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Trails of India
KTM’s Offering 790 Duke Launching in India

The 799cc beast, as per reports, will arrive the Indian market late December 2018 or early January 2019. It was said to release in November 2018 after its presentation in Milan in 2017 at EICMA. The Austrian company took almost 2 years to release this bike in India after a remarkable hike in sales of the old models.

The Duke 790 will be priced approximately north of 6 lacs INR, even though it costs 8499 pounds in the UK which translates to 7.30 lacs, it will rival against the likes of Suzuki GSX-750, Triumph Triple Street S and Kawasaki Z-900. It will be launched alongside Duke 125 in the market.

The parallel-twin engine produces massive 105 HP and 86 Nm of peak torque. The engine pairs up with a 6-speed transmission. It also gets an ‘R’ version which produces 120 HP. The Duke 790 will come with features such as ride-by-wire technology, LCD instrument cluster, quick gear shift, slipper clutch, Bosch Cornering ABS, traction control, WP Steering damper and LED headlamps. Ride-by-wire technology helps in maintaining the fuel efficiency of the engine and also ensures specified fuel/air supply to the engine.

Also, the appearance of the Duke 790 is inspired by the less powered Duke 390, even though you can easily differentiate owing to the bigger LED headlamp and lesser body cladding, bare bodywork and a high placed exhaust muffler. The 790 Duke is a hugely important bike for KTM – not just a new model but the start of a whole new middleweight platform. With its typically sharp-edged lines, the 799cc parallel twin fills the large gap between the 690 Duke single and 1290 Super Duke V-twins in the Austrian firm’s street bike range.

You don’t need to be told that this sharply styled bike is a KTM, even when it’s finished in grey and black rather than the trademark orange. The Kiska studio’s design fits right into the Duke family line-up between the 390 and 1290 Super Duke R and incorporates plenty of neat touches including LED lighting and a full-colour TFT display activated by an updated version of KTM’s familiar four-button switch on the left bar. Pressing the Down button switches the display to show more detail of the trip, fuel-consumption and other functions, while the Up button allows the rider to choose from the four-engine modes. Street and Sport give the full 105bhp with alternative throttle response; Rain cuts power; and Track provides additional functionality, including one-touch adjustability of the traction control level, plus the option of disabling the anti-wheelie function.

And the Duke is significant not only to KTM because it brings a whole new level of electronic sophistication to the middleweight sector. With a maximum power output of 105bhp and a wet weight of just 174kg, it’s very much a mid-sized motorbike. But as well as a TFT display and two-way quick-shifter as standard, it features electronics previously seen only on bigger bikes, including IMU-controlled traction control and cornering ABS. A quick burst of acceleration is enough to put over 100mph on the digital display, heading for a top speed of about 140mph. The Duke is sufficiently smooth up near its 9500rpm redline that vibration is never an issue. The two-way shifter is superb, in combination with a six-speed box. One pleasant surprise was the engaging character and exhaust note. Less welcome was the Duke’s slightly erratic progress when being ridden slowly through villages on a constant throttle. This wasn’t a problem on the launch ride, which mostly avoided built-up areas, but might be more of an issue when commuting through the city. Economy, on the other hand, is excellent: over 50mpg despite plenty of enthusiastic throttle use, to give a range of around 150 miles from the 14-litre tank.

One area where KTM have compromised to keep costs down is with the suspension, which comes from the firm’s own specialist WP. The 790 has 43mm upside-down forks and a rear monoshock, with the shock’s preload providing the only adjustability.KTM has made a big effort to enter the middleweight class with a splash, and the 790 Duke does exactly that. Its basics are spot-on: the parallel twin engine is responsive, eager, and smooth and has plenty of character.  The whole bike is very rider-friendly and respectably practical, yet way more involving than you might expect of a 105bhp parallel twin. That said, expectations from the Duke 790 is high and the Indian market is eagerly waiting for this beast of a bike. Will it be a success like its predecessor or will its price make it a failure in the Indian market. Only one way to find out!