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KTM Duke 390 Test Ride Review

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KTM Duke 390 Test Ride Review

KTM Duke 390 – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

KTM Duke 390 Review

Bike Tested: 2013 KTM Duke 390

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 2,13,200/-

The Duke 390 offers heart thumping performance, it is one brutally fast machine.

The year 2013 has been a bit cold. Rising fuel prices and EMIs have sent auto sales plunging down (in both 2 and 4-wheeler segments). After a long wait, the launch of the KTM Duke 390 in India has been witnessed. Reviewers have been waiting to get hold of the Duke 390 and test it in Indian conditions. We could not wait, hence, we went ahead and brought you our initial impressions of the KTM Duke 390 on home soil last month. The Duke 390 is finally in our hands and we put it through all kind of roads to bring you a thorough review of the highly anticipated motorcycle you have been waiting for. So sit back, relax and grab your favourite snack because this KTM Duke 390 review is going to be a long one.

Motor Quest: KTM introduced the first Duke badged motorcycle in 1994, the Duke I 620. The Duke II came in 1998 and evolved into the Duke 690. Since then 990, 125, 200 and 390 models of the Duke have followed.

KTM Duke 390 Performance ReviewKTM Duke 390 User Experience

Styling – There is not much to say here. The styling of the Duke 390 is identical to the Duke 200 which is a love it or loath it design. The KTM Duke 390 also gets hand-guards as standard although they are missing on our test bike. You get the ergonomically scooped tank with long shrouds, slim headlight, well-crafted and purposeful engine belly fairing, minimalistic flat tailpiece and a chunky front fender. At the rear there is the gorgeous looking die cast aluminium swing arm, sleek LED tail lights, LED turn indicators, bulbous looking grab rails and the annoyingly long rear mudguard with the Indian specific sari guard and a tyre hugger. What KTM has done is something clever and cannot be ruled out. A new paint scheme and freshly designed graphics just for the KTM Duke 390 work well. Instead of the Duke, the 390 sticker is now the bold one on the bike. First KTM promoted the brand and now the capacity, makes sense.

KTM Duke 390 Road Test ReviewKTM Duke 390 Dynamics Review

The eye-catchy part of the KTM Duke 390 is the powder coated orange trellis frame and wheels, which have immaculate finish, and are loud in the flesh. When you see the Duke 390, it is a exactly like a Duke but a second look makes you realise that it is a Duke 390 all thanks to the bold ‘390’ and orange wheels and frame. The paint signifies that it is something special. The orange trellis frame is seen on motorcycles such as the Duke 690, 990 and RC series of bikes. The orange wheels are seen only on flagship motorcycles, which are high performance forged Marchesini wheels, these are normal alloys but are painted orange to show it’s a special bike, even for the manufacturer. The difference from the 200 is the exposed ABS wires on the right side and under the fuel tank where the exposed wiring harness comes falling down with heat resistant material wrapped onto it. Looks a bit of a mess, but it is not a turn off either.

Instrument Cluster and Switch Gear – Yes, it is the same here too. We never liked the idea of the tachometer being digital and the LCD screen being small. It robs you of the fun which an analog tachometer offers. Where KTM makes up is the plethora of information, which it provides. A clock, temperature bar, economy readouts in European and Indian versions, side stand indicator, two trip meters, gear position, service due indicator, distance to empty, engine malfunction indicator and the usual shift light, neutral, turn, high beam indicators. What is new? Well, it is the unmarked ABS button right below the SET button and the ABS indicator on the top right side. The MODE, SET and unmarked ABS buttons are really hard to press and cannot be operated with gloves easily, they need some real hard pressing. Switchgear is identical too, which means top-notch quality. Back lit switchgear makes it standout (in the international motorcycle market).

Ergonomics – Naked street motorcycle rule number one has been followed with wide handle bars, upright sitting position and rear set foot pegs. Despite the simple setup, it gives you the feel that you are commanding a ‘big bike’. The rock hard seats on the KTM Duke 390 is typical of any big sport bike. Good for confidence and enthusiastic riding but not to everyone’s taste and comfort. A small specific we found is that the foot pegs are even more rear set than the Duke 200 by a small margin. Mirror stalks are long but the glass is small, so most above average built riders with jackets will find it hard to see what is behind clearly. Pillion seat is of no use until and unless you have a sidekick who has an extremely below average built and willingly volunteers to sit on this insanely fast motorcycle.

Performance and Gearbox – Until now, everything was simple and sane. Powering this motorcycle is a heart of a monster. A single-cylinder, DOHC, 373cc engine pumps out 43 BHP of power at 9000 RPM and 35 Nm of torque at 7000 RPM. The engine is smooth and refined throughout the rev range and is loaded with technologies which are usually used in racing. The cylinder is sleeveless, hence coated with NIKASIL which is used to reduce wear and tear in modern four-stroke racing engines. The piston is a forged unit, which gives it a quick reviving nature and reduces heat. The cam and its follower are most prone to wear and tear because it keeps constantly sliding in a demanding high performing engine hence KTM coated it with diamond like coating for reducing friction by a huge margin which enhances performance in return.

Every important part of the Duke 390’s engine is on par with racing engines, which are used for endurance or track racing. This results in insane performance and exact engine characteristic which an enthusiast would dream off. The high tech components helps in weight reduction and this motor weighs only 36 kgs. One more fact worth considering is that the 373cc unit churns out a whopping 43.5 PS which means PS/litre number is an outstanding 118! This theory suffices that every single horsepower is used to deliver heart-pounding performance. In first gear the Duke 390 hits 56 km/hr, in second gear 82 km/hr, in third it does 105 km/hr, in fourth it maxes out at 135 km/hr while in fifth it tops out at 156 km/hr. While cruising at 100 km/hr in sixth gear, the engine is relaxed doing 5000 RPM and cruising at 120 km/hr in top gear results in 6500 RPM on the tacho, which means overtaking while cruising at these speeds doesn’t necessitate a downshift. However, heavy wind-blast is felt post 130 km/hr which is a bit irritating on long straight roads (KTM offers a windshield visor which will surely help to contain wind-blast to some extent).

Below 5000 RPM, the engine is as relaxed as any DOHC engine. Nevertheless, there is good low-end torque thanks to the capacity and taller gearing, which makes it relaxing to cruise around in town. The less frantic fuelling makes it more drivable, unlike the Duke 200 where you bump into the limiter almost all the time. Overall it is less frantic with smoother fuelling and taller gearing. Even with the taller gearing you don’t have to rev the hell out of the engine due to the narrow power band, which is from 2000 RPM to 10,500 RPM rather than 12,000 RPM in most bikes. This is perfectly aligned with street bike characteristic. To give you an example of the gearing, the Duke 200 uses a 43T rear sprocket while the Duke 390 uses a 45T rear sprocket. However, it is not easy to ride in town as the engine heats up a lot like any other liquid-cooled sports bike. You will have to keep speeds above 60 km/hr in third gear or above to avoid the heat. However, once you cross 5000 RPM, the Duke 390 turns into a Nuke and shoots forward with the urgency of a missile.

300 BHP per tonne can no way be tagged as tame. You don’t feel anything that is going inside the engine, it just shoots forward with utmost smoothness and feels like a two-stroke engine of yesteryears. If we give this motorcycle to a two-stroke lover, he would go the petrol bunk and ask the pump attendant to mix oil and petrol. The acceleration is the party piece of the KTM Duke 390 and it is fabulously savage. Accelerate in a rush in first gear and you are bound to do a 75-degree power wheelie on the Duke 390. It gives you a rush, which you cannot imagine until and unless you ride it. Front is very lively when accelerating hard and it bounces a bit, it is not scary but it’s the part of the riding experience which displays the ferocity of the power to weight ratio. 60 km/hr is dealt in less than 3 seconds. 100 km/hr comes up in a recorded 5.6 seconds and the top speed is a whopping 160 km/hr plus which comes as soon as you shift into sixth gear and there is hardly any wait. There is a wait though, which is for 170 km/hr, which can be extracted only if roads and nature support. The engine is much louder and throaty with the use of the same underbelly type exhaust as the Duke 200. Although it does not sound sporty or pleasing but it sounds exactly as the characteristics it possess, a growling monster.

KTM Duke 390 Road Test Review

Riding Dynamics – Armed with a trellis frame, WP upside down forks at the front and WP monoshock at the rear (which is directly mounted on the swing arm), the KTM Duke 390 has excellent dynamics. Pottering around in the city is a point and shoot affair. It is as easy as entry-level motorcycles. High speed stability is excellent due to stiffly sprung suspension and slightly longer wheelbase than the Duke 200. On a twisty roads is where the Duke 390 comes alive. The Duke is very agile when turning into corners and completely planted through the sweepers. You can just keep on changing directions repeatedly if you want to keep up the pace on endless twisty roads. Steering feels minutely slow due to added weight and longer wheelbase when compared to the Duke 200, which it shares the platform with. Nevertheless, the fun factor and grin levels are the same as the younger sibling.

Grip levels on the Duke 390 are phenomenal in the wet. The bike stays planted like it’s in the dry thanks to the super grippy Metzeler M5 Sportec tyres. The Duke 390’s tyres are the same dimensions as the Duke 200 but since this motorcycle is capable of doing more speeds even more quickly, an upgrade was necessary. The 300 mm disc at the front uses a four-pot radial calliper and the 230 mm disc at the rear uses a single pot calliper, which assisted by ABS works very well to stop the Duke 390, right in its tracks at any given speed. ABS pulsating was not experienced more than once which was when we stood on the brakes at 150 km/hr. Ride quality is properly stiff and ride is harsh. Mid corner bumps will unsettle the bike if you are going too fast. It gobbles small potholes with ease but bigger craters of our monsoon roads really ruin the comfort when it comes to city riding. The ride is liveable though as most of the bumps don’t filter as much as they do on normal motorcycles due to 150 mm suspension travel on both ends.

Verdict – Overall, we think the KTM Duke 390 is magnificent. The Duke 390 screams performance. Every part of the engine is thoughtfully engineered to provide racing experience and utmost reliability. This KTM is what the Duke 200 should have been. Having said that, the 390 becomes a sweeter deal with far more control, added practicality for Indian conditions and ABS coming as standard. At this price, it is wet dreams come true for motorcycle enthusiasts. You can only understand the magnitude when you start the engine and accelerate into the horizon biblically quick. This is something you imagined can only be felt with superbikes which come at ten times the price. Everything about the KTM Duke 390 is 10 or 20% better than expected and praise does not get higher than that. The Duke 390 is the only bike in India, which will thoroughly appeal to both the heart and head. This truly is an entry-level sports bike you have been waiting for all these years.

The KTM Duke 390 is an all out pocket rocket and the way it accelerates can leave you spell bound. There is simply nothing at this price which can even come close.

What’s Cool

* Performance
* Handling
* Metzeler tyres
* Value for money

What’s Not So Cool

* Engine heat
* Pillion seat
* Ride quality

2013 KTM Duke 390 Specifications

* Engine: 373.2cc, 4-valve, single-cylinder, water-cooled, DOHC
* Power: 43.5 PS @ 9000 RPM
* Torque: 35 Nm @ 7000 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed manual
* 0 – 100 km/hr: 5.6 seconds
* Top Speed: 170 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 25-28 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: Upside down forks (Front), Monoshock (Rear)
* Tyres: 110/70/17 (Front), 150/60/17 (Rear)
* Brakes: 300 mm disc (Front), 230 mm disc (Rear), ABS

2013 KTM Duke 390 Dimensions

* Length x Width x Height: 2002 mm x 873 mm x 1274 mm
* Wheelbase: 1372 mm
* Ground Clearance: 170 mm
* Seat Height: 800 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 11-litres
* Kerb weight: 154 kgs

Pictures – Anannd Sampat

Further Reading –

KTM Duke 390 Video Review
KTM Duke 390 Long Term Review
KTM Duke 390 Long Term Review – Second Report
Kawasaki Z250 vs KTM Duke 390
Kawasaki Z250 vs KTM Duke 390 – Video
KTM Duke 390 vs Kawasaki Ninja 300
KTM Duke 390 vs Yamaha RD350
KTM Duke 390 vs Honda CBR250R vs Royal Enfield Continental GT

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nitro

    The fuel cap on this one has been lifted off a Pulsar i heard? Is that true?
    So many part sharing and so much resemblance to the 200 will put many buyers away. A 400 barely managing to do 100mph is laughable. The N300 does similar performance, is faired and easily does a 192kmph at redline. The only thing going for this bike is the price because KTM built the 125,200 and this one in one go and R&D costs drastically reduced.

    • Ben

      @nitro , till the arrival of rc 390 we cannot judge it’s performance, maybe for safety reasons the speed is limited. but it’s proven that it has very linear and fully useful torque, now the question is only power. a good 25bhp is more than enough to do 160kmph. rc390 will strip out the real capabilities of this engine.

    • karikor

      Truely agree with you Ben. The RC390 will be the one to be better compared with other full faired motorcycles. I hope the RC390 has the same acceleration but with higher top end speed.

    • Samarth

      @ Nitro: Hi, I have booked this bike. I think such small resemblance to Pulsar is no big deal. Functionally this is no deal breaker. Even, CBR 150 has Stunner’s handlebars. But people mostly criticised only because of less functionality (no pass/ kill ignition switch), not resemblance to earlier models.

      A 400cc not managing 100 mph is laughable? So, we should also laugh at the Classic 500 then??
      Now it also means that, Duke 200 is also bad because it does only 137, while CBR with same horsepower figure does 160?!

      If you recall, its not meant to do big speeds anyways. Its “Duke”. Its meant to rule the streets. 390’s top speed is around 170 kmph (on speedo) as I have seen in video reviews. I wouldn’t have cared if it was even 155, as long as it raises hell accelerating all over the place… Agree with your last point though. Cost efficient it had to be. That might have resulted in some compromises too….

      Let’s wait for RC 390. That should satisfy all needs I guess…. :)

    • Don’t have high hopes on the RC 390 as it is identical to the Duke 390 in terms of mechanicals.

    • Ravi

      @ Nitro you should check out the Duke 390 and Ninja 300 spec. The 390 has more bhp and torque than the N300. The reason why Ninja has a greater top sped is due to gearing. This means D390 has closer gearing ratio than the N300.

      Understand there is a basic formula, Power = 2 x pi x RPM x Torque.

      So we have 44 bhp with D390 & 39 bhp with N300, which means high RPM on wheels= low torque.

      Also, You can just put a smaller racing sprocket for D390 to get it go at higher speeds and that can make it reach speed higher than the N300. But being a naked it will have not have the wind protection for 150 kmph+ speds.

  • Sumit

    Amazing bike for it’s price. For now this will surely be a more prefferable choice over Ninja for enthusiasts, cos it’s priced low enough. KTM RC series may give Ninja even more trouble. Though none of these bikes is for me. Im waiting the next big Pulsar !! Bajaj don’t let us down.

    • pravin

      Me too.. Nothing like the big P.. It will the most well rounded Indian bike..

  • vishal

    Superb review as usual from motorbeam;-)

    • Mohit

      Thanks Vishal for support!

  • Ben

    rightly said mohit. with this kind of very linear and brutal power delivery anybody will think it’s a two stroke. the review was good. and for this sake please make a drag race with a completely restored rd350. it will definitely be a treat to our eyes. please do it.

    • Mohit

      Thanks a lot Ben as always! We will try to get our hands on a RD 350 but we cant say its possible and if yes it will take some time !

  • Spitfire

    FINALLY!!! After approx 30years since the intro of the #MightyRD , it has met its #Nemesis. It wl b great to see a #Duel betwn the #GrandDaddy n d #NewKidOnTheBlock .. BRING IT ON GUYS!!!

  • Spitfire

    @Nitro … It seems u r too #Naive as far as ur ‘opinions’ r concerned, in the first place u should not be comparing both these machines at all. Both the bikes are as diffrnt as Chalk and Cheese. One is a sportbike whereas the other is a streetbike. Main characteristics of a streetbike like #Duke390 are minimal bodywork, comparatively shorter geared (so quicker accleration, better driveability n lesser top speed), meant for street riding n not for d tracks (which N300 is), provides much more firepower riding on the streets from point A to B as compared to N300, will smoke an N300 all the day long in the city no matter how hard the rider tries. #AMEN

    • Spitfire, never wrong to put the Ninja 300 against the Duke 390. Seems like a good idea. I guess we should do it ;-)

    • ayaz

      Do it quickly… Please… :P

    • Ayaz, probably a drag race would be a good idea, or a text comparison? Hmmm…

    • Pradeep Ramesh

      How about both? :)

    • Argh Pradeep, you know I can’t say no!

  • Spitfire

    @Faisal .. Defntly y not i think it sounds pretty interesting, but i guess it wud be even better if u cud arrange a #Duel betwn d #RD n d #Duke. Wat say? Sounds fun isn’t it?!

    • Spitfire, the problem is, the RD is a very different machine and is no longer on sale. So we usually do reviews for cars and bikes which can be bought today.

    • Spitfire

      @Faisal … Yeah u r ri8 RD is a totally different animal with an air-cooled(in Indian guise) 2stroke parallel twin config, which died a premature death due to the introduction of frugal 100cc 4stroke bikes back then….but if u guys can lay ur hands on one of them for the comparo, it vl b freaking cool to see how well the #Duke perform against the #RD

    • Spitfire

      @Faisal … And moreover the #RD was also positioned as a ‘streetbike’ same like the #Duke ,so it vl interesting to see how well the ‘new’ be able to hold itself against the ‘old’ ?!

    • pravin

      Duke is a clear cut RD n Ninja beater in drag even up till 100mph..

    • Spitfire

      @Faisal .. U guys can do it for a change ;-) Up2 u though, i was jus expressin my thought.

    • Spitfire, we will try. Getting hold of an RD is not easy.

  • kk

    Is the suspension setup a bit stiffer as compared to the 200 Duke?

    • Mohit

      Yes it is stiffer than the 200 by a good margin

  • sandy

    Well the Duke 390 behaved the way it was expected, but thanks for more detailed observation on the body work and the way it behaves in slow traffic like a brute impatient monster who loves to break free.
    Now, many readers seems to be adding salt to Cola, trying to awake inner enthusiast monster of Faisal to conduct Bull Fight. “Ho Jaye… Abhi…!”
    So, I’ll wait patiently to watch how much impatient you make these monster to fight.

    • Mohit

      Sandy, we have a surprise for you really soon and as we say “Soon is today” :)

    • sandy

      Thanks Mohit, thats really a big surprise yet answered a lot of queries which had evolved with me till date. Finally, Faisal’s Cola bottle exploded like Volcano. :)

    • Tony

      I have owned 3 LC8 engined KTM’s and while there were isesus they were hardly what i would call unreliable. Great motors, great suspension, top shelf components, and perfectly sized for tall folks. The RC8 is a different story but IMO there are no Japanese brands that made comparable bikes to the 950sm, 950se, 950adv anyway.

  • bhav

    As always motorbeam reviews are best and also best angle of vehicle they snap it.
    Motorbeam is best from the day i started viewing.
    No complains
    All the very best.

    • Mohit

      Thank you Bhav!! Kinds words are highly appreciated ;)

    • Thanks Bhav, glad you like them ;-) Keeps us motivated.

  • Zeeshan

    KTM experience so far…..
    1. Delivery Fiasco….just after the launch.
    2. Engine stopped beating at the speed of 150 KM/Hr…A narrow escape near Kolhapur.
    3. Thanks for world class quality promise. As following are the parts changed after the first service:
    a. 36JY0007 : Kit Cylinder Block
    b. JG351209 : Plug spark M12
    c. JY511064 : Cylinder Head Assembly
    d. JY511070 : Gasket Cylinder Head
    e. JY521006 : Gasket Cylinder Block
    f. JY531021 : Crankshaft Assembly Com
    g. JY541224 : Gasket Magneto Cover
    h. JY541225 : Gasket Clutch Cover
    i. JY591014 : Gasket Muffler Pipe
    j. 39102121 : Ring
    k. JY511069 : Rubber Gasket
    l. JG181424: Tray Under.

    Any guidance/advice for me …that how to maintain my cool????

    • Which service center and what’s date of purchase?

  • Zeeshan

    above list represents my brand new KTM 390 which is 2.5 month older and covered just 2700Kms.

  • Zeeshan

    Date of purchase is in December’ 13.
    Service Center Sai Pune.
    Sad part is ….careless attitude from Service Center management and s***t claim of adherence to quality by Bajaj/KTM.

    “I will never buy any Bajaj/KTM product…ever!!”

  • jhony lsp

    My friend had b8 ktm 390. Only polishing are done when he gives services. He got lot of problems that are not yet rectified. So sad with ktm :(

  • Akshat

    Hi Mohit, my height is 5’6 would I’ll be able to ride this bike easily

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