Duke 790 or 890: With the Duke 790 Back for 2023, Which Is the Better KTM Duke?

203 Duke 790 in a corner
KTM made an unusual decision with its 2023 lineup. For 2023 the company brought back the Duke 790 after a two-year absence. However, the company is leaving the old 790’s replacement, the 890 Duke, in the lineup. That begs the question, is one Duke better than the other?

KTM launched the original Duke 790 in 2018 to great fanfare. The steel-tubed middleweight naked bike came with the brand’s first parallel-twin engine that made an alarming 105 horsepower. Magazine testers and owners loved the Duke 790 because it could be a track weapon on Sunday, and a fast commuter on Monday.

KTM Duke 890 R in a corner.
Then, KTM killed it. It retired the 790 and replaced it with the Duke 890. Again, testers who threw a leg over the new bike loved it. It has a more powerful engine, better suspension, and some even say better looks than the 790.

But, now KTM is making things confusing again by re-introducing the 790.

KTM purists may scoff at the 2023 790 because its 799cc LC8c engine now comes from Chinese manufacturer CFMoto. But it has the same reported power ratings, and warranty, as the old mill. Critically, though, the new 790 Duke comes with a new traction control computer that has more modes (Sport, Street, Rain, and now Track), and an independent anti-wheelie mode, if you like that sort of thing. It also has a trick Supermoto mode that lets you deactivate the rear ABS so you can slide the rear around with a stomp of the pedal.

KTM 890 Duke R on a white background.
Then, we have the 114-horsepower 2023 890 Duke. It comes in three flavors this year, from the regular Duke 890 to the 890 Duke R, and the 890 Duke GP. The Duke R comes with adjustable WP Apex suspension, Brembo brakes, and Michelin Power Cup II tires to help it stick to the corners. It also has slightly more horsepower, though KTM hasn’t released figures yet.

The Duke GP is the everything package for the Duke. It includes the same ride modes and throttle control systems as the 890 R, but adds a 6D lean angle sensor and fully-adjustable shocks. The new sensor detects side-to-side movement, as well as pitch and drift positioning. Its optional track mode and quick shifter should make it a formidable track day toy, as well.

KTM 890 Duke R GP on a white background.
While the 2023 KTM 890 Duke R starts at $12,949 in the U.S., the 790 retails for just $9,199, which is less than the old model sold for new. With new power modes and a better computer on the 790, it may be a big ask for KTM dealers to ask a buyer to step up to the 890, even if does have more power.

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KTM 890 Duke R on a racetrack