Race Dynamics KTM Duke 390 Review
The Duke 390 is already very very fast but can be made even faster

Ride a tuned 390 and you will be pleasantly surprised with the change in character.

The quest for speed and performance is never ending which is why in spite of the KTM Duke 390 being a very fast bike, tuners are going ahead to make it even faster. We all know that stock bikes are restricted in the interest of controlling emissions and boosting reliability but there is always that extra bit you can extract from the engine without bothering the environment or worrying about the internals of your bike’s motor. The Duke 390 is quite a rocket but the engine isn’t very refined and drivability in the city is nothing to write home about. So when RaceDynamics called us and told us about their PowerTRONIC Box, we did not hesitate one bit before slapping it on to our long term KTM.

KTM Duke 390 Performance Test
Stock, RaceDynamics ECU equipped and Kiirus remapped bikes tested together

Race Dynamics’ offering isn’t the only one in the market, there is Kiirus with their remap. The Duke 390 is so fast that judging the difference in the characters of the three bikes isn’t as easy as it appears. So we got hold of three Duke 390s; one with the PowerTRONIC, one with the Kiirus remap and one bone stock. Riding all these bikes back to back gave us a better understanding between the difference of these machines but before we get going with the real world results, let’s quickly look into what the respective tuners claim from their products.

Duke 390 PowerTRONIC ECUDuke 390 Race Dynamics ECU

The dyno results of the KTM Duke 390 – stock vs Race Dynamics PowerTRONIC (wheel hp)

The KTM Duke 390 produces 43.5 PS of power and 35 Nm of torque but this is on the crank, not on the wheel. Race Dynamics has dynoed both the tuned and stock bike and they reveal that the stock 390 produces 35.22 HP of power and 30.66 Nm of torque while the one with the PowerTRONIC ECU outputs 36.08 HP of power and 32.3 Nm of torque. Now that’s close to 45 HP and 37 Nm on the crank which means the power output has increased so the bike should be faster. The rev limit has been hiked to 11,500 RPM as well. You can go to stock setting by plugging in an adapter, which is like 10 seconds work.

Kiirus Remap Duke 390
Kiirus remap increases the rev limit to 13,000 RPM, in gear speeds increase drastically

Kiirus on the other hand has removed the rev limit altogether and the tuned 390 now revs freely till 13,000 RPM. They also claims the drivability is much improved and the bike is faster and more fun to ride as well. His remap isn’t visible as there is nothing to differentiate the mapped bike from the stock one, so unless KTM service personnel check the map of your bike, there is little to tell this bike has been tuned. While the RaceDynamics PowerTRONIC box is priced at Rs. 15,000/-, Kiirus has priced their remap at Rs. 12,500/-, so there isn’t much in terms of pricing between these two.

Tuned KTM Duke 390 Review
Besides making the Duke 390 faster, the tuning options improve drivability

Turn on either of these bikes and you will instantly notice the idle is softer and the bike doesn’t jerk as much in the low end. There is some reduction in the noise and vibration as well and the tuned bikes sound sweeter too (but not drastically). But that’s where the similarities between both of them end. The PowerTRONIC box gives the Duke 390 a better initial punch resulting in power wheelies being as easy as twist and go. Both bikes now feel punchier in the mid-range as power starts to come in earlier, around 4000 RPM, rather than 5000 RPM in the stock Duke 390.

Duke 390 Piggyback ECU
The Race Dynamics PowerTRONIC ECU sits under the pillion seat and is plug and play

However where these bikes are largely different is the top-end, the RaceDynamics ECU doesn’t make the 390 as ballistic and there is sort of a flat spot at 9000 RPM. The Kiirus mapped bike pulls very strongly at the top-end and feels faster too. Both bikes are now more frugal and our tests confirmed that you would get 2-3 km/l more mileage after getting your ECU box or remap. There is no effect on heat and the 390s continue to reach full bars on the temperature meter, we did notice the RaceDynamics ECU equipped bike taking longer to reach higher temperature.

KTM Duke 390 VBOX
VBOX testing on each bike helped us identify which is the fastest of the trio

Since the Kiirus remap gives a higher rev limit, speeds in gear have drastically increased in this bike. First gear is good enough for 77 km/hr while second will take you past the ton to 101 km/hr, third will see you whizz past 130 km/hr while fourth tops up at 155 km/hr. The Duke 390 with the PowerTRONIC ECU does 66 km/hr, 94 km/h, 122 km/hr and 153 km/hr in first to fourth gears. In comparison, the stock bike does 56 km/hr, 82 km/hr, 105 km/hr and 135 km/hr in the first four gears. Clearly the Kiirus remapped bike feels faster and has higher speeds in each gear but that doesn’t really mean it is faster overall? Does it? To find out, we strapped on our VBOX testing gear on each of the bikes, sending the same rider on the same road in the same time frame, with similar fuel levels to gather data. We did three runs on each bike.

Duke 390 Race Dynamics vs Kiirus

As can be seen in the table above, the RaceDynamics ECU equipped Duke 390 is the fastest of the lot, taking 5.34 seconds to reach 100 km/hr from standstill, the Kiirus remapped bike is faster than the stock motorcycle but the difference between the three isn’t a world apart. All the three bikes do 0-130 km/hr in under 10 seconds with the RaceDynamics ECU helping the 390 take out a .67 seconds lead. However it’s the 0-150 km/hr time where the PowerTRONIC unit really shows its well engineered maps, taking under 15 seconds to do it, 1.18 seconds quicker than the Kiirus mapped bike and 1.43 seconds faster than the stock bike (a whole 50-metres ahead too). The top speed difference between all the three bikes was a mere 1 km/hr on the road we were testing but given a longer road, both the tuned bikes will nudge past 180 km/hr while the stock bike maxes out at 170 km/hr.

Kiirus vs Race Dynamics Duke 390 ECU
Tuned or stock, the KTM Duke 390 is a complete hoot to ride

So the difference in outright acceleration isn’t very large, considering the amount you pay for the tuning options. However the tuned bikes are more drivable and offer a stronger mid-range punch. The in-gear acceleration is better too. The Kiirus mapped bike has a different character than the RaceDynamics ECU equipped motorcycle, if you want higher revs and a strong top-end, the Kiirus tune works quite well but if you want better initial pick-up and a faster Duke 390, the PowerTRONIC unit comes out on the top. To best utilise the tuning options, a performance air filter and free-flow exhaust is recommended, so if you plan to add both of these, then you must consider either of these tuning options.

We like the RaceDynamics PowerTRONIC unit more, it’s easy to plug and play, can be removed anytime, the tuning isn’t permanent and considering you don’t redline till 13,000 RPM, your engine isn’t being put to as much stress should you go berserk. Not to forget, a Duke 390 with a RaceDynamics box is faster than the Kiirus tuned bike.