The KTM 390 Duke is a popular motorcycle for those who are looking for a naked bike in the mid range market that combines style, performance and affordability.
In this review, Paul takes a look at its features and specifications to help you decide if it is the right motorcycle for your needs.
The KTM Duke range has been around for quite a while now and its original no-nonsense aggressive body position really struck a chord with the motorcycle crowds. It was a highly rebellious and anti-social machine that didn’t give a damn. It was lightweight, quick, at home on the road and circuits alike and just did not care.
Since their days of rebellion, the current KTM Duke models have seen several changes, with the bigger Duke 1290 R bypassing the lightweight feature in favour of more power and adopting the more modern triangle type headlamps.
Therefore, the larger KTM Duke has shifted its focus away from its roots; yet, with the 390, it appears that the new “Lord” has taken up its grandfather’s mantle and made it cool once again.
KTM 390 Duke Review
KTM offered its 390 with a completely new intricate engine design, in contrast to the 200 cc KTM Duke (only sold in the Asian market), which is essentially the 125 cc model with an engine that has been bored out.
The 373 cc, four valve single, has an internal Nikasil coated cylinder, forged piston, two overhead camshafts, carbon coated cam followers and other improvements to boost its capacity and power while weighing in at just 36 kg.
The compact engine on the KTM 390 Duke provides lots of torque, quick acceleration, decent road characteristics, and excellent fuel efficiency. Thanks to its meticulous fuel injection system, compact 43.5 horsepower engine and 35.3 Nm of torque the KTM 390 Duke is quite a dynamic performer and one of the most powerful options for riders with an A2 licence.
However, the engine thrives on revs, so you should preferably be over 6000 rpm if you want to get things moving.
If you do this, it will be more than fast enough, with 100 mph being reachable with a little run-up. The single’s low-end torque allows it to be ridden at lower rpm, but the first-generation model’s throttle response isn’t terrific, and it may be a little snatchy when you get back on the throttle.
Overall, it’s an exciting and enjoyable motor but one that, like with the old Dukes, prefers to be thrashed.
With a dry weight of only 139 kg, the 390 Duke is an ultra lightweight, and riding it is just like that. As the 390 has the same chassis, wheels, brakes, ABS system, suspension, tank, seat, clocks, and swingarm as the 125, it rides exactly like the 125 but with all that extra power you’ve always wanted from it.
Redesigned ultra-light, high-performance WP upside-down forks are included with the KTM 390 Duke. The well balanced suspension makes use of the latest open cartridge technology, which performs superbly when driving on the limit and is also attractive and simple to maintain. Matched with a WP Monoshock, both ends offer 150 mm of travel with pre-load adjustment only.
The same single four-piston ByBre radial caliper as the 125 Duke’s provides the stopping power for the KTM 390 Duke, and braided lines are included as standard. You honestly don’t need much more performance than this on a bike as light as the Duke, especially because ByBre is a Brembo sub-brand, so the stopping power you get will certainly be enough.
All KTM 390 Duke models come equipped with dual-channel advanced ABS from Bosch for controlled stopping power, and there is even a secret switch on the dash that enables a “supermoto” mode that allows riders to turns off the rear ABS but not the front ABS if you wanted to slip into “hooligan” mode for ultimate cornering fun.
When moving slowly through a city, the KTM 390 Duke weaves through traffic with no effort. It’s on the open country roads where it lives up to its nickname of “The Corner Rocket” though as it drops in and out of corners effortlessly thanks to the WP suspension and lack of weight.
The KTM 390 Duke seems more like a “large bike” with its first class sport riding ergonomics which is great for taller riders however the seat a bit too firm.
An innovative multicolor TFT display adorns the handlebar which isn’t much to look at compared to all the data KTM normally supply but it does come with a fuel gauge so you can’t complain too much.
KTM 390 Duke Top Speed
The KTM 390 Duke has been radar speed gunned at 106.3mph making it one of the quickest bikes in the 300cc motorcycle market.
Incidentally, the same engine dressed in sport bike clothing and called the KTM 390 RC can do 111mph.
Since the KTM 390 Duke’s first release in 2013, it has undergone two additional iterations. First, in 2017, when the Duke received a new TFT color display, a bigger steel fuel tank (from 11 to 13.4 litres) which provided perfect knee contact and a change from 5 to 6 gears.
The 2021 KTM 390 Duke featured the new WP APEX front and rear suspension, ride by wire throttle for a smooth throttle response, slipper clutch, optional quick shifter, wider TFT display, and a more chiselled appearance to match its larger capacity siblings.
However, it did put on 10 more kilograms to make room for all the new parts and, of course, the extras that must comply with the Euro 5 emission laws.
KTM 390 Duke Price
The 2021/22 KTM 390 Duke is currently available new from dealers in the UK for £5,149 and in the US for $5,499.
Original KTM Duke 390 Specifications
- Engine: Liquid-cooled, 4 valve, DOHC, single cylinder
- Capacity: 373 cc
- Max Power: 43.5 bhp / 32 kW @ 9,500 rpm
- Max Torque: 35.3 Nm / 26 lb ft @ 7,000 rpm
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Top speed: 103.7 mph / 167 kph
- Fuel capacity: 11 L / 2.9 US Gal
- Seat height: 830 mm / 32.7 inches
- Wet weight: 154 kg / 339.5 lb
Buying a used 390 Duke
The Duke 390 is marketed for road and circuit riding. Avoid excessively customised or accessorised bikes when shopping for a used KTM 390 Duke since this can typically indicate that the bike has been in an accident of some sort, dropped or slid down the track.
Many owners to tend to equip their Dukes with useful pillion seat bags, crash protection, wheel tape, and tail tidy’s. Race exhausts are also prevalent, but always inquire as to why it has a new exhaust installed, again was the old one damaged, has it done many track days?
Watch out for alarms as well; not many bikes have them installed and the KTM 390 Duke has a very small battery, with older alarm systems and small batteries this may be quite a hassle if you don’t ride the bike frequently or put it on a charger to keep the battery charged.
A few owners have complained that the engine can leak oil (sadly not unusual on KTMs), with the rocker cover being the major weak spot. Worrisome allegations have also been made about the gearbox failing, however these are few but worth keeping in mind.
It is doubtful that you will lose much money if you decide to sell one after having it for a year or two and moving up as prices on the second-hand market have now plateaued.
Although reliability is always concern, it is worth taking a chance on the 390 Duke even in the short term because most tend to be very well-built if properly maintained.
Although I personally don’t like naked bikes or streetfighters, I can see how the KTM 390 Duke would be perfectly suited for a beginner rider as it is ultra lightweight, nimble and enjoyable – not to mention reasonably-priced. By newbie standards it delivers arm wrenching torque too so a beginner certainly won’t get bored quickly.
It’s also the perfect crossover bike to get some experience on if you already have an A2 licence before upgrading to a larger, higher-capacity model after you get your full A licence.
The KTM 390 Duke’s manoeuvrability, outstanding fuel economy providing an unbelievably long range and low weight may also appeal to those who already have their unrestricted licence as a city commuter bike for weaving through congested streets and having a bit of fun while doing it.