It's been a year and 10,000km since the KTM 390 Adventure joined our long-term fleet. And in that time, we have gone touring, off-roading, and commuting with it. Furthermore, we also managed to attend various KTM Pro-XP events with our long-termer to get a feel of living the adventure lifestyle, KTM style.
And now that the new 390 Adventure has made its debut, we thought it is apt to wrap up the long-term reports, which can also serve as a buying guide from an owner's perspective. Here then, is a list of what's good and what's not about owning and living with the KTM 390 Adventure. Plus, to top it off, we will tell who should look at buying the 390 Adventure.
Seating comfort. From the upright seating ergonomics, which takes the stress off your back, to the wide handlebar that gives you good leverage, and the roomy seat that's easy to get comfortable in for riders of various sizes, it is easy to spend long hours on the 390 ADV. Now, some might find the seat a tad stiff, but the longer you are seated on it, the better it feels.
Ride quality. Complementing the comfortable seating is the well-sorted ride quality. To begin with, the 390 ADV has more travel than most street bikes. And this has allowed KTM to play with springs that are taut but not hard, and damping that's on the slower side. As a result, the 390 handles ripples to bumps, potholes to road joints, and jumps and troughs with comfort and aplomb. It also never feels busy or unsettled.
Everyday usability. A bike must have a few key ingredients to make it a hassle-free motorcycle to ride daily. It needs to be easy, manageable, and intuitive. With its wide handlebar, a good turning circle, and relatively quick reacting front end, the 390 ADV is quite easy for a tall bike to filter through traffic. It also doesn't heat up, no matter how long you are stuck battling stop-and-go traffic. The clutch pull is light, the throttle isn't snappy, and the brakes are both powerful and easy to modulate. Its fuel efficiency isn't bad either.
Affordable maintenance. Officially, the 390 Adventure needs to be serviced every 7,500km, in addition to the first service that takes place at the 1,000km mark. Our bike, however, has already seen three full-fledged services, including oil and oil filter changes, even though it has done only 10,000km. We took this route because we have been riding our 390 quite hard, from showing it track days to demanding off-roading trails and some relentless, near non-stop 1000km a day highway runs too. The fact that a full service at a KTM dealership costs less than Rs 3,000 only helped here. Plus, nothing else has needed replacement, be it the chain set or the brake pads. And even these are not expensive to replace.
Touring ability. Yes, you did read that right earlier; we have done a few 1000km riding days on the 390 Adventure, and they weren't too hard on us. The riding position, the ride quality, the standing-up ergos, the braking, as well as the seat padding are all well-judged to make this doable. It's not as demanding as one might imagine riding over 300km at a stretch, especially with one's bottom, back, or hands not ending up whining too much. Also, at this point, the 390 will mostly need a tank-up. So, one naturally has to take a break. It's also easy to pack bags on the bike, and there are enough and more touring accessories available for it, too, from tail racks to saddle stays to auxiliary light mounts and the like.
The motorcycle does need better wind protection, which was easily solved by buying an affordable windscreen extension off an e-commerce site. The lights also needed to be more powerful, with a deeper reach to make those early morning departures or late evening arrivals less trying. However, the fix to this is not cheap, so we have hitherto stayed away.
Trail riding. Show the 390 Adventure some flat trails, and it feels right at home. It has good standing-up ergos, and it's also not too difficult to grip too. Plus, with the traction control switched off, there's enough power to get the rear to move around at will. And it doesn't mind getting some air; nothing too serious, but good enough to bring a smile to your face and make for a good Instagram post.
What's Not Good?
Low-end torque. The 390 Adventure only truly comes alive after 4,000rpm. Now, for those upgrading from lower capacity city bikes or larger capacity long stroke thumpers, this could pose a serious challenge. One needs to drop down to first when riding the 390 in situations where one would comfortably get away in second on most other bikes. As a result, one has to get used to it. It doesn't feel intuitive.
The high-strung nature of the engine also necessitates a higher skill level to exploit the 390 ADV off-road. It is a hoot to ride on flat trails, yes. But show it something more technical like a rock garden or a slow and tight trail, and it can be a handful. It doesn't boast of huge ground clearance, either. So, those learning the off-roading ropes may find the ADV a little overwhelming.
To Buy or Not To Buy?
As I see it, there are two kinds of good motorcycles. One that feels immediately at home; you start them up, swing a leg over, shift into gear, start rolling, and you know, riding this set - no matter the road, weather or mood - will always be easy and agreeable.
Then you have the likes of the KTM 390 Adventure. It is an acquired taste. As a rider, you need to pay attention, be involved, and work around the challenges the bike throws at you. And when you do, it is so much more rewarding to ride and live with than the first set. It doesn't always remain a challenge, mind; one does get used to the demands of the bike. I know I have.
But, the reason I wholeheartedly recommend buying the 390 Adventure is that even though it feels easier and more natural to ride as you spend more time on it, it never gets boring be it commuting, touring, or even riding off-road.
Now, before we sign off, here's the list of add-ons we have come to like and appreciate on our bike, along with their prices.
- Tail rack: Rs 4,990
- Saddle stays: Rs 3,999
- Wrap Me Up sticker set: Rs 5,800
- Viaterra Condour 2up saddle bags: Rs 4,499
- SW Motech Drypack tank bag: Rs 14,100
-MotoWings Titus Performance Exhaust: Rs 8,000
Model: 390 Adventure
Kilometres this month: 870km
Fuel Efficiency: 32.7kmpl
Price as tested: Rs 3,92,500, OTR, Mumbai
Price today: Rs 4,03,716, OTR, Mumbai
Photography: Kaustubh Gandhi