When KTM launched itself in India, it got off to a jump start in sales, just like its bikes. The Duke 390 had been the forerunner for the brand and thanks to its performance, which literally outran much higher priced and larger sized motorcycles. Now, even though the pace is still there in the sales, KTM is not idling. The new Duke 390 ups the game with new styling and several new exclusive features that truly differentiate itself from its younger siblings.
Let’s start with the engine on this one. The 373cc engine, though not completely new, has enough upgrades to make a difference. The 2017 Duke 390 now makes 37 Nm of torque, 2 Nm more, thanks to a bigger air box. Another major update is the ride by wire tech that aids in better response and control of the throttle. The engine power delivery is still freaking good and the 44 hp can be accessed well across the power band with the motor redlining at 10,500 rpm. The low range of the engine feels a bit sluggish but short gears through the 6-speed gearbox and mid range power delivery makes no dearth in getting to the performance phase. The exhaust has now been moved to the side and the slipper clutch is still available to make things easier for those unruly downshifts.
While the Duke 390 has been a lot about performance, it was not just that as the handling also won the hearts of the enthusiasts. The new Duke has not only retained that quality but bettered it. The bike feels intuitive around the corners and instils great confidence. While the chassis is not completely new, there’s a new bolt-on sub frame for easier evolution in the future and to keep the costs down, in case of damage to the frame. The suspension setup remains the same with 43mm upside down forks in the front, which now get open-cartridge technology and a mono shock to the rear that is pre-load adjustable.
Both the suspensions have been tuned for better handling and with a shortened wheelbase, the Duke 390 is easier to zip around the corners and change lanes. Providing more control to the ride are a bigger 320 mm disc brake (older bike had 300mm disc) at the front with four-piston radial fixed calliper and 230 mm disc brake at the rear with single-piston floating calliper. The brakes have great bite and come with three-mode switchable Bosch two-channel ABS. You can either switch off the ABS with the Off mode, ABS on in the front and back with Road mode and ABS only in the front with Supermoto mode.
The seating position of the new Duke 390 is a bit higher now and the foot pegs are placed further back for better ride comfort. The bike continues to be fitted with the wonderful 17-inch Metzeler M5i tyres, which offer amazing grip.
Coming to the looks, the Duke 390 has been a good looking one but the new Duke flagship looks sharp and sleek. It has enough cuts and looks like it will cut you up if you stare at it long enough. The headlamp has been designed to look like an inverted pitchfork and houses LED daytime running lamps and 6-LED headlamp cluster. An all-new TFT colour instrument display crowns above the headlamp and has been designed to be more functional than just form. The display offers all the relevant information and it automatically adapts to the light of the surroundings. You can also connect your smart phone and control your phone calls and music with a dedicated menu switch on the handlebar.
The bike gets a new 13.4-litre steel fuel tank and is more vertical in design than before with great knee contact. The traditional side slung exhaust looks good and then there is the typical KTM orange theme.
Overall, the new KTM Duke 390 looks sharp, drives sharper and handles better than it was. It now has a defining design when compare to the other Dukes and also has exclusive features to justify the increase in price.