Impression KTM Duke II
The Duke’s Spirit
Come out of nowhere. Scary fast. Horribly individual. Terrifyingly iconic. Terribly expensive. Terribly adorable ?? the KTM Duke will always remain a secret for many. And for a few, the purpose of life.
We’ll have to wonder forever how they did it. When a few drivers parked their brand new KTM Duke at the Treff in the spring of 1994, took off their cross helmets and glanced at the world transfigured, it was clear that everyday life would bounce off people like this. They listen to music from independent labels, take cold showers with little water and ignore even broken fingers. Their faces are often carved by the cold, and the average fuel consumption of their bikes interests them as much as the United States is interested in the Kyoto agreement.
Finally there was an off-the-shelf motorcycle that matched her personality: the KTM Duke. 609 cm³, 153 fully trained kilograms, 50 hp. Ironically, the Austrian off-road forge had dared to develop a street motorcycle that could not be precisely defined. In fact, even in Mattighofen, there was no agreement on the drawer the Duke should go into. Supermoto? No, too heavy on the road. Enduro? No way, wrong tires and rims, too short spring travel. Street bike? Oops, no, somehow too off-road. Fun bike? Maybe, but is there a motorcycle that isn’t fun? The development thesis widespread by the manufacturer: a few in-house freaks were given a free hand in designing the Duke and free access to the parts warehouse. Their task was to use existing components to create a street motorcycle that they would love to ride themselves. Almost at the same time, BMW launched the F 650 and praised it as a Funduro. Not a bad name. And indeed: BMW F 650 and KTM Duke? maybe the intention was the same. However, the result is very different. Namely like this: Austrian ninja meets Bavarian sandman.
What remained was the always ironic but envious sideways glance of various contemporaries. Example: living room silo, 250 honeycombs, in front of it a garage battery. In one of them a KTM Duke. His owner Manni Mayer pushes him out into the Saturday morning sun, lifts him onto the main stand and kicks him. His motorcycle is now the center of interest. While Manni pulls on his cross helmet and gloves and adjusts his leather suit, the duke hops forward on his stand and pounds two strips into the tar. Jacking off, leg over, in gear, gas, light wheelie, targeted brake drift, rear wheel across ?? what remains of Mayer is a dull rumble that fades into the distance. Bernd Burger next door, driver of a Suzuki Bandit 1200, and his buddy Norbert Normalo, holder of a class 1 driver’s license, are watching the start from the corner of their eyes. In your capacity as a tracker, sneak in front of the Mayer ??sche garage door and look at the countless tracks. They look at each other and agree: a bike that bounces on the main stand has a brutally vibrating engine. It has to spoil the fun thoroughly.
Conditionally correct. In the construction of the Duke, in addition to the enduro chassis, the LC4 engine developed in the mid-eighties was also used. A sensation at the time. After all, KTM had dedicated itself to the two-stroke principle for decades and initially included its large four-stroke bikes
equipped with air-cooled Rotax drives. The ultra-modern LC4 engine not only revolutionized KTM motorcycles, it also marked the beginning of a completely new generation of single-cylinder engines: 33.5 kilograms
including gear lever, carburetor, kick starter and oil ?? 1987 a value that brought bad dreams to the Japanese.
The triumphant advance of the LC4 drive (stands for liquid-cooled 4-stroke) began slowly. Drivers of the first models always moved between jubilation and rage. Times
was it the half-baked oil circuit that caused damage to the connecting rod and head, then the electric water pump was weakening, or the engine stopped when braking on turns in the middle of the special test. With one penalty point per second that was the day’s victory. A dead LC4 engine usually took between three and thirty minutes before attempted resuscitation showed any effect. And ultimately the LC4 drive vibrated so powerfully that many owners did not check on the evening of a day’s driving whether something, but what had not fallen off. It didn’t get any better than KTM gave the engine
donated a 700 gram balance shaft for use in the Duke.
Twelve years later, exactly in the summer of 2006, the last ones finally ran
Dukes with the LC4 engine from the assembly line. 500 copies, limited edition. Black body, orange stripes and BBS rims. 54 hp, list price 8923 euros. The best single-cylinder duke ever.
He has nothing of the spirit of the first models
lost. On the contrary. E-starter, underseat-
Exhaust, double ellipsoid headlights or 43 mm upside-down fork have upgraded the Duke over the years. This unmistakably high-spirited feeling comes over you as soon as you swing over the saddle, when your hands close around the aluminum handlebars and the boot is braced against the wide, toothed notch.
Neither tourists nor senior teachers lost anything on the seat stretched far across the tank. She thirsts for leather. Sweat soaked. Fall-proof. Because the duke is a tool, a weapon. He wants to suck up Schleicher, condense and expel them. Overtaking super athletes inside. Erase ideal lines and look different-
pretend. Carve radii and piece together again. Its character: hyperactivity at the push of a button. Every sudden burst of gas is like pulling the trigger. The 40 mm flat slide valve from Mikuni causes instant fuel flaring. By then, at the latest, it will be too late. The gun is sharp. Ready to load through … clutch out. Piston feeding. The front wheel hovers over the ground. Second gear. A slight jolt and the bike lifts again. The hyperactivity of the machine spreads to the driver. In the saddle of the Duke, every Manni becomes a “Mad Dog” Mayer.
Vibrations? Sure, from 5000 tours even hard. But not annoying with species-appropriate exercise. After all, there is hardly a motorcycle that is less suitable for dulling kilometers than a Duke. The interaction of flat slide high and brake caliper too
is as intense and ecstatic as Chinese Kung Fu. And just as breathtaking. Four-piston caliper, 320 disc in front ?? only walls brake more effectively. After the first kilometer on a Duke, there is only black or white, love or discomfort for the driver. Buy or return. The machine’s genes seem to merge with those of the driver. Intensions such as braking later, overtaking inside, wheeling further or sliding at an incline, force into the driver’s brain, seduce, conjure him up. Drug Duke, Austria’s undersinking of the German road traffic regulations.
Duken is a bit like skateboarding or kite surfing. Only when you have ridden the wave, made the jump, set a new best time in the labyrinth of curves, a feeling of happiness reminds you to take a well-deserved break. Every movement tastes like freedom. The path on a Duke is never just a path.
He is always a challenge. Regardless of whether it is a go-kart track, a small course in Hockenheim or just getting some bread? the little duke in the ear whispers insistently: whatever is possible! And you just do it. Then dismounts and feels like Raimund Harmsdorf after he has crushed the potato.
The 12550 owners of a Duke should thank them for this little miracle. Of course, he has always been dearly. But one thing shouldn’t be forgotten: when you buy a BMW, you acquire a piece of your image. With a Honda the myth of indestructibility. But with this KTM you get the feeling of eternal youth.
The Duke is leaving the limelight at the height of his time. He takes the LC4 engine with him. The drive has matured for twenty years, has shown steadfastness and shown its muscles often enough. Grief Barely. Because the 690 successor is supposed to be a huge hit. Stronger, more agile, more powerful. Nice. Let’s hope that
the Duke’s spirit not only finds a dignified home in the new model, but also lives on.
Technical data KTM Duke II
Engine: water-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine, four valves, roller rocker arm, wet sump lubrication, 40 mm Mikuni flat slide carburetor, SLS, bore
x stroke 101 x 78 mm, displacement 625 cm3, 54 hp at 6750 rpm, 60 Nm at 5500 rpm, five-speed gearbox. Chassis: single-loop frame made of chrome-molybdenum steel tube, aluminum two-arm swing arm, central spring strut with deflection, 43 USD fork, disc brake f / h 320/220 mm, spring travel f / h 140/170 mm, rims 3.50 x 17 / 4.50 x 17, tires front 120/70, rear 160/70 17. Measured values: Acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h 4.5 seconds, top speed: 165 km / h, weight with a 12 liter Super 159 kg, seat height 900 mm. Price: 8923 euros
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