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Thursday, May 25, 2017

2017 KTM Duke 390: In-depth Review

The new KTM Duke 390, 2017 is a runaway winner it seems. Okay, before I say anything else, let me tell you that this is not a comparo with the older Duke 390. That I will leave for another day. Here, we are talking about the all new Duke 390, 2017. I just said "all new" because that is what it is. It is an all new motorcycle. The body is different, the trellis frame has an addition, the weight is different, the design is different, the console is new, performance is different and the sound is totally different. Let us go one element at a time...

The Looks

I just say WOW! I do not think that there is any motorcycle in India in any price range that looks that as awesome as the new Duke 390. Look at the headlight, look at the tank, look at the graphics, look at the instrument cluster... the design from Kiska here has given the new Duke a total winner here. You cannot go wrong. If you buy this bike, you will own the best looking motorcycle in India today. I know looks are subjective. But hey, with this in my garage, I am throwing that subjectivity argument right out the window!

The Ergonomics

Clearly it is an upright riding stance. I, at 165 cms odd, sat comfortably on the bike with the feet planted nearly flat on the ground. My co-rider Kamal who comes in at a lesser 157cms, did not have too many issues either. Though he did struggle a bit at stop-go traffic initially. But then you get used to it. Bobby Roy did not have any issues at all. He was having an absolute blast while riding the motorcycle and while shooting it. See his shot and edited video by clicking here. The handlebars were a little higher for my taste. But I would not complain if I were to own this.

The Most Important Thing

The heart or the engine of this amazing bike has a totally new feel to it. The exhaust note is deep and sounds like a really powerful motorcycle which does not belie your expectations. The revs go up freely and real fast as you would imagine and expect of a KTM. Throttle response is quick and snappy as is typified by most KTMs. With a correct launch, you can pull wheelies even on 3rd. Power on tap is more than enough despite being heavier than the older Duke by a significant 13 kilos. That is offset by an increased torque which you would definitely feel. Riding in summer, the heat did get to you. But again I am not complaining as I had a permanent smile plastered on my countenance just seeing the revs rising at the slightest touch to the throttle!

The Handling

Oh the trellis frames of Dukes are such a pleasure! You bend as much as you dare and as much as you always wished. It will take you there. The perfect rigidity of the trellis gives you a sharp feedback all along the corner even at relatively high speeds. The handling of the bike truly inspires confidence. The frame of the KTM is a perfect match with the amazing tyres that you get with them. Already a winner equation right? Well, add to that, the 2017 Duke 390 comes with 43mm Split Function Open Catridge WP USD front forks with one handling compression and the other handling rebound and you are set to feel aroused the moment you set the fun rolling. This is one of those bikes that does much more than you actually can. Just go for it.

The Console

Now I know that a lot of guys will become bikers just for the instrument console. It comes in full colour, light sensors that vary visibility in lesser brightness and provides enough information that will make seasoned bikers feel like dinosaurs. For many newbie riders, just this console will be the deciding factor. And if you connect your phone remotely with the bike, you are a happening corporate biker on the go! Goodness, does it get anymore ostentatious than this! There is a downside to this: I might sound a little mean here, read outright racist, but this console and the controls may seem a little challenging to your average wannabe Ramesh, alias Ramu rider, who might be just a little lost in the number of options to flick through even standing still.

The Second Most Important Thing, (actually the First Most Important Thing but we are automotive writers and would like to indulge in some fantasy and we call it the second most important thing): the Bottom Line. At 2.53 Lacs (New Delhi), I believe this is a bargain. KTM with their pricing has taken performance motorcycling into serious family discussions. At this price, it is not a question anymore of "Should we buy..." but more of "If we buy..." The economic dynamics change with such aggressive moves by KTM, not just in India but the world over.

Our Verdict

This is a remarkably able, outstanding looking urban tool for bikers. Whether you own a 1400 CC behemoth or a 150 CC commuter, if you ignore this motorcycle, then the lack of intelligence of some people would become apparent. Do not say we did not warn you. The mere presence of this bike has pushed impending launches of bikes from highly reputed manufacturers onto the back-burner. We can discuss what bike and which manufacturer over coffee. Come and meet our www.throttlequest.com team over coffee some time. We would be glad to meet you guys and discuss motorcycles and beyond endlessly!

We express our heartfelt gratitude KTM Dwarka for providing the KTM motorcycles and all logistical support during the shoot in the most friendly manner. We loved working with them and highly recommend them for their service quality and warm attitude towards all customers.

Text: Ken (Krishnendu), Senior Test Rider for ThrottleQuest.com
Photos and videos: Bobby Roy - Photographer, videographer and Test Rider for ThrottleQuest.com
Motorcycle logistics: KTM Dwarka
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Item Reviewed: 2017 KTM Duke 390: In-depth Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Krishnendu, aka Ken.
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