If you’re in the market for a well-priced cartridge kit for under a thousand U.S. Dollars, this would be my bet. I put down some money in order to install this kit for my 2020 KTM 790 Duke, a motorcycle with no adjustability in the fork and only preload in the rear. After riding it for a while, I felt that it was high time for a little more investment, knowing that I was going to keep the bike for a long time. 

I mentioned in my owner review of the 790 Duke that the fork was sorted for a non-adjustable setup. Reasonably sharp with a good amount of plushness, it was decent and you could say a notch above other competing models with non-adjustable fronts. However, to bring it to the next level, I took the plunge. 

Don’t get me wrong, the stock suspension of the KTM 790 Duke was already sorted enough, and one of the better non-adjustable setups that I’ve tried, but this was just another world away in terms of difference. 

My perspective

2020 KTM 790 Duke Owner's Review

I'm not really into lap times on the circuit at the time of writing. I use my motorcycle almost every day and I take it out on twisty roads and occasional trackdays. Most of my observations for this review were collected on less-than-stellar roads both of the straight and twisty variety. 

The value proposition 

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

With some research online, I was able to find Andreani Misano Evo Cartridge kits for about $500 USD to about $600 USD depending on the retailer. On my side of the fence, in the Philippines, the kit ran me 39,000 PHP, which is about $690 USD. As for the other options in terms of pricing, I could have gone to Ohlins for the upgrade, but I’d be spending north of $1,000 USD or thereabout. Other brands like Showa were not available to me, at least based on the friends that I keep in the industry. Lastly, I could have gone to YSS for the kit, but the Andreani kit seemed like a better value to me given that it was geared toward fast and sporty riding, at least based on the preliminary research I did prior to the installation. 

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

So an in-between option it is, and an in-between option I went with. One of the more premium performance shops in my area, MPH 2.0 Motorsports, spoke to me about really testing it out, and the shop offered me full support in terms of any questions, adjustments, and how-tos I needed. I know my way around shocks and dampers, but these guys were really able to dial in the right settings for me. For something like this, I recommend that you consult the professionals because it can make or break your experience if you’re just wrenching without a clue. Pricey, yes, but well worth the investment. 

Out of the box, into the tubes

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

At this price point, I will admit that I was rather impressed at the packaging of the kit. I appreciate details like this and I thought I might mention what you get in the box as well. 

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

Dampers, top hats, springs, instructions, and no tools. Clearly, it's not an easy do-it-yourself deal out of the gate. You will also have to rebuild the fork for this, so I got 7.5W fork oil from Liquimoly, to go with the kit. The decision was made as per the recommendation of MPH 2.0 Motorsports’ experience with the kits for Philippine road conditions. 

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

The installation was pretty straightforward as far as fork rebuilds go. Take out each leg, unscrew the top hat, old cartridge out, new cartridge in. Oversimplified, sure, but this process takes an experienced hand to do right. It also gave me the chance to compare it to the stock non-adjustable cartridges of the 790 Duke. Post-install, the seat height and the suspension travel in the front increased by about two inches. Sadly, I did not get to check the delta between the stock and Andreani setup, but there was a noticeable increase in seat height after everything was said and done. 

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

I have to say that the WP set does have good hardware thanks to progressive springs and a lot of travel, credits to KTM and WP, but comparing the Andreani spring to the WP spring, it’s a single-rate and stiff. The dampers on the Andreani kit were more robust and had more complexity to them, so I was extremely excited to ride it after the installation. Plus I get to (kinda) see some fancy top hats on my bike. 

The first few miles 

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

For the break-in, I was instructed to just ride like normal, but feel the suspension. After dialing everything in and getting my sag just right, it was off to the twisties to get a feel for how the suspension was handled. 

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

Straight out of the gate, everything felt sharper. Three key benefits of upgrading your front suspension include a better steering feel, a more planted front, and better braking. One of the cons of the KTM 790 Duke was its brakes. It’s radially mounted, KTM-branded, and with a radial master cylinder, but reviewers, myself included, found the brakes to be rather soft and kind of vague, mainly due to the stock suspension setup. The upgrade helped out with that immensely and there was little to no fork dive, and the feel on the lever was a heck of a lot better compared to before. 

Diving in 

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

The value proposition with Andreani is that they offer high-end setups for a rather affordable price. After getting a hold of the hardware in hand, I can say that it has a very sturdy feel to it, and one that I find matches up to some of the other cartridge kits I’ve held in hand in the past. 

On the bike, the quality of the damping and the ride is on par with high-end setups on some of the more expensive bikes I’ve reviewed. Perhaps the closest experience that the Andreani setup reminds me of right now is my memorable encounter with the KTM 890 Duke R with its fully adjustable WP setup. Dialed into its sporty settings, the Andreani setup reminded me of the sharpness that was present in the Duke R. 

Dialing it in

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

Undoubtedly, the biggest benefit that this kit provided to me was the pre-load, rebound, and compression adjustability. Right off the bat, I knew that this kit could be pretty much anything that I wanted it to be, whether it could be set up for touring, sporty riding, or readjusted just to match the road conditions, rider weight also taken into consideration. 

After the initial break-in, the front end felt firm, sporty even, a world of a difference compared to the stock suspension which felt a tinge too soft on the bumpiest of roads. With the cartridge kit, things got a lot more consistent. The front end didn’t feel as bothered by bumps compared to before, and the front end felt planted, to the point where the bike felt heavier to tip into corners. After a bit of adjustment, I found that I could be more aggressive with my countersteer while retaining a good level of feel on the bars. 

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

Following that, tried a more plush setup. I reduced some tension on the compression side to give the front end a little more compliance for bumpy roads. On that end of the spectrum, the Andreanis performed really well. “For racing use only” the box said, but it was capable of handling rough asphalt and less-than-perfect tollway pavement. 

Verdict: Worth the upgrade 

Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Cartridge Kit - KTM 790 Duke

The list of upgrades on my KTM is rather long at the moment, but I think that the fork is definitely a top one in terms of the price-to-satisfaction ratio and my favorite modifications to the bike. You could say that the exhaust provides a lot of smiles per mile, and you’d be right, but so too does the fork, and it adds a new dimension of adjustability and performance to the ride. Functional and fun in one rather well-priced package. 

I was on the fence about the suspension upgrade, I’m not going to lie, but now I feel a lot better about it. For one, it unlocks a level of consistency that I have been wanting from the bike. Second, it gives me settings to play around with to really hammer home my preference for a given ride. Lastly, it makes everything around it way better than before. 

Do I recommend this upgrade? Well, only if your motorcycle has a non-adjustable fork. I’ve tried going with thicker fork oils with other bikes in the past to limited success, and there is only so much you can do with an oil change here.

Gallery: Gear Review: Andreani Misano Evo Adjustable Fork Cartridge Kit

If you do have a motorcycle with an adjustable fork, I recommend that you get it tuned first for your weight, then get a feel for its characteristics. Compared to other adjustable fronts on bikes that come with it from the factory, I feel that the Andreani kit is a notch above in terms of feel and consistency. Apart from that, there is also the fact that you get down to the millimeters with the Andreani kit rather than big clicks. That extra adjustment resolution will come in handy for really getting your settings down exactly. All of that for about $600 USD? It's worth it, but matching this with a fully adjustable rear shock? Pricey. I have to say, you're not compromising a ton by going with this value-packed kit. 

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