It’s been rumored for months now (see our coverage back in April): KTM is building an 890 engine to replace its current 790 platform. Now, we’re starting to see spy photos which seem to back those rumors up.

There’s been nothing concrete from the factory to confirm this gossip, but as far as moto-rumors go, it’s been very consistent, with plenty of people with inside knowledge suggesting we’d see the engine unveiled during the 2019 motorcycle show season. We haven’t seen engine schematics, patent drawings, emissiosn documents or any of the other usual tip-offs, so it was all fairly speculative, until spy photos started popping up in recent days. The spy snaps seem to show a KTM Duke with an updated version of the 790 parallel twin platform.

If this is true, this would jive with the original rumour, which suggested KTM would drop the 890 into a Duke chassis and call it the Duke R. Currently, KTM only sells the 790 Duke, with no upgraded, high-performance version (the 790 Adventure comes in three variations, the Adventure, the Adventure R, and the Adventure R Rally).

Naturally, this is all very exciting for naked bike fans, but what about adventure bike riders? Will we see the engine come to the dirty side?

You’d certainly expect it to make it to the Adventure R and Adventure R Rally models, but just because it’s logical doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. For an example of this, see Honda’s CRF250L and CRF250 Rally, which should have been given the CBR300 engine years ago. The OEMs don’t always do the sensible thing.

But—how many people will buy 790 Adventures, if they think the 890 is just around the corner? KTM is smart enough to know that not only would a horsepower bump make its adventure machine more desireable, it would also grab some attention back from the Yamaha T7 adventure bike when that debuts in coming months.

So, here’s what we’d call an educated guess: the 890 engine will debut in the Duke platform this fall, then be announced for one or two models in the Adventure lineup in the months afterwards. Stay tuned!

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