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Long Beach Motorcycle Show: KTM hits the road

December 08, 2012|By Charles Fleming
  • The 690 Duke back on the road, leaning into the turn.
The 690 Duke back on the road, leaning into the turn. (KTM )

KTM used the annual Long Beach gathering known as the Progressive International Motorcycle Show to showcase two powerful new arguments for getting off the dirt and onto the street: a return of its popular 690 Duke, and an upgrade of its even more popular Adventure.

First the Duke: This bike had sold well for KTM until a few years ago, when it stopped generating excitement. KTM withdrew it, and now brings it back for 2013, with adornments. The new model sits lower and has more horsepower -- under 33 inches, over 70 horsepower. It also comes fitted with a slipper clutch, uses the ride-by-wire system for better fuel mileage, and a beefy Brembo braking system. It comes in black and white, with plenty of KTM orange highlights on both.

The Duke was always KTM's relatively inexpensive, entry-level bike -- its Monster, if you like. With newer emphasis on street bikes, KTM needed a new version to start putting new riders on its bikes.

Word around Long Beach was that a 390 Duke might be on the way soon, too, making it easier still for the company to turn wannabes into owners.

PHOTO GALLERY: KTM Duke and Adventura Baja

The Adventure Baja is a variation on the successful 990 Adventure. The south-of-the-border version features an orange powder-coated frame and orange crash guards. In addition, it comes standard with a tank bag and rear luggage bag. KTM expects you to take this dual sport bike off the road, on the road, and back again, and stay away a while.

The Baja sits tall, boasts a sharper look, features grabby-looking knobbie tires from Dunlop, and is, in the words of a KTM rep, "the most off-road street bike we offer." With the new appointments, it looks ready for anything from Sahara to Iditarod. 

Like many of the models Honda is offering this year -- an indicator of how seriously manufacturers have taken the downturn in motorcycle sales, and how serious they are about reversing it -- KTM is offering the upgraded Adventure Baja, with all the extras, at the same cost as last year's Adventure.

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