The 2017 KTM 390 Duke raised the A2 licence bar. It’s one of the most fun to ride, involving and high quality machines in its class. It’s refined, easy to live with, fast, comes with a high level of spec and superb attention to detail.
There’s a whole raft of official ‘Power Parts accessories', too. If you plan for this to be your first ‘big’ bike you’re in for a treat, but even if you’re an old hand it won’t fail to impress.
KTM completely transformed the 390 Duke for 2017, turning it from merely a good low-capacity naked, to the best machine in the entire A2 licence category. Giving the bike its first major updates since its inception in 2013, the 2017 version offers an unparalleled level of fun, quality and performance for its size.
Gone is the slightly lack lustre quality and styling and in its wake comes a 5.2in full colour dash, illuminated switchgear, brilliant panel fitment and deep glossy paint. Claimed dry weight is just 149kg dry, meaning its 44bhp single-cylinder engine has more than enough poke to achieve a decent level of performance.
For a thumpy single, the engine is impressively long-revving
At the front, the new non-adjustable WP forks are well damped and the four piston radial calipers bite hard, offering enough bite to inspire confidence in the corners. For a thumpy single, the engine is impressively long-revving and remains near-silent in traffic, but at high rpm it transforms into the snarl of a throaty crosser.
Despite its new-rider-friendly ergonomics, the 390 is serious fun. It’s capable of a genuine 100mph, you can tempt the Duke into the occasional wheelie and it will back into corners when the ABS is switched to Supermoto mode. To comply with the new stringent Euro4 emission laws, KTM have given this bike a ride-by-wire throttle and a bigger airbox.
A side-mounted exhaust also replaces the old stubby underslung unit. This year’s bike keeps its slipper clutch, which was added in 2015, and a new chassis also gives the 390 its sharp handling.
If you fancy an A2-friendly naked but the KTM isn't your cup of tea, you should consider the Honda CB300R, Kawasaki Z300, BMW G310R or Benelli BN302.