2005-2013 KTM 990 Su­per Duke

£4000-£6000 118bhp 145mph 199kg 1000cc 75° V-twin

RiDE (UK) - - Used Bikes -

“A BMX pow­ered by jack­ham­mers”

Punk rock on wheels. KTM’S orig­i­nal Su­per Duke is bru­tal, ba­sic and bel­liger­ent — and those are its good qual­i­ties. Its V-twin snaps with fire­cracker fury, gain­ing revs so fast it feels like the in­ter­nals are carved from Sty­ro­foam. It’s rough and raw, the chaotic racket and sav­age crack of each barely con­tained com­bus­tion stroke fed di­rectly from spark plug to whichever bit of your brain is in charge of mak­ing you go cross-eyed. The slight­est tweak of the throt­tle has in­stant im­pact — the power is use­able in the same way a stick of dy­na­mite is use­able. Same is true of the steer­ing: nudge the han­dle­bar and the stark, sharp chas­sis plum­mets to earth like a bowl­ing ball in a vac­uum.

The first 990, in ’05 and ’06, was ad­dic­tively ab­surd, feel­ing less like a spritely su­per­naked and more like a BMX pow­ered by a pair of tur­bocharged jack­ham­mers. For 2007 KTM calmed it a whisker, with more sta­ble ge­om­e­try, a larger fuel tank, less-snatchy fuel in­jec­tion, firmer sus­pen­sion and stronger brakes. And then KTM built an R ver­sion, turn­ing it back into a drool­ing, skit­ter­ing lu­natic once again.

Whichever one you go for, any 990 Su­per Duke of­fers a far more elec­tri­fy­ing ride than any Aprilia Tuono. It strad­dles the tightrope be­tween ge­nius and in­san­ity — its re­lent­less in­ten­sity is too much for most, but that’s what makes it so ap­peal­ing. MARTIN FITZ-GIB­BONS

Tread­ing the fine line be­tween ge­nius and in­san­ity — the KTM 990 Su­per Duke

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