I just got back from a short ride on the 690 Duke. Every time I fire that bike up, it’s like the devil jumps up on my shoulder, kicks that poor angel to the ground and start whispering in my ear: “Listen to the sound of this beast! Doesn’t it make you want to misbehave? Go ahead, drop that clutch and twist the throttle! It’s okay…you can’t help yourself!” It’s true, the Duke could incite a riot in a convent. It could cause the Pope to curse and Kanye West to smile. This bike alters your behavior…bad behavior.
I’ve been watching a lot of off-road racing lately, thinking back to the days when I owned motocross bikes and dual sport machines. In fact, as I write this I am watching a video of a group of riders travel across the country on the Trans America Trail. The Duke is about as close to the dirt bike experience as you can get on the street. It constantly pushes you to do things you know you shouldn’t. Like weave in and out of traffic, jump curbs, pull the front wheel off the ground and lock the rear wheel until it slides around to meet the front (damn ABS!). Whoever first called the 690 a Hooligan bike knew from experience what they were talking about.
There are a plenty of times when I’m out riding and everything comes together, then that feeling of euphoria rushes over me, but never more so than when riding the KTM. As I twist its throttle, push its light weight body left, then right and feel the driving thump of a 4 inch piston generating 70+ horsepower on 320 lbs of steel, I can hardly contain my joy! The adrenaline rushes through my body and I just want to thrust my arm up in the air as if I were in the front row of an AC/DC concert and Angus Young just strutted out onto stage in his schoolboy outfit, guitar screaming a familiar riff. This bike makes me feel like a hero…it makes me feel alive!