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Scraping Your Knee?
Show me your knee.
Ha, Ha, Ha.
How’s that as a start of a review? Well, that was 2011. I was 12 years younger than I am right now so doing edgy stuff is justified. But more than that, it was the bike I was reviewing that made me do that. KTM had just entered the Indian market with the 200 Duke, the very first in India. It was a racket, to say the least. It was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Radical, edgy, and an absolute cracker to ride. Precision on a racetrack is what KTM considers to be their forte and that photo of me squashing that orange with my knee was a testament to that.
The 200 Duke was followed by the even mental 390 Duke. With a kerb weight of motorcycles much less powerful, it came in with a smidge over 42 horses. As expected, it was sensational. So with their very first couple of motorcycles, KTM established themselves as one of the most sought-after performance motorcycle manufacturers in India. Moreover, they have not run out of steam since then and the number of KTMs seen on the road today speaks volumes of KTM’s success in India.
Then came the second generation of the 390 Duke. Inspired by the Super Duke, the styling got even sharper and edgier. It gained a lot of tech as well with stuff like a TFT screen, Supermoto ABS, ride-by-wire and so on. The power-to-weight ratio remained just as good and as a result, KTM had another winner on their hands. I rode the 390 Duke for over 3,000 km in Iceland and I can attest to the fact that it is a wonderful motorcycle. It can tour as well as it can race, albeit with a windscreen. On the streets, it is already a proven hooligan.
So the second generation of the KTM 390 Duke seemed like a near-perfect motorcycle. Not a manufacturer to sit on their laurels, KTM took their sweet time to refine the 390 Duke formula even more. And now, we have the 3rd generation on hand. If you thought it could not get any more radical, think again. If you thought it could not get any quicker, think again. If you thought it could not recreate the magic all over again. THINK AGAIN! Welcome, everyone, to the 2024 KTM 390 Duke!
Bajaj invited xBhp to check the new 390 Duke out and I could not miss it for the world. So, I did just that, rode my heart out; on the track, on the road, and some backroads. As always, I like to ride motorcycles but not review them in a manner that people have come to expect of everyone else. I like to ride motorcycles, I like to talk about them, and I like to explore what went into the birth of the idea that became the motorcycle. So, let us get to it.
Starting with the looks, I feel like bigger motorcycles are getting smaller and smaller motorcycles are getting bigger. This is certainly the case with the 2024 KTM 390 Duke. It has an even larger visual footprint now. The extended fairing and the broader fascia make it seem like a Super Duke. The raw and edgy feel has not been watered down though. It looks even more menacing than before with the headlamp and those DRLs on the floating panels.
It has a lot of visual bulk but it is all well-placed. That is why, despite the extended fairing, it looks very proportional in person. The offset rear shock is also a good addition. In terms of function, it has allowed for a larger airbox but more than anything, it just looks pretty good. If we could have had a single-sided swingarm with it… well, that’s another coin in the wishing well. You can get the 2024 KTM 390 Duke in two colourways; Orange Metallic and Atlantic Blue. While the orange gives all the KTM feels, I believe the blue will have more eyeballs on the road.
Another thing that has made a welcome comeback is the underbelly exhaust. Exhausts are a necessity but sometimes, they mess with the lines of the motorcycle. With an underbelly exhaust, the 2024 KTM 390 Dukes looks clean and has all of its Duke-ness on full display. It is an impressive feat that KTM has managed to fit everything needed to adhere to all the norms and keep it so compact.
Sitting on the motorcycle emphasizes the sheer visual mass even more. The rear of the motorcycle though left me a bit wanting. With the new subframe, it does not look as sharp and sleek as before. In terms of the bar that KTM set themselves, the rear falls just a tad bit short. It is not bad or anything, it just could have been a bit better. The rear tyre hugger is gone and KTM is just making do with an extended tail of sorts. It is not ideal but still better than the huggers.
Before I talk about performance, I would like to talk about features. Nowadays, a lot of manufacturers are pushing the envelope in terms of how much tech they can cram in a motorcycle. A class-leading example could be the recently launched TVS Apache RTR 310. In that department, the 2024 KTM 390 Duke isn’t quite there but not too far behind either. It gets all LED lighting, new switchgear, and a new TFT display. In terms of electronics too, the new 390 Duke gets a fair bit.
Thanks to ride-by-wire, the new KTM 390 Duke now has riding modes along with a Supermoto mode that disables the ABS on the rear wheel. It also gets traction control along with Launch Control in track mode. I am not sure how usable it is but might as well have it than not. It also gets Bluetooth connectivity to enable features like Call/SMS notifications, turn-by-turn navigation and so on. The quickshifter is standard and it works quite well. The highlight here though is the fact that both the front and rear suspension are adjustable!
The new KTM 390 Duke has also undergone some weight reduction in the best way possible. Lighter wheels, discs, and the hollow hub have allowed KTM to reduce a decent bit of unsprung mass which results in a motorcycle that can turn on a dime. But the highlight of the 2024 KTM 390 Duke is the power-to-weight ratio. It has not only lost weight but gained some power as well thanks to the increased displacement of 399cc.
With that, the 2024 KTM 390 Duke gets 46 PS of power and 39 Nm of torque. The numbers may not seem substantially better than before, but I can assure you that it has made a real difference. The engine has been tuned in a way that makes the 2024 KTM 390 Duke more rideable on the road. It no longer feels as anaemic in the lower range. It feels much more eager and much peppier now.
In terms of riding, I rode the 2024 390 Duke on the racetrack, in some traffic, on some highways, and then on some backroads. One of the biggest advantages that works in the favour of the new 390 Duke is the weight. On the racetrack, it would fire out of corners like bats out of hell. Also, I am happy to report that it is even more precise than ever. I may smash another orange to prove that but since I have, take my word for it.
The revs build up nicely and quickly, the acceleration is intoxicating and the pull is just relentless. I absolutely love the new engine and its characteristics. On the road as well, the new KTM 390 Duke left me impressed. It is much easier to manage it in the traffic and it does not lurch and jerk like the previous interaction. The tractability has become much better as well and overall, the new KTM 390 Duke is much less of a pain when ridden slowly.
In terms of highways or touring, the KTM 390 Duke shines again. As mentioned earlier, with some add-ons, there is no reason why one cannot tour on this motorcycle. It has the power you need to keep yourself entertained on the boring highways and it has the composure that you need when dealing with bad roads and slow progress. In terms of ergonomics, it is balanced and neither too aggressive nor too sporty.
Overall, the 2024 KTM 390 Duke is even more fun than before. That was something I thought was not possible but apparently, KTM knew exactly what to do and they went for it hard. Now, there is one more thing that I need to address on that note. Because of how much fun KTMs are, a tag has risen to prominence- “chhapri” and unfortunately, it has been associated with KTMs or more so with the kind of riding it enables one to do.
Simply put, the meaning of the tag is loud and cringe behaviour. KTMs are inherently fun and that is why people riding them indulge in all kinds of riding. Not all of them, but a fair few of them. Those are just the kind of motorcycles KTM makes, it makes our inner hooligan surface. That said, before we label people, we must stop and think about what we are implying. If we do, we’ll realize that we have all conformed to that particular label more than once.
With all of that, I am not trying to defend people who ride rashly, ride in their slippers, or ride without helmets or proper gear. What I am trying to say here is that instead of labelling people, we should focus our energies on trying to educate people. Teach them about the importance of proper riding gear and following the traffic rules and regulations. Putting labels on people or motorcycles simply inhibits the growth of motorcycling in general. Avoiding that might also help us educate people and make them realize their own potential and that of their motorcycle in a safe environment.
Regardless, we have talked about the 2024 KTM 390 Duke in a fair bit of detail. Now, the price. It starts at INR 3.10 lacs (Ex-Showroom) and I believe that at the price, it is a steal. Some motorcycles undercut it in terms of price but they are all far behind in terms of power and some, in terms of features on offer as well. The price may feel steep but if you look closely, the new 390 Duke is a value-for-money product. And with a comprehensive service network around the country and readily available spares and parts, the new 390 Duke seems like an even better deal.
All in all, KTM has hit the nail bang on its head once again and it just makes me want to do stuff again… stuff like…
Scraping Your Knee?
Show me your knee.
Ha, Ha, Ha.