Engine concepts from KTM, Triumph, Husqvarna and Kawasaki

Concept comparison Funbikes 2012

Engine concepts from KTM, Triumph, Husqvarna and Kawasaki

Four engine concepts, one goal: have fun. Read here how the manufacturers achieve their goal in different ways or whether they even overshoot.

The eye has long since caught it. The radius wide. No grit, no trace of oil. Gray, rough asphalt that promises a lot of grip. Everything can be seen. So perfect conditions for following the ideal line. When you meet them. So take a bend and experience what motorcyclists like best: speed, lean angle, acceleration. But which concept is best served? Does a robust single-cylinder make its four-cylinder buddy look old in tight turns? Perhaps the ratio of power and weight is more important? Or is the truth ultimately in the chassis geometry? In search of answers, MOTORRAD sent four bikes with different engine concepts onto the slopes: the single-cylinder KTM 690 Duke, -Husqvarna’s new two-cylinder hammer Nuda 900 R, Triumph’s little three-cylinder sweeper Street Triple R and Kawasaki’s dashing Z 750 R with inline four-cylinder.

E.rstkontakt – seat sample. Compared to its predecessor, the new 690 Duke looks almost like a touring motorcycle. With the suspension travel cut and a modified saddle, you sit lower. But not more comfortable in the long run, because the edge of the newly designed, two-part bench prevents casual, sporty sliding around, as was the case on the old Duke. Especially big ones have their problems with this. In return, the petite Austrian pretends to be beginner-friendly right from the seat rehearsal. In contrast to the Nuda R, which shocks the newcomer with a seat height of 890 millimeters. Here you have to swing your leg up. But due to the narrow waist of the Nuda, even people who are 1.70 meters can still stand reasonably safe. Right from the first contact, the Nuda R appears hard, racist, uncompromising. This is due to the rock-hard seat, the motocross handlebars and of course the seat height. With the three-cylinder competition from Great Britain, however, one is not immediately sure. If you take a seat on Street Triple, the first thing you will find is a perfectly arranged workplace. Long legs or short ones? No matter. Fits.

Concept comparison Funbikes 2012

Engine concepts from KTM, Triumph, Husqvarna and Kawasaki

Kawasaki, on the other hand, is getting on in years. You notice that when you first sit down. The frame and engine are wide, legs spread wide apart. The cranking of the handlebars somehow doesn’t work at all. What does that thing want? Not a race, not a tour – maybe an unsuccessful attempt to bend a pipe into a work of art? In addition, as with the Nuda, you sit ON and not IN the machine. With the difference that you will find much better ergonomics on the Nuda. If you should judge cornering ability by the seating position, then the Husqvarna and the Triumph are ahead here thanks to their active seating position and good contact with the machine.

The core pieces – engines. Thank you, KTM! While other manufacturers have retired their single-cylinder or offer it as a performance-neutered product, Austria has worked hard. The 690 cubic strong single lifts 70 hp, which together with a gross weight of only 163 kilograms promise a lot of propulsion. A double ignition installed since this year should both reduce fuel consumption and improve running characteristics. Little of that can be felt in this test copy. At 3.7 liters per 100 km, the 690 consumes little, but hardly less than its 654 cubic predecessor and runs only slightly more smoothly.


Kawasaki Z 750 R Black Edition, Triumph Street Triple R, Husqvarna Nuda 900 R and KTM 690 Duke.

Nothing works below 3000 rpm. The chain whips, the drive hacks at her as if she had to be severely punished. But after that, things really take off. Unstrained agile, but connected with robust vibrations, the single turns until its vigor is stopped by the limiter at 8400 rpm. Except for the range below 3000 rpm, the engine is extremely powerful, especially the punchy middle is impressive. At around 4500 rpm, the 690 unpacks a huge punch package. You never really want to turn it off, because the harsh vibrations in the last third of the speed are annoying. Of the three modes that can be selected (setting under the pillion seat), the standard and advanced modes make sense – in the latter, the response to throttle commands is more direct. The comfort zone of this drive is in the middle on the country road, between 3500 and 5500 rpm, in a relatively narrow window.

The exact opposite is provided by the Nuda engine, which cannot deny its constructive relationship with the BMW F800 unit. Both drives are manufactured by Rotax in Austria. Almost identical on the outside, the Husqvarna and Rotax technicians have given the bowels of the twin a radical cure: larger valves, new cylinder head, modified valve timing, 45 degrees crankshaft offset, 100 cubic meters more – the list is endless. Includes connecting rods, pistons, oil circuit, clutch, etc. This effort has paid off: the drive produces 105 hp at 8500 rpm. And while the BMW twin (85 hp at 7500 rpm) delivers its power uniformly bored and without a kick, its Husqvarna cousin appears livelier, more agile, bolder and stronger in all areas. It also reacts to gas commands like a lion that you force to wake up with a pointed stick. The Nuda R not only roars like a predator through its Lafranconi silencer at gas commands, it also dives off immediately. The usable speed range of the 900 is enormous. From 2000 rpm the Nuda-Twin marches off and increases permanently and above all evenly up to 9200 rpm. He never seems strained, turns casually and in the last third of the speed it really pours fuel on the fire. The downside: Due to a very short translation, you never really want to calm down, you always feel on the prowl, always on the attack – unsuitable for strolling, but the best prerequisite for tearing corners.

The street triple triplet has been providing good reasons for years that all good things come in threes. He hisses fantastically, runs smoothly, without denying a life of its own, and sweeps through the rev range with furious nonchalance. The British three-cylinder is almost as speed-hungry and revving as a four-cylinder, but on the other hand always delivers sufficient torque to the rear wheel – almost like a two-cylinder. But only almost. When remeasured, its torque output up to 5000 rpm is higher than that of the KTM and Kawasaki, but far below what the Nuda engine pushes.

The 675 is the smallest engine in this group, but with 106 hp at 11,700 rpm it does not need to hide in terms of performance. It delivers the same nominal power as the 748 cubic four-cylinder from Kawasaki. You have to like the way the Kawa drive delivers its power: nothing works without speed. Nothing at all! Sure, the motorcycle is moving forward. Somehow anyway. But if the clock is not at least 7000 rpm, there is no need to start overtaking. The drive is idle between 4000 and 7000 rpm. His performance is just enough to swim along in traffic. Only above 7000 turns does the four-cylinder really bite, the rev range that can be effectively used for speedy curve surfing is between 7000 and 12,500 turns. But who wants to be screeching all the time? As I said, you have to like it.


Kawasaki Z 750 R Black Edition, Triumph Street Triple R, Husqvarna Nuda 900 R and KTM 690 Duke.

Slopes – the salt in the soup. All four bikes come rushing towards the first tight bend at brisk country road pace. Experienced people drive through it at the apex at 50 km / h. Which machine is the fastest here and why? First it is time to brake. The Nuda and Street triple deliver first-class performances despite the lack of anti-lock braking systems. The braking effect of both machines is brutal, even with a two-finger pull. In contrast, the ABS-assisted stoppers on the Kawa and KTM, which are also good, have a toothless effect. Okay, we delayed, now it’s time to turn. The easiest, most direct and creamiest way is with the three-cylinder British woman. Why? Quite simply: The super-light and extremely handy Duke looks a little nervous in the end. Your handicap is the much too soft, underdamped shock absorber, which gives way even on small bumps, starts to pump and leads to unrest in the chassis.

The extremely sporty Nuda wants to be inclined with far more emphasis than the triple. The 900er demands a Supermoto-like driving style when pacing faster and wants to be pushed down over the handlebars. Drifting into the curve is also perfect with her.

And the kawa? Your unwieldy tire stands in the way in the truest sense of the word. Because the Dunlop D210 is getting on in years and can no longer keep up with roll-off kings like the Metzeler Sportec M5 (Nuda) or Michelin Pilot Power (Duke). The moment the tire is set up is the high weight of 228 kilograms – among these athletes, the 750 is bold. Sorry.

Center of the curve. Vertex. 50 km / h. A stupid speed. Especially for the Kawa. Because at 50 km / h your four-cylinder turns 6000 rpm in first gear and is not yet in the range of its best firepower. The huge leap forward is made by the super-light Duke, whose single here turns exactly 4,100 turns in second gear and is therefore exactly at the point where the Austrians give him the extra punch package. With the little Duke you jump out of the tight curve so quickly that the pilots of the Nuda and Triple have to give everything to stay tuned despite their extra power.


Husqvarna Nuda 900 R, Triumph Street Triple R, KTM 690 Duke and Kawasaki Z 750 R Black Edition. Bikes with different engine concepts in a fun bike comparison test.

Next situation: scarred asphalt, bumps, rough road. Subsequent to this, quick alternating curves. The quite softly tuned Duke chassis surprises with the best comfort. While on the Nuda one wonders whether the Italian fork might habitually strike at temperatures of 20 degrees. Your response is lousy. Another word doesn’t describe it. At the end of the bad road stretch, you felt best on the Triple and the Kawasaki. They provide good feedback and provide acceptable damping.

But into the alternating curvature of wide and narrow radii. The constant mix of hard, targeted braking, the shifting from one lean angle to the next and courageous gas pulling brings strengths and weaknesses of the quartet to light. Anyone who sees the world as a curve cannot ignore the triple or the nuda. And this is primarily due to their sporty, tightly tuned chassis, which remain stable even in tough situations, as well as to their powerful engines, which neither give each other much in terms of performance. The Triple arrows a touch faster than the Nuda thanks to its very fast alternating curves. It is more manageable, steering corrections are easier to do. Where the Nuda pilot still has to help vigorously when changing lean angles at lightning speed, the Brit sprints through with lightning speed. But even on the Kawasaki, the driver has to work hard in these situations. The Z 750 R is certainly a good motorcycle in itself. However, it is inferior to the two competitors not only in terms of handling, but also above all in terms of engine performance for everyday use and home journeys: too heavy, too clumsy, too unwieldy. The Duke unpacks the last joker when it finally comes down to storming a tiny pass. There is no answer to their handiness: 163 kilograms, narrow rear tires – any questions? If you want to, simply stab the inside with the Austrian. With it, you can achieve radii that you can only dream of on other bikes.


Husqvarna Nuda 900 R.

Finally, what machine is ultimately suitable for whom? The Triumph manages the balancing act as a fun mobile for advanced as well as for beginners and freaks. With it you can tour just as well as you can turn the corner quickly and accurately. Except for a missing ABS, it hardly affords a weakness. The Husqvarna is fascinating and turns on. It’s not for loafers, but for freaks who love something special that also works well. Speaking of love: your futuristic design is particularly popular with young people. The KTM hits the same line. Anyone who once fell in love with a single-cylinder when they were young will fulfill a dream with this Austrian. Because despite the disadvantages that this comparison brings to light, the Duke is a fascinating bike that is easy to ride and a lot of fun as hell. For example, no other motorcycle is so easy and straightforward to ride a wheelie. That leaves the Kawasaki. Visually, the test version "Black Edition" is a real eye-catcher, with different soles and with sportier handlebars definitely a great bike, but in the quartet of these self-promoters it is a bit as lost as home cooking in a gourmet temple . Whereby: There are also connoisseurs for this.

MOTORCYCLE – scoring / test result


Husqvarna Nuda 900 R, Triumph Street Triple R, Kawasaki Z 750 R Black Edition and KTM 690 Duke. In the end, the balanced Triumph has the edge.

Performance anytime, anywhere. Uniform, controllable and effectively usable – Triumph and Husqvarna prove with their drives that it is possible. Both engines are unbeatable in this regard. The KTM single doesn’t run around the bottom, and the Kawa four-cylinder simply needs too high revs. But the best power is of no use if it doesn’t get to the bike effectively: The Triumph and the KTM are best translated. The translation of the nuda is too short, the kawa in the lower corridors too long. There are also deductions for the Nuda for its sub-optimal cold start behavior and its constant travel jerk, which is particularly noticeable in city traffic. Here the Duke coupling draws attention to itself with incredibly little hand force, while the hand force for the Nuda is too high in the long run.
Winner engine: triumph

landing gear
Two real goats, if you can call it that, are only allowed by Husqvarna and KTM. While the Nuda fork responds very badly, the KTM shock absorber is dampened so weakly that it already reaches its limit in solo operation. With a pillion passenger or luggage, the fun with the Austrian stops completely. Please touch up! Tea Triumph hardly allows a weakness on the chassis side, its suspension elements shine with the best feedback, the machine steers most directly and remains stable in every position. The suspension elements of the Kawa lack damping, which is punished with poor feedback. In fast passages over bad roads, your tail starts to pump heavily.
Chassis winner: triumph

everyday life
All in one. Except for its poor equipment (no on-board tools, no immobilizer), the Triumph prevails here too. With a seat that does justice to both small and large, good workmanship, acceptable light output, some wind protection and a reasonably reasonable pillion seat. You can even see something in their mirrors. Which, due to the strong vibrations, cannot be said of the KTM. The light on the Duke could also be better. But it scores with very low consumption, the greatest range and the best workmanship in a quartet. The consistently sporty Nuda can only be criticized for the fact that there is no way to attach luggage anywhere.
Winner everyday: triumph

Here she is ahead. The Kawasaki wins the safety chapter by a wafer-thin margin. It has little tendency to hit the handlebars, you can’t blame the ABS-assisted brakes, and the ground clearance is okay too. The only faux pas here is the KTM, whose individual brake disc at the front is at some point overwhelmed during long downhill sections or when you brake heavily with passengers. In extreme situations, the Nuda has a slight tendency to hit the handlebars.
Safety winner: Kawasaki

The KTM is the most fun in the wallet. Low consumption, low insurance class, inexpensive tires, long inspection intervals (10,000 kilometers) – the bank account also laughs.
Winner costs: KTM


Triumph Street Triple 675 R.

 Max points  Husqvarna  Kawasaki  KTM  triumph
engine  250  178  164  143  183
landing gear  250  169  153  167  185
everyday life  250 126  127  132  135
security  150  95  99  95  98
costs  100  65  53  74  58
Overall rating  1000  633  596  611  659
placement    2.  4th.  3.  1.
Price-performance note  1.0  2.3  2.2  1.6  1.3

MOTORCYCLE test result

1. Triumph Street Triple R
All-round fun: The little Triple can do almost anything, doesn’t cost the world and is also bewitching the eyes and ears. It is one of the best motorcycles on the market. Only if you place the highest value on touring will there be others who are more suitable. 

2. Husqvarna Nuda 900 R
More uncompromising than the Triple, but with almost identical cornering fun potential – the Nuda is a great success for all those who are looking for a motorcycle for alpine passes or a quick ride over the home route. However, it is not at all comfortable.

3. KTM 690 Duke
By freaks for freaks – the technical revision has made the machine easier to handle, as confirmed by the increased number of registrations. The brutally agile speedster is still the measure of all things when driving a wheelie. Fun for those who like it …

4. Kawasaki Z 750 R "Black Edition"
Comparatively heavy and unwieldy – plus a motor that craves speed. The Z 750 R cannot be criticized for itself, but compared to the other three fun-makers, this one comes a little short here.

Technical specifications


KTM 690 Duke.

Husqvarna KTM engine 
type design Two-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine Single cylinder four-stroke engine
injection Ø 46 mm Ø 46 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch  Multi-disc oil bath clutch (anti-hopping)
Boron x stroke 84.0 x 81.0 mm 102.0 x 84.5 mm
Displacement 898 cm3 690 cm3
compression 13.0: 1 12.6: 1
power 77.0 kW (105 PS) at 8500 rpm 51.5 kW (70 hp) at 7500 rpm
Torque 98 Nm at 7000 rpm 70 Nm at 5500 rpm
landing gear
frame Steel tubular frame, engine is load-bearing  Steel tubular frame, engine is load-bearing 
fork Upside-down fork, Ø 48 mm Upside-down fork, Ø 43 mm
Brakes front / rear Ø 320 mm / Ø 265 mm Ø 320 mm / Ø 240 mm
Systems assistance ABS
bikes 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17 3.50 x 17; 5.00 x 17
tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17 120/70 ZR 17; 160/60 ZR 17
Tires Metzeler Sportec M5 Michelin Pilot Power
Dimensions + weights
wheelbase 1495 mm  1466 mm 
Steering head angle 65.5 degrees 63.5 degrees
trailing 101 mm 115 mm
Front / rear suspension travel 210/180 mm 135/135 mm
Seat height ** 890 mm 830 mm
Weight with full tank ** 197 kg 163 kg
Payload ** 194 kg 187 kg
Tank capacity / reserve 13.0 / 3.0 liters 14.0 / 3.2 liters
Service intervals 10,000 km 10,000 km
price 11,590 euros 7.495 euros
Additional costs 350 Euro 250 euro
Top speed * 215 km / h 188 km / h
0-100 km / h 3.3 sec 3.8 sec
0-140 km / h 5.4 sec 7.0 sec
0-200 km / h 12.4 sec
60-100 km / h 3.3 sec 4.6 sec
100-140 km / h 3.7 sec 4.7 sec
140-180 km / h 4.5 sec 7.7 sec
Consumption highway 4.5 liters / super 3.7 liters / super
Reach country road 289 km 378 km
Kawasaki triumph engine 
type design Four-cylinder, four-stroke in-line engine Three-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine
injection Ø 32 mm Ø 44 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch  Multi-disc oil bath clutch 
Boron x stroke 68.4 x 50.9 mm 74.0 x 52.3 mm
Displacement 748 cm3 675 cm3
compression 11.3: 1 12.65: 1
power 77.7 kW (106 hp) at 10,500 rpm 78.0 kW (106 hp) at 11,700 rpm
Torque 78 Nm at 8300 rpm 68 Nm at 9200 rpm
landing gear
frame Bridge frame made of steel Bridge frame made of aluminum
fork Upside-down fork, Ø 41 mm Upside-down fork, Ø 41 mm
Brakes front / rear Ø 300 mm / Ø 250 mm Ø 308 mm / Ø 220 mm
Systems assistance SECTION
bikes 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17 3.50 x 17; 5.50 x 17
tires 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17 120/70 ZR 17; 180/55 ZR 17
Tires Dunlop D 210, front "G" Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa
Dimensions + weights
wheelbase 1440 mm  1405 mm 
Steering head angle 65.5 degrees 66.1 degrees
trailing 103 mm 93 mm
Front / rear suspension travel 120/134 mm 120/130 mm
Seat height ** 810 mm 830 mm
Weight with full tank ** 228 kg 190 kg
Payload ** 179 kg 191 kg
Tank capacity / reserve 18.5 / – liters 17.4 / – liters
Service intervals 6000 km 10,000 km
price 9.295 euros 9,090 euros
Additional costs 180 euros 350 Euro
Top speed * 230 km / h 216 km / h
0-100 km / h 3.7 sec 3.3 sec
0-140 km / h 6.1 sec 5.6 sec
0-200 km / h 14.3 sec 12.2 sec
60-100 km / h 4.4 sec 3.7 sec
100-140 km / h 4.9 sec 4.3 sec
140-180 km / h 5.8 sec 5.2 sec
Consumption highway 5.2 liters / normal 5.3 liters / super
Reach country road 356 km 328 km

* Manufacturer information, ** MOTORCYCLE measurements

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