We hit the road with the most practical KTM yet
Anosh Khumbatta Saurabh Botre
few months ago, I was In LonavaLa, where Ktm set a bunch of us journalists loose on some extremely gnarly trails to test the 390 adventure’s off-road capabilities. I came away impressed by the bike and its potential, but also with the notion that this new austrian would feel a lot more at home on the tarmac than out in the wilderness. Ktm recently lent us a bike to test this theory, and I spent a couple of days riding it in the city, over bad roads and good, and even headed out on to the highway for a few quick blasts. here’s what I think.
at the most basic level, the Ktm 390 adventure is a long-legged 390 Duke with a comfortable seat, relaxed rider triangle, and a larger fuel-tank for a bit more range. It still looks the part; there’s no mistaking it for anything but a Ktm with its edgy styling, divided LeD headlamp, and liberal splashes of orange. It shares with the Duke the fundamental layout of a 373-cc liquid-cooled single and six-speed gearbox suspended from a steel trellis frame, but that’s where the similarities end. the 390 adventure has a rugged air about it, with that 19-inch front wheel, dual-purpose metzeler tyres, and 200 mm of ground clearance courtesy the tall, long-travel suspension from wP. the adventurous theme is carried forward by plastic handguards on the wide handlebar, robust-looking crash bars to protect the bodywork in case of a tip over, and a bash-plate under the engine. while the left side of the bashplate is aluminium to protect the exhaust bend pipe from impact, most of it is flimsy plastic supported by a metal framework. while this might absorb minor scrapes from rocks or other obstacles, a hard hit would almost certainly damage the engine casing and oil sump.
although the Ktm 390 adventure falls into the entry-level adventure bike category, its 855-mm seat height will seem daunting to first-timers. at 5’ 5” I could just about tip-toe from the saddle and newer riders might struggle to get comfortable from this lofty perch. to put things in perspective, the recently launched triumph tiger 900 gt’s seat can be set at either 810 or 830 mm, while the much taller, off-road-biased tiger 900 rally sports an 850- to 870-mm seat height.
heading out on to the mean streets of Pune, I get instantly comfortable with the roomy, upright riding position which affords me a clear view all around. the bike effortlessly threads its way through traffic, begging me to exploit the rorty nature of the Ktm single; naturally, I oblige, downshifting and twisting the throttle to the stop as I fly past slower vehicles taking advantage of all 43.5 horses that come about at 9,000 rpm. however, if you want to putter along at low revs, the 390 adventure isn’t the bike for you. this engine loves to be ridden hard and feels quite anaemic lower down, knocking and sputtering at anything below 4,000 rpm. this means that to cruise around comfortably at 60 km/h, you can select no higher than fourth gear and if your speed drops to between 30 and 40 km/h, you’re going to have to shift down to third or even second to keep the motor running smoothly.
this high-strung nature is, consequently, the 390 adventure’s achilles heel off road, where bottom-end torque is the need of the hour to execute slow-speed manoeuvres. shorter gearing would have helped a bit, but Ktm elected to use the same 15/45 sprocketing as in the 390 Duke, and the slightly taller rear tyre actually translates into marginally taller final gearing on the 390 adventure. on the bright side, while the 390 Duke is notorious for overheating and cooking the rider’s legs, the adventure is blessed with twin fans and a
Rider: Anosh Khumbatta
Helmet: Scorpion EXO R-410
Jacket: XDI X1
Gloves: Ixon RS Drift
Boots: Forma Jasper larger curved radiator that offers much more surface area for extremely efficient cooling. as a result, the temperature gauge hardly went over the halfway mark, even when stationary for extended periods of time.
the best part about riding this bike in the city is the fact that you don’t need to slow down when the road throws up a surprise or two. Potholes and Pune’s massive speed-breakers stood no chance against the 390 adventure; putting my weight on the pegs and giving a light tug to the bars was enough to have me gleefully flying over anything in my path while vehicles around me slowed to a crawl.
while the stock gearing may not lend itself well to rock crawling, it does make the 390 adventure an extremely competent highway bike. Cruising for extended periods at triple-digit speeds is no sweat and the bike feels extremely stable and planted, even if the road surface is not perfect. the only issue I faced on the open road was that the stubby flyscreen directed dirty air straight up to my helmet, causing quite a bit of turbulence when sitting upright at high speeds.
During our performance test the 390 adventure went from a standstill to 60 km/h in 2.94 seconds, to 100 km/h in 6.78 seconds, and dispatched the quarter mile in 15.36 seconds, cementing its place as the quickest entry-level adventure bike in our market.
on the electronics front, the Ktm 390 adventure is much better equipped than anything else in its segment, including the Bmw g 310 gs that costs rs 50,000 more. the orange