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"Fast Bikes", January 1, 2013

KTM’s bonkers naked bike sets the bar for two-wheeled lunacy! 2007 KTM SUPER DUKE

JON URRY

SIMON DODD

Big wheelies

High fun value

Giant smiles!

There must be something very strange in the water around KTM’s Mattighofen factory in Austria, as the chaps in orange seem incapable of making a motorcycle that isn’t just a little bit deranged. With this in mind, asking its designers to create a naked bike was only ever going to end one way – two-wheeled anarchy. True to form, the 990 Super Duke is a mad, bad and ever so slightly crackers naked bike that is brilliant fun, but also a little wild and sometimes very irritating. In short, it ticks every one of Fast Bike’s boxes for a great hooligan machine – which is why we love it so much!

Originally unveiled in 2004, the Super Duke was pretty much bang on the mark from the word go and so when it came to updating the 999cc V-twin for the first time in 2007, KTM had very little work to do. More of a refinement than an update, much of the development was on getting the Duke past EU emissions laws, something that could have potentially taken the edge off the engine. Luckily, KTM avoided this pitfall.

To say the V-twin is direct is something of an understatement. Although a bit woolly below 3,000rpm, once it gets into its stride the LC8 motor is a superb powerplant. The Duke is grudgingly happy to ride around in a relaxed fashion, but this isn’t really the V-twin’s strong point as the buzzy nature of the engine and super-direct throttle response make low speed work a bit cumbersome and awkward. To be honest, the Duke is a right pain in the arse around town, but this feeling of irritation quickly changes to one of pure delight once you escape town.

Get the revs up and the Super Duke comes alive, merrily romping towards the rev-limiter with serious haste while leaving you giggling at the outrageously sporty handling and completely ridiculous nature of the bike. It’s not overwhelming, it’s just right and once you’ve clicked with the KTM you’ll be left wondering why you haven’t tried one before.

The harder you push the Super Duke the better the handling becomes and the more your confidence grows. Unlike naked bikes such as the V-twin Tuono, the KTM isn’t set-up like a board; the suspension is firm yet compliant and the chassis agile without being too flighty. Although KTM do offer suggested suspension settings, there is little point altering from the factory fit ones as they provide the best balance of damping to deal with the UK’s roads – just get out there and enjoy the Duke. And enjoy it you will as this bike is virtually guaranteed to deliver a massive smile to your face.

While your sportsbike mounted friends may question your choice of a naked bike, the Duke will soon leave them wondering if clip-ons and a cramped riding position really are the way forward as you clinically dispatch the corners while sat up in relative comfort. It may not have the ultimate top speed of a sportsbike (although 149mph isn’t exactly shabby for a naked) but the Duke’s strong point lies within ‘real world’ speeds, the kind of pace that is naughty, but not too licence threatening. A good job, too, as get into the high figures and the Duke is pretty uncomfortable to live with.

KTM may have added a small screen and redesigned the nose fairing, but neither of these do much to deflect the wind blast and long trips at high speed are a pain on the Duke. It’s simply not designed to be sat on a motorway, this is a hardcore B-road blaster and should be treated as such. Although even this isn’t an excuse for the dodgy ’box…miles.

The main blot on the otherwise fairly flawless Super Duke’s copybook is its gearbox, which is pretty bad. Not only are false neutrals common, it lacks positivity and feels sloppy and tired. When new it was far from good, secondhand and this feeling has only got worse…

The Super Duke is one of those bikes that, much like the Speed Triple, just makes you smile when you are riding it. Unlike the Triumph, whose suspension can feel a bit soft and spongy when pushed, the KTM is as happy on track as it is on the road. If you need any more proof of this just think back to the KTM Super Duke one make race series that was held in UK – didn’t some chap called Fagan have a decent run at Thruxton?

There’s no denying the Super Duke is a pretty focused bike – but when this focus is firmly on the fun side of motorcycling Fast Bikes is prepared to forgive it most of its irritations. True, the gearbox is crap and the riding position pretty exposed, but after a few short miles, and countless wheelies, you forget its little quirks and enjoy the KTM for what it is – a hooligan bike and no mistake. One day bikes like this will be banned, so enjoy one today!

STYLING

As well as a new multi-functional cockpit the Super Duke’s look was refined in 2007 with a new front mask (head light surround) that includes a slight lip to help deflect a bit of the wind blast over the rider’s head. It’s not the most effective screen in the world…

TANK

Not exactly a bike designed for touring in the first place, the first generation of Super Duke’s practicality was hampered even more by a pathetically small 15-litre tank, something KTM sorted out in 2007 with a new 18.5-litre item. KTM claimed the new tank and improved fuel maps gave the Super Duke a 130 mile range.

SUPER DUKE R

Alongside the standard Super Duke, KTM launched an uprated R version in 2007. Available only in black with an orange frame, the R came with higher specification suspension using titanium nitride coating, a steering damper and more aggressive frame geometry. A single seat, carbon details, new yokes and improved brakes were also part of the package, but the engine was left untouched. Expect to pay around £6,500 for a 2007 or 2008 Super Duke R.

FRAME

Although the chrome-molybdenum trellis frame (try saying that after a few beers) looked the same, the steering geometry was subtlety altered with 0.4-degrees less angle to make the bike slightly more stable at high speeds. KTM make and powder coat all its own frames in house. The suspension has improved damping and stiffer springs with the fork offset increased by 3mm.

ENGINE

To comply with new Euro III emissions laws, the Super Duke’s 999cc V-twin received a new fuel injection map in the 2007 update that actually improved fuel economy according to KTM. Power was a claimed 120bhp with 100Nm of torque, 2bhp up on the 2006 pre-updated model with 500rpm more to play with. Trivia fans may like to know the LC8 engine weighs just 58kg…

BANISHED GREMLINS…

The first generation of Super Duke suffer from a weird fuel-injection quirk that was brought about by over eager riders. If you started the bike before the ECU had done a diagnostic check (the rev counter needle was still moving thorough its pre-starting check) the ECU could get confused and as a result the bike’s fuelling went up the spout. The 2007 updated stops this happening by not allowing the bike to start until the ECU has performed its check.

BRAKES

The ‘conventional’ four-piston Brembo calipers were replaced in 2007 by new radial four-piston Brembos with braided steel lines. There wasn’t much wrong with the old bike’s stoppers but fashion dictated radial was the way forward in 2007…

ENGINE

Type | 999cc liquid-cooled, 8v, 75-degree V-twin

Bore x Stroke | 101 x 62.4mm

Compression | 11.5:1

Fuelling | EFI

Tested Power | 109bhp @ 9,600rpm

Tested Torque | 93Nm @ 6,600rpm

CHASSIS

Frame | Steel trellis

F Suspension | 48mm WP inverted forks, fully-adjustable

R Suspension | WP monoshock, fully-adjustable, twin

Front Brakes | Four-piston calipers, 320m discs

Rear Brakes | One-piston caliper, 240mm disc

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase | 1,450mm

Seat Height | 850mm

Dry Weight | 186kg

Fuel Capacity | 18.5L

SPEED

0-60 | 3.13s

0-100 | 6.71s

0-150 | N/A

Stg ¼ Mile | 11.26s @ 122.85mph

Standing Mile | 30.68s @ 146.91mph

Top Speed | 149mph

INSURANCE GUIDE

RIDER 1 25 years-old, 3 years No Claims Discount, licence held for 6 years, and currently has no points

TPFT £271

EXCESS £150

COMP £432

EXCESS £250

RIDER 2 35 years-old, 8 years No Claims Discount, licence held for 12 years, and currently has no points

TPFT £137

EXCESS £50

COMP £196

EXCESS £150

Bike: 2007 - £5,000

Quotes from CompareTheMarket.com

RUNNING COSTS

Service interval:

Minor | 4,500 miles

Major | 9,000 miles

Service cost (main dealer):

Minor | £220

Major | £380

Right fairing: £191.26

RH Engine casing: £124

Brake lever: £62

Thanks to Fowlers: 0117 9770466

And on the web: www.fowlersktm.co.uk

PRICE GUIDE: £4,780 - £5,700

Cheapest private: £4,780

2008 model with 5,381 miles on the clock in orange.

Our choice private: £4,795

Black bike with twin race pipes and 9,635 miles. 2008 model.

Cheapest dealer: £4,795

4,810 miles, black bike with FSH and in good condition

Our choice dealer: £5,495

Orange/black with 4,061 miles and race cans fitted

Ex-demo: £7,995

2012 model with 1 mile on the clock! Unregistered bike.

Verdict 9/10

An weapon of a bike that is happy on track, B-roads or even just one wheel – front or back. You need one in your life…

+ MANIC MANNERS, SUPERB HANDLING, GREAT STYLING

- DODGY GEARBOX, ABRUPT THROTTLE RESPONSE

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