This Bike Is Certifiably Insane 

The KTM DUKE 390 ~INSANITY ON BUDGET

44HP and 36 NM these numbers on paper are not that impressive, but for someone like me who before this never rode a bike with more than 25 hp, suddenly gets to manhandle this maniac it’s fair to say I was like a fish out of water.

And, I am probably out of my depth to even come close to writing a review on a bike that is twice as powerful as what I am usually used to in bikes.

So, I won’t be comparing it directly to any of its direct competitors, that is because I can’t compare it to any of them as I have never ridden any other 300-400cc motorcycles before this. So I would mainly stick to this bike’s context alone rather than going around exploring its segment to compare it with something else.

SO LET ‘S GET THE USUAL STUFF OUT OF THE WAY

This bike is designed and engineered by an Austrian motorcycle manufacturer and a Moto GP constructor KTM and they sell this bike as DUKE 390 a naked Street version of a Faired sports bike RC390. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the juicy stuff…

FIRST, THE ENGINE AND GEARBOX

As I have mentioned earlier this bike produces 44hp and 38 Nm of torque but what I haven’t mentioned is, that these numbers are produced by a 373 cc (22.77 cu in) single-cylinder DOHC 4 Valve, liquid-cooled engine. Then why is this motorcycle called a ‘390’? Don’t know, don’t ask..probably KTM doesn’t either.

The job of Transferring the torque and power produced by this engine to the rear wheel is handled by a 6-speed manual gearbox via a slip-assisted clutch. And the gearbox works really well, although the clutch action is a bit weird to get used to as the clutch has quite a resistance to it, not too bad or unmanageable, the biggest issue to get around is the clutch biting point as it’s far too long and the bike refuses to make a move until the clutch is fully released which makes it quite difficult in stop N go traffic.

But once you learn how to operate it, it’s barely a hindrance to the overall riding experience of the bike. But the madness begins after the clutch is released, although this bike has a single-cylinder unit this bike accelerated like a bat out of hell, it touches 60kph(37 mph) in 2.7 seconds and gets to a century (100kph) well under 6 seconds and goes up to its top speed of 170kph that’s when it hit its limiter.

The engine is quite sedate before 4,000 pm but after 4,000 rpm engine wakes up violently and there’s no drop in power whatsoever until it touches the redline of 11,000 rpm where the limiter abruptly cuts the power completely, and post 8,000 rpm the induction sound is just business, very reminiscent of a Porsche Boxter. And in terms of throttle response and throttle control, it gets a throttle-by-wire system which makes the throttle very predictable and manageable despite having a very spiky power delivery, I felt having a wire-by throttle made the acceleration more predictable around the corners, there was no single scenario where I felt nervous on the throttle, it gave me enough engine response as I demanded from it, especially around the corners.

SPEAKING OF CORNERS IF THIS BIKE IS MADE IN A STRAIGHT LINE THEN, IT ‘S MAGICAL AROUND THE CORNERS

On properly paved roads, there isn’t a category or any shape of corner that this bike can’t tackle, this bike prompts you to brake a little later, turn in while carrying more speed, increase the mid-corner speed and exit with more ferocity than the earlier corner, it just keeps on building the confidence from one corner to another, to an extent where my confidence exceeded my capabilities but at the same time, I felt the bike was asking me to carry more speed and go a little deeper into the brakes while entering a corner.

 And while on the topic of brakes, KTM equipped this bike with 320mm front disc and 230mm rear with dual-channel supermoto ABS, and this has to be one of the best in the segment, after torturing those brakes from corner to corner there was barely a hint fade from them, if I have any criticism is that the rear brake is not as sharp as I would’ve expected. regardless of this both front and rear provide respectable feedback.

To complement this excellent chassis, KTM Duke 390 with 110/70-17 front and 150/60-17 rear Metzeler tire, and the level of grip, for instance, while putting the bike through its pace I approached a left-hand turn at triple-digit and chucked the bike into a corner while braking heavily, and the front-loaded up perfectly without even giving a hint of washing out and the possibility of understeering. The rear grip is phenomenal under normal conditions but in wet, dusty and greasy conditions rear starts to slide even under slight acceleration and to top it off the chassis doesn’t provide enough feedback during this situation for a rider to react immediately.

That’s said, ‘after’ the rear gets into a slide, it’s progressive and easier to get under control even while keeping the throttle engaged.

Despite being pretty much amazing in the handling department, due to lack of proper damping and the suspension being set up quite stiffly, it bounces a lot in a corner with rough surfaces and does make changing lines very difficult while trail braking or exiting a corner under full throttle without upsetting the rear.

I would have looked past this if this was a proper sports bike that spends more time at a race track and pitlane than on traffic signals and public roads, for a naked streetfighter it does hinder its day-to-day usability and practicality.

HOW IS IT TO RIDE NORMALLY ON A NORMAL PUBLIC ROAD?

Well… Everything that makes this bike special works against it during a normal commute, from having a long clutch bite to stiffly sprung suspension to an overly aggressive and peaky engine response .not to mention the heat dissipation that barbeque’ your feet, it’s not something you’d enjoy taking to your local market or get stuck in rush-hour traffic without questioning your life decisions.

But, once you learn to work around it and learn to tame that aggressive engine response there isn’t a bike that comes even close to what this bike can do while tackling and navigating through traffic is a breeze. This bike has excellent chassis control, so to navigate this around narrow pathways between the traffic is like second nature to it.

The rear suspension doesn’t squat under aggressive direction change and acceleration, and most of the time the bike feels like an extension of your brain. Truly incredible what this bike can do when you learn to tame it.

To sum up this bike, I would say this bike is so good and inspires such confidence that in a hands of an amateur like me it’s just an accident waiting to happen.

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Shivaum Punjabi
Admin
7 days ago

Welcome Israr!

Shivaum Punjabi
Admin
7 days ago

Interesting take on the KTM and good to read.

Rachit Shad Trehan
Admin
7 days ago

First post, check! Here’s to 1000s more!

Yash Agarwal
Admin
7 days ago

Welcome to the platform, Israr
People thinking about buying a KTM should read this

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