The KTM 790 Duke returns to some markets. Wait, what?

Remember when KTM brought the 890 platform to market? Back in 2019, the 890 Duke R debuted at EICMA, and that foreshadowed the end of the 790 series, right?

Wrong. At first, the 790 Adventure and 790 Duke models disappeared from the lineup, replaced with models powered by the 890 parallel twin. With 120 hp on tap, and 73 lb-ft of torque (depending which model you bought), nobody was complaining, as those were both significant gains over the previous 790 engine.

But, a couple of years later, the 790 is back, at least in some markets (not in Canada, though, not yet). It’s popped up in Europe again, on KTM’s websites. German moto-site Motorrad expects pricing to drop below 10,000 euros, although that will depend which options you tack on at purchase time—many buyers will opt for the up/down quickshifter and other pieces that improve performance, but also drive up the price tag. Buyers will also reportedly be able to buy a version of the bike with engine detuned to meet the requirements of an A2 licence.

Cool, cool. It seemed a bit weird that KTM dropped the 790 like a hot potato, after a couple of years of sales. It’s even more weird now, with rumours of a 990 parallel twin coming soon. Spy shots of such a bike hit the press back in late fall of 2021, and that would suggest we’re 12-24 months away from seeing a new 990 in production.

But, maybe this is the early signal of a shift in KTM’s manufacturing plans. We’ve already seen CFMoto, KTM’s Chinese partner, playing around with the 790 design. CFMoto will build an 800 for the Asian market based on the KTM 790 design. Perhaps we’ll also see CFMoto building a 790 for KTM’s world market? That was certainly the rumour back in 2019. KTM’s CEO Stefan Pierer made further hints to that end in 2021. Maybe the 790 we see popping up on Euro websites is going to be a Chinese-built bike in the near future.


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