First Ride: 2005 KTM Super Duke Review

An Austrian brute pumped full of steroids is the only way to describe the first ever-pure streetbike from KTM. If Arnold Schwarzenegger was a bike he'd be the Super Duke...

Posted: 30 March 2008
by Niall Mackenzie

The future is definitely bright for KTM if the recently launched Super Duke is a taster of what it has planned in the street and sportsbike market. With refreshing honesty the usually straight-faced Austrians admit that motorcycling has an element of danger, but this can add to the excitement and no one should live in a glass case. And to emphasise this point the company which describes itself as "having a passion for speed" insists the new Super Duke is a bike that will beg to be ridden hard - and you should do just that whenever possible. Here, here!

The sun needs to shine to see the metal flake in the orange version, so it was a good job KTM chose to launch the bike in Fuerteventura not Scotland, but whatever the colour there is no question that this street fighter stands out from the crowd with its angular looks and twin silencers exiting at seat level. Although there are design cues from the single cylinder 640 Duke this is a much more stocky package with the biceps to match. As well as the deep-gravelly voice of a female bodybuilder.

Sitting behind the Renthal handlebars you are constantly reminded that you're riding a KTM. The bright orange digital speedo and analogue rev counter glows in your face while providing the usual information, including water temperature and a low fuel warning light. But fire it up and instead of the thud-thud of a single the 999cc 75-degree twin barks like a police dog at a peace march en route to making 120bhp. But, unlike the 950 Adventure motor, it has strong torque from 4000rpm and linear power all the way to the rev limiter at 9750 rpm.

As you would expect wheelies are a doddle in the first three gears, but short-shifting while using the bottom end grunt keeps the front down if maximum acceleration is what you require. But that's not really in the KTM philosophy now, is it? If you do prefer to keep the front down you'll be glad to hear the gearbox is better than any Italian bike I've ever ridden, but still not quite as slick as the Japanese.

The fuel-injection system is similar to Suzuki's with two butterflies per cylinder, with the twist grip controlling one and the Keihin engine management regulating the second. It's a good system but I found that the throttle response fluctuated a bit in first and second gear under 4000rpm. Out of this range it felt near perfect elsewhere.

Running out of revs before the limiter is never a problem as the wide power band gives enough flexibility through all of the six gears. I managed 150mph on the speedo and was later informed that another three miles per hour and I would have hit the rev limiter in top gear. Which is as fast as you want to go considering the riding position.

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