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KTM 990 SMT prototype spied with new LC8c engine that's starting to spread across model range.

It was only a few months ago that KTM took the wraps off the 890 SMT as the final addition to the ‘890’ range of 889cc parallel twin bikes – but already it is working on the next generation SMT powered by the new ‘990’ twin that debuted in the 2024 990 Duke.

This prototype, still clearly in the early stages of development, is mixing and matching components from the 2023 890 SMT with parts from the 2024 990 Duke but, far from being a criticism, that’s a reflection of the clever way KTM has designed its new 990 engine. Despite being completely new it’s dimensionally similar to the older 799cc ‘790’ and 889cc ‘890’ twins. This makes it relatively easy to combine the new engine with existing chassis parts from the older bikes, cutting costs.

The 990 engine might be visually similar to its predecessor, but it actually has new cases, cylinders and cylinder head, plus a different bore and stroke to achieve a capacity of 947cc.No doubt KTM has engineered in some room to allow future generations to be enlarged. 

Externally, we can tell the engine in KTM’s test bike is the 990 because the castings of the sump and engine covers, visible in these images, differ from those used on the existing SMT’s 890 LC8c.

In terms of performance, the 990 Duke manages 90.5kW (121hp) and 103Nm of torque, compared to 77kW (103hp) and 100Nm for the 890 SMT, so the new engine promises a worthwhile performance upgrade.

While the engine’s mounting points are aligned with the old LC8c twin’s, there is a chassis change that’s visible on the prototype 890 SMT, with the adoption of the 2024 990 Duke’s swingarm. Unlike the existing 890 SMT and the old 890 Duke, which have essentially the same frame, the new 990 Duke’s swingarm is mounted inside the pivot points on the chassis rather than outside them. The adoption of the 990 Duke’s swingarm on the prototype SMT suggests that the entire frame has been borrowed from the 2024 990 Duke. That would also explain the prototypical fuel tank and seat subframe fitted on this testbike as the existing 890 SMT parts wouldn’t fit
onto the 990 Duke’s main frame rails.

A 990 Adventure is all but guaranteed to join the range in 2025 – as well as the addition of extra variants, including the fully-faired RC990 sportsbike that we’ve busted several times already.


KTM has also been testing a variation on its parallel-twin Adventure model – with a prototype that looks very much like the 890 Adventure R but may actually be a mule for a future, cheaper variant.

As well as expanding upwards with the 990 parallel twin engine, KTM has made the decision to create a downsized version of the old 790/890 LC8c twin, clocking in at around 650cc and to be manufactured by Bajaj in India.

Although it’s impossible to tell the capacity of the engine in the Adventure testbike spotted at KTM’s facility, we can see that its covers match those of the older 790/890 LC8c motor rather than the new 990 version. Since KTM already has both a 790 and 890 Adventure and Adventure R in its line-up, it makes sense that this may be the ‘690’ variant.