There are sports bikes and there are extra-ordinary sports bikes. KTM Duke 390 belongs to the latter. We road tested a brand new 2015 KTM Duke 390 for over 1300 km to find out why...!
What’s so good in 2015 Duke 390?
1. Upright & Dominating Stance:
The Duke 390 is a sports bike of its kind. It has an upright posture which gives it a dominating stance on the road. You sit quite straight up with arms stretched wide and not in a forwardly inclined posture as in case of some other sports-bikes. Even while stopping at the traffic signal, the posture remains the same. This gives the feeling of an immense domination to the rider.
2. Great Pulling Ability:
With 44 Bhp and torquey engine under its belly, the Duke 390 is, undoubtedly, the ‘King of the Bends’. It pulls effortlessly on any slope/gradient, doesn’t matter how inclined it would be and also while over-taking. That’s its strength. Just downshift and the engine gets roaring, full of torque to pull the bike thru’. This great pulling ability puts Duke 390 ahead of any vehicle and making it a class apart. You often see the vehicle being overtaken only in your rear view mirrors and never go ahead of you again.
3. Great Traction & Stability:
Duke 390 is very stable; almost as stable as if it’s glued to the road. Thanks to its low center of gravity and design dynamics. The chassis and suspension are proportionate and match each other to provide great traction and stability. ABS also is very effective, making Duke 390 quite sturdy even on hard braking; which makes you never feel out of control. It doesn’t wander an inch. Supported by Metzeller tires the cornering becomes simply fun; just like toying with the bike, if done correctly.
4. Great Cornering Ability:
Duke 390 is designed to cruise/bend on silky-smooth race tracks and for also use on the rough/off-road terrains. Metzeller tires do a fine job as you never feel them giving away their grip even on loose soil or wet surfaces. They hold on to the surface like the glue, making the riders ignorant of the surface they have been riding on.
5. Strong Suspension:
The front suspension of the Duke 390; which consists of WP’s 43mm shocks, is quite strong; making bad roads feel not bad. It handles potholes superbly. The mono-shock rear suspension is adjustable as per rider’s comfort. You can easily ride at 45-50 km/h even on bad roads. Counterweights added on the ends of the handlebar make handling effortless.
6. Performance & Efficiency:
With 44 Bhp, Duke 390 is a performance bike. To get optimum mileage Duke 390 needs to be ridden at a steady speed. Surprisingly, it returned max. mileage of almost 34.26 Km/L (actual consumption) on one of the stretches and an overall efficiency of 29.51 Km/L within first 1300 km (running-in period) when it was ridden steadily at a constant speed of 80-90 Km/h. This will further improve after the first oil change.
What’s not so good in 2015 Duke 390?
1. Engine heat comes on the left foot when the engine fan turns on. Although KTM has already resolved this issue, however, while stopping in the traffic, you feel the hot engine air blowing on your left foot.
2. Though not a major issue, you can feel slight engine vibrations at low-mid rpm range.
3. Notchy gear-shifts: Especially while up-shifting from 2-3-4-5, you can feel & hear a loud ‘thud’. Hope this gets smoother after 1st service.
4. Hard seat: After a continuous travel of over 1 hour, the seat starts to feel a bit hard & after 2-3 hours of the ride, it's more uncomfortable. KTM should look into this issue and make the seat cushion bit softer; making it comfortable for longer rides.
In overall, the 2015 KTM Duke 390 makes an ideal ‘Tourer’ delivering a balance between speed and efficiency. And, at under Rs. 2 Lakh; Duke 390 has become the most powerful bike in its class for long distance touring in India.