2017 KTM 390 Duke Track Ride Review

10 March 2017, 05:01 PM Pratheek Kunder

What is it?

Call it the baby 1290 Super Duke R or the BMW G310R destroyer, the 2017 390 Duke is a new bike from KTM that is made in India and exported to the world. The older iteration of the 390 Duke was known for its aggressive nature and the ability to keep up with some parallel-twin bikes on the highway. The 2017 390 Duke does that too, but offers more features, is comfortable and has a design that can make the owner the talk of the town. 

How does it ride?

The new 390 Duke hasn’t just got better. It has taken things to a whole new level – a level that not a lot of manufacturers could think of making work. But before we get to the new bits, let’s first see the updated bits – the engine. The 373cc single-cylinder motor that is enclosed in the new trellis frame is no slouch. This motor develops the same amount of power at 43bhp, but the maximum torque has been bumped up by 2Nm to 37Nm. This motor now meets the stringent Euro-IV emission norms. The new 390 mill doesn’t just retains the performance characters of the outgoing model, but has got way better.

The power lies in the mid and top-end and that’s where the Duke is the most exciting. It is sober till 4000rpm, but post that, the new 390 Duke feels like a rocket. Reaching 100kmph is a piece of a cake and that can be done with the help of the first three gears. With the last three gears, if there’s enough road, the new 390 has the ability to reach 160kmph. The power delivery has smoothened out and there has been a massive improvement in the throttle response thanks to the inclusion of the ride-by-wire system. It is smooth and not jerky any more. There’s some buzz at the footpegs at higher revs, but almost none at the handlebar. The six-speed transmission offers lovely shifts and the presence of a slipper clutch is a rewarding experience. 

KTM 390 Duke

KTM 390 Duke

  • Displacement373.2 cc
  • Mileage - ARAI23 kmpl
  • Max Power(bhp)42.9 bhp
  • Kerb Weight163 kg
  • ;

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 2,47,819

The 390 Duke gets a bigger 320mm front brake disc but at the rear, it is the same 230mm. The company has worked a lot on getting the braking system improved and they have, radically. The power, the bite and the feel at the levers are excellent and there’s also the switchable ABS to take care of panic braking. 

Unlike the older 390 Duke, this bike doesn’t feel cramped, even for tall riders. The ergonomics are spot on with not-so-aggressive riding position and wide handlebar. The pegs have moved marginally higher and to the rear, but now the seat is also 10mm higher. A lot of focus has gone on making the seat wider and longer, and the result is the rider has some space to move around. KTM has started using the touring marketing jargon in their campaigns and now we know why. The new fuel tank design makes it easy to rest the knee even for a 6 footer. The fuel tank capacity has now been increased to 13.4 litres. 

With the main frame and bolt-on sub-frame, the 390 Duke hasn’t lost its agility. Even though it has put on 10kg, the bike is still agile and fun. The quick directional changes, good lean angle and sticky Metzelers make this KTM a good choice for track use. The 390 benefits from the new 43mm WP open cartridge suspension in the front and monoshock with preload adjustability at the rear. Unfortunately, the butter smooth tarmac at Bajaj’s test track didn’t let us get the complete picture of the ride quality; more when we ride it in the real world.

Anything else should I know?

Lots! Firstly, let’s talk about the most hyped feature of the 390 Duke – the TFT display. It’s like a smartphone that has been stuck in front of the rider. The screen light, fonts and the kind of information it shows can embarrass even a 650cc motorcycle. There are warning indicators like kill switch and side stand on the top of the screen. The right side is accommodated by the tachometer, speedometer, coolant temperature, odometer, fuel level and gear indicators. The left side is where the magic lies as it is home to the menu information. The options can be selected through the menu buttons on the left. The rider has the option to switch off the anti-lock braking system (ABS) completely or just have the ABS work on the front wheel (SuperMoto mode). The daytime running lamps can be toggled as well. There’s something called the KTM 'My Ride' function that connects the smartphone to the cluster via Bluetooth. With this, the rider can select songs and even know who is calling. More information like the service due indicator and date, language preferences, fuel range, average speed and fuel efficiency and trip time can be accessed via sub menus. KTM has also given the option of customising the shortcuts from the main screen. 

The bike is equipped with an automatic LED headlamp. It is a car-like feature where the headlamp gets switched on automatically when the bike passes through a tunnel or any other place with low light. There’s also adjustable brake and clutch levers, something we see only in 650cc and above bikes. The orange hand guards are standard for the Indian market and will be sold through KTM showrooms, so that old 390 Duke owners can fit it on their bikes. The electric starter is a contactless one, meaning it needs a single dab and the bike will crank it until it starts. 

Why should I buy one?

The answer lies in three words – value for money. The 2017 KTM 390 Duke is a motorcycle that is tough to get bored of. It has the latest technology, features and not to forget, the 43bhp motor that offers class-leading performance. The major drawbacks in the previous Duke like the small fuel tank, cramped seat and the jerky throttle response all have been fixed on the new Duke. Plus, the 1290 Super Duke styling has taken the aspirational value of this bike to a whole new level. 

Where does it fit in?

Thanks to the brilliant marketing folks at Bajaj and KTM, the new 390 Duke enjoys its own space in the growing premium bike segment. It is priced at Rs 2.25 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). For that price, the closest competitor comes from the family itself – the KTM RC390. The other two price-wise competitors are the Royal Enfield Continental GT and the Kawasaki KLX 110 but both represent different genres of motorcycles. Its direct rival, the BMW G310R, is yet to be launched in India.

Photography by Kapil Angane

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