Read the 2017 KTM Duke 390 review to know why it nestles in the heart of every enthusiast
The day I rode the KTM Duke 390 first gen model for the very first time, I got the taste of true power. It made me realise how it would be to ride a premium and powerful superbike. The ballistic punch of the motor, easy handling dynamics and razor-sharp agility, all managed to made my jaw drop. The true engineering marvel, I thought.
Fast forward today, we have the 2017 KTM Duke 390. With the motorcycle market transforming rapidly, the bike needed a thorough and pleasant update. The Austrian bikemaker managed to do exactly that. The already hooligan machine has not been updated just over the skin but alterations have been radical, up to its core, which invoked just one feeling, amazement.
The day I was going to ride the 2017 KTM Duke 390, I couldn’t literally sleep the previous night. Yes, such was the excitement to ride the orange beast. The sun rose and I woke up with a smile. Put on my gears, rushed to the garage and there she was. Adorned with the juicy orange paint, she craved for attention which she gets in abundance on the road. Before I hopped on the saddle, the first thing I did was stared at her, which I am sure anyone would do for the first time.
After deeply satisfying my eyes, I got closer and swung my leg over the bike which made me realise that the seat height of the 2017 model has been increased. You sit tall now and me, being around 6 feet tall, could only get my toes on the ground and not the full feet as that on the earlier model. Rest of the ergonomics remain majorly the same. Well, let’s talk about the ergonomics and handling latter and put some light on the looks of the 2017 KTM Duke 390 which literally needs a comprehensive description.
Needless to say, the 2017 version mimics the design elements of that of the 1290 SuperDuke R. The pointed split headlamp, the angular tank extension and the sleek rear end, most of the parts are deeply inspired by the elder sibling. The headlamp incorporates LED headlamps and AHO, which is now a compulsion on bikes. The thing to notice though is the DRL which is a setup of twin L-shaped units and can be noticed from a distance. The front section is flanked by the orange coloured handle guards, which was white on the older model and this one adds an appeal to the front. Moving on to the tank, this is yet another part which has gone through a deep restyling and the extensions are now more stretched to the front and adds a lot of sharpness to the aesthetics.
A keen observer can encounter the change on the frame which is distributed in two parts. Now, the rear sub-frame is a seperate unit bolted to the main-frame, contrary to the continuous frame on the older bike. The main frame has been painted in the signature KTM orange colour while the sub-frame boasts of the noticeable while shade. When viewed from the side, the bike looks like it has been shortened but that is thanks to its increased height. On the rear, the petite round tail lamp has been replaced by a larger, squarish, twin lamp set up. The 390 badging on the under-seat plastic panel gives the rear a fancy touch.
Available in two colour options, orange trim is a loud and captivating bike while the white is a bit sober to the eyes. I have got the former and truly love it. The underbelly exhaust is now gone and made way for the larger cannister which gives it a bit of softer sound. Overall, the Duke 390 now, at least for me, is one of the best looking machines sold in India.
The performance of the KTM Duke 390 is delivered in the same manic way but it doesn’t scream about it now. Fire up the engine and you hear a mild gruff from the exhaust which turns into a growl when revved. The cluttery sound of the idle engine is no longer there which many enthusiasts liked on the older bike. This, however, felt pleasant to me. Slot the bike in the first gear and release the clutch and you are treated with the same thrust of torque which has now been hiked by 2 Nm and stands at 37 Nm. The power delivery remains unchanged at 43 bhp.
Gear shifting is sleek and the throttle response is silky smooth and effortless. Shifting gears and accelerating the bike is now a seamless task. City riding is where the older Duke 390 was hectic but it now feels less so as it remains calm at low revs but the little urgency it still there. Accelerate it at any gear and the flood of power can be felt in mid and high rev range. Post 4000 rpm, the 2017 KTM Duke 390 turns berserk which is why we are crazy for this motorcycle.
I was waiting to take it to the twisties and when I did so, the wait felt worth it. It dips down into the corners with confidence, maintains the line and exits gracefully, without any wobble or wavering. In the braking department, the motorcycle delighted profoundly with optimum progression and the much-needed bite. All in all, aspires more confidence to push it than ever. Feedback from the suspensions has gotten better as bumps and undulations are gulped down without any fuss.
In terms of electronics, I wonder how KTM manages to give so much at the price of under-Rs 3 lakhs. Although I didn’t get to spend much time with the system, the ambient-sensitive light, prompt responsiveness to the navigation keys and clear display of parameters are, let’s say, a bit futuristic? The instrument cluster could be connected to the phone but nothing to mention about it since I didn’t get to try the functionality.
The 2017 KTM Duke 390 is a gem of a motorcycle. It goes fast but doesn’t intimidate, it has got the punch but has enough braking power to get back in control, it swallows corners while staying safe and woes you with brilliant electronics. And Yes, take it amidst the huddle of bikes and you will be given way to pass as it blows everyone away with its cosmetics. Undoubtedly, one of the best motorcycles ridden till date, period.
Also read – Facts about TFT display of the 2017 KTM Duke 390