KTM 390 DUKE (2017 - on) Review

Highlights

  • A2 licence friendly, great first big bike
  • High spec, superb attention to detail
  • Range of Power Parts tuning accessories

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Power: 44 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.7 in / 830 mm)
Weight: Low (329 lbs / 149 kg)

Prices

New £4,699
Used £3,800 - £4,300

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

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.

MCN is riding the 2020 KTM 390 Duke in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for the review coming soon. 

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

As well as a smoother power delivery and more grunt, the new 390 also has sharper handling and more precise steering thanks to a new chassis. The steel trellis frame, which now has a bolt-on subframe and a 690 look-a-like lattice swingarm, has racier geometry and a slightly more canted-forward riding position that shifts more weight on to the front end.

As a result, there’s extra feel for what the front end is doing in the corners, but the KTM is still roomy, comfortable and with its straight bars, still has an aggressive, supermoto feel to it.

It’s nimble through traffic and has a natural new-rider-friendly riding position for riders big and small. New riders will find it simple to get on with and it’s still an impressive machine for the more experienced. 

Adding to the sense of big-bike quality is the new WP 43mm upside down forks and single rear shock. KTM reckon they’ve spent a lot of time developing these units for the new machine and you can tell. Braking is also improved with the old model’s four-piston radial Bybre (a subsidiary of Brembo) caliper now gnawing a single disc that’s grown from 300 to 320mm.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

To keep up with Euro 4 regs, the 390 Duke’s four-valve 44bhp, 373.2cc single-cylinder motor now has ride-by-wire, a side-mount exhaust, replacing the old stubby underslung item and a bigger airbox. KTM says it makes 5.7% more torque at low rpm.

You also get a slipper clutch (added to the 390 in 2015). It might be small, but the engine is smooth, punchy and there isn’t much it can’t do in the real world, especially with just 149kg (dry) to push along. It has performance to keep you interested long after you’ve jumped through the hoops needed to get your full licence.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

In June 2017 KTM issued a recall of their 125 and 390 Duke motorcycles after it was found that there were some issues with the headlight. The recall will address the issue by carrying out a software update that addresses the issue.

Only time will tell if the new 390 Duke will be more durable than the original, which suffered some reliability and quality issues. The new machine’s build quality, paint finish and level of components is much improved, so the signs are good.

Our single KTM 390 Duke owners' review shows the bike is a lot of fun, but a little costly to run.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

With a vast improvement in build quality, more expensive-feeling components and lots of snazzy standard equipment, the 390 Duke offers the best value for money in the A2 licence class.

A new one will set you back £4699, and used examples are already coming onto the market at a little under £4000.

If you fancy an A2-friendly naked but the KTM isn't your cup of tea, you should consider the Honda CB300RKawasaki Z300BMW G310R or Benelli BN302.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

It’s the 390’s first major overhaul since its launch in 2013 and KTM have left no stone unturned. As well as new styling the fuel tank capacity is up from 11 to 13.4 litres and there’s a new two-piece seat, handlebars, adjustable levers, riding modes, ABS and a new 1290 Super Duke R-style LED headlight.

It also has a multi-function glass-fronted 5.2” TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity. With its superb panel fit and deep paintwork, the Indian-built 390 Duke is every inch the baby 690 Duke R or 1290 Super Duke R.

Specs

Engine size 373cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4v, single
Frame type Tubular steel Trellis
Fuel capacity 13.4 litres
Seat height 830mm
Bike weight 149kg
Front suspension 43mm WP forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Single WP shock, adjustable for preload
Front brake 320mm disc with Bybre four-piston radial caliper.
Rear brake 220mm single disc with single-piston caliper.
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 150/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £44
Annual service cost -
New price £4,699
Used price £3,800 - £4,300
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term -

Top speed & performance

Max power 44 bhp
Max torque 27 ft-lb
Top speed 105 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

KTM first launched the 390 Duke in 2013. The 373cc single-cylinder A2-licence-friendly machine is an overnight success for KTM.

Other versions

The KTM 390 Duke is part of a range of machines to cater for riders of all levels and licences. The KTM 125 Duke is the learner legal version, but still has a big bike feel. Above the 390 you find the KTM 690 Duke, a fully-grown version with 72.5bhp but the same lightness and flickability as the others.

Owners' reviews for the KTM 390 DUKE (2017 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their KTM 390 DUKE (2017 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KTM 390 DUKE (2017 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
5 out of 5 KTM Duke 2:year test
10 April 2020 by 390oldie

Year: 2018

Great fun , bit of an animal, light, love it if

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Choppy on front end, too stiff? Brakes brilliant.

Engine 4 out of 5

Needs to be smoother at bottom of rev range, possible too lean to meet current regs Needs different engine maps avaiable.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Tappets , shims, at 3000 expensive.

Equipment 4 out of 5

No hazzards, switch gear clunky,

Buying experience: Dealers

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