MCN has scooped some early details of the 2012 KTM 690 Duke. The Austrian manufacturer appears to have achieved the impossible, meeting stringent new emissions regulations while also upping power and reducing weight and price. Power is said to increase from 64 to “around” 70bhp (the bike’s still in pre-production form, so hasn’t put down an official figure yet) thanks to high-tech new features like twin-spark ignition and a ride-by-wire throttle. That’s despite the giant new exhaust can and its under engine collector.

Those engine modifications, exhaust and a couple new production processes appear to be the biggest changes, with the frame and suspension remaining visually identical to the current Duke. New bodywork brings this new 690 more in line with the KTM 125 Duke, giving it a two-piece seat and less gawky headlight.

In addition to the ride-by-wire throttle and dual spark plugs, MCN says to expect optional ABS on the list of tech advances. “Twin-spark” technology is a fancy name for sticking two spark plugs into a single cylinder and was pioneered by Alfa Romeo, first on a grand prix car in 1914 and then on sports car racers in the 1960s before being adopted as a means to meet emissions standards on road cars in the 1980s. In theory, it can allow an engine to operate on a leaner fuel/air mixture, achieving more complete combustion using staggered spark timing. Burning more of the fuel that’s already being put into the cylinder results in both more power and cleaner emissions.

2012 KTM 690 Duke: lighter, faster, cheaper, not for the US
The current 690 Duke.

While the ginormous new exhaust is adding weight, KTM is reducing it through parts simplification. According to MCN, the subframe/seat and front cowl are now structural, combining bodywork and frame into a single part. No word on an exact weight yet, but the current 690 Duke weighs in at just 149kg (dry).

All that and there’s also talk of a price drop from the Duke’s current £6,945 to £6k even. Something that could have been achieved by farming out some production or parts to KTM’s indian partner, Bajaj.

MCN suggests that all this attention being paid to the middleweight naked is in an effort to create a clear in-brand upgrade path from KTM’s new entry level street bike, the 125 Duke and it’s 350cc big brother that’s planned for 2013. That strategy applies to Europe only, sadly. Here in the states, the 690 Duke has already been dropped from the company’s line up and there are no plans to import this new model. Once the company captures the interest of young American riders with the KTM 350 Duke, where does it plan to send them? It appears as if the new Super Duke 1290 will have to be the next step. That may not seem logical, but is a sad reality of the American market, where superbikes are considered appropriate fodder for less experienced riders.


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