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2021 KTM 390 Adventure Long Term Review : Any good at city commuting?

12 August 2021, 05:50 PM Vikrant Singh


Last month we told you why we have a KTM 390 Adventure in our fleet. We also told you what we intend to do with the motorcycle. And that includes taking all our findings over a year of riding and owning the bike, and then tying them up in a nice bow to tell you who and why should one buy the 390 ADV, if at all.

This is the first installation of that journey. And it begins by adapting the motorcycle to the rider. As it turns out, the 390 Adventure offers a fair amount of adjustability in that regard. One can adjust the angle of the handlebar to suit one’s preferred riding position; the levers, both for the clutch and brake, are adjustable for reach; and one can also remove the rubber from the footpads if off-roading or riding in the wet is your thing. And we recommend you make these adjustments to suit your riding to have a nicer experience every time you get on the motorcycle. 

Now, let’s talk about living with the 390 Adventure in the city. Obviously, no matter what one says about adventure motorcycles - especially those in the more affordable end of the segment - one will end up using them as their go-to machines. So, be it to run errands, or to rush to office, or even for a lazy coffee outing, an adventure motorcycle should still be what we like to call - commute friendly.

Here then is a list of things that work in its favour, and some that don’t…

Things that work

Left Side View
KTM 390 Adventure

KTM 390 Adventure

  • Displacement373 cc
  • Mileage - Owner Reported28 kmpl
  • Max Power(bhp)42.3 bhp
  • Kerb Weight163 kg
  • ;

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 3,28,532

I love the high perch the 390 Adventure offers. It makes it easy to spot gaps, and see what’s ahead of the car in front, which in turn allows me to plan my ride better. I know where to look, where to go, what to do, and what might be a possible hazard that I need to be wary about. I like the light controls. The clutch is light. And with the lever being adjustable for reach, it makes it that much easier to use. 

Clutch Lever

The throttle is light too. And it’s not as aggressive early on, which again doesn’t put me in a spot when managing stop-and-go traffic. But, yes, I do need to slip the clutch a bit to prevent it from stalling. It takes a while to get used to, but it’s not a deal breaker.

I also like the manoeuvrability it offers. Now, the 390 Adventure runs a 19-inch front tyre. It also has longer suspension travel compared to the Duke it is based on. Furthermore, its tyres aren’t exactly designed to hook into the tarmac. But even so, I won’t term the 390 ADV’s responses lazy. Sure, it is lazier than the Duke. And it won’t flip-flop through traffic like a ‘buntai’s’ dream. But, it’s no slob. 

Left Side View

It requires a little more effort on the steering to get it to do what I want. But once it begins to lean; the process itself is predictable and linear and pretty free flowing. It doesn’t mind quick direction changes either. And even when hooking a U-turn, the balance and the steering turn lock-to-lock, throws the whole misconception about manoeuvring the 390 ADV being a harrowing affair out of the window. 

I love the clocks. Forget the fact that these are a little gimmicky. But, it’s the usable info on offer that makes them endearing. Also, the whole design might look busy initially, but it’s surprisingly easy to read on the move. I love the fact that there are two shortcut keys available to get to the part of the elaborate menu you need to access most often. And most of all, it doesn’t run hot. Yes, it gets warm after being ridden in stop-and-go traffic for a while. But, unlike the Duke’s of yore, it never had me sweating under my helmet, nor was I forced to get off the bike or switch it off every time I came to a halt.

Things that might not work

Right Rear Three Quarter

But it’s not perfect, of course. Now, the 390 Adventure isn’t exactly a small bike. So, swinging a leg over the seat does require some planning, especially for me given I am five feet nine inches. This also means, I need to pay close attention to the pants I am wearing. Anything too tight, anything too fashionable, and chances are I won’t make it to the seat in the most graceful manner. Stretch then is the way to go. Parking the 390 ADV requires some thought as well. The initial few times I just rode in and parked it headfirst. But then to back it up along a slight slope, while also threading through the handlebars and mirrors and leg guards of the other pointlessly close parked two-wheelers was tedious, to say the least.  

Right Side View

I couldn’t walk it out - which wouldn’t have been a lot easier, mind - so I had to paddle backward. Add to it my lack of long legs, and the 390’s near 180kg all-fluids-in-place weight, and this is not something I would want to do, ever. So like I said, it requires a little thought; it requires one to judge the parking, the surroundings, the surface, and if the tail or the head should go in first before parking. And that as you can tell, is a bit demanding.  

TFT / Instrument Cluster

The 390 ADV also demands one adjusts his or her riding according to the engine character. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a thinking person’s bike, this. And that holds true when riding as well. Now, given it feels best above 4,000rpm, that’s where I had to keep it even when riding in the city. And initially, it seemed too much as I felt I kept dropping off the powerband, and as a result, I was shifting all too often. But, then I realised there’s no other way. And soon enough, keeping the 390 between 4,000-6,000rpm even when going through traffic wasn’t such a bother anymore.

What’s next? 

Right Side View

Next month we will be making some modifications to the 390 Adventure. From adding some luggage to maybe putting on some guards, and possibly even getting some handlebar risers. So do come back to check what we add, what we subtract, and how it all feels.

Product Details

Make: KTM

Model: 390 Adventure

Kilometres this month: 526km

Fuel Efficiency: 32.6kmpl

Price: Rs 3,92,500, OTR, Mumbai (when tested)

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi


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