Corner rocket - an absolute hoot to ride!
I picked up the new Duke 390 a few weeks ago from Indiranagar KTM in Bangalore. Before I share my review, a bit of a background about me. I'm 35yr old, 5.11" tall & I weigh around 85kgs. I am an avid biker & this is my second bike (the first one being Triumph Daytona 675R). As with all superbike owners, I wanted to pick up a smaller motorcycle for daily usage & for the occasional touring. After trying out a whole bunch of bikes which included: Dominar 400 (obvious) & TVS 310RR. I don't count RE bikes since I dislike heavy bikes which don't have basic safety features like ABS in today's day & age. No offence RE owners - I'm just used to riding with these.
Now for the Duke 390, it won my heart for a variety of reasons:
- Equipment levels are supreme: LCD dash, programmable ABS with 3 modes, slipper-clutch, superb LED light cluster, gear position indicator etc
- Weight: I prefer lighter bikers & this weighs in around 155kgs odd. Lightest in this segment.
- Power & performance: the above point implies that when combined with a high revving engine, the power to weight ratio is off the charts.
- Agility: being a compact motorcycle, with a shorter wheelbase, it's very nimble & agile. The bike never fights you - and complies obediently to your inputs
- Brakes: this is probably the most important factor for me. The new duke has excellent brakes. Being used to ivy-league Brembos on my Daytona, the Duke 390 was an easy transition & stops very well. The initial bite is intense & the progression is fantastic. In short - confidence inspiring.
- Looks: cannot write that one of the books. I mean this looks like a scaled-down version of the SuperDuke 1290. It's absolutely gorgeous. I can't find a better-looking bike in this segment. Some would argue the 310RR looks better in Red and I don't entirely disagree. The Duke 390 just looks unique.
- Ground clearance: at 180mm this is probably one of the better ones out there compared to 157mm on the Dominar. Considering our roads, it's definately a consideration for me.
Now that's a lot of good points, moving on to the not-so-good things. I mean every bike has negatives. We just need to know which cons are we okay to live with every day.
- The bike does heat up. No taking away from the fact. The engine runs a higher compression ratio ergo will heat up when stalled in traffic. I'm okay with this because I'm used to my Daytona slow roasting my legs. The duke is still better.
- Maintenance cost: for me, it's not a con but I know for a lot of people it will be a concern. KTMs are more expensive to own when compared to say a Bajaj Dominar. Expect average service cost to be between 1200-1700.
- The display does not show navigation. Minor con for me. Would have been nice if the display could show turn-nav on the screen. I rely on the audio instructions on my sena for that. Not a deal breaker though.
- Tyres won't last long. General life is around 10k kms on the stock. I know because a lot of my friends own the same model.
Lastly, the bike makes you feel like you are a much more skilled rider than you actually are. Which gets people to push & do things which they would have not attempted on any other bike. I don't know if thats a pro (because the bike inspired confidence) or a con (because it makes you over-confident & take risks). You decide.
Other that those, I can't think of any more cons. Bike is a excellent. And I enjoy pushing it.
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