Duke 390 Blog Part 2: Some opinions so far

At the worldwide riding presentation of the new KTM Duke 390 in Salzburg testers from Southeast Asia and Scandinavia were present on the last day. Blog Author ‘Pump Kinn’ has collected some opinions on the versatile machine…

Pigush Sonsale, 25, Bike India, India travels (personal bike: Bajaj Pulsar 200)

“Now the package is really complete because I think the 390 is exactly the engine that this design and chassis deserves. The sound of the small Dukes can be a bit thin but this throaty 390 sounds much nicer. This engine also is a bit busy. The gearbox works well. In India, the traffic flow is not always fluent, so sometimes you are doing a lot of shifting. The 390 changes smoothly and the gear ratios are wide enough. If somebody is looking for a capable road bike the Duke 390 comes to mind first. It is athletic, agile, easy-handling, affordable and has a high fun factor. The price remains within an acceptable range; just right for India because everything that is strong and good quality is so expensive that is almost impossible to pay for it.”

Kartik Ware, 29, TopGear India (personal bike: 1975 Royal Enfield 250 plus four two-stroke bikes)

“The balance of handling and power was good for the smaller Dukes but with the 390 capacity it is optimal. Now the Duke is a complete package. Of course, a few things could be better. The handlebar levers are a bit far and seem intended for larger hands. Between 3000 and 5000rpm I had a rattling sound under the tank, which did not occur with the other test bikes. No big deal, but it shouldn’t be there. If I want a capable motorbike the 390 would be on my radar; I like it better than the 200. There is more power but hardly any more weight and that makes perfect sense. Also, the price seems okay, even if it is not fixed yet for us. It probably won’t be that expensive because the 390 is made here in India so various taxes and duties are not necessary. How important a good price is here in India? Well, some people can even afford big-displacement inline-fours. But there are also bike enthusiasts who want a sporty bike but are cost-conscious. For this group, the 390 Duke should fit just fine.”

Janne Huhtula, 46, MP Maailma, Finland

“When we drove out of Salzburg and entered the first winding mountain road it was awful at first because the Duke 390 is so light, I had no idea how to ride it, especially in the fast corners above 100 km/h or 120 km/h! My lines were not clean. So I started telling myself that the bike is actually based on a 125 and after a while it got better and better. The Duke 390 is a very, very light motorcycle. So I kept on thinking and came to the conclusion that the problem is in my head. The engine has 390cc displacement, or exactly 375cc. If I compare with other bikes that have similar performance – for example, a BMW 650 GS, which makes 48 horsepower, but weighs 30 to 40 pounds more, that is why it looks more like a mature bike. But then I decided that a ‘125’ is good enough for a full-blown motorcycle. There were a lot of motorcyclists coming up on the road greeting us even Harleys and big BMW’s. Normally, nobody greets a ‘125’. That was when I finally realized that this is not a Duke 125, it’s a full, real motorcycle. From then on I had no problem, just a lot of fun. If you buy a motorcycle, of course you consider what others think about you. You want to be part of ‘it’, right? Is the visual appearance of the Duke 390 mature enough? I think so. Although one must first see the 390 letters on the bike to know exactly but by now all modern motorcycles come out rather small, especially sport bikes. During the photo sessions I had enough time to check out the Duke 390 closely. I must say the bike looks good, especially the details that are done nicely and with love.”

“Tiger” Ko Chuh Han, 30, Riders Style, Taiwan, (personal bike: Suzuki Hayabusa)

“The Duke 390 is a good bike, small, lightweight and very easy to master. Personally the only thing I didn’t like so much was the sound; it is more like a moped! For the city, the 390 is certainly perfect. In Taiwan, you find more scooters in the lower capacity classes. Duke 125s and 200s are also on sale but only 30 per year or 40 machines have been sold in 2012 because they are relatively expensive. The best-selling KTM with us is the Supermoto R. Will the Duke 390 find many customers with us? I think so. Taiwan is a small island and medium bikes like the Honda CB400 and Suzuki SV400 are the most popular because they are easy to ride also in city traffic – and the Duke 390 is ideal for that.”

Hyun Yong Yang, South Korea, Motorbike Magazines (personal bike: BMW F800 ST)

“The Duke 690 is a nice bike with a very capable engine and great handling. I like it very much. The market in Korea is divided into motorcycles for transportation and deliveries, scooters and high-volume sports bikes. KTM is getting strong on the asphalt. Off-road they are already clearly the dominant brand, everybody here wants to ride a KTM off-road.”

Zaihan M. Yusof, 42, Singapore, sph – the new paper, Singapore, (personal bike KTM EXC200 and EXC250F)

“The reviews I write for my newspaper in Singapore are mostly about big bikes. Personally – and for a long time – I like to ride smaller bikes. I do not want to go that fast but I want performance nevertheless. So for me the Duke 390 works very well. KTM, because of its heritage and racing their performance factor is seen as a priority for the brand. KTM and Bajaj are proving that collaboration works. For the Duke 390 I would recommend to my readers, at least for tall riders, adjustable footrests but I guess this will feature in the accessories list. The handling is pleasantly agile. The Duke 390 has more legs than the 200 model; which fits me because I ride big bikes often. So 390cc is a nice size. In terms of design I like the young look. As far as I know, contracts for 30 or 40 machines have already been signed in Singapore before the units have shipped, even from people who still have no driving license. So it works. I think in this cc range there is nothing as colourful and bright, it is almost fashionable. Something I also like is, when sometimes you make a mistake in a corner it is easy to make a correction. Also the bike does not have that much power to really scare you; you can still manhandle it easily and it responds progressively, the rear will not step out suddenly like on a big bike. I like midsize bikes with good performance, just more power than a 200 offers. This is why the 390 Duke is perfect for me.”

Jonathan Torres, 32, Mexico, Motociclismo, (personal bike: BMW F 650 GS)

“The Duke 390 is easy and fast, the relation of weight and engine power is right. The power is noticeable. For city traffic, the bike is perfectly suitable for easily flowing with the traffic and you have all options open for trips on highways and country roads. The bike is comprehensive with disc brakes front and rear, plus ABS. Which is particularly important for beginners and less experienced riders. In Mexico, ABS systems are a good idea because the roads are dusty or dirty with oil marks, plus the traffic is very dense, one is often forced into hard braking. Pricewise the Duke is up to a certain level but design, technology and equipment are certainly worth it – because the bike is just plain good.”