7 Most Common Problems With KTM Super Duke 990 & KTM 450 EXC

Both the KTM Super Duke 990 and the KTM 450 EXC are popular models in the KTM range.

Both were available in the early- and mid-2000s but the Super Duke has since gone out of production.

They were known as fast and sporty bikes and were popular with riders of many different levels.

They continue to be sought-after models on the used bike market.

This article explains the 7 “most common problems with KTM Super Duke 990 & KTM 450 EXC”…

Here Are The 7 Most Common Problems With KTM Super Duke 990 & KTM 450 EXC

While both models were popular, they did have their own particular sets of problems, which we will discuss in more detail further below.

Most Common Problems With KTM Super Duke 990

1. Oil Pump Issues

In early models of the Super Duke 990 (2005-2006), there was a problem with an oil pump and at least one of the pistons on many bikes, which caused many to have to get the pumps replaced.

2. Rear Tire Replacement

The rear tires wear out relatively quickly on the Super Duke 990.

Some users report having to replace the rear tire after just 1,200 miles or so, while the average lifespan should get to 1,800.

This could be explained by the often much higher-pressure riding that the Super Duke 990 was subjected to by many of its owners.

It was used far more often as a hardcore sports bike than it was as a cruising or commuter bike.

3. Lack of Modern Equipment

Even for a bike that finished production in 2013, it’s somewhat lacking in modern equipment options.

The bike was most often favored for its off-road capabilities, and its fanbase didn’t always mind about the equipment, but by 2013 when more modern instruments were arriving on the scene, it became hard to justify or explain the lack of such things in the Super Duke 990.

4. Lack of Weather Protection

When riding the bike at distance and covering consistent speeds of 70mph or more, riders can feel a great deal of discomfort because of the lack of wind and other weather protection.

There were also no viable options for aftermarket protections since they all made the bike look aesthetically worse, which meant users had no real option to change.

Most Common Problems With KTM 450 EXC

5. Lower Parts Over Exposed to Dirt

One issue with the KTM 450 EXC that riders complained about was how the chain, sprockets, and lower frame were so overly exposed to dirt from the ground and then were harder to clean than with many other models.

It’s not a major mechanical issue but can make the ownership experience a little less convenient.

6. Foot Brake Sensitivity

While riders often praise the KTM 450 EXC handlebar brakes for being very easy to use and decent, the foot brake is over-sensitive and can create serious problems for riders.

There have been reports of riders accidentally pressing the foot brake too hard, locking up the rear wheel, and creating damaging brake force.

It can even send backpacks or carried luggage flying forward, causing injury to the rider.

7. Side Panel Replacement Difficulty

When riders wanted to switch out or change the side panels on the 450 EXC, they would have to also at the same time remove the entire airbox in order to do so.

This makes even the most basic modifications a real challenge, which is surprising and somewhat unexpected from a bike that is otherwise affordable and presented as a great “starter” package.

Pros Of The KTM Super Duke & KTM 450 EXC

Pros Of the Super Duke 990

1. Superlative Engine Quality

No one has ever been able to argue against the solidity and reliability of the Super Duke 990’s engine.

It makes a terrific sound, it’s solidly constructed, and does not require anywhere near as much maintenance as similar models in this category, especially when used off-road.

2. Amazing Ride Quality and Responsive Handling

Accompanying the engine quality was some of the best handlings anyone could expect from a bike of this size.

The handling is excellent, and riders often talk about how there are no corners, bends, twists, and tricky bits of road that the Super Duke 990 was unable to handle with aplomb.

Pros Of The KTM 450 EXC

1. Off-road Supremacy

The KTM 450 EXC finds its strongest points when used as an off-road bike. Its traction, handling, and general capabilities are very impressive.

It can also find great promise as a stunt bike, with many enthusiasts using it for wheelies and other maneuvers.

Cons of the KTM Super Duke 990 & KTM 450 EXC

KTM Super Duke 990

The first main con for the Super Duke 990 is the frequency at which one usually has to replace the tires, especially the rear tires.

When you are buying used you have to really inspect the condition of the tires and wheels because this is where damage most frequently occurs.

Another disadvantage is a lack of wind and weather protection.

This makes the bike less comfortable to use over distance, but doesn’t affect it too much at least when off-roading.

The lack of weather protection stems from another problem which is a lack of modern equipment.

There’s no equipment to protect from weather either, including no electronic assists.

The lack of electronic assists makes it a harder bike to access for really new riders.

The fuel economy is also weak, with a full tank only getting about 80 miles or so.


Replacement components on the 450 EXC were surprisingly expensive, in particular the wheels, exhaust, engine components, and others.

The good thing was that you didn’t have to replace things very often, but when you did it cost a lot more than other bike models to do so.

Decals on the bike also come away very easily with engine heat on certain 450 models.

It also requires a lot of oil changes compared to other bikes.

Some riders who use the bike for stunt riding claim they have to change the oil every 15 hours, and new pistons at 130 hours.

That’s very frequent even in this category.

These maintenance items are not so expensive, but the frequency is troublesome.

What Do The Reviews Say?

Reviews of both of these bikes are generally very positive, with only some minor negativity coming out at either, mostly down to the personal tastes and preferences of the individual riders who own them.

For the Super Duke 990, reviews praise in particular the 999cc engine.

It’s a DOHC V-twin design that offers very impressive acceleration.

The positive reviews go on to point out how the reliability of the engine and the power of the Brembo brakes together create a real balance and feeling of dependability.

On the more negative side, there’s no good option for a pillion or passenger rider on the Super Duke 990, at least nothing that anyone would want to sit on.

Other users have pointed to the very weak fuel economy on the bike.

There are no serious mechanical problems, but rear tires need replacing a lot, and both the oil and water pumps may need replacing sooner than you think.

For the 450 EXC, the positive praise comes for its maneuverability, handling prowess, engine quality, and ride quality in the off-road, adventure, and stunt bike arenas.

It’s a fun bike to ride, with fairly solid construction with no major components that are considered worthy of any real criticism.

On the more negative side, however, the 450 EXC is complained about for its need for very frequent oil and filter changes, not to mention piston changes when it’s being pushed hard as a stunt or off-road bike.

The foot brake is also considered somewhat oversensitive.

What Is The Resale Value On The KTM Super Duke 990 & KTM 450 EXC?

For the Super Duke 990, you can expect to pay from $4,500 to $8,000 for a used model, depending on the model year and condition.

The oldest models are from 2005-2006, and newer models from 2012-2013.

For the KTM 450 EXC, you can expect to pay around $10,000 for a new model, ranging down to $3,000-4,000 for a used one.

The earliest models go back to 1999-2000.

The newest models are from the current model year.