The 390 Duke is back with vengeance and how!
The KTM 390 Duke is a legend of a motorcycle in the Indian two-wheeler space. When it made its debut in 2013, it blew the socks of all the Indian bikers. Finally we had a modern, feature-rich and fast motorcycle that didn't cost a bomb to buy and own.In 2017, the Gen 2 of the 390 Duke came and it made the Duke more polished and accessible. And 10 years after the Gen 1 made its debut, KTM has ridden in the new 390 Duke. It's an all-new bike from the ground up and being a Gen 1 owner I am more than excited to test the bike. Has KTM created another benchmark? Let's ride!
One look at the new 390 Duke and it’s clear that KTM designers started with a clean sheet of paper. There is no resemblance to the older bike and the new 390 Duke looks properly fresh and modern. The split LED headlight and the LED DRLs give the bike a very aggressive face. But the main design element is the large fuel tank and the massive shrouds. The new bike looks properly butch and muscular.
In fact, the dimensions of the bike are also different and the new 390 Duke has the aura of a proper mid-capacity performance motorcycle. I personally liked the new design language and feel it goes well with the hooligan DNA of the Duke. It’s available in two colour options and my personal pick is the blue shade.
KTM has also focused on improving the quality levels of the new machine, and it’s easily visible as fit and finish levels are much better than the older bike. Talking about features, you get a crisp 5-inch TFT console that comes loaded with information, which can be toggled via a new switch cube that looks premium and is also easy to use with riding gloves.
There are 3 riding modes (Rain, Road & Track), traction control, launch control, Bluetooth connectivity for call, music and message controls, turn-by-turn navigation, Type C charger and you can even control a GoPro.
Engine - 399 cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled
Power - 45 bhp @ 8,500 rpm (2 bhp increase)
Torque - 39 Nm @ 6,500 rpm (2 Nm increase)
6-speed gearbox with quickshifter
For the first time in, the displacement of the Duke has been hiked from 373 cc to 399 cc and the incremental jump in performance figures can be seen immediately. The first thing you notice is the acceleration of this bike. The new 390 Duke is properly quick and KTM claims a 0-100 kmph run in under 6 seconds and a top speed of 155 kmph, although I saw a speedo indicated 163 kmph on the track. My only grouse was that the traction control system is a bit too intrusive and so is the launch control system.
What’s more impressive is the way KTM engineers have tuned this new engine. 80% of torque and power is available at just 5,000 rpm and that means, at city speeds there is no knocking and even if you're riding a gear higher, it doesn't matter.
The extra power compared to the older bike is felt and this engine reminds me of the Gen 1 KTM 390 Duke. It's properly frantic, but refinement levels are very good and it feels polished on that end. It isn't the most refined engine as you can feel minor vibes on the handlebar, but that goes well with the Duke DNA honestly.
Another impressive feature is the bi-directional quickshifter that works like a charm. The engine was the highlight of the Gen 1 KTM 390 Duke and it's the same with the new 390 Duke, a hooligan with finesse.
The hardware is all-new and KTM engineers have given the new 390 Duke lots of new upgrades and also managed to make it 4 kg lighter. The main frame is similar to the older bike, but the 2023 KTM 390 Duke gets a cast aluminium subframe (first for any Duke) to make the chassis stiffer. And the impact of the frame was felt as soon as I exited the pits and hit the test track.
The bike feels extremely nimble and light, direction changes are lightning quick and this should make it a fun bike to hustle through city streets. But more importantly, the 390 Duke loves to attack corners and boy-oh-boy, it’s such a delight to corner fast on this bike. It drops into corners swiftly, holds the line with confidence and even when you go hard on the gas in corner exits, the bike feels composed. The electronics do a good job in making sure that you remain on the saddle even with all the hooliganism, but you will need skill to ride the Duke fast.
The only negative I experienced in the handling department were the H-rated Metzeler rubber as they kind of restricted the full handling potential of the bike, but it’s an easy fix. More importantly, the KTM 390 Duke now comes with adjustable suspension on either end. This will help the rider fine tune the suspension to better suit their riding style.
Given the brilliant handling dynamics, I assumed the suspension would be stiff, which is kind of a KTM trademark. How wrong was I! The bike glided over bad surfaces and broken roads, so good was the ride quality that I had to double check if I was on a KTM Duke or a bike with a long travel suspension! This massive improvement in ride quality, coupled with the increase in GC, should make the new 390 Duke a good touring bike as well.
The braking hardware is now shared with the RC 390 and they offer impressive stopping power, which is critical given the performance on tap. Cornering ABS makes its debut on the new 390 Duke and adds to the safety quotient of the bike. While the seat height has been dropped by 23 mm to 800 mm, what’s even more impressive is the 32 mm increase in ground clearance, very clever engineering by KTM.
By now you guys would have figured out that KTM has hit it out of the park with the new 390 Duke. KTM engineers and designers have put in a lot of effort and thought behind this machine and the outcome is very very impressive.
2022 KTM 390 Duke - ₹ 2,97,475
2023 KTM 390 Duke - ₹ 3,10,520
What seals the deal is the value factor which I felt KTM has lost over the past few years. At Rs 3.10 lakh, it's just Rs 12k more expensive than its predecessor and what you're getting for this price is a phenomenal mid-capacity street bike. KTM has done it again, they have set a new benchmark!
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