It’s not everyday a product comes and re-writes the rules of the segment but today was one such day. Bajaj-KTM have launched the highly awaited Duke 390 motorcycle, which truly doesn’t have any competition in India. Yes, there are many bikes at this price point but none which can even come close to offering the pocket-rocket performance of the Duke 390. The Rupees per BHP figure has just been turned upside down, no motorcycle on sale in India can match the Duke’s value for money quotient.
So how will rivals respond. KTM’s chief rivals in India are just two, Royal Enfield and Honda. Although both companies offer very different bikes, in India the comparison is mostly done with price being the common factor. Royal Enfield shouldn’t be affected much as the company offers cruiser motorcycles and in spite of KTM saying the 390 Duke is capable of touring, we believe it won’t be as comfortable as the Thunderbird 500. However Honda has big reasons to worry.
The problem with Honda is it’s lack of customer focus in India. The company clearly wants just market share. Rather than going out and tweaking the CBR250R and improving it, Honda has repeatedly turned towards tweaking its volume products for 2 km/l extra mileage. The Duke 390 has a big impact on Honda and its customers. Owners of the CBR250R might feel dumbfounded after seeing what a mouth watering deal the Duke 390 is. Naturally the resale value of the CBR250R is going to come tumbling down (it’s already quite bad).
Now many of you would point out that the CBR250R is a full faired bike and the Duke is a naked streetfighter but one must not forget the 390 Duke will literally gobble up the CBR in a drag race. While the CBR250R takes around 9.2 seconds to do the 0-100 km/hr sprint, the Duke 390 does it in under 6 seconds. That is more than THREE seconds faster, which is ages in terms of performance. Even the top speed of the Duke 390 is higher by around 10 km/hr and you get a bike which handles better and comes with ABS as standard.
Comparing the KTM 390 Duke with the Honda CBR250R is not a good idea actually. However this is just a sign of things to come. We all know KTM is working on full faired motorcycles which are expected to be launched next year. The RC250 will be the first full faired KTM bike in India, less than 10 months away from going on sale here. The Duke 390 will also eat into Duke 200 sales as the latter is priced around Rs. 55,000/- less but when you factor in the ABS, Metzeler tyres and almost double the power, you realize what a steal the 390 Duke actually is!
The KTM Duke 390 also makes the Kawasaki Ninja 300 look grossly overpriced. You can get almost two Duke 390’s for the price of one Ninja 300. The Duke is also faster as far as outright acceleration is concerned but the Kwacker has a charm of its own. It’s the first time that a manufacturer’s presentation has compared its offering with such a wide range of products.
At today’s launch, KTM showed graphs comparing the 390 Duke with entry level sport bikes like the Yamaha R15 to much pricier alternatives like the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 (costs almost Rs. 8 lakhs and you need to see the power to weight ratio KTM has mentioned for the Harley below, calling it a FATBOY as Harley doesn’t disclose power figures). Clearly the 390 Duke has caused a storm which doesn’t show signs of calming down anytime soon. So are you Ready To Race?
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Pictures – Anannd Sampat.