Oil weeps and a pulsing brake mar a brilliant performance
Suddenly the 790, the bike that helped make my long hot summer a scorcher to remember, is warming up on the drive with the tell-tale steam of a frigid earlywinter morning belching from its aftermarket Akrapovic. Just like that, my visor has gone from black to clear and the once sensational grip between here and work has been downgraded to slimy. But still it tears the place up. It wiggles elegantly through the motorised anarchy outside school, cheekily takes a bit of pavement when the traffic completely gridlocks, then clears its throat and thunders off towards work, the happiest and most uncomplicated bundle of fun I’ve ridden for years.
And that’s where I’d like to leave things – only I’ve missed out a few facts that are beginning to irritate.
As the 790 warms on the drive, I also notice that a dribble of oil that’s been weeping from the cam box cover seal for the previous thousand miles is becoming harder to ignore, especially now a second leak has appeared. What’s more, it’s definitely getting worse.
And as the 790 wiggles through the morning rush hour traffic, the still-cool engine cuts out – again – and has done so every day since the weather chilled, leaving me fumbling for the starter and at the mercy of every psychotic parent hell bent on bagging the parking space closest to the school gates.
And as the 790 thunders off towards work I’m increasingly aware of the pulsing brake lever and reduced stopping power that go hand-in-hand with a warped disc.
Harder to explain or quantify is the 790’s suspension, which has been the bike’s only weak spot since it arrived in May. Harsh on high-frequency bumps such as manholes and potholes, the wrong combination of factors can get the bars waggling like it’s 1990 all over again. But now the rear shock can take several strokes to recover from a sequence of more gentle dips and rises and threatens at times to bounce me out of the saddle.
There are no damping adjusters to play with so it’s a case of lumping it or perusing inevitably expensive aftermarket shock options.
So, life with the 790 is not all unconfined joy. Nothing irritates like knowing you have to use your weekend not to ride your new bike but take it back to your dealer. But that’s where we are this week.
Winter chills can’t spoil the fun but the odd glitch can That oil leak is definitely getting worse
£8499 On-the-road price PREVIOUS UPDATE SEPT 19 KTM 790 Duke
Tim Thompson, Head of Content Fast road and trackday rider with a love of sportsbikes