The hooligan unleashed! Road test of KTM 390 Duke

The rising sun brings a whole lot of changes to the human life apart from marking the start of the day for living organisms of the earth. My days go no different but a time came under the rays of the rising sun that would not be erased from my memory for a long time perhaps maybe for the whole life.

Scissoring through cold morning breeze, the sun broke the horizon to paint the sky orange that matched the beast I was controlling and a smile of joy waved through my head, which was surely overshadowed by the adrenaline gushing through my veins. With traffic passing and disappearing in the rear view mirrors, the power surely was controlling me more than I could imagine and the feeling that hit me was angelic; bloodcurdling and euphoric.

If you have not guessed yet, well, all these feelings and description are expressed for a new hooligan in the town from the Austrian manufacturer-  yes it is the 390 Duke. After tasting success with the 200 Duke in India, KTM launched the maniac version of the machine. Sharing much of its skeleton with the 200 Duke, the KTM 390 Duke possess a very different heart from its younger sibling and the difference shows with every twist of throttle and every move the bike makes.

To differentiate between the two, KTM has done a completely different paint job on the KTM 390 Duke than the 200 Duke. The bike, which defines hooliganism in its true sense, has orange colour leaked on its wheels, and a white background, which covers the headlamps and tank giving the decals and the logo a highlighted look. The sharp looks of the 390 Duke and the gothic contoured headlamps make it to look like a badass character from the sci-fi movies like the Transformers. KTM surely has made the machine in a way that no heads go unturned in any neighbourhood when the machine passes through it. The machine has no traces of being a gentleman and with the way it behaves on the road, the KTM 390 Duke’s performance compliments its looks completely.

The moniker of a maniac that the 390 Duke earned is more because of the power plant it carries rather than the looks. The brilliantly engineered 373.2 cc water-cooled engine with only one pot habitually acts as a barbarian but it is so well balanced that seldom will it happen that it will make you panic and lets the rider to enjoy the bursts of adrenalin. The engine develops a maximum power of 43 Bhp that passes through the 6-speed manual transmission and X-ring chain to the rear sprocket. The gears are very tall and well distributed, which proves to be an amazing ride for the newbies without taking out that fun factor.

The primary gear ratio of 30:80 provides that rapid initial acceleration and makes the KTM 390 Duke a weapon to win those traffic light race instincts. The KTM 390 Duke feels relaxed even during high speed cruising. The tachometer needle hovers over the 2000-3000 rpm while the speedometer shows the figure of 100 km/h. Running out of space, I personally managed to force the bike to show a figure of 156 km/h and ample juice left in the engine, I was sure it could have breached the 165 km/h mark pretty comfortably. The 390 Duke does not take much effort to cross the speed limits and with a time of less than 6 seconds on the stopwatch, the 390 Duke has an acceleration rate of a supercar. The dry weight measuring 145 kilos put the KTM 390 Duke in a world of its own.

Thanks to the well-balanced body built around tubular space frame, riding the 390 Duke will always put you in authoritative position and once you get the hold of handling and the brilliantly short turning radius, the rider will never run out of confidence. The sticky rubber from Metzeller makes sure the bike never loses contact with the tarmac. Corner friendly would be the word to describe the KTM 390 Duke, the machine loves to tilt on the corners, sticking a knee-out, and you will know the secret recipe of the knee scratching MotoGP riders and that too without losing any confidence. In traffic, taking tight turns to get ahead of the traffic feels like a breeze, the short wheelbase give the feeling of being compact and take the short passages without any fear.

KTM provides advanced equipment list with the 390 Duke, the huge Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) with orange backlit supplies the rider with vital information. Apart from displaying speed, time and distance, the rider can also see information like fuel consumed every 100km, instantaneous average, average speed, engine temperature, fuel consumption and various other indicators showing errors that the bike may be going through. The wide handlebars have switches from Bajaj models but the built quality is solid. The stopping prowess of the 390 Duke comes from the 300mm front disc brake with four-pot brake calliper and 230mm rear disc brake with one pot braking calliper. KTM equips the braking system with advanced Anti-Lock Braking system restricting the machine from any kind of lock-ups, no matter how slippery the surface is. The suspensions, which are performance tuned, are hard and become very uncomfortable when the ride hits the bumps. The Upside down front shocks and the rear mono-shocks makes the ride very balanced.

KTM 390 Duke sure is a dream bike but then it does come with many issues of its own. The bike radiates hot Saharan desert winds after a few kilometres of ride and once you switch it off on a red-light, it refuses to start-up again most of the times. The 390 Duke requires a cool down before it can start again. The 390 Duke requires constant gearshift during traffic. The knocking kicks in if the bike is in a higher gear at lower speed.

With a price tag of Rs. 1.80 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the 390 Duke has made a category of its own and is ruling it alone. The bike comes with superpowers but being rolled out from a Bajaj factory, niggles from the machine might surface up in near future for sure. KTM 390 Duke is true value for money product and can give any other machine present in India a run for their money.

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About the Author

has written 25 posts on this blog.

Shantonil believes in starting young and at just 20 years of age, he joined the content team of Gaadi in 2010. An avid biker and explorer, he soon learnt the art of four-wheels and his expert views can be found on both bikes and cars. Photography comes naturally to him and he simply cannot do without his S3!

2 Comments on “The hooligan unleashed! Road test of KTM 390 Duke”

  • Simranjeet Singh wrote on 28 November, 2013, 12:56

    Is this bike comfortable for the long rides?

  • Simranjeet Singh wrote on 28 November, 2013, 12:59

    actually i’m confused between KTM DUKE390 and the new CONTINENTAAL CAFE RACER, ROYAL ENFIELD.
    i need a bike for sunday morning rides to hang out with friends.
    so please leave your suggestions as per my requirement.


    Simranjeet Singh

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