2009 KTM Duke 690 Project Bike Part 2

Ray Gauger | July 26, 2012
2009 KTM Duke 690 Project Bike.

In the first phase of our KTM Duke 690 project bike, we were hell-bent and solely focused on boosting the performance of KTM’s unique supermoto-inspired machine. If you missed it, make sure to check out the KTM Duke 690 Project Bike: Part 1 and get up to speed. For Part 2, it’s all in the details. Were going to iron out some of the factory kinks, update our Duke’s appearance and make it a little more comfortable for the long hauls.


One of our major gripes with the bike back in our 2009 KTM Duke 690 Comparison was the hard and slick stock seat. However, during our long-term testing we found that after about 1500 miles or so, the OEM seat cover did start to break in and offer some more grip. But comfort was still an issue for the longer rides up the mountain. Since they were a big help with our Honda Fury Project, we hit up the guys at Corbin Motorcycle Seats to see what they could do for our Duke 690.

The Corbin seat offers more support and grip than the stock Duke 690 seat.
The Corbin seat offers more support, grip and rider comfort than the stock Duke 690 seat.

Corbin offers a full replacement seat for the Duke 690 with a textured vinyl cover, wider profile and Corbin’s proprietary Comfort Cell foam. The Corbin seat also lowers the seat height by about an inch, which is great for shorter riders considering the Duke towers at 34 inches stock. However, being 6’5”, I asked the guys at Corbin if they could go the other direction and bring the height up a bit to take some bend out of my knees when seated. They were able to customize a taller seat more akin to their Dual Sport line.

In a word, the new Corbin seat is awesome. The carbon textured top and asphalt sides have a nice tacky grip, and the wider base and Comfort Cell foam give just the right balance of support and plushness for longer rides. While you do lose some side-to-side maneuverability with the wider seat, we’ll gladly take the tradeoff for the comfort. It’s really a non-issue because we’ll just hang on to the stock seat and throw it on for track days if needed. But for the day to day rides, we’re sticking with the Corbin. If you spend a lot of time in the saddle, a good custom seat should be at the top of your list.

We replaced our stock rubber with a set of Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport II sport touring tires.
We replaced our stock rubber with a set of Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport II tires.


After about 2000 miles on the road, the grippy OEM Dunlop Sportmax Sportsmart tires were toast, so we decided to change out our rubber for something a little more befitting our type of usage. We opted for a set of Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart II tires. The Roadsmart IIs are a sport-touring tire that feature Dunlop’s Multi-Tread compound to give more wear resistance on the center of the tire, while offering more grip out toward the edges.

After a few hundred miles, the Roadsmart IIs show very little wear, and we haven’t noticed any perceivable change in grip or stability from the original Sportsmarts. If we were spending less time on the road and more time on the track, we would have opted for the Sportmax Q2 line, but the Roadsmarts will work fine for the daily commute and canyon rides, and give us a much longer tread life to boot.


Powermadd Star Series Handguards.
The Powermadd Star Series handguard mirrors are great for checking your blind spot.
The Powermadd Star Series handguard mirrors are a great-looking addition.

We were always fond of the low-profile look of the stock handguards and mirrors on the Ducati Hypermotard. But rather than drop a few hundred bucks on an OEM kit for our Duke, we found the next best thing: A set of Powermadd Star Series Handguards with a set of Star Series Mirrors. The Powermadd Star Series are standard enduro-style handguards, but they have an angular design that matches perfectly with the Duke.

The bolt-on mirror is “bubble” type, so it’s great for a quick look at your blind spot, but not so good for anything more than about 100 feet back. However, the mirrors don’t vibrate excessively, and their angle is adjustable.

The handguards were a breeze to install and only take up a half-inch of handlebar real estate with the Powermadd Mounting Kit. We love the new low-profile and stealthy look of the front end. However, you gain about three inches of width on each side with the mirrors sticking out, so you have to be a little more careful when splitting lanes. While you do lose some long-distance visibility with the bubble mirrors, we’ve grown accustomed to them aren’t planning on going back to the gangly OEM stalks anytime soon.


Lastly, we wanted to be able to do some overnight and weekend rides with our Duke 690, so that meant adding at least enough storage for a change of clothes and some walking shoes. The OGIO Tail Bag is the perfect size for the job. The Tail Bag measures 7 x 13 x 14 inches and has enough room for two outfits in the main compartment, and a pair of shoes with the

The OGIO Tail Bag was the perfect addition to our Project Duke 690 for overnight trips.
The OGIO Tail Bag was the perfect luggage accessory for our Project Duke 690, ideal for quick overnight trips.

expansion compartment open. The bag also features molded side pockets for miscellaneous handheld goods, and a deployable rain cover to keep everything dry. The universal bag attaches with buckled nylon straps and has a nice neoprene pad on the bottom for paint protection.


The Duke comes from the factory looking pretty sharp, but we decided to add some bolt-ons to make it even more stealthy. First to go was the bulky license plate holder and turn signals. Not many online retailers stock parts for the Duke, so we hopped on eBay to find our tail tidy. It’s a simple aluminum unit with a built-in LED license plate light and mounts for turn signals.

We also eliminated the stock rear turn signals by installing an integrated taillight kit. We found the pictured unit on eBay, but it is very similar to the Rumble Concept LED Integrated Tail Light Kit. This unit has red LEDs for the tail light, as well as offset orange LEDs for the turn signals all in the same unit. We opted for the smoke colored version to match our blacked-out Duke.

We used a tail tidy and an integrated tail light to slim down the rear end of our Project KTM Duke 690.
The DMP Blunt Arrow LED turn signals blend perfectly into the KTM Duke 690s cowl.
The DMP Blunt Arrow LED turn signals blend perfectly into the KTM Duke 690’s cowl.

We love the new un-cluttered look of our Duke’s tail section, but if the thought of a integrated taillight (and the possible police attention) is worrisome, you can opt for a set of aftermarket turn signals to do away with the bulbous OEM units. The best looking ones we found are the DMP Blunt Arrow LED Turn Signals. We picked up a set in black with a smoke lens to replace the stock front blinkers. The amber LEDs are plenty bright, and the low profile lights blend right into the Duke’s angular front end.

Most turn signal systems on motorcycles are load dependent. So when replacing incandescent bulb turn signals with LEDs, the lights will blink too fast because the LEDs require much less juice. Such was the issue with our Duke 690. The quick fix is to install a resistor kit to get the blinking back down to a normal pace. The Western Powersports Turn Signal Resistor Kit splices into your stock wiring and provides the extra resistance needed to keep the blinking a little more latte and little less triple-espresso. We opted to hide them inside the front headlight cowl and for about $13 bucks, and a couple minutes of work, they are by far the cheapest and easiest solution.

We are very satisfied with the final product of our project KTM Duke 690. It’s a little faster and meaner, but at the same time a little more practical and comfortable. Did we turn it into a 100 horsepower Sportbike? Nope. Is it now a full-fledged touring machine? Not even close. It still lands squarely in the round hole of not being easily classified. The Duke is already a sharp machine, and all we did was hone it a little. We had fun making the mods, and even more fun riding once we were all done. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.

Ray Gauger

Digital Media Producer | Articles | Cinematographer, Video Editor, Photographer and Semi-Pro iPhone gamer; Our Digital Media Producer isn’t happy unless he’s trying to do it all. When he’s not behind a camera lens or hunkered down in an edit bay, he’s been known to put a few bikes through their paces too.