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ADV NewsKTM To Launch A 1390 V-Twin Engine Soon

KTM To Launch A 1390 V-Twin Engine Soon

A larger LC8 engine may be headed for the Super Adventure line.

Published on 08.25.2023
Lucky for us, adventure bikes come in more sizes and flavors than ever. Entry-level, middleweight, hard-core, travel…and the inevitable XL. We call them the flagships, with “ship” being the root word of course. Bikes like BMW’s now-1300cc GS, KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure R and Harley’s 1250cc Pan America. 

Well, it seems KTM is getting ready to take things up a notch as news broke this week that the Austrian manufacturer is working on a new 1390 V-twin powerplant. 

We know about KTM’s engine flex after their parts lists on international websites were discovered by the UK’s BikeSocial, showing distinct new part numbers for the forthcoming 1390cc engine. And although the entries are for the Super Duke line, the larger engine is expected to eventually find its way into the Super Adventure line, as we’ve seen with LC8 upgrades in the past.

KTM To Launch A 1390 V-Twin Engine for Super Duke

These global websites appear to have been auto populated with fresh data that included the new engine’s part numbers well ahead of any announcement by the Austrian powerhouse, a trend we’re seeing more often as computer servers run ever further off-leash. Just a couple weeks ago, for example, the list price and other interesting details about the forthcoming R1300GS accidentally showed up on BMW’s dealer service order pages before being swiftly deleted by the home base.


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With the new LC8 being listed as a “1390” using KTM’s XX90 format, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact capacity, though it’s expected to land in the range between 1350cc and 1449cc. It’s also unclear whether the gain is the result of an increase in bore, a longer stroke or combination of the two. BikeSocial has reported on spy sightings of the new-gen SuperDuke that show the engine wearing newly revised engine casings as well as a new water pump.

The listings also revealed two different part numbers, including a “Engine 1390 Super Duke CN 2024,” which is likely a doppelgänger manufactured in China by KTM’s longtime partner, CFMoto, that will be used to replace the China-built 1290 that powers CF’s big sport touring bike.

The “Why?” for the bump in displacement is easier to pinpoint. Motor vehicle engines are increasing in capacity across the board as emissions regulations seeded in the important European market drive global adjustments. These ever-tightening Euro emission standards will continue to squelch performance year after year as the world is ushered toward a carbon-free future, forcing manufacturers to increase engine size just to maintain output. 

It’s thus become a constant race for engineers to stay one step ahead of these regulations, and while this larger LC8 is unlikely to offer a massive increase in output, it will definitely be enough of a jump to satisfy KTM’s intention to keep its Super Duke competitive with Ducati’s Street Fighter. 

In turn, a 1390 Super Adventure with an expected bump in top end will help it pack a bigger wallop against bikes like the Multistrada V4 and V4 Rally. The V4 adventure bikes use Ducati’s 1158cc Granturismo engine, a mill that’s smaller by capacity than KTM’s current 1290 LC8, but they kick out a class-topping 170 hp, ten more ponies than KTM’s current Super Adventure. 

According to leaked Swiss homologation data, BMW’s forthcoming R1300GS, in contrast, will put out 143.5 horsepower, leaving the adventure bike top-end war between KTM and Ducati, a contest that, yes, to serious off-road riders, seems like complete overkill. 

On the other hand, bragging rights are pretty fun when you own the fastest, most powerful machine in any class of vehicle and there can be no doubt buyers will keep showing up for it. And no one can argue any of the über adventure bikes are superior for long distance road travel, and when you master the skill to ride them off-road, they can even perform miraculous feats, just ask Chris Birch.

And hopefully, as we’ve seen with other recent bumps in displacement, weight will not be added, and bikes may even stay on trend to shed a pound or two each time they’re reimagined.

As for when we’ll see a freshly endowed KTM Super Adventure, that isn’t likely to happen until 2025.  

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge
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Alex Bub
Alex Bub
August 25, 2023 1:44 pm

Bigger, bigger, bigger. Ho Hum ……………………… How about some nice lighter, smaller, more manageable. So sad you killed the 490 twin. The 390 not quite enough, the 790/890 a bit too much. Guess I’ll have to look elsewhere. Sad, been a Penton/KTM rider since 1972..

Matt Badley
Matt Badley
August 30, 2023 5:06 am
Reply to  Alex Bub

Would be interesting to know how many big ADV bikes are used off road, I’m not talking a short dirt track I’m mean middle of no where, no reception and just surround by sheep, hills and not a spot of tarmac in sight. The only bikes we ever come across are Enduro, think that might be the answer to your question Alex…..

Mike Lindberg
Mike Lindberg
October 20, 2023 12:29 pm
Reply to  Matt Badley

In the states we regularly ride GS’s on backcountry discovery routes. Chiefly because we ride a very fast pace on asphalt as well.

Martin
Martin
August 25, 2023 2:46 pm

MeToo

John Bowman
John Bowman
August 30, 2023 11:43 am

Hmmm … another option to upgrade my RC8R

Ranger
Ranger
January 23, 2024 2:39 pm

Who knows what KTM’s up to. my counterpoint: What’s wrong with a bigger engine, with more power, if it comes with no weight increase? KTM is smart enough to know that they need to do more than just stuff more cc’s into a chassis before they release it. I ride my 1290SAR all over the eastern part of the states between FL and WV… BDR’s etc. More power, given how I use the bike would be welcome for my riding style. Hell, we ride motorcycles for thrill… no?

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