6 Common KTM 890 Duke R Problems (With Fixes!)

KTM bikes are famous for being budget-friendly, joyful, and nice rideable bikes with small engines and more power. The 890 Duke R is one of the glorious jewels of KTM featuring an 890 cc liquid-cooled four-stroke V Twin engine with 2 Cylinders built on a tubular steel frame.

With these features and a lot more, there are many problems with the KTM 890 Duke R.

The problems can be frustrating and full of effort, but they are still fixable. Despite all problems that we’ll discuss, the KTM 890 Duke R is still a nice motorcycle piling up love from its happy owners.

So, without any further ado, let’s start this article.

KTM 890 Duke R Problems

The common problems are coolant leaks, oil leaks, overheating, gasket leaks, chain failures, ABS malfunctioning, brake lamp dimming, false traction errors, suspension issues, minor downshifting issues, compromised comfort on the stock seat, and failure of its various parts or components.


1. Coolant and Oil Leak

Starting from its most common problem, which is the coolant and oil leak from selected spots. Sometimes, these spots are invisible or hard to reach leaving no clue for the rider to identify, trace, and fix it away.

It is the most frustrating and damaging problem on KTM 890 Duke R.

First, let’s discuss the “oil leak” part since it is more problematic and mysterious. The location of this leak is most of the time unknown to the rider.

This leak happens at the countershaft, which is also known as the output shaft. The job of this shaft is to transmit power from the engine to its wheel by a chain and consists of two parts (internal and external shaft).

Well, there’s no such issue since this leak happens in almost all bikes. However, KTM 890 Duke R faces this issue more and more frequently due to which it requires an immediate and permanent fix .

If it’s not sorted out, the power transmission will be affected and you won’t get full output and efficient performance out of its engine to the rear wheel. The bike will feel dizzy.

Coming to the reason and fixation part; the reason is the failure of its seals. These seals are damaged due to internal wear and tear in the engine. Sometimes, the internal bearing on which the shaft is mounted can also cause problems when it fails to self-lubricate.

The fix; take care of the oil change and replace the damaged seals with newer and better ones so it won’t happen again.

Coolant leak, however, has a different case and it is a minor one with less frequency. It is due to only two reasons.

First; if the coolant box is not doing well or if it’s been distorted due to wear and tear. Second, if the coolant is not changed for a long time.

The fix; drain the old burnt coolant which has less mechanical and cooling properties to replace it with a fresh and nice one.

2. Overheating Due to Gasket Leak

Once again and a similar problem related to leaks. All bikes use gaskets for the efficient working of the engine. The gasket acts like a sealant to the engine as it blocks the minor space between the engine housing and the rest of the components.

There could be some types of gaskets but they all are built purposely to eliminate oil leaks, protect against overheating, and block the noise.

Once that purpose is satisfied, we say the gaskets are working fine so the engine is performing pretty well. However, this is the problem here on KTM 890 Duke R.

The coolant malfunctions frequently as soon as you hit 10,000 miles (or sometimes less) with this motorcycle.

The gaskets start to leak and sweep oil out of it that travels and ruins many of the components until it drips on the engine floor and then the ground until you realize it. At the start, the flow is small and in less quantity but it can increase with time if you don’t put yourself to fix things immediately.

You should fix it as soon as possible but first know its reason.

The gasket fails and leaks certainly due to two reasons. Due to excessive heat or due to poor build quality. Both have the same result, they both will fail and ruin everything. The latter is a rare thing because manufacturers spend their budget on R&D to improve the built quality of their parts.

However, the common reason for failure is due to exposure to hot climates and excessive heat. The gasket will surely leak if the engine is not maintained well and it’s been continuously running in the heat with little to no break.

In this case, some bikes even stop as soon as the temperature rises. Also, the bike dramatically overheats since the coolant and fan are unable to do their jobs.

Now, you already know the fix. The fix is; you should invest your money in quality coolant, and put some hours and effort into its regular and scheduled maintenance so it won’t fail.

As soon as you notice any leaks, you must act immediately to replace its gaskets and seals to avoid any damage.

3. Chain and ABS Malfunctioning

This issue is related to the reliability and the rideability of this bike. Once you get this brand new bike, the first 5000 miles will be smooth, joyful, and free of problems.

However, as soon as you are done with the first service, the bike is now out of the break-in period and the meter reading is nearly 8000 miles, and issues start to happen.

The first issue is somehow related to transmission. No, you guessed it wrong; it’s not related to gear or clutch. Instead, it’s about its chain and sprockets.

The KTM 890 Duke R has a problem with the chain and sprockets, the front sprocket fails frequently (the rear one is invincible though) and the chain linkage can also fall apart.

The failure is again, due to two reasons. First, the chain fell apart because it’s been tight so much and it’s a common issue.

The stock chain comes tight and if you off-road or ride aggressively without taking care of speed breakers or potholes, the chain will do nothing but break. So, the first thing you should do is to loosen it a little bit or better replace it and get a good OEM chain.

Now, for its front sprocket failure, the reasons can be multiple. The main reasons are; the dirt and dust with particles build-up on it that makes everything unforgettable. The teeth wear out and if you don’t replace these sprockets, it can damage other components.

The next issue is related to ABS. The good part of KTM 890 Duke R is that it’s using ABS and the worst part is; it malfunctions.

It loses braking power making the braking ineffective and putting both you and your bike in danger.
The reason is its falling parts, they wear out and some of them don’t last long enough with some leakage issues. Replacing those components would be enough.

4. Brake Lamp and Traction Error

Failure of brake lamps and wrong information or traction error, both are minor problems but they are notable because you are likely to make decisions on these signals.

The problem occurs due to a malfunctioning sensor that ignites the traction error and the rider sometimes stops for a couple of minutes since the fall indicator is shown on the speedometer.

So, to fix it, you need to reset its ECM and it will be set. However, if there’s a problem in real life, you might also need to replace the respective sensor.

For the brake lamp, this is sort of a common problem with motorcycles. The brake lamp tends to dim or malfunction when there are issues with the fuse or any kind of electrical misbehaving in the machine.

First, you need to check both its rectifier and fuse if they are working fine.

If they are doing good and still the brake light is not working, the issue is with its bulb which is not working anymore. The simple fix is to replace it with a new and better one.

5. Suspension and Minor Downshifting Issues

When talking about suspension, this again is not a common and major problem but sort of a preference. The stock suspension on this bike is great since KTM is using fully adjustable forks on both its rear and front ends. Its mono shocks work fine and provide decent support each time, especially on paved roads.

However, some riders might not like the suspension if they are frequently off-road or they plan to do several hundred miles in one trip.

If you travel a lot, have adventurous taste buds, and like to go on long journeys, then you should upgrade its stock suspensions with a better one. Otherwise,  the fork seals are likely to leak if you frequently take your motorcycle on long rides.

Other than suspension issues, some users reported minor downshifting issues. The issues with quick shifters are rear and you will have to get used to it if you previously rode a Ducati or Triumph.

However, downshifting will not be efficient if you use it while your engine revs are high. You will need to change your driving style instead.

6. Stock Seat Comfort and Parts Failure

To get an amazing riding experience out of a motorcycle, you need to make sure the seat is extremely comfortable and supportive with loads of cushioning.

KTM 890 Duke R has a nice and comfortable seat, but it is not the best of its kind. The seat has cushioning but it’s not up to mark, you might feel it hard on your back.

First thing first, the seat height is low, it is just 33 inches. With this height, you will not love it if you are tall or even a medium guy with at least 5 ‘7″.

The seating posture will be compromised and you won’t get a decent maneuverability out of it. So, if you are very much concerned about seat comfort, it’s worth upgrading to a decent one with added cushioning

Other than its seat, everything is perfect and fine but the failure of parts is a little bit common which sometimes comes early. There are reports of falling components such as bolts since they are not great and it is an issue across the Duke lineup.

You should read KTM 890 Duke review before buying.

KTM 890 Duke R Users Feedback/Reviews:

“The best features are weight, handling, suspension, braking, and tech. Power from corner to corner is unbeatable. Yes, this bike is just unbelievable. Your riding will need a lot of adjusting and upgrading in skill.” Source: motorcyclenews.com

“The best-handling street bike I have ever ridden. Just think where you want to be and it follows–or pretty close to that. Great power and suspension to go along with the outstanding handling. I could see where you might not like this as much if you have no experience on a motocross bike–as this feels like a civilized MX bike for the street. You might not like the dirt bike feel and look of the bike, but for me, it is almost perfect!” Source: motorcyclenews.com

Frequently Asked Questions

Is KTM 890 Duke reliable?

This bike isn’t as reliable as other KTM bikes. It has some reliability issues that many users have reported.

Is KTM Duke 890 a beginner bike?

Yes, it is a good bike for beginners.

What is the 0 to 60 on a KTM 890 Duke R?

The KTM 890 Duke R reaches from 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds.

Technical Specifications of KTM 890 Duke R:

Engine4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC
Displacement889 cc
PowerApproximately 121 horsepower
TorqueApproximately 99 Nm
Front Suspension43mm WP Apex, upside-down forks
Rear SuspensionWP APEX monoshock
Front Brake2 x 320 mm discs, 4-piston caliper
Rear BrakeSingle disc, 240 mm, 2-piston caliper
ABSBosch 9.1 MP
Wheelbase1,481 mm
Seat Height834 mm
Weight (Dry)Approximately 166 kg
Fuel Capacity14 liters (3.7 gallons)
Front Tire120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire180/55 ZR17


2020 KTM 890 Duke R Review

Know About The 2020 KTM 890 Duke R | Motorcycle.com

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