KTM 790 Duke: Pros, Cons And Should You Buy It?

Modified On Oct 18, 2019 By Alpesh Rajpurohit for KTM 790 Duke

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Should you add the Scalpel to your garage? Find out here

After much fanfare, KTM has finally brought the 790 Duke in India, but we were disheartened with its Rs 8.64 lakh price tag. But then, KTM gave us a go on the 790 Duke at Bajaj’s test track in Chakan and we came back with a grin on our face. So, we are here to tell you whether you should just go for it and buy a pricey parallel-twin middleweight naked or not.  

Also read: KTM 790 Duke: Everything You Need To Know


Exceptionally light and nimble:

We rode the Scalpel on Bajaj’s test track in Chakan, which has some really tight turns. In that environment, the 790 Duke really amazed us with its handling. At 169kg, it’s lighter than the Yamaha MT-09 and the Kawasaki Z900. But, what’s interesting is that it’s only 3kg heavier than the Triumph Street Triple S! One of the ways the Austrian bike maker achieved this was by employing a light chromium molybdenum frame instead of the trellis frame. Swing a leg and you’ll be surprised at how slim and compact the 790 Duke really is. Pair these compact dimensions with wide handlebars and what you get is a quick-steering motorcycle.

Punchy motor is extremely responsive:

There are some motorcycles which don’t make sense on paper until you ride one. The KTM 790 Duke is the perfect example of this. The 799cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin motor in the Scalpel makes the least power compared to its rivals: 105PS at 9000rpm. But it makes 87Nm of torque, the majority of which is produced in the middle of the rev range. Compared to its rivals, the 790 Duke might not have a great top-end performance but show it a couple of twisties and it can certainly stay hot on their heels.

Comfortable riding position:

Not only is the 790 Duke a racy naked, you can use it to run your errands as well! The rider’s seat is huge and offers a lot of space to move around and, surprisingly, even the pillion seat is quite spacious and comfortable. At 825mm, the seat height is only 5mm less than the 390 Duke, but thanks to the slim profile, planting your feet on the ground won’t be that much of a headache.  


Looks too similar to a 390 Duke:

Granted, the 790 Duke looks insane, but it looks too similar to its smaller cousin, the 390 Duke, especially from the front. The headlamp is the same unit as seen on the 390 Duke. Heck, even the front suspension is similar to its smaller cousin (different internals though). We just wish that KTM would’ve styled the Scalpel like the 1290 Duke rather than the 390. 

Exhaust placement awkward for pillions:

Sure, the tapered exhaust looks good on the 790 Duke, but it’s not practical. The immense heat radiating from the high-set exhaust will make the pillion pretty uncomfortable. So if you are planning to perch pillions on the 790 Duke, you might want to suggest them some good pair of jeans as well as proper ankle-length boots. 

Feels a little pricey for a KTM:

At Rs 8.64 lakh (ex-showroom), the KTM 790 Duke is a lot more expensive than what we had imagined. In fact, it’s Rs 95,000 more expensive than the Kawasaki Z900 and a whopping Rs 1.12 lakh more than the GSX-S750. 

Should you buy it?

Definitely yes! Agreed, it’s expensive, but you get a motorcycle which is more electronically superior than nearly all of its rivals, is easy to ride and offers great performance. In fact, it is that one big-capacity motorcycle that you can ride every day and everywhere. Also, KTM has a wider dealer network than its rivals, so finding spare parts won’t be a big problem. 

Moreover, now might be the right time for you to buy it as KTM will increase the price of the 790 Duke once the new emission norms kick in from next year. 

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