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KTM 390 Adventure: 2021 BikeWale Off-Road Day Review

12 March 2022, 06:30 PM Anuj Mishra

Introduction

KTM 390 Adventure action

Logs, stones, barrels, and huge tyres. These are the elements that made the 2021 BikeWale Off-Road Day challenging yet boisterous. And the fact that these weren’t a part of the 2019 edition makes this one even more special. 

The BikeWale Off-Road Day is all about celebrating motorcycles and adventure riding. So, for this year, we chose five motorcycles, with different displacements and price tags, yet, sharing a common objective – to easily take you places where a conventional street bike might struggle big time. And to testify the same, we rode these bikes down to the Pro Dirt Adventure Park near Pune where a gymkhana setup, made up of all the elements I mentioned before, greeted us. 

The Bike

KTM 390 Adventure Right Side View

The KTM 390 Adventure might theoretically be an apt motorcycle for this course, given the ‘Adventure’ in its name. However, that’s an arguable point considering it gets alloy wheels instead of spokes, and not as much suspension travel as other ADVs in our line-up. So, it was going to be interesting to see how the stock package fares when subjected to some extreme challenges. A package that had majorly impressed us on the road.

The Gymkhana

KTM 390 Adventure hump

Before we get to the riding part, a gymkhana is an obstacle-laid closed course that needs to be completed in the shortest duration possible. With a variety of high and low-amplitude undulations, an off-road gymkhana tests a motorcycle’s suspension, ground clearance, and all other aspects which play an important role in off-roading. 

KTM 390 Adventure [2021]

KTM 390 Adventure [2021]

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

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 3,28,828

KTM 390 Adventure Right Side View

The gymkhana starts with two sets of huge tyres, which scared me when I saw Pratheek going over them and landing hard on the front every time. However, it wasn’t as scary as it looked. I rode up the entry plank and gave aggressive throttle just before touching the tyre, which helped me get some air. On Vikrant’s instructions, I even tried doing the whole exercise in the first gear and going full throttle. This resulted in the rear landing before the front, making it much less scary. Now, given the lack of low-end grunt in the 390 Adventure, I had to keep the bike in first gear to keep the revs in the meat of the power band for the needed drive. Also, every time I went through the tyres, I could feel the front of the bike bottoming out, similar to other bikes. 

KTM 390 Adventure action

Now, it was time to execute a tight U-turn to get into the second lane. This wasn’t the easiest task on the 390 as I found the throttle to be a little choppy, resulting in abrupt acceleration. However, the extremely light clutch was a big relief, and the wide handlebar gave a lot of leverage while steering. 

KTM 390 Adventure action

That said, the U-turn brought me face-to-face with my nightmare – a bunch of sizeable stones, terrorising me with their sharp edges from a distance. Conquering my fears, I kept on going and crossed the stone block with clenched teeth. Although I didn’t fall, I wasn’t too far from it because of the lack of acceleration and the fact that I was holding the bar too tight. Even the bike’s belly pan scraped a few stones which only increased the panic. 

KTM 390 Adventure action

The next lane comprised a gigantic sand hump flowing over a barrel. This was easily the least difficult. The course of action was, as you climb up and are about to descent, move your body to the back. Which I did, and it went smoothly. But again, the low ground clearance showed its effect with a ‘khrssh’ sound. Next up was riding over a long and narrow wooden beam where it was all about the technique. Keep looking at the start of the beam and as soon as the bike is on top of it, look at the end. And the faster you are, the higher are the chances of you acing it. Obviously, I failed at it in the first few attempts. 

KTM 390 Adventure Right Side View

The last lane had the log jump and slalom. Executing the former at a fast pace was really unnerving. After the front wheel went over the log, the rear of the 390 ADV kicked up with a harsh jolt, sending a shiver down my spine. However, the trick I used on the tyres helped here — trundling slowly up to the log and giving full gas as soon as the front wheel touched it. This way the front lifted substantially, and the rear landed first. Then through the slalom, tipping the bike on either side was quite manageable. But I found the long turning radius to be really slowing me down. 

KTM 390 Adventure action

We also did the braking test. The task was to approach the braking starting point as fast as we could, apply both the brakes completely and come to a halt. All of that with the rear ABS off. On the road, it isn’t as scary as it is on dirt. The front brake of the 390 Adventure has incredible bite and the ABS isn’t very intrusive. This allowed the front to lock up at several instances while intervening just before washing out. As for the rear, the right amount of progression meant the slides weren’t extreme. 

The Garage

KTM 390 Adventure action

A garage is a rectangle marked on the ground with the entry on one side and exit on the other, and a couple of lines drawn in between. The rider needs to trace a zigzag line from entry to exit without touching the inside lines and the borders. This was a bit difficult on the 390 Adventure given its relatively long turning radius, as I mentioned before. However, flicking it from side to side wasn’t really difficult, thanks to the light kerb weight and a wide handlebar. 

Verdict

KTM 390 Adventure Left Side View

Taking on the gymkhana and the garage on the KTM 390 Adventure was a bittersweet experience. The traits I really liked were its manageable weight, wide handlebar, and light clutch. Even the overall ergonomics were decent, if not very natural. Holding on to the bike with my knees wasn’t a task, neither was grabbing onto the bars. In my opinion, handlebar risers would have made things more comfortable. What I couldn’t get around with was the lack of low-end torque. Being in the right gear to be in the sweet spot of revs was always a task. Having said that, the 390 Adventure is a great motorcycle, but certain aspects of it demand you to practice and get used to them. 

Photography by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi

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