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Duke of hazard | News | Spied

KTM’s new R-spec 790 aims to topple a triple

We’ve already been impressed by KTM’s new 790 Duke this year, but an even better version is coming in 2019 – the 790 Duke R. And it’s aimed at pulling potential buyers away from more powerful rivals, such as Triumph’s top-spec Street Triple RS.

At the moment, the 799cc LC8c parallel-twin makes a respectable 77kW and weighs 169kg dry. But its main rival, Triumph’s Street Triple S, tops that with 83.1kW and 168kg.

However, by far the most popular Triumph Street Triple isn’t the entry-level S, but the top-of-the-range RS model. That will be the 790 Duke R’s main target, although the Triumph offers 90.4kW and a dry weight of only 166kg.

It would be a push to expect KTM to match that power figure, since it’s lacking a cylinder compared to the Triumph and its 34cc capacity advantage won’t be enough to make up for that. So the Austrian firm will be drawing on all its technology to make a challenge.

Seen for the first time in these spy shots, the R version gets all the tweaks you would expect from a high-spec KTM.

The base-model 790 Duke is already top of the class in electronics, offering cornering ABS and stability control, an up-and-down quickshifter as standard, and multiple riding modes. A powered-up version of the engine is all that’s needed to make the Duke R a giant-killer.

By Ben Purvis