Why The 2024 KTM Duke 990 Is Called ‘The Sniper’ - SUV VEHICLE

Why The 2024 KTM Duke 990 Is Called ‘The Sniper’


Summary

  • The KTM 990 Duke is arguably the most performance-oriented naked bike in its segment, excelling in handling and comfort.
  • With a fuel range of 186 miles and 50 MPG, the bike offers suitable fuel economy for a sub-900cc naked motorcycle.
  • Powered by the LC8c parallel-twin engine, the KTM 990 Duke offers ballistic power and pinpoint precision, making it a high-caliber performer.



The KTM 790 Duke, launched back in 2017, blew the socks off its competition. Thanks to its telepathic handling, it was known as the Scalpel, and it sliced through the competition. So much so that Team Orange sold over 25,000 of it worldwide. In 2020, it was followed by the stunning 890 Duke R, and in 2021, the 890 Duke GP joined in, too. But things were getting a bit stale for Duke fans. A new messiah was needed.

Enter the 990 Duke. It’s KTM’s third middleweight (if we can call it that) naked, aiming to be the lightest, sharpest, and most performance-oriented naked in the segment. This time, it’s called the Sniper, which seems like a fitting name to us. Here’s why.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from KTM and other authoritative sources, including Motorcycle News and Revzilla.


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From Twisties To City Blocks: Prepared For Anything

Seat Height: 32.5-inch; Weight: 395 lbs

The KTM 990 Duke is a versatile motorcycle, and unlike some other Dukes, this one does not forgo comfort for performance. KTM says the 990 Duke is more comfortable than the 890 Duke, thanks to a few nifty upgrades. For example, the handlebar is four-way adjustable, the seat is angled 2 degrees up, and the pillion seat is 20 mm higher.

Accordingly, the riding triangle is almost neutral; the pegs are not too rear set and the handlebars are easy-reaching, giving the bike a supermoto-ish feel. Comfortable for everyday riding and confidence-inspiring for spirited stints. However, you wouldn’t want to tour on this bike, especially considering the lack of any wind protection. If you still want to, get a windscreen for the love of your neck.


Another aspect where the KTM 990 Duke shines as an excellent street bike is its fuel range. There’s no point having a sharp naked if it gives terrible fuel economy, after all. KTM claims this bike delivers 50 MPG with a range of 186 miles, thanks to its 3.83-gallon fuel tank. Of course, these numbers will vary, depending on how trigger-happy you are with the throttle. It’s still not bad for an over-900cc naked motorcycle.

Ready To Attack Arsenal At Its Disposal

2024 KTM 990 Duke TFT
KTM


With the pragmatic stuff out of the way, let’s look at the things that aid the manic performance of this motorcycle — the underpinnings. The 990 Duke has WP APEX adjustable suspension. The front forks are separate function open cartridges with clickers for easy adjustment, and the rear is supported by a gas-assisted monoshock, adjustable for preload and rebound. The suspension setup makes the bike feel plush and controlled at all times, with no flubbing around.

Coming to the unsprung mass, you might recognize the wheels from the 1290 Super Duke R. They are the same units, slightly adapted to the double-sided swingarm. The wheels are shod with Bridgestone S22 tires, suitable for all weather and on-road conditions. When you want to drop the anchor, dual radial calipers at the front clasp on floating discs, and the radially-mounted master cylinder provide immense feedback and performance.


Tech-Savviness (That Comes At A Cost)

Apart from all that, KTM also comes packed with awesome tech features. Our favorite is the automatic headlights, which don’t need a flick of a button to turn on when it gets dark. Even the DRLs automatically adjust their intensity as per the ambient light conditions. Yes, the headlights are ugly (at least to us), but some of you alien fanatics might like them. The 5-inch TFT display adds flair to the minimalist cockpit and is easy to navigate, thanks to a restructured user interface.

Finally, the bike gets three riding modes as standard (Rain, Street, and Sport), along with other aids like ABS, traction control, wheelie control, and launch control. Things get a bit controversial beyond that, as we get to the Demo Mode. This mode gives you access to Track and Performance modes for the first 932 miles. After that, you’ll have to pay KTM to use those features. That begs the question — if the software is already present on the bike, why take it back after some miles?


Suspension, Braking And Tire Specifications

Front Suspension

43mm WP APEX separate function forks, adjustable for rebound and compression

Front Suspension Travel

5.5 in

Rear Suspension

WP APEX monoshock, adjustable for rebound and preload

Rear Suspension Travel

5.9 in

Front Brakes

300mm dual floating discs with four-piston radial calipers

Rear Brakes

240mm disc with twin-piston caliper

Front Tire Size

120/70 x 17

Rear Tire Size

180/55 x 17

(Specs sourced from KTM)

Ballistic Power With Pinpoint Precision

Power Output: 121 HP

2024 KTM 990 Duke Corner
KTM


Pinpoint precision is what this bike is about. In the usual KTM style, the bike is supported by a light, stiff trellis frame. It is similar to the 890 Duke’s unit but tweaked to be sharper and lighter. The frame, paired with the updated swingarm and WP APEX suspension, ensures you’re sure in for a treat. Excellent handling characteristics that are uncannily Duke — sharp, light, and agile. It goes where you want it to, like a well-calibrated sniper’s bullet. To push the bike to its handling limits, you’d have to find a racetrack!

Chassis Highlights

  • 8% more side stiffness than the 890 Duke frame
  • 5% increase in torsional stiffness over the 890 Duke frame
  • Tightened steering geometry with reduced head angle from 24.3 degrees to 24.2 degrees
  • Wheelbase shorter by 5 mm compared to the 890 Duke
  • Aluminum die-cast subframe with an integrated airbox and air intake uses fewer parts
  • Gravity die-cast closed lattice swingarm is 3.3 pounds lighter and 35% more flexible to aid suspension
  • Pivot bolt replaced with forged parts for improved stiffness


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High-Caliber Performance For A Naked

Sniper rifles are loaded with features and ergonomic niceties, but their biggest selling point is ballistic firepower. That’s the same with the 990 Duke, courtesy of the 947cc LC8c parallel-twin engine. According to the Austrian specialist, the engine is the most compact twin in its class, boasting power figures that will satisfy most riders. The power delivery is never dull.

KTM Duke 990
KTM

But this doesn’t come at the cost of versatility. At a sedate pace, the bike is friendly — almost docile. And when you want brutal, it can still be rampant as you enter the power band, especially with the rider aids turned off. Give it the beans, and it will lurch ahead with gusto; the mid-range is where the meat is. The power increment might not be huge over the 890, but this is still more than a conventional middleweight naked. Same goes for the capacity, which is not too shy of the holy liter-bike segment.


Combined, the handling and engine performance should make the bike behave like a point-and-shoot missile with a race-bike-like direct feel and response. Sure, some bikers may find the bike too focused (like a super naked), but that’s what adds to the experience.

Engine Highlights

  • Engine is Euro5+ complaint and 96% new, according to KTM
  • Camshaft profile is aggressive with longer valve openings
  • Wider radiator for optimized airflow
  • Increased capacity from 889cc to 947cc, thanks to bigger bore and stroke
  • Completely stainless steel exhaust system redesigned to suit the new engine and frame
  • Updated pistons, cranks, conrods, flywheels, cam timing, etc. for better power delivery


Engine And Chassis Specifications

Engine Type

LC8c parallel-twin, liquid-cooled

Displacement

947cc

Frame Type

Chromium-molybdenum-steel frame with engine as stressed member

Compression Ratio

13.5:1

Torque Output

76 LB-FT

Top Speed

125 MPH

Tank Range

195 miles

Average Fuel Consumption

60 MPG (MCN)

(Specs sourced from KTM and Motorcycle News)

Target-Locked On The Rivals

Starting MSRP: $12,500

2024 KTM 990 Duke Black
KTM


The KTM 990 Duke is better than the 890 Duke in every way, or so the maker claims. The 990 Duke is 4.5 pounds lighter and adds 2 horsepower and 3 pounds-feet to the package. This makes it lighter, sharper, and more powerful than the 890 Duke. That’s a lot of wins for the 990 Duke, but they come at a price. At ~$12,500, the 990 is ~$1,200 pricier than the 890 Duke’s price. It’s still $400 cheaper than the more premium 890 Duke R, though, so the pricing is certainly not obnoxious.

Things get a bit muddywhen you compare the 990 Duke to its rivals, meanwhile. If the Duke is the Sniper, the rivals are nothing short of ballistic. Take the Yamaha MT-09 SP ($12,299); it’s not only cheaper but comes with some better components, like the Brembo Stylema brakes and Ohlins monoshock. Then there’s the Triumph Street Triple R ($10,945); it’s cheaper, sounds better, and looks stunning. Even the gorgeous Ducati Monster is only a few hundred dollars away from the 990 Duke!


So in a way, the only thing holding back the 990 Duke is its price tag. Yes, the design holds it back, too, but that’s subjective. The brand isn’t known for cheap after-sales service, either. In a way, even though the everyday super naked is better than anything out there, this isn’t a convincing enough factor in our opinion. Some bikes can be better just by being more balanced, faster, or better sounding. Considering everything, what would your weapon of choice be? The 990 or one of its above rivals?



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