KTM 390 Duke has a lot to offer from as little as £2k
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.
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.
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. wheelsmotorcycles.co.uk
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.