Gone is KTM’s use of the steel-tube trellis frame in favor of what appears to be a welded-steel main section using the engine as a stressed member.
It’s understood that KTM will plug a hole in its motorcycle lineup between the 690-series bikes and the 1190/1290 platform, and will do so with a liquid-cooled, near-800cc parallel twin. These spy shots reveal a midsized Duke in testing near the factory, and a closer look reveals a compact engine with stacked gearbox and a wet-sump oiling system, which is notable given that KTM’s design preference is for dry-sump engines in the larger displacements.
Given KTM’s penchant for character-laden engines, it’s likely that we’ll see a 270-degree crank instead of the more common 180-degree style. (Or the 360-degree configuration used by BMW that provides great torque but a drony engine sound.) A generously sized radiator hints at a lively amount of power, probably more than BMW’s F800 twins.
The finish of this prototype bike suggests that this is a mid-stage mule, not terribly cobbled together but still with a lot of work yet to go.
This mule also has ABS and will almost certainly have ride-by-wire throttle control and traction control, probably with the latest lean-angle-sensor technology. As these technologies become more widely used, their costs decrease, which expands the range of bikes where they can be fitted economically. KTM is proud of having the latest technology, so expect the upcoming 800s to have more of it than the comparable BMWs and Triumphs.
KTM’s use of a steel-tube trellis frame gets the heave-ho, replaced by what appears to be a welded-steel main section that uses the engine as a stressed member; note the lack of an engine cradle or prominent tube members between the head stock and the swingarm pivot. Speaking of which, the alloy swingarm appears similar in design to the 1190/1290’s and rides in the engine cases.
Look closely and you’ll see the seat rides on slotted brackets, either because that’s a temporary seat just for the mule or because the rear subframe is not even close to a final design. In fact, the finish of the bike suggests that this is a mid-stage mule, not terribly cobbled together but still with a lot of work yet to go. It’s very likely this is simply an engine and electronics mule; the engine looks a lot more finished than the rest.
When will we see this 800? How many will there be? If history is a guide, you should expect an 800 Duke, an 800 Adventure, and possibly an 800 GT lightweight sport-tourer. KTM is very good at leveraging platforms, and there’s no reason to think this midsized version will be an exception.
KTM is apparently doing a little rhinoplasty on the 1190 Adventure series with a new fairing and windshield combination, following the lead of the 1290 Super Adventure, whose massive wind blocker makes it an excellent touring mount.
No doubt we’ll hear more by the Intermot show in October or by EICMA in Milan by November. Prices may or may not be released then, but we’ll guess that KTM splits the 690 and 1190/1290 series and brings the 800s in the vicinity $12,000-13,000.