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2021 KTM 390 Adventure Long Term Review: Stage One Upgrades

08 September 2021, 04:59 PM Vikrant Singh


Right Front Three Quarter

Have Adventure, will travel. 

Every motorcycle has a different vibe to it. Some make you fall in love. Others make you want to go corner carving. And then there are some that lure you into pulling out your cellphone and taking a picture of it every time you look at it.

The KTM 390 Adventure makes you want to take a road trip. Maybe it’s the spacious and upright seating. Maybe it’s the pliant ride. Or maybe it’s the ability to sit at three digit speeds without complain. But, after spending a month with the 390 Adventure in the city, it was obvious, it was itching to stretch its legs.

And that got us thinking. The 390 ADV is more about interstate travel and long hours in the saddle. But, it’s not necessarily about catching-every-butterfly, counting-every-tree, and interpreting-every-cloud kind of road trip. It’s more about getting to faraway places in the shortest time possible. And if that’s the case, what’s the kind of upgrade it might need.

Now, we have made some choices here. But, we aren’t claiming that these are the best options, or the only ones you should go for. One must treat it more like a direction that suits the 390. And of course, we will fill you in regarding the rationale behind our choices.

Choice Of Luggage

Right Rear Three Quarter

First up, luggage. The last thing one wants to do when trying to cover a lot of distance fairly quickly is to lug around an oversized, heavy, and cumbersome backpack around. You also don’t want ‘juggadu’ luggage because chances are you will spend more time adjusting and readjusting the luggage on the bike than actually covering miles. 

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

₹ 3,28,531

Now broadly, on a motorcycle like the 390 Adventure, one can opt for four different types of luggage. There’s the tank bag, the tail bag, the saddle bags, and the top box. We chose the first three, because after our not-so-happy-experience (dynamically speaking) with the top box on a previous occasion, we didn’t want to deal with a high-speed weave every time we came up to a corner. It can be quite a scary episode. 

As for the other three, tail bags are pretty straight forward. These are easy to mount, easy to use, and one can leave them on the bike without them really affecting your riding. Tank bags, on the other hand, are of various types and sizes and choosing a particular one can alter one’s riding and usage quite a bit. Now, since the 390 doesn’t get metal tank, the magnetic tank bag wasn’t an option for us. We could then choose the one that has straps running all round the tank, or a quick release one.

Price vs Effectiveness

Tank Bag

We chose the latter because it looks cleaner; it’s easier to get on and off the tank and it remains secure on the tank, no matter what. But, of course, one has to pay quite a high price for these pluses. This one here is the SW Motech. And we choose the 5-8 litre option. We could have gone for a bigger tank bag as well. But, bigger the tank bag, the more stuff one ends up packing in it. So, not only does it get in the way of free movement of arms (courtesy the larger bag size), it also adds unnecessary weight high up on the bike (because more stuff, are weight). 

Saddle bags too can be had at various price points, with various carrying capacities, and of course, in various materials. Broadly, you have the hard cases and the soft luggage. We chose the latter because its lighter, it doesn’t break easily in a fall, and because it’s soft, it adjusts more willingly to odd shapes one might want to pack in. Soft luggage is generally cheaper too. But of course, it won’t save what’s inside the bag in case of a fall or an impact. And hard cases are generally water proof. So, no odd, flappy rain cover to deal with.

Saddle Bag

We opted for a waterproof set as well. These are Nelson Riggs and aren’t as affordable as some Indian made soft luggage, but these aren’t as expensive as some of the hard luggage either. But, on the 390 Adventure, one does need saddle stays for a more secure fit. We opted for Carbon Racing stays because we wanted stays with some backing instead of just a square tubing with a gaping hole in it. We also added Steel Core straps to the mix to secure the luggage on the bike when parked. It’s not as effective as locked hard luggage, but it’s near impossible to get the bigger stuff out of the bag once the straps are in place.

Other Upgrades


Next up on a long ride, you ought to be as comfortable as possible. This could mean a more touring friendly seat; handlebar risers to improve seating egos; some wind protection; and other bits and bobs to make parking or picking up the bike easier.

After having spent a 1000km riding the 390 Adventure in the city on commutes going up to almost 100km a day, we felt the seat on the KTM probably doesn’t need a change. We also didn’t feel the need for handlebar risers because the reach and height didn’t feel odd or uncomfortable. We did however make adjustments to the hand levers to make them easier to the reach for the fingers.

Side Stand

Having said that, we did add three things to the 390 Adventure. A windscreen extension to cut the buffeting out. A side stand extender to manage the added weight of the luggage, and to come to the rescue in case we need to park the motorcycle on loose, slushy surfaces en route. And fork seal covers, which were a gift from fellow motorcycle journalist Shumi. These is a must-have for bikes with USD forks; helps keeping those seals intact against just and grime.

What’s Next

With all these upgrades in place, there is only one thing left to do. Go touring, of course! Next time, we will tell you how these upgrades hold up on our quick 3,000km Mumbai-Chennai-Mumbai run.

Product Details

Make: KTM

Model: 390 Adventure

Kilometres this month: 338km

Fuel Efficiency: 33.1kmpl

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

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi


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