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Kutlbike KTM Duke

Country roads of all kinds

Thanks to the magnificent LC4 single, KTM got solid ground under its feet, and in the Duke the engine expanded the territory of the Austrians on all kinds of country roads.

Because younger people like the brand KTM know only as a stately manufacturer with annual BMW-like output, it should be remembered here that almost all lights went out in Mattighofen around 25 years ago. It was only the courageous marketing of an equally courageous engine that really pulled the cart "into the mud" and soon made all enduro riders in the world sway in four-stroke cycles. Compared to the hectic two-stroke engines that were common up until then, the four-valve engine from KTM presented in 1987 seemed like a revelation, delivered enough power with around 50 hp, but delivered it much more predictably. At the same time, he introduced the new era of the single-cylinder four-stroke engine with water cooling, rapid revving and – above all – low weight.

Kutlbike KTM Duke

Country roads of all kinds


A Mikuni constant pressure carburetor taught the Duke II better manners. There was also more space in the air filter and exhaust and also more horsepower.

It starts with the design: polished eccentric swing arm, high-quality WP spring elements, stainless steel exhaust system, Brembo four-piston brake caliper at the front. Everything neatly and solidly put together and brought into a shape that, with its tank-seat line and wide aluminum handlebars, is reminiscent of Enduro, but with moderate spring travel and low-profile slippers on 17-inch wheels it is a completely new course pretend. Off to the asphalt jungle. There, potent single-cylinder enduros had already hesitantly questioned the rule of pure road machines, but the Duke appeared like a bang. 153 kilos full of fuel against 50 lively horsepower, an unshakable chassis and a brutal front brake – Black Forest, Allgau or Harz, all cornering areas fell to the Duke. Anyone who burns five liters per 100 kilometers is having a lot of fun – there are people who can manage over nine.

Of course, this motorcycle somehow falls under the drug law, and that’s why KTM limited the distribution by a more than respectable price. For the first Duke 15,000 marks were called, the Duke II came to over 16,000 in 1999. In return, it had more displacement, more power, more electric starters, more mufflers and a little more kilos. With its fragile alloy wheels, it finally said goodbye to the gravel pit, but with improved manners it finally established the LC4 as the best corner robber. Until the Duke 690 came in 2008, opened up new dimensions of performance and threw itself into the arms of the common people for 7895 euros – a cult bike of tomorrow.

Water-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine, 625 cm³, 40 kW (55 PS) at 7500 / min, 58 Nm at 5500 / min, five-speed gearbox, single-loop frame made of tubular steel, weight with a full tank of 160 kg, front tires 3.50 x 17, rear 4.25 x 17, tank capacity 12 Liters, top speed 178 km / h, 0-100 km / h in 4.2 seconds.

There are many Duke stories, unfortunately not in book form yet. Technically interested people may find repair instructions for LC4 models that are available from Bucheli Verlag for 29.90. Motorcycle historians get their money’s worth at Friedrich Ehn: “KTM – World Champion Brand from Austria” for 48.50 euros from Weishaupt Verlag.

Appeared exactly 20 years ago and still on everyone’s lips – this is what the teenage years of a classic look like. Well-preserved Duke I and II will certainly soon be sought, today 2000 euros or a little more is enough to get a well-kept specimen. The II is decidedly more suitable for everyday use and more humane. Both are still well looked after at any proper KTM dealer.

The Forum of Friends of Duke I and II operates under is dedicated to all KTM onroad models

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