DO-IT-ALL DUKE RULES
Major overhaul makes KTM’S 390 king of the A2-licence bikes
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