Priced at a Ludicrously low 136,000 INR (OTR Delhi), she had many things that were never seen on a bike released on Indian soil, like the Brutal streetfighter look, the Underbelly exhaust, WP upside down forks and the shimmering Orange Paint job which gleams when in bright sunlight, had 25 HP of power packed in a sub 130 kg body (125 kg dry), it was the most VFM performance motorcycle at its release.
That wasn’t the end of the story, KTM put another step ahead and brought its Pocket-Rocket (Yes I mean it), the more lethal Duke 390 at a shockingly low price of a 180,000 INR (Introductory) , which was cheaper than the sport-touring Honda CBR 250R,and was better in almost all the departments like the styling, power to weight ratio and what not.
I swung my leg over the saddle of the Elder Duke for a spin, and here it goes. The Ride:
Put the key in the keyhole and watch the multifunctional digital dash (a MDD rather) spring to life, doing its self check and ending with a “Ready To Race” title!
This dash has almost each and every information you’ll need to monitor. KTM was kind enough to provide the dash with multiple trip meters, a clock, distance to zero, a Tachometer, speedometer (whose units can be changed from imperial to metric and vice versa) and many more. We’d love to have a larger dash instead of the smaller one incorporating tons of info. KTM you listening? Engine & Performance:
Thumb-start the motor and the large, single pot 373.2 cc motor roars to life. I Personally loved the exhaust note which was loud and sweet at the same time! (Note that individual opinions differ ).The grizzly 375 cc motor produces 44 Horsepower and weighs only a Hundred and thirty nine kilos dry, Incredibly light-weight for a 44 HP bike. Through the lanes and by-lanes for a while at sedate speeds , Boy o Boy she can be a daily driver as well.
Hit the highway, let the Throttle to open widely and she makes the red shift light gleam in no time. The revs build up like the pressure in a balloon, making the engine scream to us to shift gears. Unlike the younger Duke- the 200, the gearing is on the higher side and isn’t as short as the 200, resulting in lower gear shifts than the baby duke. She can pull from a lowly 70 km/h in sixth gear all the way to a 138 km/h without any hiccups. Riding Dynamics:
The Duke 390 runs on Metzeler M5 Sportec Tires (150/60 R17 rear & 110/70 R17 on the front), which are soft compound ones and offers exceptional amount of grip no matter what tarmac you’re riding on. But on the flip side, they tend to wear quickly (say, at 12k km in tropical conditions). This coupled with the Marchesini 10-spoke alloys- Pure cornering fun and confidence!
Suspension duties are handled by the tried and tested 43 mm WP upside down forks on the front and a WP Monoshock at the rear. Honestly the Suspension was a little hard on my back during my test ride, as it’s a bit on the harder side.
Braking is where the 390 scores a centum! The premium 300mm Discs with Bybre (Indian Subsidiary of Brembo brakes) with a 4-pot caliper at the front and a 230 mm single pot disc at the rear provides exceptional stopping power, necessary to stop a bike of this capacity. This and Bosch’s Reliable ABS system when combined together, makes any guy to twist the throttle without any fear of a crash due to panic braking or fishtailing. (Make sure the ABS is on!) Ergonomics:
The flat single piece Handlebar is now accompanied by the Bar-end weights which were missing on the Duke 200. The end result? Virtually no vibes creeping through the handle bars. This and the slightly rearset foot pegs give the rider a comfortable upright seating posture- Comfortable to traverse long distances, sans the windblast of course! But Who would love to cruise at 70 km/h on a brutal streetfighter? You decide!
And This being a Big Bore engine, the engine heats up very quickly. Clock triple digit speeds on the highway for some time and you’ll start feeling the heat beneath your legs. The windblast and the hot engine makes you feel tired even after a short stint of a hundred Kilometres on the Highway.
The 390 is the kind of bike any guy can pick for a multipurpose usage-she can be a daily commuter, she can blast through highways and is a track tool as well. Too much of functionality in a affordable price point? Hell yeah!
- The engine and the power delivery.
- The build quality is top Notch- Period.
- The price tag.
- The Tires (Metzeler M5 Sportec soft compound ones).
- The sedate gearing, which makes it a perfect bike.
- Light weight (139 kg without fuel).
- Has ABS as standard.
- Multifunctional digital dash
- The engine heats up as quickly as chicken kept in an oven.
- The hand guards are plasticky and lacks the “Premium” Feel.
- The Exhaust Note might not be of everyone’s liking.
- Little visual difference between this and the 200.
- The very low tank capacity (11 Liters) resulting in a total tank range of about 280-300 km per full tank of fuel. (Correlation required as usage conditions differ)
- The wind blast when at triple digit speeds.
- The dash is very hard to read under bright sunlight and the data is incorporated in a small-sized font, making it difficult for riders to monitor.
The Duke 390 is the most affordable and most powerful motorcycle of this class, in the Indian market. It is usually compared with the more premium yet awesome Kawasaki Ninja Z250, but the duke excels the Kawasaki in many departments, like the price and the much needed ABS, which the Kawasaki lacks. At approx. 2.05 lakhs (OTR, Hyderabad) it is a pretty nice deal for a bike of this caliber. Given Bajaj- KTM’s great after sales support and well trained service centers, Maintaining her won’t be a pain!
Bike Courtesy: Danish Aziz