The completely new KTM 990 Duke was unveiled at EICMA 2023 and they’re calling it ”The Sniper” and for a good reason.
The all-new KTM 990 Duke stole the spotlight on its unveil at the massive annual motorcycle show. The Austrian powerhouse’s ”Sniper” takes aim directly at the big middleweight and one-litre naked bikes, while staying atop the middleweight segment amongst select few rivals that are at a par with the 990 Duke.
Replacing the 890 Duke, the 990 Duke sits above the 390 and the 790 Duke while bridging the gap to the monsterous 1290 Super Duke. Powering the new 990 Duke is a dramatically updated version of the LC8c engine that was given to the KTM 890 Duke R. With a capacity of 947-cc, the Euro-5 compliant engine has been given new pistons, crankshaft and conrod, helping it produce 123 hp and a massive 103 Nm of peak torque. The best part is that the bike weighs just 179 kg dry, which translates to a 190-kg kerb weight. The power output is a small bump over the 890 Duke R’s 120 hp, while higher than the 790 Duke’s 105 hp. However, it is still far from the marque’s flagship 1290 Super Duke R that offers 180 hp.
KTM also gave a reasoning for the 990 Duke being called the Sniper—the stiff trellis frame and a new closed-lattice swingarm, which when combined with the adjustable WP Apex suspension components and the ”track-proven” Bridgestone S22 tyres, provide the Duke with a Sniper-like accuracy when it comes to cornering stability. Hence the name.
The 990 Duke gets a 14.5-litre fuel tank that is flanked by sharp side panels, going in tune with the Duke series’ kinetic design style. The LED headlight however, looks a bit bizarre and looks like a mix of the Predator and Chappie (the robot from the movie Chappie). Although, the aesthetics of the Duke, which also turns 30 this year, is an acquired taste but at the same time there is no denying that the bike does look razor sharp and fast. Position and daytime running lights are located on the profile of the headlight, which also auto-adjusts in intensity according to ambient light conditions thanks to a light sensor integrated into the dashboard. Additionally, the KTM 990 Duke is fitted with a Coming Home light function as standard.
The seat height clocks in at 825 mm, and the passenger seat sits 20 mm higher than before. KTM say that the 760 mm-wide handlebars are adjustable four ways; two on the forged aluminium offset yokes, and two on the risers, which can be rotated. As usual on the bigger Duke models, suspension duties are taken care of by adjustable WP Apex components at both ends. The 43-mm fork upfront can be dialed in with five clicks on both rebound and compression while the monotube shock absorber at the rear can be adjusted in five clicks with manual preload adjustment also possible. Braking is handled by the twin 300-mm discs that sit up front and the single 240-mm disc at the rear. The 990 Duke gets 17-inch alloy wheels, same as on the 1290 Super Duke R, wrapped in 120/70 ZR17 and 180/55 ZR17 Bridgestone S22 tyres.
The Sniper’s cockpit is a five-inch, anti-scratch bonded-glass TFT display that provides the rider with access to the five electronic rider modes, data readouts such as lean angle and telemetry stats, and an optional “track” mode that lets them fiddle with the anti-wheelie and launch controls. KTM are also offering a list of upgrades for the 990 Duke in their PowerParts catalogue along with a bunch of software upgrades.
There is no news regarding its launch in India yet but we certainly hope it does arrive, unlike the case of the other Duke models.
Story: Alshin Thomas