KTM Duke II 640 (2000 - 2006)

If you can't wheelie one of these, then I'm a lavish spender
Manufacturer
Category
Price
£5995
Available from
2000 to 2006
Quirky and cool in an un-cool KTM Duke kind of way
Low on comfort, the Duke will never be a long haul contender
An excellent motorbike for those looking for the rugged offroad approach to onroad riding

User Reviews

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idl1975's picture
Submitted by idl1975 on Fri, 11/01/2008 - 14:54

Overall Review

As a road rider of a reasonable vintage with lots of sportsbike and touring experience behind him, I'm not clear how magazine testers consistently get these bikes so wrong. Dukes are extremely comfy bikes that are excellent at distance work at vaguely legal speeds (up to 80-85). With a long, well-padded seat that lets you adjust your body position to wherever you want, a bullet fairing to keep some of the windblast off and reasonably low pegs, it's ergonomically excellent. If you want long range, bolt on the 18 or 24 (!) litre enduro tanks made for the off-road LC4s and get 200 to 275 miles between fill ups. It's also about the best bike I've ever owned for all-weather ability. It only gets scary on crap roads if both ends really start sliding - front end end tucks that would keep you up nights on a ZX-10R only rate a passing shrug on a Duke, thanks to the bike's enduro origins. The chassis has enough grip and feedback, however, to let you really enjoy it on trackdays and sticky roads, with a choice of knee-down or foot-out style. It does this while getting about 56 mpg combined, 6000 miles from a sticky rear tire, being in a very low insurance group and being almost incapable of wearing out its brake pads. It's also very happy green-laning it with some wire wheels and KTM's very cheap spare plastics. However, KTM screwed up by giving a perfect "everyday bike" no proper luggage provision (that goes to the LC4 Supermoto), a fiddly, pointless 916 style exhaust that's hell to clean or take on or off, poor finish (all the exposed metal and esp. the downpipes tarnishes at the first granule of road salt) and a pain-in-the-ass maintenance schedule, including valve clearances every 3,106 miles, suspension rebuilds every year, and a very extended oil-change procedure involving two filters and two oil supplies (sump and frame). Finally, while the engine may indeed be 'unburstable' in dirt-bike world, by road standards it's prone to a number of catastrophic and premature failures that we wouldn't have accepted from a Japanese bike back in '99 when it was introduced. A great roadbike nevertheless - just be sure you can do all the maintenance yourself, or that you have a handy KTM dealer (and the readies in your wallet) to do it for you.

Strengths

Handling and braking, fuel economy, riding position and comfort, confidence in bad weather, easy on brakes and tires, the entire LC4 parts catalogue at your disposal

Weaknesses

Build quality, carrying capacity, speed, maintenance, long-term reliability

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Submitted by George's Shed (not verified) on Mon, 14/01/2008 - 20:45

Overall Review

Top bike! I will keep this for another year. Never done any long runs about 40 mile max none stop, would not consider doing long runs there are loads better choices than the Duke II if you want to travel any distance. Mine is used for fun and to commute nearly every day winter/summer. I find myself constantly looking for quite roads, so I can hone my unicycle skills. Oh and did I mention it was FUN?

Strengths

Build quality is good, other than chrome on front pipes. Suspension is top notch and can easily be talored to fit your style/weight. Very much at home when fast riding, very forgiving and draws you into the hooligan mentality, slides aren't scary anymore.

Weaknesses

low rev vibration can get on your nerves sometimes, is noticable in traffic filtering. Have to slip the clutch sometimes to smooth the the low rev power delivery. Starts well in any weather but a bit slow to warm up. Small tank around 100Mile fill ups. Short service intervals (but easy to work on)

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Overall Review

I love this bike. I never knew i'd be able to do 10 meter stoppies, wheelie till the cows come home and slide the back end out, with the duke i cant help myself. Soooooooooo much fun. I live in a city and comute 15 miles each way evey day. By far the best bike ive had for town traffic, its light, slim, quick, nimmble and handles like a handley thing in handle town on handle day. Its stood up to 2 winters and still looks and runs great. Great for pissing off sunday R1 riders on the cat and fiddle. The stock pirreli dragons are good, back lasted 3000 miles front is untouched at 5750 miles. I can't wait for the 690 Duke if it as good as the 640 I'm buying 1, if its better I'm buying 2.

Strengths

Wheelies and stoppies for fun. Looks great, sounds great with Akrapovics on. Easy to grind the pegs. Kick start for if battery goes flat (leaving after market heated grips on all day). Easy to turn around in tight spaces, Just lift back end off ground and spin it around. Its even more fun in the wet...backs in so easily.

Weaknesses

too easy to wheelie (want to keep licence). Not too good on motorways, but not as bad as enduro. Will cruise at 85 but no wind protection and a bit vibey. Hands and arse go numb after about 70 miles.

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Overall Review

I loved my Duke 2. Everything in the strengths box was what I was looking for in a bike, plus it is pretty reasonable at motorway speeds, read 80-90mph. Easily keeps with sportsbikes on A or b roads, untill the speed exceeds 100mph, which lets face it, a lot of motorcyclists are trying to keep under now anyway. What I couldn't live with was the constant faults, exhaust snapped, subframe cracked at tank mount, problems with starter clutch, big end failure, camshaft replacement,oil pump problems, the list goes on. Maybe I was unlucky, but I would buy carefully if you are considering one. Change oil regularly with top notch fully synthetic, don't wheely it too much (causes oil starvation to engine), change oil pumps( not expensive), regularly check all bolts for correct torque. I wouldn't have another, which is a shame as when they are working they are so much fun, I just couldn't live with the worry

Strengths

Excellent handling, even two up, quality suspension, bags of grunt at real world speeds, reasonably economical, great looking, sounds awesome with aftermarket pipes.

Weaknesses

Kick start less than useless, vibration causes cracks in subframe, exhausts, and causes bolts to loosen. Engine is not as unburstable as some would say, requires frequent maintenance.

Rating Breakdown
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Comfort
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Submitted by George Stan on Wed, 22/09/2010 - 09:43

Overall Review

This is my first 'big' road bike, but ive raced motocross for about 10 years, so this bike suited my riding style, it is 'restricted' well it was for a few weeks, but taking the restrictor out only changed performance on full throttle, because it was a throttle stop. overall a great bike as long as you dont like motorways.

Strengths

Really strong engine, pulls from really low all the way through the gears to over a ton, wheelies are a doddle, brakes are great, even taking a pillion doesnt upset the handling that much.

Weaknesses

not for motorways, your sat up in the wind blast and all the weather, could do with a fuel gauge or warning light

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Overall Review

absolute gem of an engine, just don't try to ride it through too many winters - everything that could rust rusted, everything that could get brittle got brittle, total rubbish really - suited to the summer rider who will absolutely love it

Strengths

Fantastic single cylinder engine, awesome brakes, top notch handling - one of the best bikes i've ever ridden in the sunshine

Weaknesses

just an all round weak bike, it disintegrated in the winter

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