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.
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.