The KTM 390 Adventure debuted at the 2019 EICMA, and since then, it has allowed a lot of Indian riders to traverse the country and explore the wilderness. While most appreciated the bike's abilities, a few asked for more – like spoke wheels. As a result, KTM did get this part as an accessory, but in 2023, it realized it needed to offer a new variant from that factory to target a small set but focused buyers. In fact, KTM added the cherry on top by also equipping it with adjustable suspension. These additions should have made the motorcycle more potent and aspirational, and we spent an entire day with the spoke wheels variant and a few hours with the 390 Adventure X, the most affordable variant in the line-up.
Till now, the KTM 390 Adventure looked more like a tourer and less like an ADV. But now, it has managed to get the authentic ADV aesthetics, and the credit goes to that spoke wheels. These wheels were offered as an accessory, but KTM decided to bring them as a variant because of the good demand.
While the bike already had a tall stance, the motorcycle looks far more aspirational with these new additions. And when you combine this with the sleek front fascia that houses the LED lights and sharp bodywork, the motorcycle churns out a good road presence.
This particular variant gets the new orange paint scheme, and honestly, it reminds you of its Dakar bike.
Regarding the features, the 390 Adventure Spoke Wheels bike has some great features. There is a bi-directional quick shifter that can be turned off. There's a switchable ABS, cornering ABS, traction control and ride-by-wire throttle.
It also gets the same full-colour, Bluetooth-enabled TFT display that can be operated via the switchgear and a USB charging socket above the instrument cluster. The 390 Adventure also sports a full-LED headlight that provides powerful night illumination. The bike also gets spoke wheels and a fully adjustable suspension.
The Ride – 390 Adventure Spoke Wheels
The 373cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled engine on this bike remains unchanged. None of the power figures, the nature of the engine, and the NVH have changed. And as a result, a lot of off-roading frustration can also be seen on this bike. But we will talk about it in the later part of the review. Let's talk about how these numbers allow you to have a lot of fun.
Firstly, this motorcycle is fast, and with a light, super smooth throttle response, you tend to extract the maximum from that engine most of the time. While I was testing the bike on the famous Tamhini ghat, I could easily reach some fast speeds without any stress, and I kept doing this continuously for 4-5 hours. With its power delivery, this motor engages the rider. It spoils him because the sudden surge of delivery releases all the dopamine in the body, which means you keep wanting more. While I understand this engine is known for its poor low-down torque when you have butter-smooth tarmac with lots of twisties, you tend to put yourself and that Metzeler Tourance tyres to maximum test. But yes, in the city, where you must go through the frustration of riding slow with the traffic, you miss that torque spread. In fact, I stalled the bike multiple times due to it. But that light clutch and smooth gear shifts remove some of the hassles.Surprisingly, even with the hard riding during the test, the bike was churning almost 300 km of indicated riding range.
The 390 Adventure is like the 390 Duke but with a different suspension and some attitude. Such things as the main frame, engine, and electronics have made this ADV a fantastic choice to climb some twisties and do some high-speed touring. The excellent chassis, powerful engine and seat ergonomics have made this KTM a great motorcycle. And there that Metzeler Tourance tyres that offer superior grip on the tarmac – be it in dry or wet conditions. But now, with the adjustable suspension, this 390 Adventure has taken fun to a different level. With full compression, rebound and preload adjustment, the bike behaves differently depending on the damping. Increase the compression and rebound damping; you will flow through corners well. Decrease the damping, and you will ride through bad roads without drama. During my six hours of road riding, I played with multiple settings and finally increased the compression damping to 22 clicks and rebound to 11. Here, I got a ride quality that was apt enough to ride through the beautiful Tamhini ghat and take care of some uneven roads.
Now when it comes to off-road, this particular variant handles and behaves much better than the standard variants. Firstly, with the preload adjustment, you can ensure the motorcycle doesn't bottom out in jumps. Secondly, when you want to ride the bike relatively fast off-road, and you want the springs to rebound faster for better stability, the rebound adjustment at the front and the rear can be tuned based on the dirt track conditions. I did increase the damping for compression and rebound to almost 90 per cent of the available settings, but that was way too much for me to handle the bike at such terrains.
But regarding braking, this 390 ADV was a bit of a disappointment. On the road, the front brake lacks the power and the bite. It also lacks the feel. The front brake works well when you are doing 80-90kmph, but when the speed gets higher, it doesn't do its job as it should. When you give a bike a 43bhp engine, you are supposed to provide excellent brakes, at least at the front.
The Ride - 390 Adventure X
Two hours with Adventure X has given us some excellent insights. Now you know this bike misses out on traction control, fully colour TFT and cornering ABS, but I didn't think I would still like this bike without these features. In fact, it reached a point where I would prefer this variant over everything else for an off-road rider like me. I still have that engine, that stock suspension and the same frame, and these are the basic things for me to ride off-road.
I always ride off-road with ABS and TC off to get most of the control, which was happening with this bike. I wasn't wasting time switching off this tech, nor was I regretting not buying the top-spec variant because there's an extra 60k involved. And who needs a quick-shifter to ride off-road? It may be a requirement while touring on the highways, but when was the last time you saw someone riding from Mumbai to Goa at full throttle? So the Adventure X makes a lot of sense, and I won't be surprised to see this variant becoming the highest-selling one for KTM.
Should you buy it?
The 390 Adventure Spoke Wheels checks a lot of the right boxes. The motorcycle offers good performance and comfort. It also provides many valuable features for Indian road conditions, and now, with the adjustable suspension, the bike has become far more customizable for riders. This feature allows riders to find the perfect road and off-road settings, giving them more control over the kind of fun and excitement they want. However, such riders are in low numbers, so this variant may not set the sales chart on fire. But the 390 Adventure X could.
The 390 Adventure X is a whopping Rs 60,000 cheaper than the top-spec variant, and this has allowed many Indian riders to dream of a powerful, comfortable bike that belongs to a brand with excellent travel brand recall. In fact, the 390 Adventure X has the majority of the things needed to explore the country and, to be honest, it offers excellent value.
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi