I am writing this review from a novice rider’s point of view since you all must have already read the experts view of the KTM Duke 390 where they are paid to glorify the bike. I have never understood why such views are printed when most of the bike riders are not that expert to read the experts review and ride accordingly. Of course I do not say that the views are useless, but even after reading the review and immediately starting to ride, I can never remember what they have said and I ride the bike as I want to.
I took delivery of my KTM Duke 390 on 18th afternoon after booking the same in the month of March 2013. Finally the wait was over and couldn’t wait to take the bike for a spin. My riding group was scheduled to go on a ride to Saputara on the 21st and 22nd via Ahmedabad highway and I decided to take the bike for a spin, which would not only give me a feel of the motorcycle but I would also be able to complete the run-in of 1000 kms after which the first servicing is to be done.
[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/9586746083/[/flickr]
Likewise I started off to Mumbai on 20th afternoon and soon in two hours time I reached from Kothrud to Sion in 2 hours time. The Duke 390 was just fantastic to handle, be it overtaking, wind turbulence or just plain cruising. Even the ghats were a cheesecake to handle specially the turns. The KTM takes turns at very sharp angles very easily.
As soon as I reached Sion, I was caught up by the Mumbai traffic and there started a nightmare of a ride travelling for 2.5 hours from Sion to Oshiwara where I was scheduled to meet my friend. The Duke 390 heats up tremendously and after a few minutes time, I was juggling between standing down from the bike and riding few inches at a time just so that my thighs and legs don’t get cooked well. It was a relief to finally reach my friends place and by the time I reached his place, I was completely dehydrated.
The next morning our group of 8 people with different bikes like Suzuki Hayabusa, Kawasaki Ninja 650, Honda CBR250R, BMW Funduro and my KTM Duke 390 were all riding via the NH8 to Chikhali from where we were supposed to turn for Saputara.
[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/9589542834/[/flickr]
The performance of the bike was great compared to all the bikes I had owned and ridden, right from the KTM 200, Yamaha RD350, RX100, Royal Enfield Bullet, Java, Yezdi and many other bikes. I have been taking turns at 105 km/hr speed on these roads and still the bike’s tyres never gave me the feeling that I have been leaning too far to take the curves. Specially for a not so expert rider like me.
The moment you sit on the Duke 390 and start to ride it, I felt it like the bike has shrinked and that you can play with the bike as you like it. You fell like you are riding a Scooty Pep but a very powerful one with the exhaust sound also being similar.
We started off from Ghodbunder road junction to Ahmedabad highway near fountain hotel, where our friends from Pune joined in. We immediately started to do 100 km/hr plus speeds and the 390 could easily go above without you even noticing it. Once I touched 130 km/hr and as soon as I saw it, I just left the throttle, the bike came down to 90 in a second and a half. It de-torqued itself immediately.
[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/9589542438/[/flickr]
The torque generated in the 1st and the 2nd gears is great and you can get carried away, but the 3rd and the 4th gears do not generate enough torque for pulling purposes, but are good for running purposes. Again the 5th gear can take you to 100 km/hr very easily and both the 5th and the 6th gears have again a very good torque spread. Even while going through lane 1 to lane 3 or vice versa and overtaking trucks and other vehicular traffic, the 390 Duke responds to you in a fantastic fashion. The bike responds to your every thought and wishes and the manoeuvrability is still the same as the Duke 200, excellent. The twists and turns in the ghat section are like simply enjoyable.
The next day we started from Saputara and started down the ghat in full rains and wind turbulence. Surprisingly, the Duke 390 still performed the same way it performed on the dry road, excellent. Of course you have to take precautions with bike specially when you cannot see 5 metres ahead of you and where trucks, cars drive like crazy at any speeds and when you least expect it, there are animals crossing the road at their pace and at blind corners. Just a slight touch of the brake and the 390 is under control.
[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/9586745663/[/flickr]
So all in all I went through most of the weather from sunlight to dark to heavy rains, light rains, heavy wind turbulence, to straight roads to ghats to off-road, except the extreme cold and snow, but this also I will be doing in October this year where me and my friends are laving for Bhutan, Sikkim, and East India on a bike tour.
Well performance wise I have already written about, now the fuel consumption. During the tour, where we touched 130 km/hr only, the consumption was worst at 28 km/l, where it was not constant speed riding but with variations, straight road, curved roads, ghats, etc. From Ghodbunder to Pune, I wanted to see for myself what is the best consumption figure it gave me and I kept the speed to a constant 80 km/hr. The best mileage that I could achieve was 39 km/l.
All in all with features the Duke 390 has, the performance the bike has given on almost all the roads, I think it is at present the best deal for the price tag of Rs. 2 lakhs. What more can you ask for at this price?
[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/9589541232/[/flickr]
After riding for 1000 kms odd in 3 days, I did my servicing at Sai Service in Pune at Karve road. There they have changed the engine oil, changed the oil filter, cleaned the oil strainer, checked the Engine ECU with their digital test panel and the rest of the works like chain tensioning, removing play from the accelerator, clutch etc. I was given back my motorcycle in less than three hours time. The first servicing cost me Rs. 1800/- with charges for the oil and the filter only.
I had heard about the recall of bikes which were given away earlier, 5 bikes from Pune and 6 bikes from Mumbai. These bikes were not fitted with the new radiator fan which throws the hot air in the front whenever the bike is at a speed less than 7 km/hr. Fortunately my Duke had already come retrofitted with the same.
[flickr size=”center” float=”medium”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/motorbeam/9589543806/[/flickr]
One more problem I would like to share with you is the starting trouble it gives when it stalls, it takes quite some time to start the 390. I was told that they have not yet come out with a solution for the same but they agree to this problem. My Duke 200 never had this kind of a problem. I have heard that the tyres which are at present coming with the bikes will be replaced with MRF type, but I feel these tyres are far superior that any other tyres for this bike although the price is a little higher and the life less than the other one, but then when you want to ride the bike at speeds and with corners, it will be worth spending more for the grip, the handling, for the confidence it gives you.
Hope this review has given even the newest of riders a picture of the performance of the KTM Duke 390 in a layman’s term.
– Amod Patwardhan
We have added pictures from our review of the KTM Duke 390 as Amol shared only a couple of pictures with us.