The KTM 890 Duke R is essentially an unforeseen product dropped by Mattighofen upon the world. The Austrian firm launched the 790 Duke aka ‘The Scalpel’ in 2018 to critical acclaim. Despite falling short in a few areas against its peers on paper, the 790 Duke managed to shatter preconceived notions in pursuit of relentless precision.
For KTM, that precision wasn’t enough. The firm knew this platform could go faster, lean deeper, wheelie taller. Thus was born the 890 Duke R. When KTM adds the R suffix to a motorcycle, you can be sure of its promise to perform. It’s not only an orange chassis and a few graphics on offer.
The 2020 KTM 890 Duke R is a bigger, more powerful, lighter, and more advanced motorcycle. Mattighofen believes the 790 can get even sharper without losing real-world usability. To prove its words, the boffins at KTM bored out the Duke’s parallel-twin LC8c to displace 889cc. The R now makes 119hp and 99Nm, a premium of 16hp and 12Nm over the 790. Already sounds irresistible, doesn’t it? But wait, there’s more.
The Super Scalpel now revs 250 RPM above the 790 Duke. This is achieved by increasing the compression ratio, larger valves, and aggressive cams with more lift. The new setup nets more bottom and midrange power.
KTM had developed the 790 Duke as a scalable model that can be localised for production across its global manufacturing and assembly facilities. Since the 890 R doesn’t prioritise that, it can go crazy with regard to all its components.
The Super Scalpel features 43mm WP Apex USD forks with compression and rebound adjustments along with a fully-adjustable WP Apex monoshock. The Maxxis tyres have also given way to Michelin Power Cup II road-use trackday rubber.
Riders now sit taller on the Super Scalpel with the bike’s seat height raised to 834mm from 825mm. The swingarm is steeper, footrests are higher, and there is more ground clearance. Brembo supplied top-trim Stylema monoblock calipers biting down on twin 320mm discs.
KTMs are light. Keeping with the tradition, the 890 Duke R sheds 3kg despite all the add-ons. Is it the orange paint on the chassis?
So the orange Super Scalpel is a trackday weapon. Where are the race electronics? Well, you can access them from the TFT screen of course. Traction control, cornering ABS, optional quickshifter, and a Track mode are available for you to extract crazy performance from the mad Austrian.
Lastly, keeping with this year’s unchallenged global issue, the 2020 KTM 890 Duke R also supports your social distancing ambitions. There is no rear seat, for a pillion will only slow things down. You don’t want that distraction while going at it aboard the Super Scalpel, right?