Used Test

KTM 390 Duke has a lot to of­fer from as lit­tle as £2k

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Phil West MCN GUEST TESTER

What we said then

“The styling’s re­ally funky, which is typ­i­cal KTM – very ag­gres­sive and aimed at a young mar­ket. It’s also very light. KTM are claim­ing it’s the light­est in the cat­e­gory at only 129kg, which makes it nim­ble and easy around town. There’s even ABS, which is great for new or in­ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers. Away from town there’s enough power to have fun with and, thank­fully KTM have re­placed the bud­get tyres that came on the 125 ver­sion. This 390 ma­chine comes with Met­zeler Sportecs.” MCN launch re­port | April 16, 2013

But what is it like now?

Within 50 me­tres of leav­ing Wheels, the Peter­bor­ough dealer sell­ing this as-new, 234-mile ex­am­ple, I’ve got a huge smile on my face – and that pretty much says it all about the 390 Duke. The lit­tle KTM is a fun bike par ex­cel­lence.

The orig­i­nal 2013 Duke was a blend of dinky, ul­tra-light pro­por­tions which made it ridicu­lously easy to ride, blended to­gether with a punchy, 44bhp sin­gle cylin­der that has you bounc­ing up to 40 or so like noth­ing else. Add to that, ag­gres­sively up­right er­gonomics and snazzy styling and you’ve the ul­ti­mate hooli­gan stunt bike for not silly amounts of cash.

Four years on it’s the same – only bet­ter. Early nig­gles have been fixed, build qual­ity has im­proved and, since 2015, it’s also ben­e­fit­ted from 20 up­dates in­clud­ing a slip­per clutch and new mud­guard. Best of all, this ex­am­ple is as new but with an £800 sav­ing.

On the slight down­side, this is very much a city fun bike with lit­tle long dis­tance or prac­ti­cal abil­ity while it’s also, ar­guably, an ‘old’ model, now that the 2017 ver­sion ben­e­fits from a smoother power de­liv­ery, more grunt, a sharper steer­ing chas­sis, new WP forks and shock plus a big­ger front disc.

Com­mon faults ex­plored

Al­though early ex­am­ples suf­fered from over­heat­ing and build qual­ity could be iffy (Dukes are built in In­dia and then shipped to Aus­tria for in­spec­tion) these prob­lems have been re­solved. Own­er­ship and main­te­nance is ev­ery­thing with novice-friendly ‘fun’ bikes like these so in­spect care­fully for crash dam­age and cor­rect main­te­nance, lu­bri­ca­tion and ad­just­ment. Be­ing so young, this ex­am­ple is, as you’d ex­pect, mint and looks like it’s never seen rain.

Ju­di­cious ad­di­tions

Be­ing so new (this one’s a mid-2016 ex­am­ple) and with so few miles un­der its still orig­i­nal-fit­ment tyres, there’s un­sur­pris­ingly vir­tu­ally noth­ing done to it in terms of mod­i­fi­ca­tion. Many 390s gain su­per­moto-style stubby levers, an Akrapovic can, crash bungs and ‘go­faster’ racing de­cals. The only add-on this ex­am­ple has is an R&G, stick-on tank pro­tec­tor – and that’s a good thing.

Af­fec­tion rekin­dled

There’s noth­ing else out there like the KTM Duke. There wasn’t when the orig­i­nal, mind-blow­ing 620 Duke came out in 1995, there isn’t now the range has ex­panded to 125, 390 and 690cc ver­sions. The 390 is the one most likely to be bought as a first big bike. As a ma­chine that’s easy to ride yet with plenty of fun on of­fer, it has vir­tu­ally no com­pe­ti­tion. Its lim­i­ta­tions over dis­tance or for ei­ther car­ry­ing lug­gage or a pil­lion, how­ever, are clear to see. This one lacks lit­tle over the lat­est ver­sion in re­turn for a size­able sav­ing, so is worth se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. ■ Thanks to Wheels: www. wheelsmo­tor­cy­

There's no deny­ing that it's a bit of a looker

Build qual­ity In­dian-built bike was crit­i­cised a lit­tle at first but qual­ity has im­proved since, al­though MCN'S long-term test RC390 had a few re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues.

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