Testing the KTM 390 Duke – I think she wants my skin

Testing the KTM 390 Duke – I think she wants my skin

Before you begin reading this trial, note that it was written in May 2013, there are more than two years. The 1290 Super Duke R was not even out yet. Forgotten since it only lacked pictures for you to present it. we adapted the text to match the 2015 version of the bike that has hardly changed.

You know the seven families? I have in hand the 125 Duke, the 200 Duke, the 690 Duke, the 690 Duke R, and 990 SuperDuke A. I pick, surprise! KTM 390 series! Already 6 of 7 … In October I may dig again and you to guess what I will shoot!

For the Austrian brand, the 125 Duke and 200 Duke is a bit of printing presses. With it, KTM has won numerous market shares and worldwide. In the Swiss market in 2012, this success results in twelfth place delighted to Triumph Ducati while tailgating that misses the top 10. Mattighofen continues its momentum and further expands Duke family. Once we found it rich, it would be foolish to dig next …

By its engine, the new roadster is placed in the middle of the range. One might venture to say it’s a small-big Duke, but rather a large-small. Read on to see where I’m coming!


Like all KTM, the design of it is from the design office Kiska, a company owned by KTM. Technical development is also performed in Austria. Once marketable production is delegated to Bajaj, the largest producer of two-wheelers in India.

This is what makes me say this is a great small-KTM. Because much is still produced in Mattighofen. Those produced in India will be well delivered from Austria, where quality control is always carried out for the European market, but it’s not the same.

The Duke 390 rests on a chassis similar to that of the 200 Duke but which has been deeply revised. Already to cash a little less than double power but also to move the engine mounts that are not in the same places. Brakes are they identical, but still lack some teeth for better feedback to the lever. With ABS Bosch I have not managed to find fault, the Brembo braking is simply effective (even if it is called ByBre, the name given to the Brembo brake on machines less than 600cm3).

Placed side by side, the 125, 200 and 390 Duke merge perfectly. Everything has the same shape, welcome to the time of the optimal use of each room. On this model, it is very convenient given the impressive catalog of visual accessories to customize his Duke: everything is compatible. To recognize a 390 at first glance, look for the orange rims and especially the orange frame. These are two details that really well hang up and stick a clear identity to the real KTM.

All I had loved the 125 Duke is still there. The count is not complete (trip, average and current fuel consumption, average speed, trip time, autonomy, gear, etc.) but confuses force to display full info. The fairly wide handlebars that calls for taking a position that supermotard roadster is taken too. For cons, I do not remember the board that serves saddle; This time, I was shocked! Angular and hard to be if you want to travel a bit you will need to do there. Finally, perched at 80cm from the ground, it is above the average seat height of a roadster.

All that changed on this big sister feels that once the handlebars. Unlike the 10kg with a 200 do not feel at all to stop and even less rolling (thank you 18hp more!). Note in passing with 139 kg dry (about 153kg with liquid), the 390 Duke has more than 0.16kW per kg if it limited his power to 25kW. Therefore mapping dedicated to A- allowed is limited to 23kW. And if the license A2 ever happen to us, a walk to the garage to connect to a computer and that the power to set max 29kW! This clamping system, which requires no mechanical part or change in control unit may well be one that all A- allowed waited.


With the throttle roadster mid-size, the term “wind cable” makes sense. Indeed, to put full throttle, it seems to handle three rounds, so it is long! A handful quick draw not bring harm reactivity and thus driving pleasure. Unless it wanted to avoid causing fear to a young driver.

When accelerating, the 390 knows how to live. I would have liked more, but for such a small mill is honorable. Without playing the clutch, I managed to offload forward, proof that the available torque at 6,500 revolutions / minute is sufficient to have fun. To blackmail the 375 cm3, but you will need to wait Akrapovic muffler. When we know the noise that can make a KTM Enduro, I hardly believe that Mattighofen could not design a melodious and original homologated exhaust.
Despite the savings made at all levels, they are WP suspensions which equip all the little Duke. As Kiska, this brand depends on KTM, so it is normal to find its products on many models. You can stop dreaming, it’s still the low end lacks any setting (except for the shock preload) which is found on the 390 Duke.
The setting of the fork is optimal for comfort and driving precision of the front axle. The shock seems meanwhile a bit steep, almost jigger. There nevertheless remain stable curve over a wide speed range. Good, because that’s where we have fun as with the roadster mid-size!
With disconcerting agility, Duke flows from corner to corner to attack the apex. And according KTM deliver this bike with the same tires as the Indian 200 was not an option. This is why they have opted for Pirelli Rosso II tires better suited given the power increase. They have also demonstrated satisfactory grip on a damp floor, a fairly cool room temperature and heating time reduced.


In a pin in almost slowed in the second, the cylinder still has enough torque to resume and rev up quickly: a treat. But do not wait to change gears, because the breaker with his shift-light take place before the end of the control bar on the tachometer! Before 10’000tr / min is completed, while 14,000 rev / min is shown.

A few words about the gearbox. The lack of precision selector while the clutch is very strong for such a small motorcycle. The first reports are well spaced and allow already reaching 105 km / h in third from bottom. The fourth and fifth speeds provide good continuity. Finally, the sixth would have benefited from longer to favor the maximum speed, while in the present state of things is that the recovery is better ..
Whatever roadster, wind resistance will transform all your passes on a fast track in race against nature. The KTM 390 series is no exception to this rule because behind the microphone air deflector is your bust and your head that slow you down. This way, at legal speed on Swiss highway, the noise of the drum is quite bearable. Beyond 120 km / h, that’s another story.


With its small turning radius and its large wheels, the small Austrian roadster sneaks like a scooter in town. In addition, its light weight will not make you fear losing your balance in a maneuver and facilitate all engine off manipulations.

When one goes down the KTM 390 Duke, one is forced to see that was worth the money. CHF 5’790.- sold in concession, anyone who found his account. I myself have thought about buying one just to its ultra-toy playful side. In addition, its light and offbeat look like very much. Even for a budget that must still go through a bridle, the KTM is advantageous. Still, the small will claim to go to the garage every 7000 km, in addition to full-passage after the first 1000 km.

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