Review: 2017 KTM 390 Duke
KTM significantly updated their 390 Duke this year, Jeff puts the new model to the test! Review by Jeff Ware, Images by SMac Media & KTM
The KTM 390 Duke has been a hit since it was first released in 2013, although it did arrive later to some markets. In fact, it did damn well in our LAMS Shootout back then against larger capacity multi-cylinder bikes. The big plus for the 390 Duke is the sporty nature of the single-cylinder engine. It’s a trick little donk, with only 373.2cc capacity it punches way above its size.
With an oversquare 89mm x 60mm bore x stroke and a high 12.6:1 compression ratio, the water-cooled four-valve DOHC single puts out 44hp and 37Nm of torque. With a dry weight of only 149kg, a close six-speed gearbox and a slipper clutch, the result is pure fun!
This year saw a few key improvements to the 390, both the Duke and the RC (see separate test). First of all, there are the obvious styling and graphics updates to the already cool looking Kiska Design beast. There is a new headlight across the KTM road range, which are LED, a new narrower tail section and refined riding ergonomics.
The bike also now meets Euro4 and has a full RbW system, plus a funky new TFT display dash, which is fantastic. It even has KTM My Ride connectivity so you can Bluetooth your phone to the dash, standard here in Australia as a bonus.
The frame has had some redesigning, with a new bolt-on sub-frame, which is finished in white to stand out. Pillion and rider seats are now separate, too, and the 43mm inverted WP forks are revised. Other good news is that KTM listened to owners and press and increased the fuel tank capacity from 11 to 13.4L, as well as added adjustable clutch and brake levers, while the front rotor is now a larger 320mm item, a welcome upgrade.
The TFT display is cool and fun and a first in the LAMS segment. Background colour and light adjust automatically to ambient temperature, the speedo display is blue when the engine is warming up and even turns red when the speed gets high. The Smartphone integration means hands free use and audio player functionality, so you can answer calls (with an earpiece) or choose music via the switchblock on the left handlebar. Small touches count, like the body fasteners hidden, and finish is great quality.
The headlight has a lot of technology in it. A bike like the 390 Duke is bound to be an all-rounder ridden lots at night, so a good light is a must. The light was built to meet International ISO 26262 guidelines. The light control unit, located inside the actual light, communicates with other control systems of the bike via CAN-Bus, resulting in the use of only a single wire for high beam. Also, a 20-LED position light ensures the bike is more easily recognised on the road for safety reasons.
These are the main changes we got for the current 390, the rest remains as good as it already was. So how is the ride?
THE RIDE: 2017 KTM 390 Duke
The KTM 390 Duke is a tiny bike, there is no arguing that, but surprisingly it is not at all cramped, with an 830mm seat height and tight but comfy ‘bar reach, the extremely narrow nakedbike feels like a mini streetfighter and it feels fun before you even start the engine.
The new dash looks horn and the bike, in my opinion, looks fantastic in either Orange panels or White panels. The finish is great, despite the bike being built in India, quality control is obviously high. The engine coating is neat, with nice KTM highlights and the entire package is typical KTM quality.
Firing the bike up has the little thumper firing away smoothly, with a quiet but still racy enough rumble from the muffler. A few blips on the throttle reveal nothing though; it stays quiet as expected but would be awesome with a PowerParts Akrapovic on it!
Heading off, it is immediately clear that the RbW system is spot on, as there is no snatch or throttle jump and response is lively. The new cleaner running engine hasn’t lost any of its personality, something I am happy about and the main thing that was on my mind the night before the ride. I have always had a blast on the 390 Duke and was hoping that emissions regulations weren’t going to kill that fun, and I need not have worried as this beast is still a blast!
Honestly, even as a highly experienced rider, this bike is bloody awesome fun. It hammers for a little single, with more torque and acceleration than any of the smaller capacity LAMS machines out there, only matched by larger bikes, like the parallel twins and multi-cylinder LAMS models. However, they come with the weight handicap so the RC 390 remains top dog in my opinion.
From off idle to over 9000rpm, the DOHC rev-happy single howls and I really can’t fault it in any way whatsoever. Off idle, fuelling is smooth, clutch action light and with great feel, and the gearbox is positive yet slick enough. In the upper bottom end to mid range, the engine really pulls well and you could easily mistake it for a twin. I’m 90kg and was still able to short-shift and roll on between turns on the bike. Amazing.
However, the surprises, and the smiles, really start to happen up top when the revs rise and the little 390 starts to come to life like a rev happy race bike. Keeping it in the high rpm via the well-matched ratios is a joy and getting serious on the throttle is rewarding.
With the tractable nature of the engine and the 44hp output, the throttle can be pinned to 100 per cent at the apex of most turns, at around 6000rpm, and the RC quickly drives off the turn, reaching peak power on the exit. Fun factor is 10/10.
The engine is a gem, and although it runs warm with the thermo fan on most of the time, it didn’t miss a beat on my full day loop.
The chassis was and still is impressive. This is a great learner bike, as it has good geometry, suspension, brakes and goes where you look, which is a must for Learner riders. Chassis quality is often where a manufacturer will cut costs in the LAMS segment but not KTM.
This is a mini version of the mighty Super Duke R… With 95mm of trail and a 35º steering angle, along with a 1357mm wheelbase, the 390 Duke is sharp steering yet ultra stable. This brings loads of confidence in the 110-section front tyre and helps get the best feel and also confidence when using the front brakes to maximum effect, all positives for the new rider.
Turn-in is fast and predictable, and the little bike holds a line well once in the turn, yet can be put just about anywhere needed should hazards appear.
The WP suspension, although basic in spec, is really well sorted and surprised me, as the rear has 150mm of travel, which is great, and is linkless but settles quickly and was faultless on all parts of my loop, from smooth switchbacks to bumpy corners.
The four-piston radial-mount caliper is sufficient and the 320mm rotor means there is ample stopping power with no fade. Feel is good at the lever point, also, and the Bosch ABS system, which has a SuperMoto mode and is switchable, is top spec and faultless.
Overall, I really can highly recommend this bike to the new rider or even the experienced rider after a fun bike for daily use. It is a little gem and fantastic value. And reading between the lines, there is a lot more to come from KTM in the future, with over 120-million Euro invested in new model development in the past year alone, I think us road bike fans are in for some good times on the orange Beasts in the near future.
The 390 could be the stepping-stone for the new rider to end up on a 690 then a big 1290 in the future. If you are looking for a new small capacity bike, make sure you head to your local KTM dealer and try the 390 Duke…
2017 KTM 390 Duke Gallery
2017 KTM 390 Duke (LAMS) Specifications
Price: $6,495 + ORC
Warranty: Two year, unlimited kilometre
Colours: Orange, White
Claimed power: 32kW[44hp]@9000rpm
Claimed torque: 37Nm[27.3ft-lbs]@7000rpm
Wet weight: 149kg
Fuel capacity: 13.4L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke, 89 x 60mm bore x stroke, 373.2cc, 12.6:1 compression, six-speed gearbox, Bosch EFI and engine management system, 46mm throttle-body, RbW
Clutch: PASC mechanical slipper clutch
Gearbox: Six-speed gearbox
Chassis: Steel trellis frame, bolt-on rear sub-frame
Seat height: 830mm, Wheelbase: 1357mm
Steering head ange: , Trail: 95mm
Suspension: 43mm WP USD forks, no adjustment, 142mm travel, WP shock absorber with stepped preload adjustment, 150mm travel
Brakes: Bosch 9.1MP Two Channel ABS, Single front four-piston, radial-mounted caliper, 320mm rotor, single-piston rear floating-pin caliper, 230mm rotor
Wheels & tyres: Cast aluminium, ten-spoke wheels, 3.00 x 17in, 4.00 x 17in, Metzeler Sportec M5, 110/70 – 17, 150/60 – 17
Instruments: TFT multi-function display
The Verdict | Review: 2017 KTM 390 Duke
KTM’s 390 Duke has been updated for Euro4 with some great tweaks, so how does it compare to the previous iterations? It’s only gotten better and builds on already great performance and handling…