As far back as 2019, KTM has been stoking enthusiast excitement with talk of an upcoming 490 platform. Details of the plan emerged to include a liquid-cooled, 490cc parallel twin engine, which was to produce somewhere in the ballpark of 60 horsepower. In theory, it would represent a significant leap forward for the company’s existing 390 platform. 

Like the 390 platform, this new platform was to be produced as part of KTM’s partnership with Bajaj. Expected models included a 490 Duke, an RC 490, a 490 Adventure, and 490 supermoto and enduro models. The much-anticipated 490 platform was something more than just a rumor, as it even showed up in a KTM investor presentation at one point.  

The thing is, though, that even the best-laid plans can change. On January 20, 2023, Autocar India spoke with Pierer Mobility and KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, who told them that the entire 490 platform is dead. Around the globe, Motorrad reached out to Hubert Trunkenpolz, who confirmed that the company made this decision to respond with agility to market developments. 

To what market developments does he refer? Although the dream of a 490 is apparently kaput, KTM still wants to address the yawning displacement chasm between the 390s and 790s in its lineup. Yes, there are also the 690cc big thumpers. However, KTM reportedly wants to explore something else in the same displacement range—only with a twin-cylinder configuration.  

The problem with the 490, it seems, is that KTM analyzed development costs versus likely sales, and determined that the math probably wouldn’t work out in its favor. Instead, KTM now wants to explore taking its existing 790cc parallel twin mill and bringing displacement down in the neighborhood of 690cc, although an exact number isn’t clear just yet. What is clear is that, as envisioned, the new powerplant would produce over 70 horsepower, and would be designed to compete directly against the likes of the Triumph Trident 660 and Yamaha MT-07.  

When can we expect to see bikes roll out with this new engine? Assuming that this plan comes to fruition, the goal is 2024. It’s also worth noting that they’ll likely be produced via one of KTM’s other partnerships, with CFMOTO.  

As a big fan of the RC 390, it’s a little sad to know that the 490 won’t see production. However, we do look forward to seeing what this theoretical new middleweight parallel twin has to offer once it’s out in the world. 

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