New spy pictures show that KTM is making significant progress with the development of its new parallel twin machine.
Although the bike’s been spotted before, the latest prototype is the first to give a clear look at the new machine’s styling and design rather than merely being a lashed-up mule to test the new engine.
Where previous prototypes were seen using Duke 690 swingarms, the latest version has its own bespoke design, albeit retaining the usual KTM oddity of its externally-visible bracing structure. The bike also displays for the first time the final bodywork design for the new parallel twin Duke.
As with the 2017 1290 Super Duke and 390 Duke models – both are getting redesigns for next year – the new parallel twin gains distinctive side panels that jut forward from the fuel tank. It’s a design idea already displayed on the 2190 Super Duke GT, but it’s prominent on naked bikes where those panels, extending far forwards enough to overlap the fork tubes, give the impression of Guy Martin-esque sideburns.
The exhaust is also worthy of comment. KTM’s solution to ever-bigger exhaust silencers and collector boxes required by tightening emissions laws is to place the main collector vertically ahead of the rear wheel, squeezed between the swingarm’s sides. On previous prototypes the gasses have been released from the bottom of the collector box into a conventional-looking side-pipe with a small silencer. The final design, seen here, attaches the tail pipe to the top of the collector box, so it exits above the swingarm via a pregnant-looking silencer that has overtones of a two-stroke expansion chamber to its shape.
The vertical exhaust collector box, which includes the bike’s catalytic converter, sits just where you’d normally expect to find a rear shock and rising rate linkage. To accommodate it, KTM has forgone the rising rate and mounted the shock off-centre and further back than normal. Connected to an extension on the top of the left hand side of the swingarm, it’s almost horizontal, leaving plenty of space for the exhaust collector to be hidden away from sight. It’s a clever solution to the cosmetic problems that all manufactures are facing as they try to find space for ever-larger exhausts, and KTM has enough experience of direct shock linkages to suggest the lack of rising-rate won’t be a problem.
A question remains around the bike’s engine. KTM boss Stefan Pierer has, in the past, referred to both 500cc and 800cc versions of its new engine, and it’s not entirely clear which this is. Given the greater profit potential of the 800cc unit – likely to go under the ‘890’ name – and the clearer gap in KTM’s range at that capacity point, it’s odds-on that this is that machine. Features like the twin front discs and fairly well-spec’d WP suspension also point to it being a fairly high-performance bike.
The smaller version, which hasn’t been talked about as much, has a less obvious position. In performance and price terms it seems likely to overlap with the existing Duke 690 single, although it would offer a notably different riding experience thanks to the twin-cylinder engine. It would also have to be priced rather lower, with competition from budget bikes like Honda’s CB500.
As with the smaller Duke 125 and 390, the parallel twins are expected to save money by being assembled by Bajaj in India. It’s in that market that the 500cc version could make more sense, but at the moment all indications are that the large, 800cc bike is where development is being focussed, with a Duke model – like this – appearing first and an Adventure version to go against the Triumph Tiger 800 and BMW F800GS coming soon afterwards.