC being a supersports was rendered useless for most of the situations, read commuting and longish rides and I had managed only 10k km in its 6 year ownership and my Bullet had already completed north of 24k km on the odo in the same amount of time. While the cheap maintenance of the RC meant it was ok lying in the garage, but if I did buy a big capacity SS, the problems would remain the same, the maintenance would go up significantly and all this for another garage queen. If I could manage to compromise on my obsession, I could have a bike that would have the same cracking performance but would be way more usable. Yes I would have to deal with the windblast issue which is always the biggest bane of a naked motorcycle, but then it would still be used a lot more. Plus, if I considered the 790, I could buy it brand new and cherish my longstanding dream of seeing my first big motorcycle arriving in a crate.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200315_160744.jpg

The booking experience

So after steering my thoughts in so many directions, I finally decided to take the plunge and decided to book the 790 Duke with KTM Andheri East. Dealt with the owner of he showroom, Mohit Ahuja who is a biker himself. Totally transparent and extremely knowledgeable, the whole process was a breeze and i did not even visit the showroom once. All conversations happened on the phone and money was transferred online.

The bike arrived at the showroom in a couple of weeks and I managed to lay my eyes on it. Full amount paid, up next was the registration process. But on the verge of fulfilling my bucketlist, the global pandemic struck hard. Lockdowns ensued which meant the showroom was shut. And with every extension of the lockdown my patience levels were starting to drain. Finally after the third extension, I gave up hope and thought Iíll get it whenever it was written in the stars.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200518_162713.jpg

However in between the Lockdown 4.0, I got a call from the dealer saying, he would be opening the showroom for a bit and I could come collect the bike if I wanted. He didnít have to ask twice as I slipped into my jeans after I donít know how long and reached the showroom. The battery as expected was dead, but a jump start quickly brought the bike to life. Formalities quickly finished and I headed home. A big shout out KTM Andheri east for the fantastic buying and delivery experience.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200619_192703.jpg

Now that all the excitement has settled a bit, lets talk about the bike a little.
The more I look at it, the more I fall in love with the details. The muscular tank, minimalistic bodywork, the mental exhaust and that fat 180-section rear tyre, all come together to make it one mad looking motorcycle.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-gopr0017.jpg

Its not a beautiful looking bike, I dont think any of the KTM's are beautiful, but then the beauty here is in the details and how brazenly KTM believes in the performance over form philosophy.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-gopr0021.jpg

Swinging a leg over, I like how roomy the seat is. The tank is narrow so the bike feels slim and easy to maneuver. the seat height though at 825mm is on the taller side even for someone like me who is a little over 5 feet 8 inches. The pillion seat is pretty comfy too and my better half was pretty comfy on the shortish rides that we have done.

Now coming to the real reason that made me go bankrupt and buy the bike. The electronics package and the feature list. Here's what it comes with.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200619_191424.jpg

  • Riding modes Ė So you get to choose between Rain, Street,, Sport and the ballistic Track mode.
  • Cornering ABS
  • Bi-directional quick shifter
  • Wheelie control
  • Steering damper


Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200619_191434.jpg
[*]9 levels of traction control[/list]ABS that can be switched off or used in Super Moto mode

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-gopr0019.jpg

Now these stuff you most likely see in top notch supersports and having them in a middle weight naked like the 790 is just phenomenal.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-gopr0020.jpg

Now to the heart of the matter. If you look at the engine, its looks beautiful but its a compact unit that looks just like my Ninja 250 engine, it is a parallel twin after all. But like they say, all good things come in small packages and this one is Da Bomb. Super compact, super refined and super explosive.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200619_191545.jpg

Since its still under run-in I have only been switching between street and rain mode and keeping it under 6500 rpm. But even in street it feels like bucking broncho should you gas it. I cant wait to try sport and track.

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-gopr0023.jpg

Clutch is extremely light and both clutch and brake are adjustable so you can get the right feel. I haven't really stomped on the brakes yet, but the J.Juans feel like they do a good job. But i would have liked more bite. Waiting for the pads to bed in to give a more honest opinion.

Fuel Efficiency

80% city and 20% highways during these days, the 790 still dishing out around 20 kmpl, which is not bad at all. I have been asked to fill regular fuel so thats what i have been doing.

So as of now, what I like

1. It looks way better in the flesh than in the pics. The details really grab
attention, especially the exhaust and the fat rear tyre.
2. It sounds EPIC. Even with the stock exhaust, its got a rorty bark and
you just want to hear more of it.
3. Very easy to ride and maneuver. Its as light as my RC390 and the slim
tank means it does not throw its weight around at all.
4. I had read in a lot of places that the ride quality is very stiff. But to my
surprise its quite compliant for a sports naked.
5. Superb Ground clearance, has no issues with speed breakers.

What I donít like

1. The tank shrouds moulded plastic and susceptible to scratches. A PPF is
due soon.
2. Like all KTMís this one does not like standing around and does heat up.
I had a Ducati Scrambler with me for 6 months and that had a major
heating issue, thankfully the 790 is nowhere close to it but it makes it
apparent that its made to fly and not to crawl.
3. I'm being greedy and wish for an adjustable suspension set up
like in the 890
4. Plenty of windblast


The rides thanks to the lockdown have been mostly in the city. But I did manage one running-in ride. Once on the highways, the 790 changes character. Massive amount of grunt, relentless acceleration and the wind hitting you like a brick. You end up at silly speeds with just a slight twist, but thankfully braking is good and so is the deceleration.

The seat also was a surprise. It might look thin, but all through 200 plus km, it was more than comfortable and so was the riding position. Only my hands were kind of sore because you really need to grab on to the bars thanks to the viscous acceleration and the wind blast.

But what really impresses is the handling. The super aggressive rake angle, wide bars and long wheelbase meant I started chucking into corners almost immediately. the wide seat means getting one's butt out feels a little awkward and since this is my first bike with a steering damper, the whole settling feeling felt a little funny. But that was only till a few km. Since running in needs one to stay under 6500 rpm. Overall it was a fantastic ride and I loved every bit of it.

But what immediately needs attention after the ride are the following

Protection Parts needed immediately
Stomp grips to clutch the tank better
Windscreen to avoid getting my head ripped off

Hopefully once the virus spread eases up, I will get to spread her wings. Hope to complete my running-in soon so I can really give it the beans. In the meantime here are some more pictures.
Attached Thumbnails
Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-gopr0018.jpg  

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-gopr0022.jpg  

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200518_214245.jpg  

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200605_181355.jpg  

Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review-img_20200607_091532.jpg  


Last edited by Aditya : 30th June 2020 at 23:33. Reason: Removing speedo pic.
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Old 30th June 2020, 08:02   #2
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Big Bikes Section. Thanks for sharing!

Going to our homepage today . Ride safe, bud.
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Old 30th June 2020, 08:58   #3
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Congratulations! I am super jealous.
Post the price drop, I was in half a mind to exchange my D390 for the D790.
RE Interceptor and D790 would have been a dream garage.

If you have no plans for a pillion, the back seat cowl with a tail tidy kit looks superb.
How much did you end up paying OTR? Also what is the tank range?
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Old 30th June 2020, 11:30   #4
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by timuseravan View Post
Congratulations! I am super jealous.
Post the price drop, I was in half a mind to exchange my D390 for the D790.
RE Interceptor and D790 would have been a dream garage.

If you have no plans for a pillion, the back seat cowl with a tail tidy kit looks superb.
How much did you end up paying OTR? Also what is the tank range?
Thanks. The back seat cowl will be ordered soon and so will the tail tidy but in due time. Tank range is similar to the 390's, about 300 odd km, depending on what mode and how one is riding. PM me for the price.
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Old 30th June 2020, 12:04   #5
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Congratulations on this superb, dare i say, superbike, well to me, this is much more than all the performance you can need on Indian roads, i don't think there is any car, this side of one crores that comes close to offering this level of performance, it is not peaky like Japanese fours too (though i'd still pick them, but if have the chance i'll have both this and a 650cc inline 4 in my garage), it has superb performance lower down.

I have ridden it briefly and man, do not, i repeat do not turn off that wheelie control, i have seen a growing trend on youtube videos, they like an herd would turn off ABS, turn off traction control and wheelie control and then start riding, i mean come on, you paid a huge sum for all this, it took us humans decades to develop such sophisticated and highly useful systems, this bike is mental despite those on and it was an experience of a lifetime to me anyways.

Just drive safe and have the best time of your life!! Enjoy!
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Old 30th June 2020, 12:08   #6
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

@balenopower

Congratulations on getting your new D790. Wish you many more happy and safe miles with your new motorcycle.

Regarding the protection parts, please keep the radiator guard item at the top of your high priority list.

Also good see to you owning multiple motorcycles in your garage. Seeing the usage of your RE and RC390, the only other suggestion I like to give is clocking even more miles on your D790. In fact these big bikes require more riding to keep the machine fit (some thing like 8000 to 10000 kms per year, at least).
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Old 30th June 2020, 13:20   #7
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Many Many congratulations on the Duke 790 my friend. I have a 2017 Duke 390 V2 and a Himalayan and pre-lockdown, I was in the same dilemma.

I very briefly considered exchanging my Duke 390 for a 390 ADV when I also realized that i like riding the Duke 390 and the Himalayan because they are so different to each other. They both have their different uses and different moods in which they are to be ridden.

Then I heard the price drop on the Duke 790 and I started considering the Duke 790 in March just before the lockdown started. I also completed all my negotiations and had started to put my Duke 390 up for sale when Corona hit. At that point of time, I anticipated that my cash in the next few months will need to be looked at very closely because I knew that my earnings would go down (nature of the industry I work in) - so I had to let the sweet deal go away.

I still get nightmares about the one that got away - I was offered the Duke 790 at roughly 6L on road which was a sweet price for what it is really worth. Now with BS6- the price would again be in the vicinity of the usual 8.50-9L onroad.

Damn Corona!

Put up some great miles on the motorcycle. I hope you have great fun. Best wishes.

Last edited by rahul4321 : 30th June 2020 at 13:25.
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Old 30th June 2020, 13:26   #8
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Congratulations on your KTM D790. I have as well "almost" finalized on D790 but then KTM announced 6L price as an offer(just before lockdown) and every single unit was sold-out. I had been given D790 for a day to make up my mind, so rode in on the highway and twisty around Bangalore, and I completely concur with some of the points you mentioned, especially how easy it is to live with, even with Indian conditions. I as well liked the ergonomics of the bike for my 6ft frame. The exhaust is something that leaves a little more desired, but an aftermarket full system should be able to fix that. And of course the wind blast, that was the most painful thing. Congratulations once again. Good decision.
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Old 30th June 2020, 14:43   #9
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Congratulations! Felt great reading this review.
I got myself a KTM 390 ADV just 3 days ago, so I can share your excitement. Awaiting more notes from you once you break the bike in. I'm on my break-in period too, so sticking below 6500 rpm. Around 2 times I crossed 6500 rpm (shifted down by mistake), only for less than a second though. I hope that didn't affect the internals.

Just like you, I will be getting a radiator guard too. I'm not an experienced rider like you, this is my first bike. Have always been a car person. Any recommended brands for radiator guards?
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Old 30th June 2020, 15:26   #10
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Congratulations balenopower.

The 790 is a typical high quality offering from KTM. With that screamer of an engine, it should give you that big bike feel that makes it all worthwhile.

I actually saw your delivery picture on one of the WhatsApp groups. You looked very relieved and very happy

Enjoy your new bike and I wish you many safe miles on it.
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Old 30th June 2020, 17:23   #11
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by mohansrides View Post
Congratulations balenopower.

The 790 is a typical high quality offering from KTM. With that screamer of an engine, it should give you that big bike feel that makes it all worthwhile.

I actually saw your delivery picture on one of the WhatsApp groups. You looked very relieved and very happy

Enjoy your new bike and I wish you many safe miles on it.
Thanks buddy. yes it does have all the big bike feel one needs, especially when you twist that throttle.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nutcracker View Post
Congratulations! Felt great reading this review.
I got myself a KTM 390 ADV just 3 days ago, so I can share your excitement. Awaiting more notes from you once you break the bike in. I'm on my break-in period too, so sticking below 6500 rpm. Around 2 times I crossed 6500 rpm (shifted down by mistake), only for less than a second though. I hope that didn't affect the internals.

Just like you, I will be getting a radiator guard too. I'm not an experienced rider like you, this is my first bike. Have always been a car person. Any recommended brands for radiator guards?
Hey congrats on the adv. You have two good brands to choose from for the RG. Evotech or R&G. Check online and you will find people selling them. And dont worry about the internals, they will be just fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abtyagi View Post
Congratulations on your KTM D790. I have as well "almost" finalized on D790 but then KTM announced 6L price as an offer(just before lockdown) and every single unit was sold-out. I had been given D790 for a day to make up my mind, so rode in on the highway and twisty around Bangalore, and I completely concur with some of the points you mentioned, especially how easy it is to live with, even with Indian conditions. I as well liked the ergonomics of the bike for my 6ft frame. The exhaust is something that leaves a little more desired, but an aftermarket full system should be able to fix that. And of course the wind blast, that was the most painful thing. Congratulations once again. Good decision.
Thanks. Frankly i loved the exhaust note and i also love the Akra for it which retails at 60K plus for a slip on. Not sure if ill end up spending that kind of amount just to make it louder. Since its a Twin, it wont wail like a 4-cyl ,but just gets louder and more throatier. Lets hope i get an exhaust offering better value, ill consider then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahul4321 View Post
Many Many congratulations on the Duke 790 my friend. I have a 2017 Duke 390 V2 and a Himalayan and pre-lockdown, I was in the same dilemma.

I very briefly considered exchanging my Duke 390 for a 390 ADV when I also realized that i like riding the Duke 390 and the Himalayan because they are so different to each other. They both have their different uses and different moods in which they are to be ridden.

Then I heard the price drop on the Duke 790 and I started considering the Duke 790 in March just before the lockdown started. I also completed all my negotiations and had started to put my Duke 390 up for sale when Corona hit. At that point of time, I anticipated that my cash in the next few months will need to be looked at very closely because I knew that my earnings would go down (nature of the industry I work in) - so I had to let the sweet deal go away.

I still get nightmares about the one that got away - I was offered the Duke 790 at roughly 6L on road which was a sweet price for what it is really worth. Now with BS6- the price would again be in the vicinity of the usual 8.50-9L onroad.

Damn Corona!

Put up some great miles on the motorcycle. I hope you have great fun. Best wishes.
Thanks for the kind wishes. Had i been in your place, im not sure too if i would have gone ahead with the purchase. But my money had gone before the pandemic hit and in a way im glad it did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shan_ned View Post
@balenopower

Congratulations on getting your new D790. Wish you many more happy and safe miles with your new motorcycle.

Regarding the protection parts, please keep the radiator guard item at the top of your high priority list.

Also good see to you owning multiple motorcycles in your garage. Seeing the usage of your RE and RC390, the only other suggestion I like to give is clocking even more miles on your D790. In fact these big bikes require more riding to keep the machine fit (some thing like 8000 to 10000 kms per year, at least).
The reason of buying the D790 was so that i can ride it more compared to the RC390 whose aggressive riding position made me think twice about getting it out for normal commutes. And yes, the crash pads and the radiator guard are right on top of the list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocketscience View Post
Congratulations on this superb, dare i say, superbike, well to me, this is much more than all the performance you can need on Indian roads, i don't think there is any car, this side of one crores that comes close to offering this level of performance, it is not peaky like Japanese fours too (though i'd still pick them, but if have the chance i'll have both this and a 650cc inline 4 in my garage), it has superb performance lower down.

I have ridden it briefly and man, do not, i repeat do not turn off that wheelie control, i have seen a growing trend on youtube videos, they like an herd would turn off ABS, turn off traction control and wheelie control and then start riding, i mean come on, you paid a huge sum for all this, it took us humans decades to develop such sophisticated and highly useful systems, this bike is mental despite those on and it was an experience of a lifetime to me anyways.

Just drive safe and have the best time of your life!! Enjoy!
Thanks buddy. I think a few years earlier I would not have settled for anything but an in-line 4 if i had to spend this kind of money on a motorcycle. But as your hair greys, the head takes more decisions than the heart and thats what happened here as well. For me, I have always loved motorcycles that were a little difficult to tame and the 790 is just that.

Well frankly i can't wait to turn that wheelie control off since i do occasionally amuse my self by getting that front end light. But yea, when riding I like the electronics on cause they are there for a purpose.
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Old 1st July 2020, 15:57   #12
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

Excellent buy balenopower. And an equally great review as well. That is one hell of a screamer you got there. I hope the KTM service guys are well equipped with spares for this one, at least the filters, brake pads etc. I have heard great reviews about KTM Andheri East showroom and I am following them on Facebook as well. No nonsense stuff, so I assume your bikes would be serviced by safe hands as well. Anyway as you have owned the Ninja 250R, I expect service costs to be similar or lesser than that
Wishing you 1000's of happy miles on the 790. Ride safe.
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Old 1st July 2020, 17:17   #13
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

A rare occasion when a mean machine managed to look cute in those colors. Wishing you millions of happy miles.
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Old 2nd July 2020, 06:24   #14
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

I like KTM's attention to detail (They don't usually have much of this). Even the straps to secure the motorcycle on the crate are orange.

I for one wonder if you ever need to go faster than a Duke 390. I had one for a couple of years. In ~25,000 km that I owned the bike, I could never push it to the limits. It was just too fast for our roads, or, my lack of experience could never push it for what it was designed to do. That said, I was always grinning under the lid. I extended the distance of my daily office commute just so I could ride fast and watch the rev limiter light flash. Even if you did not try hard, you pretty much smoked everyone at the traffic light.

...and here we are with your 790 Duke. I can't imagine what this would be like. I guess I would call it a Scud Missile on two wheels.

Congratulations. Ride safe.
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Old 2nd July 2020, 11:27   #15
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Default Re: Realisation of a dream : My KTM 790 Duke Review

balenopower, congratulations on your 790 Duke! The prices that you guys were getting it for in Bombay were very tempting indeed, unfortunately the same aggressive prices were not matched by the dealers here in south India. In fact, dealers here were more inclined not to quote any good deals and were trying to get the full prices on the bikes that they had in stock. I had seen a Duke 790 at the local showroom and it looked very compact indeed, its dimensions really do make it look like a Duke 390 to the untrained eye. That is a very good thing if you dont want it to grab too much attention and use if for your regular day to day routine, where it can be parked safely anywhere. There is a 790 Duke owner in Bangalore who has uploaded footage on youtube from his highway rides, the speeds which the bike does easily, is not, ahem, forum friendly. The way the speedo keeps moving even well beyond the 100 kmph mark is astonishing!

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but as you would probably already know, the Duke 790 is known to have some niggles, in fact most of the international journalists have called out the KTM 790 quality angle at the recent launch of its big brother, the 890 Duke R. What didnt help matters for KTM in India was not very positive feedback on the 790 Duke from some of the early buyers, which put off a lot of prospective owners from the 790 despite the attractive prices when compared to the competition. Of course, there is nothing like a proper long term ownership thread on the forum to showcase the bike's track record in our Indian conditions. Do keep this thread updated with your experiences, both on the road and at the service centers. Wish you a trouble free and exciting ownership experience!
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