The 390 is not a hardcore rally bike for square-chinned Dakar wannabes – instead it’s for riders dipping a toe in muddy waters for the frist time. It is, say KTM, "aimed squarely at motorcyclists who are profoundly curious but perhaps unaccustomed to light off-roading."
The Adventure differs from the Duke by virtue of longer suspension, with 170mm of wheel travel from the adjustable WP forks and 177mm from the longer shock. There’s also a taller 19-inch front wheel to help it roll over off-road obstacles, with new tyre sizes of 100/90x19 and 130/80x17.
Seat height is 855mm and at 5ft 7in I can reach the ground with my toes. The LED instrument panel is clear and easy to read and a switch to the left gives me the option of Tarmac or Dirt mode. There’s ABS and traction control, too; not bad for £5499. The cornering ABS was pioneered by Bosch in cooperation with KTM.
I have no problems getting adjusted to the 390; an adventure machine is always forgiving. I sit comfortably and the bike just floats along. The easy action of the quickshifter makes the ride even easier and strong acceleration from low down makes overtaking slow-moving Tenerife traffic a breeze. It sounds good too.
As I carve through narrow alleys, up steep hillsides lined with old, derelict stone constructions and across bridges that look thousands of years old, the Adventure 390 pulls properly, using its 44bhp to good effect. The seating position is perfect on this well-proportioned bike and the upright riding position and high, wide handlebars all work wonderfully together.
This nifty little lightweight bike can be flung into corners with gusto and the WP APEX 43mm upside down forks and rear shock work well. Each fork leg has its own spring, with individual characteristics. Left regulates the compression damping and right looks after rebound and adjusting them is easy.
As a road bike, though, there’s a lot to like, but it’s time to see if the 390 Adventure can also deliver in the dirt. Flick the bike into the off-road mode and the electronics barely interfere.
The 390 engine is good enough for proper dirt riding and combined with a dry weight of only 158kg it really is a proper tool when the going gets grubby. And if it does go wrong, the bike is light enough to pick up on your own. I should know!
The 390 Adventure will also suit the less experienced. The 390 has enough of everything without being intimidating and, of course, offers that off-road riding option.
After about two hours in the saddle I feel that the seat could do with a little more padding. The standard screen is not adjustable and I’m feeling a bit wind weary. There are a few annoying vibrations, too, mostly caused by the knobbly Continental TKC 70 tyres.
That sensible 44bhp and light weight makes it great fun on trails and at just £5499, this little funster could prove a surprise hit for 2020. BMW’s G310GS is a tad cheaper (£5320), but not as accomplished as the KTM. Honda’s CB500X offers bigger cc for just £700 more, but it only has 3bhp more and won’t tackle the trails as well as the 390 Adventure.
It's also a rival to the Honda CRF250 Rally, Suzuki V-Strom 250, Kawasaki Versys-X 300 and Royal Enfield 400cc Himalayan.
Fuel consumption for the day of our test was about 56mpg so the 14.5-litre tank should give a 150-mile range.
The standard 390 comes with a black plastic bashguard, which looks okay but won’t stand up to much abuse. KTM offers a much tougher, aluminium version for an extra £165.
Smaller, more powerful LED lights on the 390 Adventure look good and work well. There’s still that split face, but the design has been refined and now looks striking rather than plain weird!
Some of our machines are equipped with Akrapovic cans; one of the options for the 390 Adventure. There are actually no less than 160 KTM Powerparts available for the Kid Adventure 390. (The Akrapovic does have… more sound.)