The KTM Duke 390 – The Devil’s Advocate | 6000kms Ownership Review

If you have never ridden a KTM before, chances are that you wouldn’t believe me when I say , the very definition of how much fun you can have with something between your legs is going to be shredded, I am sure people who have tasted the KTM are grinning right now,and re-living that first ride of theirs in their mind. When the Katoom 200 came by , it had a somewhat similar Hype, but for some reason it never stuck me to try and have a go at the wonderful piece of machinery it was, time passed and KTM became a big success, then the 390 rumors started rising, I thought to myself “Just another naked bike to the list”, then the specs came out, 44 BHP on a 390 single, OK, now they had me to stop and pay close attention.This was like none other in the current Indian 2 wheeler market, a 44 bhp single cylinder with Metzeler tyres and a very capable frame, it was a dream combination for many. Now I did not hurry up and do a test ride or anything, the first piece that comes to dealership and the first few batches wouldn’t be good enough to get a proper feel of what the bike is capable of, and it’s one thing to ride a bike for a few kms and judge it and is a totally different thing to ride it for thousands of kms and then try to put in down to words. So I waited ,mind you till then I hadn’t ridden a KTM in my entire life and boy was I in for a shocker when I was to accept delivery of a spanking new KTM 390 about 2 months later.

THE KTM Duke 390

THE KTM Duke 390

So here I am ready to share my side of the story after 6k kms with the wonderful machine.

First Crank and First Ride

So I was thinking, OK, it’s a 44 bhp motor, so it does command some respect or it definitely will bite back, and was expecting the ride to be a bit too occupying keeping all that things in mind. So, finally I get to sit on the bike and going to crank her up, till then I was never a fan of the sound of the KTM, but once I fired her up, it changed, no logical explanation of why, probably having her fired up under you does brings on a different impression, and was she loud or what..!! Blipped the throttle a bit and got that nasty-angry snarl as a response, Wow..!!  Now I was impressed. And then pulled in the clutch(very heavy BTW) and slotted it into the first gear,and that was it, it will leave a lasting impression on you,the amount of power on tap right from that moment you roll the throttle is just un-real , If you have been riding sub 250cc or even 250cc bikes till then, the term performance biking has a new meaning now, form now on , every bike you ride is going to be a direct comparison to the 390 on the sheer power delivery spits out. And then once I got some clear tarmac, blipped the throttle a wee bit and then all hell is unleashed, you feel all that NA horses being transferred onto the rear wheel, the feeling is just over-whelming and adrenaline pumping, within a minute or so, the definition of the word “Fun” was set at a new benchmark.

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Stricking a Pose

P.S: For first time riders, you might find that the bike will stall on you in the first gear on you first few attempt, the reason is because the amount of power right from the word go is just too much and the rate at which you release the clutch is too fast, so do keep in mind that when rolling on , maintain the bike in half clutch and give a wee bit extra throttle and slowly ease the bike into a rolling motion, a fast and sudden release in clutch with minimum input will cause the bike to stall.

Run-In/Break-In

The run-in procedure, this is not your typical run-in type, the bike  asks you to not rev beyond 7.5k, now that is all I am going to say, to know what is special in that , I would suggest you get a test ride bike and try it out, to know what 7.5k in each gear feels like on the 390. Well, In my case, I kept it below 7.5k at all times, and had the most fun breaking in the engine than I have ever had on any of the other bikes I have. Well, the bike eased in perfectly, had the first 1000 kms completed in less than a week.

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Engine Refinement & Performance 

Refinement is a tough word to go with , everything about the 390 makes you feel alive, awake and self conscious,  the high compression 375 cc single cylinder mill firing beneath you is a constant reminder of what a capable widow maker it can be if not handled with care. Long highway rides in cool temperatures, the bike manages to remain refined, even with the high compression engine and hard clutch that it has, but constant city traffic , and tip towing around is something that it doesn’t like at all and it can be easily understood when the engine starts getting harsh and the gear changes get a bit cranky and weird on you.

The 375 CC Mill

The 375 CC Mill

Performance..hmmm…let’s just put it this way, It really knows how to feed and build up your ego and crush into dust that of others. Power is found at abundance  almost all through out the RPM band, it is quite easy to intimidate a fellow rider/driver with it’s power and also crush others challenge without breaking a sweat and you can put on a smug face of satisfaction after. It is like a hyper active puppy jumping and running  around the whole place, it so filled with power that relaxed riding is a concept unknown or unheard of when aboard this little devil.

The initial pull is equivalent to a swift kick to the crotch, it manages to power wheelie without any effort in the first 2 gears and that can get a bit scary at first, but Boy it is surely fun when it does that. the bike climbs revs in a jiffy, and shifting through gears is fast, but if you really want some fun, then stay in each gear till you see red-line and it is a whole new world, mind you , it does need some serious balls to do something like that, and one more thing I might add, if you aren’t from the group of the mentally insane you would get it when I say that , the city or narrow roads are NOT a place to do that.

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The name says it all

Now throttle response and performance on the roll is also pretty much impressive, overtaking in highways are effortless , just slight dab of the throttle and you find yourself pulling away with ease, it happens to be the same experience even in the cruising gear.

If you are facing any issues with loss of power, you might want to check this out.

Engine Oil

Nothing short of good quality Fully Synthetic oil will do or you will find yourself with blown gaskets or seized engines or sheared off engine parts, especially if you are living in  areas with hot climatic conditions nothing short of 20W50 will do.  Again the heat generated as a part of the high compression being the culprit ,  the oil being used must hold itself together even in such high operating temperatures, to protect the engine from overheating or premature wear and tear.

So oil that i’d suggest would be Motul 7100 and Motul 300v, with more preference towards the  Motul 300V, have been using the Motul 7100 till now and even with such a brilliant product the bike manages to heat up to the second last bar in the temperature gauge in the highly demanding Bangalore traffic. So, in such heavy traffic even the 7100 is deemed not enough , so it really needs the 300v to help the bike lubricate itself better at high temperature and also will help in keeping the engine much cooler and thereby much safer.

P.S: The service centers will be using the 7100, if you can afford it is always to insist them on using the 300v for your bike when getting it serviced.

P.P.S : For helping keeping the engine cool and to lift the pressure of the lubes a bit, it will benefit to use the “Engine Ice” radiator coolant , which is said to drop the operating temperature of the bike by 3-4 degree Celsius. This will really help people who have to encounter a lot of city riding.

Design and Build quality

Well, as far as design goes, it has the word “Hooligan” written all over it,  the styling is pretty aggressive and minimalist and it works. It truly portrays the hot-head manic look and behaves exactly that way too.  The dash of Orange on the rims and frame cries for attention everywhere it goes, no matter if it is parked or you are puttering around in the city , it is a absolute head turner. The Headlights are quite adequate for night rides, with decent coverage and spread. The indicators though a bit flimsy , they are quite bright and do the job well. The rear brake lights are a work of art, the design is quite exquisite and the LED lights again give very good illumination in making you visible to people behind you at night time.Even with the minimalist design, the bike electrical are well hidden and doesn’t expose itself upon a quick gaze. So overall in design aspect it can be said to be really good. 

IMG_0475

Console

Tail Light

Tail Light

Now , moving over to build quality, it is top notch, starting form the handle bars , the handle bar switch lights and buttons to the aluminium swing arms which is a beautifully crafted piece to look at, the plastic parts have not shown any damages or any weak points as of yet, the paint is staying exactly the way it should be, no fading or such problem.

IMG_0473

Excellent Paint Quality

Now, a very prominent issue that the duke 390 has faced is the build quality of the rims, now Rims cracking is a issue heard of in almost most bikes, but with the 390 we have been seeing many cases where the rims shear off and break into many pieces on impact, now we are not talking about high speed head-ons or anything, something as small as hitting a pot hole at moderate speeds. That is a really big life threat in such a situation. Though I have faced no such issues with Rims, it seems there is always a constant danger of that since this issue has not been localized to any specific batch of bikes and no official statement from KTM has been noted addressing this issue.  This particular issue can be a deal-breaker when considering for this bike. So this is something KTM must look into and come up with a official statement about.

Overload of Orange

Overload of Orange

Rideability

Well, in a nutshell, it is just pure fun, superb mass-centralization,a very capable frame, really sticky Metzelers and stiff and high performance WP suspension means it is a corner craving machine and  easy to flick from side to side and to fight your way through traffic (given that you have enough space for that, reason i will mention soon enough). But that just covers the general case. Let us now look into each aspect of riding.

City

City riding is a place where the 390 can be a menace to ride on, if you are in a city area which is more or less having rush hour traffic almost any time of day, then you are going to suffer, the bike dos not like bumper to bumper traffic, it will heat up almost instantly, and you are left with well cooked thighs and you find yourself constantly gazing at the temperature gauge and praying for it to not hit the last bar, which means trouble. Thanks to the high compression engine that along with creating mad horse also does this. Now if that wasn’t enough comes the hard clutch, Oh yes, that is a real bitch when it comes to traffic, you find yourself riding the clutch for majority of the city ride , which as we all know not so good considering the life of the clutch, then comes the FE for city rides, I have recorded a mileage of as low as 16-18kmpl in full city rides(Bangalore city traffic). Ah, I almost forgot, the blown gasket issue, the love child of  extreme heat from traffic and hot weather. This is another issue you are going to face if your riding consists of mostly rush hour city rides. Things does get a bit better as night time falls. So, if you are a strict city user, you might want to keep this in mind and a few factors that I will explain in the next section.

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Highway

Highway riding is quite satisfactory, you get open roads which the bikes loves and also quite a lot of space to play with the throttle , the bike feels very much alive and can cruise at high speed without any issues. So can we call it as a good touring bike ? No Why ? Well for starters, the low tank range for one factor, it holds only 10ltrs of fuel with a range of 200-250 kms to be generous, which can be a big drag when going for long tours where fuel station and fuel quality might be a big factor. Secondly, the bike is not something that I would say that makes relaxed riding possible, even on open highways the bike always has a sense of emergency looming around and always wants to lunge ahead with more speed, not exactly what we can say as cruising. Thirdly,If your concept of touring includes a pillion too , then it gets even worse, the pillion seat is almost non existent and whatever is left of it is really uncomfortable too. Wind blast being another issue,it is a naked bike , it is not build for the highways, but a decent windshield can take care of that issue. The Fazer /CBR250 Windshield are the preferred fix for this problem of the 390. And then comes the tyres, but it has got a funny predicament when it comes to this, I’ll explain it in the Tyres section. Now, does that mean it is a terrible touring bike ? No, yeah, I know it sounds crazy, the most of the 6k kms I have done on the duke, I have spent touring on it. If you do not mind the low fuel range , the bit hard rider seat and you like to ride solo, this is actually a bike that can take you places, but the only thing is it won’t be as comfortable as a CBR250  or a 220 or Karizma would have been. I hope you get the comparison on the touring aspect.

Highway rides

Highway rides

Off-road

The bike works great off-road, every ounce of that fun factor can be extracted on the dirt, the abundance of power and the upright riding posture all helps, have done a few off-road trials and loved it to the core. But the only thing to be careful of is the soft compound Metzelers, being really soft, they are really vulnerable to cuts and punctures. So, if you plan on taking it for off-road trails , you might as well swap the tyres to off-road spec ones and have fun.

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Maneuverability

Mass centralization, Capable frame,  Sticky Metzelers, WP Suspension and great brakes, I guess this speaks for the bike, I am not going to blabber more about it. These words should be enough.

WP Shocks

WP Shocks

Tyres

This was one of the most hyped feature about the 390. When most of the bikes available in India came with tyres with poor grip , and particlarly at the time when biking was getting more popular and serious among the Indian crowd , the need for better grip was really a big agenda. Then KTM came up with this, Metzeler tyres , until then it was a brand which we could see only on the high end super bikes and other imported bikes. Being a product for such track oriented machines, we knew for sure the potential of those tyres and they did not have to prove anything. And as thought it made a world of difference on the 390.

Metzelers

Metzelers

The confidence level that this bike gave us with the phenomenal grip was staggering. The bike had inherently become more merciful and forgiving in the corners , it wouldn’t spit us out on the slightest error, but instead stay planted unless one does something totally stupid. But then , comes the trade off. There were 2 pressing factors, Life span and Cost.
Let’s talk about Life time. The tyre being a super soft compound tyre, it would give insane grip ,as the tyre can get heated faster and the hotter the compound gets the stickier it becomes, the problem with such tyres is that it gets worn out just as quickly,it is tough to put a cap on it , but it would be highly optimistic thinking if you could get 13-14k kms of use with this tyres, taking into consideration they have been used properly. Now what I meant by “using properly ” is that, if super soft compound tyres such as this is used just for long and straight highway rides and city rides where all we use is the central contact patch area of the tyre, the tyre starts to wear of squarely. That is the center patch will become flattened and then the tyre shoulders are left unused(chicken strips).

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Metzelers

Now that is a shameful way to wear off these tyres, To add salt to the wound, let’s look into what it costs, the cost of the tyre comes at close to 10k or more for one tyre. Now adding both these points and stating the obvious we reach at the conclusion that to use the tyres given with this bike, it has to be ridden in ghats section where corners are at plenty or at the track, without which it is just a waste of money and some really good tyres. Now you can see why even long straight highways can be a bad proposition when it comes to touring. It would be a different case if the touring involves ghats and tons and tons of corners, then it is a different story all together.

Brakes

Well, with great power you need even greater stopping force, and so the 390 comes with really huge disc brake at front and at par rear disk, mated with a ABS system developed by BOSCH , and this is being offered as standard feature. But the main part about it is that the ABS can be turned on or off as per the riders wish, there is a button for that, read the manual for finding how to do it. Anyways, the ABS in this is quite a fine piece of machinery and software,  it works just fine, when the bike can gain such high speeds it is almost inevitable that the number of emergency situation it might encounter will be the same(I am sure some might not understand, but one day you’ll get it) and the ABS does a great work to prevent wheel lock and assist in a controlled stop. But a few times I did hate the way the ABS kicked in for no worldly reason I could think of, but that was just a isolated incidences , so I think I’ll let it pass.

BRAKES

Stopping power from Bybre

Conclusion

Ok, so that brings us to the conclusion, I am not sure actually how to end this review. It has got just too many variables where you might get stuck trying to decide is it worth it or not. It is always in a constant battle between the Brain and the Heart.

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Question like “Can it be used to tour ” and you go like “No..!!”, then on thinking again it’s like “Hell, yeah ..it can ..!”, “But is it comfortable enough ? ” and the answer be like “No”. Then comes “Is it a good city ride ?”  and the obvious answers is “Of course it is, it is a naked bike and a Duke for Christ sake, haven’t you ridden the Duke 200” and then once you ride it in city traffic and  you smell your legs getting cooked and low fuel light flashing you are like “Oh God..!! Why me ? Why is it always like this” and now even your hands are aching riding the clutch. And then you get a open stretch of road and give the throttle and then suddenly all those little chatter inside your head goes quite, and suddenly you feel alive, you feel a surge of adrenaline rushing through your veins and instantly forget all those worries and have that crazy ass grin on your face.

So, putting it lightly, It may not be the best when it comes to touring and comfort, it may not be the best bike to be riding when it’s rush hour traffic or when you are at the phase to get new set of tyres.

But then at the end of the day, was it worth it ? Hell Yeah..! You do not know what real fun is until you ride  a Duke..!!!

The Devil's Advocate

The Devil’s Advocate

And with that I can truly say, it has rightfully earned the name, The Devils’s Advocate

Cheers
Ride Safe
Krishna

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205 responses to “The KTM Duke 390 – The Devil’s Advocate | 6000kms Ownership Review

  1. Pingback: THE KTM DUKE 390 – THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE | 6000KMS OWNERSHIP REVIEW | Wheels'n'Shields·

    • Notnsure about offroad tyres mate.i have very less exp with those. I would suggest you get in touch with offroading experince people to have a better well informed answer for your query.

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  2. I just booked the DUKE 390 and after reading ur reviews it actually got me thinking if its a right choice! I travel for around 320kms every weekend,I work in Chennai and travel to my hometown Pondicherry for the weekend,so is it really a good choice to go for the DUKE???

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    • Hai Melville,
      It is not that the duke doesn’t do good outside city, it does really well, as a matter of fact most of my usage with the duke has been 500kms or more of touring.
      But the crux of the matter is that , it isn’t a relaxed bike for cruising, it is not that easy to cruise on this bike, it always has the tendency to keep pushing forward and hitting the top speed, instead of cruising, if you are ok with that its totally fine.
      And on a more personal note, if the highways are just plain straight road, it really pains to kill those sticky metzelers and watch them wear of in a square shape, that is such a waste of good tyres, if your regular route from chennai to pondicherry is some good twisties, you will enjoy it with this bike.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

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    • Cannot say yet melville…haven’t had tue chance to ride the rc.
      So i cannot give a valid answer for that. Hopefully i’ll get to test ride one soon..and i’ll have the answer for you.

      Cheers.
      Ride safe

      Like

  3. Hey, nice review

    I am planning to hav 390 and had few queries.

    what is the mileage of it in city like Pune (not bumper traffic but if I hav to ride between 40 to 80 kmph)
    And what is your experience of after sales service by the KTM workshops?

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    • Hai Anup,
      The city mileage with normal acc and de-acc in normal traffic should give you close to 30-31kmpl,that’s the maximum you can expect if you ride nicely and sanely.
      And service center competence is directly dependent on the service personel work knowledge and quality. Try to find a good mech among the lot you have in pune ktm centers and you will be happy.

      Cheers
      Ride safe

      Like

  4. hey,
    excellent review!
    I’m planning to go for the 390 duke. i currently own the 200ns.
    does the engine heat bother a lot in traffic? and also, what are the comfortable cruising speeds on the highway?

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    • Hai vikram.
      Engine heat in really bad traffic (eg bangalore ,chennai kind of peak hours ) is pretty bad. If the bike gets enough gap to move around it cools down a bit.
      Highway no problems regarding heat,cruising speed it can hold 120kmph without breaking a sweat.

      Cheers
      Ride safe

      Like

  5. Hi Krishna,
    Was planning to book a 390 sometime soon, but want to be sure about this decision. So I have been bouncing off sites and blogs for sometime now. Since you have spent quite some time with the bike, I have some doubts which I hope you could answer..
    How easy is it to maintain the bike, both financially and technically? Do you think the bike would break down in the middle of nowhere and one would still be able to cook something up?
    How is the service at the KTM centres in Bangalore and how easy is it to get spares?
    I have had been on the 200 quite a few times and have immense respect for this brand. Personally I have never had an issue with the 200, and that is what makes me trust KTM to make good machines. Just want to be sure about this.
    Your reply will be really helpful and appreciated.

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    • Hi Siddhaarth,
      From my experience let me tell you even though i got the bike from the batches which had a lot of gasket problems i have faced a leaked gasket only once that too it was kind of my fault it happened.
      No other issues faced.
      The city riding in bangalore can be a bit tough with the hard clutch and crazy heat,but once you get to break loose from snail paced traffic it settles down quite well.
      From my experience i do not expect it to break down for no apparent reason, if you maintain it right ,it delivers.
      Service depends,each svc have differently skilled mechs. I would suggest mekhri circle ktm service to be the best,its enroute hebbal,they have really good and technically sound people there.
      Spares also depends on the competence of the svc center

      Cheers
      Ride safe
      Krishna

      Like

    • HI Sid,
      To answer your question, I recently bought this bike and with a long 14yrs of bike riding exp. I can strongly suggest you to go for it. One of my main reason for riding this bike would be long rides.. In fact.. most of the run-in period and after that is done only on highway.
      I would say.. The bike behaves exactly the way you want it to be.. I am a tall guy.. and im perfectly fine riding long.. very comfortable sitting upright.. yes there is wind blast above 120 and the bike is hard… but you can get the rear suspension soft and it will become little comfortable..
      City ride is not that of a great story. you will feel that the bike is not happy.. but I would say that rosting thighs is strecting of the issue.. I have ridden this bike in peak traffic in shorts and Just felt little bit of heat.. nothing that I could not bear.. but in Jeans and all.. you will just feel the warmth… oh and the newer models post sept… they have changed the design of the radiator fan.. due to which the heat is less. the bike sounds more relaxed and smooth than the previous versions.. also I hv heard that they have re-inforced the Alloy rims.. also couple of other changes.
      To put in total..
      If you want this bike to ride on highway mostly and less in city.. then is a very good choice.
      If you want to ride it in City not in rush hour.. and on highway.. then you can surely go for it..
      but if you want to ride it in peak hours in city mostly.. then.. I would suggest you to re-consider your decision.
      Over all.. I am very happy with the bike.. the fun you have on it.. the feel you get on highway.. and grin that you have when you bypass everybody else on road.. its nothing to be compared with.
      Hopes it answers your question.
      p.s I have had good exp. with service center so far. they followup and do encourage you to be present at the time of service and explain you about the bike. and some tips as well. quite friendly exp. so far.

      Like

  6. Nice review Krishna.
    Wanted to know about the Duke200 as well as i’m planning for a new bike shortly.
    Please share your reviews/opinions about 200 as well which will help me a lot in choosing the bike.

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    • Hai Chithraranjan,
      I have not had much experience with the 200, but been using it a bit lately, from the little experience i have i can say that it is a easier bike to live with than the 390 , handles well,has good power , just that it is not as crazy over the top like the 390.
      Choosing between the 200 and 390 would be more of a question if you really need that much power or not, or if you are ready to sacrifice that extra mile of fun you can get from the 390 which the 200 doesn’t give.
      Can be a very confusing choice ,but a choice that you will have to make.

      Cheers
      Ride safe
      Krishna

      Like

  7. Hello There,
    Feeling all KTM-ish for days, TD the 390. real deal! I just hav a question which bothers me a bit. Just a bit 🙂 Im 6ft, 100kg big guy, will this beast of machine suits me? Really need some advice. My earlier plan was to go for TB500. But my fell in love with KTM. So cant just let it go.. Plz advice!

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    • Shouldn’t be a problem. You might feel the bike a bit small. But that’s about it, and that too is a personal opinion.

      My brother too is a 6ft+ guy and he tours on it for 500+kms at a stretch.

      So once again, shouldn’t be a problem.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe

      Like

    • That issue was sorted out long back. It was the initial batches that had the stalling problem. The idle rpm has been increased.
      Now hot start shouldn’t be a issue.. Its a high compression engine so it is expected. Just press the push starter a bit longer and it should start without any issues.

      Wheels cracking was a quality issue happening to a extend because of low pressure maintained in tyres.
      Also the rims weren’t all that hard before,the soft compound tyres also added to it.
      But the word is the new batches of duke and rc get stronger alloys. So make sure you get the bike from the latest lot.

      Cheers
      Ride safe
      Krishna

      Like

  8. Hi Krishna,
    Having said that the tyres wear out quickly and is also expensive are there any other tyres available in the market that is moderately priced and lasts longer?? Btw how would the performance be affected if shifted to hard compound tyres..

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    • Yes. The pilot street radials are a good option. They are cheaper and last longer. But you will have to downsize for the rear by 10mm.

      No drastic change other than the obvious lesser grip compared to the metz

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  9. Hey i too own a 390 duke which tyre do u recomond for offroading on dis bike regular tyres seem to work on road off road it dosnt suit much

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    • Not much options for offroad tyres as of now. Your best bet would be to check for ceat tyres. I am not sure of the model name or number. There is also a series of offroad tyres offered by mrf , again not sure of the dimensions in which they are available.

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  10. Hi There
    I plan to go on a road trip down Europe this summer and i just got the bike.
    will the bike have any problem with that?

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    • Hi,
      I do not know how hot summers can get in Europe, but a typical summer down here in South India gets to 40 degree Celsius and the bike fares quite well.
      So i guess you should be fine.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe

      Like

  11. Hi Krishna,
    Which one would be a better bike between duke 390 and Cbr250r in terms of long term durability and reliability,Off late i have been hearing issues regarding engine seizures and crank shaft wearing out with the 390’s.. is there an issue with the built quality of the engines??I have never heard any engine failure problem’s with cbr’s and it is known to be a hassle free bike..Although the duke is known for its insane power and is fun to ride i would not want to compromise just for the power and end up spending my time at the service center fixing the engine ,I m looking forward to keep the bike for a long time…So Please advise if it is really worth spending money on the duke..Thanks

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    • Hi Rahul, those are some really well thought questions.

      Now, coming to durability, though the obvious answer would be Honda is better.
      But not because of brand name, let me explain to you the situation.
      The CBR is build for the highways, so doing 120 plus for hours at end is exactly the thing the engine is built for, and it creates only 26bhp from the modest 250cc capacity, in other words it has a very liner power delivery which puts the engine to a very relaxed running.
      Now consider the 390, which creates a whopping 44bhp, from a single cylinder with higher compression ratio. Which means the engine has been pushed to its limits and the component wear and tear will be at a higher rate than that of a relaxed engine configuration like that of the cbr.

      Conclusion : So will you have more long lasting engine(Durability) with the cbr? Yes.

      But does that mean KTM engine is un-reliable (Reliability) ?
      No..!!

      Why ?

      It mainly depends on how you have run-in the bike and what conditions you ride it in,then comes the funny part, the rest depends on luck. IF you get a good engine with no manufacturing defects then it will give you almost no headache at all. Be it the Honda or KTM.
      To make my case clear, I had a Pulsar 220 which run 80k plus without any issues, except a overhaul at 60k kms.I have a cbr 250 touching 18k without any issues, I also have the Duke 390 doing 11k plus without any issues.
      So the reliability part is something that varies from machine to machine, the way it is run and attitude of owner towards the bike maintenance.

      Now comes another perspective which is just as important, if KTM gets a problem and have to change parts, its cheap and readily available, now come to honda and its a different story, its costly and sometimes hard to source.

      But the most important thing you should keep in mind is the usage you are going to have with the bike, that should be the main deciding factor for choosing a bike.

      Hope this helps, do let me know if you have any more queries.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

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  12. Thanks Krishna,
    For providing precise information between the two machines..Really helped me clarify the doubts ..In that case I would definitely go for 390..:)

    Like

  13. Hi Krishna,
    Trust you are doing good..Finally bought my duke 390 yesterday..:-)Thanks for your advice..Now the bike is all set to do the break in..Would the “motoman” break in method be appropriate way to do it? Although it looks scary to experiment I have heard that it is one of the best ways to break in new engine..
    And if I am doing the normal running in as advised by the company, is it necessary to change the engine oil(Regular bajaj 20w 50 grade mineral oil) after 50 to 80 kms, considering the fact that the engine sheds minute metal particles initially when the engine is still new..Need your input on the same…thanks..

    Like

    • Hi Rahul,
      Congrats on your purchase..! Glad that I could help.
      Now run-in , honestly, I have never tried a pur -motoman break-in method, neither have i done a pure conventional break-in i always prefer a progressive break in which always gives a peppy clean responsive engine.
      Now coming ot the duke the manual suggests not to go beyond 6.5k rpm i guess, which with the 390 should take you to over 80kmph on top gear, so you do have a lot of room to have fun within the run-in period itself 😀
      Now coming to the progressive run-in i was talking about,
      Do not keep eye on the kmph reading during run-in try more so to control the maximum rpm you are going in , make it a point to never coast on the same rpm for over 30 sec or so, keep varying the rpm, you see if you don’t it causes something called glazing, you can google it to know more.
      Now every now and then take the bike to higher rpm , no sudden acceleration, instead attain it through linear throttle apply.
      And another important point, do yourself a favor and get rid of that bajaj oil as fast as you can, the lesser you run on it the better.
      And yes, most of the metal shavings gets shed during the initial 100kms itself. So if you can get the oil changed within the first 100kms it will be all the more btr, be sure to change the oil filter as well, this is also very important.
      Feel free to ask if you have anymore queries.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

      Like

  14. Hi Krishna…!!!
    I have a duke 390 and usually i’ll ride in highways. Last week only i completed 7000kms and as u said my Rear tyre got worn out just in the centre patch.. so suggest when is the best time to change my tyres?
    Will it have any adverse effect in cornering, because i’m planning for a long ride especially ghat roads..

    Forgot to mention that the front tyre seems to be “ok”

    Do i need to change just the rear one or both..?
    Pls suggest…

    Like

    • 7k seems to be too early, try to feel the treads on the center patch area, if it is visible but you cannot feel the level difference, its best to change the tyre.
      In ghats mainly the side walls is what we prefer to attack 😉 , but still running around with a tyre that does not give good traction is not a good idea, specially with a very powerful bike like the 390.
      Not coming to front tyre, usually the front stay gpood much longer than the rear, it is somewhat in a ratio of 1:2 , 1 front tyre for the life of 2 rear tyres, but in this case it could be lower since the tyre compound is much softer.
      And form the tyre life i can tell that you like to rev it pretty hard 🙂 , so it’s better not to take risk with a worn out tyre.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

      Like

  15. Hi Krishna!
    I just booked the DUKE 390 and after reading ur reviews it actually got me thinking and had few queries.
    1)what is the mileage on the highways and what is the best crusing speed to get good FE. Since the highways are not too good in Goa.
    2)what about the rim cracking issue. Since im a stunt rider (making wheelies n stoppies)
    3)what about the engine heating issue? N and is this issue rectified by ktm? Does it will cause any harm to the bike?
    4)what about the gear shifting, is it hard at city riding? N also the clutch usage.
    Your info will be very helpfull for me. Thank you.

    Like

    • Hi Sachin,
      To answer your questions,
      1) The bike does good on highways, you can cruise anywhere between 110-120 without any issues and still have plenty of power at tap with just a flick of throttle. FE you can expect 30-32kmpl on smooth highway runs with a good cruising speed.

      2)Regarding brittle rims , there are news circulating that newer lots have stronger rims, but i cannot say for sure, and moreover stunts like stoppies put an abnormal amount of pressure on tyres and alloys, so i cannot comment on how it will hold good.
      3) Engine overheating is never good, the fan settings was changed for a few lots back ad made the heat dissipation a bit better, but its a high compression bike, heating will be there.
      4)Clutch will be tight and toe to toe traffic will be a nightmare, but i have heard reports that new models of KTM will come with slipper clutch, not sure from when it will be available, so do ask at your dealers.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

      Like

    • I have no idea on when Yamaha R25 would reach Indian shores, neither does anybody else in this country.
      So as far logic goes waiting for Yamaha to respond can be a very long wait.

      Mileage can be anywhere from 15-25kmpl depending on what kind of traffic you are in.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

      Like

  16. hi Krishna,
    thanks for your reply,
    further ill ride in city mostly on weekends and ill not use it on daily commuting , so will it be a good choice.

    Like

  17. Hi,

    My Duke 390 tires are worn-out fully at 8500kms before completing 10,000Kms. Is it possible to do a warranty claim for the tires with KTM..?

    Like

    • Nope. Those are soft compound tyres, they will wear out fast.
      More over you cannot claim warranty over wear and tear , warranty covers only manufacturing defects. And tyre wearing off is not part of that.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

      Like

  18. Hiiii…..im planing to buy a new bike… nd its my first one….so im confused….. can u suggest me a bike….ii have 390 , 200rc ,cbrr 250 in my mind….
    Cost of buy wont be a problem….but im not aware of the maintainace cost, service costs, spare parts availabilty etc….mainly concrnd abt the price il have to spend on maintaining the bike…..with all these, cud u plz suggest me one……

    Like

  19. Pingback: 2015 Duke 390 to replace Grom for wife? - Page 3·

  20. Hi!
    Excellent insights, mate.
    I’d like to know what can be done to make the clutch feel lighter for city use?

    Is there any mod or after market product that can make it better.

    Thanks in advance!

    Like

    • The Duke 390 older versions do have a very heavy clutch, to an extend you can adjust the clutch stiffness, but nothing that will give major changed. Have heard of hydraulic clutch which replaces the clutch cables being used, but since i have no experience with those i cannot comment on it, neither do i know if they make those for the Duke 390.
      Another option is to swap the old clutch unit to slipper clutch unit which comes with the new duke 390. Do ask with the mechanics at your svc if they can do the swap for you.

      Like

  21. Hi krishna!
    im from the phil. I would just like to ask the 2013 model already has a better fan for the overheat issue? Also a better clutch? Thank you in advance!

    Like

    • Yes, teh 2015 batchs have a revised radiator fan cover, this helps in defelecting heat away from the rider, earlier batches also had a small change regarding this, now its handled a bit more better.
      And now slipper clutches have been introduced in the new models, so traffic situations are not as scary or tiresome as it used to be, it has also made the Duke 390 a lot more VFM.

      Like

  22. Hello brother .as am planning to buy ktm .am confused in buying .I thought of buying rc200 . As my budget is also1.95 l.
    but now am thinking of buying a preowned duke 390 at tat budget .
    Being an EXPERT what is your opinion brother . if i am supposed to buy a preowned duke 390 . which is the good model . wt are the conditions i should check before buying .

    Like

    • Pre owned Dukes are a gamble, if you can get a genuine good seller who used to take care of the bike properly then you can get yourself a really nice machine. If you get the bike from some stranger who doesn’t maintain it properly it’s going to be riddled with problems, this is the case of any second hand bike but dukes 390 in particular are much more prone to more wear and tear due to its high compression ratio and the “way” most of the people use it.
      And in all honesty, choosing the RC200 or the Duke is like choosing between apples and oranges, both are completely different in character and usage.
      Still it’s your choice, make an informed one.

      Like

  23. Hi krishna!
    Thank you for your advice. You give a lot of people good advice and suggestions. In that case ill wait for the 2015 model coz of the fan and clutch upgrade. Thank you. Regards from the phil.

    Like

  24. Hi Krishna,
    I’m planning to buy duke but confused between 200cc and 390cc.How much mileage can I get in 390 while comparing with 200.In certain reviews they’ve said due its higher power, duke 390 can able to give slightly lesser mileage than 200.Is it true ? I use my bike for my office commuting on daily basis and for weekend getaways. Moreover I will travel to my hometown Coimbatore once in a month from Bangalore which would be approx. 350kms .Which one better suits me ? which one will not burn a hole in my pocket .How much mileage can I get on a 200 in a Bangalore traffic and on highway while comparing with 390 .Also tell me about 390 mileages on longer drives and mileage in a city like Bangalore.

    Like

    • The 390 mileage within Bangalore traffic is cosiderably lesser than what a 200 would give. The higher cc and combustion ratio is the reason.
      In highway the 390 return decent mileage of over 30kmpl. I myself used to do bangalore -palkkad trips to home on the 390.
      The 200 also does highway stints without issues but the 390 is more potent on open roads.
      Since the 390 now comes with slipper clutch city riding should be pretty much ok now. So the 390 just might make more sense as a whole package for your need.

      Cheers
      Ride safe
      Krishna

      Like

      • Thanks for your reply mate,I have another question, what will be the mileage of 200 in highways ,I guess 390 and 200 will be almost same (because 390 need not to be rev harder as it can cruise at 120 ) Am I correct ??.If it so I will be happy to spend an extra rupees for 390.

        Like

        • The 200 would give you above 40kmpl in highways, while the 390 would be above 30 but lesser than 40.
          The 390 needs no effort to hold speeds above 100, the fact is that the 390 needs more effort to maintain it at a cruising speed, it just wants to leap forwards, it settles more comfortable at a 130-135kmph range.
          But 120kmph is pretty much no stress at all for the 390. The best part being a small twist of the throttle and you have a lot more power on tap. Highway overtaking will be a bliss.

          Like

  25. Hi Krishna,

    Nice review.
    Wanted to ask regarding Duke 200.
    1)How does the duke 200 fare on rough roads in city?
    2)As per previous comments, I understand that radiator issues(overheating) have been reduced to a certain limit.Does that solve the heating of legs issue completely, if not, is it bearable?
    3)How is the comfort, although not much is expected but does it cause back pain or neck pain?As posture duke provides is quite uncommon.

    Thanks.

    Like

    • It would be helpful if you can share your experience as I want buy KTM Duke 200 but just concerned about 2 main points i.e. if it has comfort issues like if would cause back and neck pain issues as I would mostly ride 2 hours during the day.

      Like

      • The Duke 200 has a very upright position, somewhat different from commuter bikes but the position is a very relaxed one for city commutes, 2 hours commute only in traffic can be a bit stressful, but nothing that will give intense pain, like in a aggressive seating position.
        So it should not be a problem.

        Like

    • Hi Ankur,
      1) The duke fares quite well on rough roads, it can handle it pretty well, the bike has the perfect amount of power to easily zip around in the city, while the 390 is packed with a lot more madness but does the same.
      2) Duke 200 never had unbearable heating issues, that was the 39 0 which had that issue, the heat form the 200 is quite manageable and nothing to get annoyed about.Moreover now radiator fan shrouds have been redesigned which now flows the air away form the rider, so it should help i reducing heat.
      3) Have replied for this to your other comment posted separately,:-)

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

      Like

      • Thankyou for your replies 🙂 .I just have one last question.
        Is it really hard to maintain KTM Duke 200.I have heard that, many who own KTM Duke 200 have issues eg. chain and sprocket issues and that it requires monthly visit to service centre for such small issues. Did you face such issues and what would you suggest regarding maintainence. As per me, its ok to go to service centre every three months or so but it would be really inconvinient to take duke 200 every month.

        Like

        • I have had the Duke 390 and i have not had to visit the service center apart from the time i had to service the bike , that is about it. Many of the initial lot of bikes had a few issues which needed some time for the company to take notice and rectify. The current gen of 390 and 200 are pretty much niggle free specially the 200 since it has been around for a longer time. Hope this helps.

          Ultimately it all boil downs to how well you maintain and understand the bike and secondly depends on luck.

          Cheers
          Ride Safe
          Krishna

          Like

    • Michilins or Pirellis are the next best bet.

      The Michelin Pilot street , Pirelli Sports Demon to be precise.
      Both these Brand models comes in stock sizes.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

      Like

  26. Hi,I just wanted to know that..which is the best service point for KTM duke 390 in Bangalore..what about banashankari?? And yeah I bought my beast last week,need your opinion..

    Like

  27. Hi Krishna,

    U write very good, u r very honest, that puts a feather in ur cap.
    I just want to know if u TD ed KTM RC390, if yes then do u still like Duke 390 or rc 390 and Why ?
    I have to decide between the two. I live on the edge of a metro city and don’t have to go to city often, rarely I would say, drive mostly on outskirts or highways. 5.10″ tall, ht of bike not a problem, so also wheel rims/heating/comfort/clutch Fe, price etc no issue with me.
    If you were me which would U prefer in my case and Why ?
    Awaiting eagerly ,
    Regards,
    acp
    20/6/15

    Like

    • Hi Amit, thanks for the kind words.

      Now I have TD’d the RC, now since you are not going to have much of traffic both bikes have a massive appeal , and the final decision would depend on whether or not you prefer a naked bike or a sporty riding position bike. That is pretty much the difference, the riding stance and a small difference in the gearing ratio.
      The only extra feature I see is that the D390 comes with the slipper clutch, which would have been a really great boon in traffic conditions , not sure if the RC comes with the slipper clutch , from what i know it doesn’t , not sure if they later introduced it in the RC as well.

      So it finally boils down to 2 things,
      1. Do you prefer a naked bike or a more aggressive seating positioned bike.
      2. Is the slipper clutch a deal breaker for you or not.

      Personally I would go for the RC, I love a more aggressive riding position and I am a sucker for the RC design over the naked look.

      Now the ball is in your court , happy choosing 😀

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

      Like

  28. Hey krishna kudos you’re doing an awsm job at helping everyone..
    I was thunderstruck the day i learned about the duke 390,the sheer performance offered at this kinda price gives you excellent bang for buck.I even found a solution for the tyre replacements,but i really don’t know about the mileage.i live in ernakulam and the traffic is a medium hectic and im a semi aggressive rider and I always take excellent care of my things.if there is any chance I’d get atleast between 30-35 kmpl I’d buy that baby in a heartbeat otherwise I’d have to settle with the duke 200 not that its bad but it’ll alwyas

    Like

    • Hi, thanks for the kind words Adithyan.
      35kmpl is possible for highways and not so congested traffic conditions. Cochin at times can get very congested like at edapally and vytilla and all , at these places the fuel consumption can be other. For all other normal usage 30 plus can be achieved.

      Cheers
      Ride safe
      Krishna

      Like

  29. Hey krishna kudos you’re doing an awsm job at helping everyone..
    I was thunderstruck the day i learned about the duke 390,the sheer performance offered at this kinda price gives you excellent bang for buck.I even found a solution for the tyre replacements,but i really don’t know about the mileage.i live in ernakulam and the traffic is a medium hectic and im a semi aggressive rider and I always take excellent care of my things.if there is any chance I’d get atleast between 30-35 kmpl I’d buy that baby in a heartbeat otherwise I’d have to settle with the duke 200 not that its bad but it’ll always be looking over the fence for the 390.I’d be immensely pleased if could advise me on this matter..

    Like

  30. Hello Bro, was going through your ownership section of Duke 390, there are certain things I wanted to ask and since you are a owner of one. Can you please help in answering them?

    I am a guy looking for an upgrade from HH Karizma, the bike is wonderful a and practically over 7 years of experience I didn’t had to shell out much on the bike except for the tyres. So my questions are?

    1) how is the plastic quality of the bike? I was sick and tired of the plastic quality on Karizma.. Breaks my heart ever time I try to fix plastic on the bike.

    2) you said plastic around tank and rap cap vibrates a lot? Is that a common problem among dukes?

    3) I have listened about the radiator being too hot. Is this a matter of concern in the long run of time?

    4) would you consider an upgrade from HH Karizma or do it need to look for higher CC bike. Other bike I am interested is RE CGT but is just too underpowered for its engine capacity.

    5) would you recommend this bike?

    6) Can this bike be used for touring purposes?

    7) do you regret owning it)

    Thanks in advance for answering my questions

    Like

  31. Hi krishna,
    I was reading your review, followed by peoples queries and your answers. To be frank, I felt really good, its honest and sincere replies. Well let me ask you one thing, I have 2 bikes with me here in bangalore. One unicorn for commute purpose, one old bullet for only in weekends, sometime in Fridays as well. Now I am planning to sell my bullet and switch to a powerful bikes.
    All websites are praising KTM/rc 390 and loaded with it features, insane power etc. But I also gone through some ownership reviews in teambhp, so its clear that engine not really refined, also hard suspension some quality issues prior to 2015 models. So I was again searching and end up with Kawasaki’s ninja 300, recently was considering Benelli TNT 300 as well. Since all these bikes are imported, its maintenance and net amount going to be huge but still it lacks features compared to KTM 390. Whick making me really worried because am not that rich to spend 4 lakh for an overpriced bike.
    So my question is, have you ever compared 390 with Kawasaki or Benelli 300 bikes. Is it really worth that additionl amount for those bikes?
    My mind is with ktm and I am really good in taking care bikes. Only confused part is my driving style, I am like more relaxed, like to see refined engine, better build quality, less vibration etc. I am really not sure whether I have asked my question. Also I am thinking to buy KTM 390 on Jan 2016 considering now its year end, any updates similar like 2015 etc.
    Kindly advice me.

    Like

    • Hi Sreeni,
      Thanks for the kind words.
      Now while the older batches of the RC/Duke 390 had issues the current batch is a lot improved, now refinment is something that is tough to get especially when the engine on the 390 is one which is absolutely pushed to the limit. It has a very high compression ratio, and generates a lot of power for its size, hence the loss of refinment, the another big issue was the heavy clutch on the Duke, but now since the slipper clutch has been introduced to the Duke(RC doesn’t get this) the Duke has become even more VFM, because of great power at cheap cost, ABS, Slipper clutch and you can have a lot of fun with this bike. But the refinement part will always lag, because it is a highly stressed engine.

      Now about the N300, as far as refinement goes, the refinement of a twin cylinder can never be matched by any single cylinder bike, it is the best you can get, the Ninja has been in production since a very long time and is the best quarter liter bike in the world, there is just no beating that, yes the service and insurance and all could be a bit on the higher side, and you might not feel as comfortable taking it everywhere like the Duke, but let me tell you it is not a overpriced piece of machinery when you have tried the N300 for some distance, so do a test ride back to back and you will get what i am saying.
      As far as power goes, the Ninja is more linear and sedate in the way the power is transferred, so it might not be as cut throat delivery like the Duke, but reading from how you like your bikes i would say go for this. You have power, you have refinement and most of all you have the peace of mind that the machine will not fail you. But at a higher cost of ownership, but if the Ninja is going to be your weekend bike then that should not be such a big concern.
      As far as benellis go, i have not ridden a B300, so not in a position to comment on them.

      Feel free to revert if you have any more queries.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

      Like

  32. Hi Krishna,, read ur review along with other people’s queries….. I understand duke 390 is a very special motorcycle for all of us…out here in the biking world and I too am considering of buying one…probably in Jan 2016. My real worry is the rim cracking issue. I get it…the Crack tht occurs depends on how we hit the pothole ND stuff, I get tht but still is tht issue ironed out…as Bajaj is working.. Could u please give me a insight..?

    Like

    • After a few of such cases from the initial batch, when the issue got a lot of eyeballs, KTM has launched the new batch of 200 and 300 and they did mention that they now come with stronger alloys. So I guess you can feel much better now.
      Honestly, I had the 390 f the initial batches, I never faced this issue, i have hit quite a few potholes and no problems, having proper air pressure in your tyres is one of the main way to prevent this from happening, unless the pothole is too deep and you were coming in too hot.

      Cheers
      Ride Safe
      Krishna

      Like

  33. Hi there hey i want to know that whats the service charges and spare parts costs is the maintenance is bit too high of ktm 390

    Like

    • Nothing too high..free services the cost will be close to 2k. Mostly for the motul oil which is a bit costly. Paid services will be be close to 3.5k inclusive of labour charges. These are approximate charges ,it can vary based on the work being done in each service.

      Like

    • Hi Krishna,

      Need ur help, I love dirt bikes. ktm has the best, how long you think, I have to wait to get one any where from 150- 500 cc range, here in India. The next is a Adventure bike, how long is the wait for any model. I am a US Citizen, currently moved to India. If u were me how would u go about getting this dirt/adventure bike here. kindly help, warm regards

      Amit Patel.

      Like

  34. Hey Krishna! Excellent review , hats off. i have a few queries i’d like to get out of the way before i book this baby.
    1. I’m more of a city commuter. Bangalore(silkboard to kr market). I usually do not travel in rush hour traffic but yeah its not completely open roads either. Will the heating be an issue?
    2. I don’t really ride that fast .Yes, i occasionally rev from signal to signal but thats it. Most of my commute will be in the 40-60kmph range(given bangalore traffic). Will riding at these speeds and relatively low rpm hurt the bike in any manner? Considering this isn’t what this bike is meant for?

    Cheers! 😀

    Like

    • Hi mate,
      Well sorry to say this, not sure if it is what you were expecting to hear.
      1. City commuting is kinda tough, but in continues moving traffic it isn’t too bad. With the Slipper clutch update it should be much much better than the older model. This was not so bad was it ?
      2. This is the bad part, it is no fun riding the bike at 40-60 you won’t cross 3 rd gear even with mild acc for reaching those speeds and the bike just wants to leap ahead, this nature hold even at 120kmph..this bike doesn’t understand the concept of cruising or loitering, it just want to jump jump and jump ahead. Hope this gives you a picture of how it’ll be like.

      Like

  35. ^And considering all of this should i opt for a duke 200 instead? Money isn’t an issue. (Though the 390 just looks so much better and well ABS too 🙂 )

    Like

    • 200is a much more sedate bike..a less mental sibling if you will, but compared to the 390 , 390 is the more fun bike by miles apart.
      So heart would say 390, mind would say 200. Now the battles doesn’t get better than this..let a test ride decided the winner. 😉

      Like

  36. Hey there! So i went with what my heart said, Booked the 390 from the BTM layout showroom. 😀 Ill get the bike tomorrow. Thanks a ton for your help. Hoping to have mind-boggling fun with it (while being safe :P). Cheers.

    Like

  37. Hello.
    Sir.
    I want to buy ktm 390. But worrying about pillion seat. Some times I travel with my wife .is it safe to travel with saree. I usually ride in my town.rarely ride 40 kms distance. Pls advise
    Thanks.

    Like

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