10 Things You Need To Know Before Buying A KTM 390 Duke

Modified On May 22, 2022 09:56 AM By Bernard Mascarenhas for KTM 390 Duke (2017-2023)

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While the 390 Duke is an exciting little motorcycle to thrash around on a winding mountain road, here’s all you need to know before bringing one home

10 things to know before buying a ktm duke 390

Buying a new motorcycle is the ultimate dream of any budding motorcyclist. What makes riders love the concept of riding is mainly the wind in the face… er, helmet… experience coupled with the sense of freedom and sheer entertainment motorcycling provides. And the KTM 390 Duke really epitomises these qualities and hence is so loved by riders. Also not to forget the insane price to performance ratio that it offers.

The impeccable thrust from the single-cylinder 390cc motor, long list of standard safety and tech features, coupled with precise handling and riding dynamics work together in putting a wide grin on the rider’s face. This Austrian naked motorcycle is here to compete with the likes of the Honda CB300R, Bajaj Dominar 400 and BMW G 310 R. Here are 10 things you need to know before getting a 390 Duke.

1) Offers A Long List Of Features

10 things to know before buying a ktm duke 390

Being a reasonably inexpensive motorcycle, many would expect the KTM 390 Duke to miss on many essential features that are quite necessary for this day and age. However, for a (comparatively) low price tag of Rs 2,94,082 (ex-showroom Delhi), KTM offers all the bells and whistles as standard, shaming even motorcycles that cost double or even more.

It gets the impressive TFT display which displays all ride-related data with just a few clicks of a button. The speed, revs, trip information, engine and coolant temperature, incoming call alerts, music control, is accessible on the console, while also offering access to different ride modes, making it a very versatile proposition. Along with that, it also gets LED headlights, LED tail lights, switchable dual-channel ABS with Supermoto mode and a quickshifter.

2) Not The Most Comfortable Motorcycle for Road Trips

10 things to know before buying a ktm duke 390

The main reason for the uncomfortable ride of the KTM 390 Duke is not the stiff WP suspension or hard seats. Contrary to what most 390 owners feel, the main reason for all the discomfort is the seating posture, as the lower body posture is sporty, while the top body posture is upright. All this results in lower spine compression which results in lower back pains and a sore butt after about 100 km of continuous riding. While shorter riders won’t experience this too much, taller riders are definitely not suited to the riding posture this bike offers.

3) Reliability Issues Have Been Addressed

10 things to know before buying a ktm duke 390

Earlier models were quite synonymous with worn-out piston rings and leaking radiators, all of which were due to the quality of engine components used in a high compression motor that operated at higher temperatures. This also meant that the rubber and plastic parts didn’t last long. The coolant line rupture was a common sight too. 

In comparison, the newer 390 Dukes don't have most of these problems as the quality of components have improved significantly. Sure, the engine runs hotter than the rivals, however, it doesn't overheat as it used to. The coolant lines and radiator are better built, too. However some owners of the new generation bike have reported issues of the instrument cluster conking off due to water ingress.

4) Fit And Finish Has Improved

10 things to know before buying a ktm duke 390

The older generation of the 390 Duke has been criticised quite a bit for lacking fit and finish, especially with regards to all the plastics. However, the new generation 390 Duke has evolved leaps and bounds, making it almost comparable to its Japanese rivals in the segment. The plastic parts do hold up pretty well, which wasn't the case with the older models. They also don't have much rattling or squeaks.

5) Attractive And Youthful Design

10 things to know before buying a ktm duke 390

The multi-colored trellis frame, orange alloy wheels, and striking LED headlights with LED DRLs make the KTM 390 Duke look more expensive than it is. The sculpted, macho looking tank and the LED tail lights give the bike a very distinctive look over other bikes in the same segment. It also looks very identical to the elder sibling, the KTM 890 Duke.

6) Can Be A Decent City Commuter

10 things to know before buying a ktm duke 390

The stiff suspension and higher heating are the only deterrents from making the 390 Duke a perfect city commuter. However, these issues can be rectified quite easily. Setting the rear preload to the softest will address the stiff ride and ride height problems to a certain extent, but to be honest, these will only affect the shortest and least experienced riders.

7) Precise Handling Makes It The Most Fun To Ride Motorcycle In Its Segment (And even compared to some motorcycles in higher segments).

10 things to know before buying a ktm duke 390

The front end gets extremely capable WP 43 mm upside-down forks, while the rear gets a WP monoshock. This suspension setup, along with the rigid trellis frame, helps the motorcycle tackle not only sweeping corners with ease, but quick corner transitions are handled with grace and predictability as well. Even though the rear can feel a little stiff to some, the bike is still light, weighing only 167 kg and that helps quite a bit when it comes to the handling making it incredibly fun in almost all conditions.

8) Sharp Brakes Need Some Getting Used To

10 things to know before buying a ktm duke 390

Being a lightweight motorcycle, the 390 Duke has a power to weight ratio of 226 PS/ton and accelerates like a fighter aircraft being launched off an aircraft carrier. To stop this crazy fast naked streetfighter, KTM has equipped the 390 Duke with 4-piston calipers with a 320 mm single disc for the front, which is the sharpest brake setup in the segment. The bite is surreal, and the progression is top-notch too. At the rear, the bike gets a very capable single-piston floating caliper with a 230 mm disc. To top it all off, there’s dual-channel Bosch ABS as standard, providing a huge margin of safety in tricky conditions. That said, those graduating from smaller bikes to the 390 Duke might find the sharpness of the brakes a little intimidating. 

9) Aggressive Power Delivery Can Be A Dealbreaker For Some

The KTM 390 Duke is considered a decent beginner performance motorcycle mainly due to its nimbleness and level of performance on offer. However, it is not the most ideal choice for new riders who have never ridden a motorcycle before. This is because the short initial gears and high torque make it quite a handful in city riding conditions, which is not the most ideal situation for a newbie. 

10) The High Compression Ratio Motor Has A Tendency To Run Hot

10 things to know before buying a ktm duke 390

Even though the single-cylinder short-stroke 373cc motor producing 43.5PS and 37Nm comes with liquid cooling, it is one of the hottest motors of the lot. With a compression ratio of 12.88:1, which is the highest in its segment, a short ride through busy city traffic is enough for the radiator fan to kick in. The fan noise is ridiculously high, and that can be a tad annoying. Also, the radiator fan has a tendency of blowing all that hot air right over the rider’s legs, which can get rather annoying. Nevertheless, heat dissipation has improved when compared to the earlier generation of the 390 Duke.

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