Riding the KTM Duke 390 for the very first time, at the Buddh International Circuit

Riding the KTM Duke 390 for the very first time at the Buddh International Circuit was the moment of truth. The machine thrills the rider on the track and of course off it. The KTM Duke 390 has become a cult and the numbers just prove it. The first time time you sit on it, being to feel the machine, the riding position and the controls, you would be at ease and the worry of 44ps of power that would be unleashed by just the twist of your wrist would just fade away.

We bashed the Duke 390 for six laps on the most awesome tarmac in the country at the Buddh International Circuit. The result is our rider now wants to take it off road, and that’s definitely happening later. We hope it happens soon.

KTM Duke 390What stands out for this KTM is the power that comes in early in the rev range. The single cylinder churns out 44 ps @ 9500. The machine feels great in the first gear, and is ready to wheel up at the start. Cornering confidence comes gradually, perhaps due to our first ride of this machine.The brakes, the Metzler tires, the suspension all have been equally matched to the engine. The only bummer is that the rear wheel locks up while down shifting, which can be re-mediated by a slipper clutch.

The engineering team at Bajaj and KTM did not leave any stone unturned to make KTM 390, a spectacular and a totally fun machine, but we do wonder why they leave out the slipper clutch. We assume the main reason is to keep the cost low and the attractive price tag. How about making the slipper clutch an option we say? One would not miss it so much and is not a reason to look for other options, one can easily ride this bike. The fun, excitement, and the power the machine offers comes at less than 2 lacs. Let’s break it down:
Acceleration

  • The KTM 390 weighs only 154 kgs with fuel and 44 ps output make this a very power packed machine.
  • Do not expect linear power, as it is not a twin/triple or an inline four but do expect wheelie inducing raw power.

Ride quality

  • Comfortable seating and upright posture perfect for that daily city commute.

Handling

  • Light weight enables extremely good handling.
  • Handling and stability at high speed is impressive, 150 rear tyre and suspension do a great job
  • Braking from 168 kmph to 80 for a corner comes easy
  • Absolutely Forgiving. the bike lets you make errors and be a better rider, probably the most important element of 390.
  • ABS is definitely a plus.

Verdict
KTM 390 is possibly the best bike one can buy in 1.80 lacs. It’s equally good for the street, off-roading (with off road tyres) and the occasional track day. The bike is a little low on premium bike feel compared to competition’s Ninja 300 or the old Ninja 250r, but that also translates into cheaper spares as you go along becoming a better rider. You are surely to make mistakes while riding these high powered machines but Duke 390 will be easy on the pocket.
KTM Duke 390 is the machine worth spending time on before getting a bigger upgrade which makes us think how good the RC 390 will be…That’s something for us to ponder upon till we get our hands on it and ride it on the track. Until then, get your 390 and unleash the rider in you!

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