All Tests – 690 Duke and 990 SMT: two oranges pressed in the sun … – Day 3: Heat under the helmets

690 Duke and 990 SMT: two oranges pressed in the sun…

All Tests - 690 Duke and 990 SMT: two oranges pressed in the sun ... - Day 3: Heat under the helmets

We have tested two very wanton KTMs for you. This is not a head to head because there is no need to compare these two hybrids, but rather a joint test on roads as varied as they are extraordinary. Road book test !

Day 3: Heat under helmets

The next day our day is warmer, literally and figuratively! Indeed, we are not going to flirt with the peaks but rather stay in the heat and on much more technical roads. Our goal is the legendary Moto Tour special, that of Col de Murs, south of Carpentras.

The heat of the city

Although of a reasonable size, Carpentras is a rather complicated city to cross with all its one-way streets. This is particularly true on the handlebars of the SMT which does not seem to like the hot weather…

At each fire, the fan turns on to cool the water heater, but not the pilot. A strong current of hot air then cooks your legs. It will undoubtedly be pleasant in winter but in 35 °, it’s hard! For the rest, the 990 is doing well and squeezes very well despite its suitcases..

As for the Duke, it is certainly in its element. Lively, light and remarkably fine, it even proves to be downright pushy! We just blame the mono for knocking a little too much under 3000 rpm. The 690 will delight stunters who like to parade in front of the terraces on the front wheel or the rear wheel…

In the footsteps of the Moto Tour

Both KTMs benefit from smooth and precise gearboxes that contribute to city fun and efficiency on the road.

With such playful machines, we couldn’t help but take this legendary route, the Col de Murs. The problem is that unlike Les Nuques and other Bouan, we had to expect to overtake bikes and pass motorhomes

Because this road, which seems to have been traced by some psychopathic engineer, is particularly narrow and offers very little visibility. It is that the stretches are rare and very short…

Austrian women at the party

The track connects turns at an incredible pace. The road is quite rounded and the surface very uneven, alternating between the medium and the bad, but the grip is good and the gravel absent … fortunately !

Camped on their big inverted White Power forks of 48 mm in diameter (adjustable in all directions) and their shock absorbers (also signed White Power and adjustable everywhere), our two KTMs are really in their element. It is on these kinds of roads that they really make a difference to the competition.

Despite the rage of the mono in the towers and the strength of the twin, their traction is never faulted. Easy and efficient, their front axles offer an almost ideal compromise between stability, liveliness and neutrality.

Once again, the SMT is paradoxically easier and more intuitive than the Duke. The 690 is a little more demanding, but shows formidable efficiency on this highly selective track.

Austrian trappers brakes

The two KTMs also share impressive braking systems. It must be recognized that they are particularly well equipped with their calipers and radial master cylinders as well as their braided hoses.

On both machines, the result is remarkable braking of bite, power, feeling and endurance. Considering its featherweight, the Duke is satisfied with a single front disc which is more than sufficient..

The two Austrians therefore allow all daring and their big forks easily cash in when entering a curve on the brakes, without widening or getting up..

That said, given the 990 SMT’s long-distance road vocation, we would have liked KTM to equip it with ABS to tackle any situation. We can bet that this gap will be filled in the near future.

After a well-deserved lunch break in Roussillon, we go back to Sault to make a magnificent loop towards Villes-sur-Auzon. We go there by the sumptuous Gorges de la Nesque, twisty but very frequented by bikes.

The Circuit of Gabelle

The return to Sault is via the Route de la Gabelle and its large (very) fast curves with a perfect surface. On this ground, the SMT has plenty of room to express its 106 hp and irreparably takes the advantage over the 690.

Supple and docile under 5,000 rpm, the 990 cc twin becomes downright demonic above 6,000 rpm! But the Duke also surprises in this exercise. The stability of supermotards in the bends negotiated at high speed is not always exemplary but it is perfect on the handlebars of the 690.

The reach and aggressiveness of the mono in the towers are impressive too and keep the mighty 990 in contact with the mighty 990. After coming in through the Ventoux – that’s too good! -, we take our things to spend the night towards Beaucaire, south of Avignon.

Benjamin LALO

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