Ma­jor over­haul makes KTM’S 390 king of the A2-li­cence bikes

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - MICHAEL NEEVES SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER michael.neeves@mo­tor­cy­cle­

KTM has made a gi­ant leap for­ward in qual­ity, per­for­mance and fun with its new £4599, A2 li­cence-friendly 390 Duke. It’s the 390’s first ma­jor over­haul since its launch in 2013 and KTM have left no stone un­turned. As fun as the pre­vi­ous model was to zip around on, the build qual­ity wasn’t ex­actly, let’s say, pre­mium. Now things are dif­fer­ent.

From its new 5.2in full colour dash, il­lu­mi­nated switchgear, to its su­perb panel fit and deep paint­work, the In­di­an­built 390 Duke is every inch the baby 690 Duke R or lux­ury 1290 Su­per Duke R. In fact, it’s not such a baby be­cause the 390 has a gen­uine, chunky, big bike feel and weigh­ing just 149kg dry, its sin­gle-cylin­der 44bhp mo­tor is all it needs to push it along at a thor­oughly agree­able rate of knots.

Sus­pen­sion is now well-damped and con­trolled, the brakes are sharp and re­as­sur­ing and the classy en­gine is smooth, grunty and long-revving. It’s close to silent in traf­fic, but trans- forms into a thrap­ping ’crosser when you cane it.

It’s nim­ble through town and has a nat­u­ral, new-rider-friendly rid­ing po­si­tion for riders big and small, but it will also breeze past the ton, pull naughty wheel­ies and when you se­lect Su­per­moto ABS mode you can back it into cor­ners, too.

It might be small, but there isn’t much the 390 Duke can’t do and its per­for­mance will keep you in­ter­ested long af­ter you’ve jumped through the hoops needed to get a full li­cence.

You will have no doubt no­ticed an avalanche of new bikes be­ing in­tro­duced this year and it’s all about man­u­fac­tur­ers keep­ing up with new Euro4 rules. KTM has also had to keep the Euro­crats happy, so the 390 Duke’s four-valve 373.2cc mo­tor now has ride-by-wire, a side-mount ex­haust, re­plac­ing the old stubby un­der­slung item and a big­ger air­box. KTM says it makes 5.7% more torque at low rpm. You also get a slip­per clutch (added to the 390 in 2015).

As well as a smoother power de­liv­ery and more grunt, the new 390 also has sharper han­dling and more pre­cise steer­ing thanks to a new chas­sis. The steel trel­lis frame, which now has a bolt-on sub­frame and a 690 look-a-like lat­tice swingarm, has racier ge­om­e­try and a slightly more canted-for­ward rid­ing po­si­tion that shifts more weight on to the front end. As a re­sult there’s ex­tra feel through cor­ners, but the KTM is still roomy, com­fort­able and with its straight bars, still has an ag­gres­sive, su­per­moto feel to it.

Adding to the sense of big-bike qual­ity is the new WP 43mm up­side-down forks and sin­gle rear shock. KTM reckon they’ve spent a lot of time de­vel­op­ing these units for the new ma­chine and you can tell. The old 390 Duke is prob­a­bly still bounc­ing un­con­trol­lably from the last time I rode it, but the KTM’S new sus­pen­sion gives a more so­phis­ti­cated ride and sup­port when you push hard through the cor­ners.

Brak­ing is also im­proved with the old model’s four-pis­ton ra­dial By­bre (a sub­sidiary of Brembo) caliper now gnaw­ing a sin­gle disc that’s grown from 300 to 320mm.

All these un­der-the-skin mods serve to make the new 390 Duke sharper and more re­fined, but KTM has also chis­elled and re­fined the styling, mak­ing it a hand­some lit­tle devil. The fuel tank is up from 11 to 13.4 litres and the 390 Duke also gets a new two-piece seat, han­dle­bars and ad­justable levers. But tak­ing cen­tre stage is the new 1290 Su­per Duke R-style head­light with fresh, bright LEDS and looks to mimic its fear­some su­per naked brother.

Then there’s that flash, multi-func­tion glass-fronted TFT colour dash. It can be hooked-up to your phone via what young­sters might re­fer to as blue­tooth, or some­thing. KTM call it My Ride, but I’m happy to blot out the out­side world when I’m rid­ing – it’s one of the joys of rid­ing and the new 390 D.

‘There isn’t much the 390 Duke can’t do & it has enough power to keep you in­ter­ested’

The 390 Duke looks sharp and com­pact

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