KTM Duke 390 Review
The KTM Duke 390 is a beast of a motorcycle. It’s lightweight, easy to handle, yet it has the torque you need to make it fun on the streets and safe on the freeway. It might just be in the top 5 best beginner motorcycles out there.
Fun for the streets
The Duke 390 is the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s single cylinder engine comes in at a respectable 373cc’s, a bit larger than both the Ninja 300 or the the CBR 250, giving you more grunt when passing at higher speeds. With a single cylinder engine you expect more torque down low, and while the Duke 390 does have some, it really begins to shine in the mid range and higher RPM’s.
This is one bike that you can be a bit of a hooligan on. It will pull power wheelies if you give it a good helping of throttle and drop the clutch. Not many beginner bikes can say that!
Great Learner Bike
Even though this bike encourages you to be a bit of a hooligan, it really is set up perfectly for new riders. It doesn’t have excessive plastic fairings so it will be able to survive a drop much better than something fully faired. The way that the engine delivers power is also predictable and gives you practice shifting through the gears.
The bike is also lightweight, as most bikes in this class are. That REALLY helps when you are doing some low speed maneuvers and you get off balance. It’s much easier trying to save a smaller bike like this from a drop than it is some 600+ lb Harley Davidson.
If you want to check out a real rider trying this bike for the first time, check out RidingWithTom on youtube. He’s a fantastic rider and recently got the opportunity to try out his friend’s 390.
Weird and bad things…
The Duke 390 is a great all around bike, but there are still a few things that are far from perfect. The first is the play in the throttle. Most of these smaller Dukes have a bit of play in the throttle before it actually starts engaging the engine. That’s not a huge thing, and it could be fixed with a little bit of wrenching on the owners part. Still, it sucks having to fix something on a brand new bike, even if its not critical to riding.
The most glaring thing about this bike is the absence of hazard indicators. It has turn signals and they work great, but there is no button that I can see that lets you put on your hazard flashers. That seems odd that they would forget or even choose not to include one.
Some riders also complain about the alloy wheels being fragile if you are going off road or traveling on heavily potholed streets. This may be the case, but the alloy wheels are designed specifically for racing in order to be light weight. If you ride on decent roads and avoid taking your bike in the dirt (which it’s not design for), then you will be more than fine. These wheels make it a great bike to take to the track.
Is the duke for you?
That really depends on what type of rider you are. If you are a new rider and you want a bike that is safe, reliable, inexpensive, and stylish, I think the Duke 390 could fit that bill. It works especially well if you know you have a bit of a wild side and you are nervous about getting bored with a smaller bike. You won’t get bored with the duke!
If you are a rider trying to decide between a 300cc machine and a 500+cc machine, the duke may also fit that role nicely. It has a bit more power than many of the 200-300cc bikes out there, and the fact that it is so light weight really helps that power ratio. It cruises well on the freeway and it has the power to pass people even at higher speeds.
The duke wouldn’t be for you if you really don’t like the look of it. It’s a unique looking bike and it’s not as sporty or sexy as the Ninja 300 or the Yamaha R3. It’s more utilitarian, and in my opinion, a bit more badass. It also wouldn’t be the best bike if you wanted to do a lot of off road riding. It really is a street bike and it’s designed for paved roads.
- Great engine with more power than usual beginner bikes
- Can pass on the freeway and small enough to split lanes easily
- A fun bike
- Great for the track
- No hazard flasher button
- Gas tank is a little small for touring
- ENGINE: Liquid-cooled single, four-stroke
- DISPLACEMENT: 373.2cc
- BORE & STROKE: 89mm x 60.0mm
- HORSEPOWER: 43 hp at 9500 rpm
- TORQUE: 25.8 lb.-ft. @ 7250 rpm
- TRANSMISSION: Six-speed
- CLUTCH: Wet multiplate
- IGNITION SYSTEM: Electronic, with digital timing adjustment
- FRAME: Tubular-steel space frame, powdercoated
- FORK: Inverted WP fork
- SHOCK ABSORBER: WP Monoshock
- FRONT SUSPENSION: 5.9 in.
- REAR SUSPENSION: 5.9 in.
- FRONT BRAKES: 300mm disc brake with four-pot brake caliper
- REAR BRAKES: 230mm disc brake with one-pot brake caliper
- STEERING HEAD ANGLE: 65°
- WHEELBASE: 53.8 in.
- GROUND CLEARANCE (UNLOADED): 6.7 in.
- SEAT HEIGHT (UNLOADED): 32.5 in.
- FUEL TANK CAPACITY: APPROX.2.9 gal.
- DRY WEIGHT: 306.4 lb