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
MCN AWARDS
Best sub-500cc 2018
WINNER

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
Power: 44 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.7 in / 830 mm)
Weight: Low (329 lbs / 149 kg)

Prices

New £4,699
Used £3,500 - £4,500

Overall rating

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

The 2017 KTM Duke 390 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.

Once you've read this review and our owners' reviews, you may want to join an online community to meet likeminded people. There's a popular owners' club for this bike at the KTM Duke 390 Forum.

Ride quality & brakes

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

As well as a smoother power delivery and more grunt, the new KTM Duke 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 KTM 390 Duke owners' reviews shows the bike is a lot of fun, but a little costly to run due to expensive servicing and maintenance. 

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.

A2 group test: KTM Duke 390 vs Kawasaki Ninja 400 KRT Edition vs Honda CBR500R

First published in MCN 16 May 2016 by Adam Child

Kawasaki Ninja 400 vs KTM Duke 390 vs Honda CBR500R

When did A2 bikes get so appealing? Turn the clock back 20 years and entry-level bikes were about as exciting as Antiques Roadshow. Remember Honda’s CB400 Superdream in the 80s or Suzuki’s GS500E in the 90s? I rode those bikes and still shudder now. But today new riders have a plethora of bikes to choose from and with Kawasaki recently launching their new Ninja 400 they’ve made the decision even harder. So we chose to put it against our class favourites from last year, Honda’s

CBR500R and KTM’s naked 390 Duke, and subject all three to the unforgiving examination of the MCN250 test route.

And the verdict? There are many reasons why the Kawasaki should win this test. It’s the quickest, therefore the most fun. Most preferred its sporty looks and it handles far better than its price suggests. But the catch is that it doesn’t have the all-round capabilities of the Honda.

The CBR feels like a bigger bike. Its dimensions are normal-size and it’s comfortable, refined, and smooth, offering a huge tank range and excellent fuel economy. If I had to pick one bike to do it all again, I’d pick the CBR. The KTM is tempting, fun and punchy and more

importantly it’s over a grand cheaper than the Honda, but if you want a bike for daily use and long trips it falls behind. The Honda wins.

Kawasaki Ninja 400 vs KTM Duke 390 vs Honda CBR500R tested group test

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

It’s the KTM Duke 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 £45
Annual service cost £200
New price £4,699
Used price £3,500 - £4,500
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

  • 2013: KTM first launched the 390 Duke in 2013. The 373cc single-cylinder A2-licence-friendly machine is an overnight success for KTM.
  • 2017: Model updated.

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)

6 owners have 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: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Engine: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Value vs rivals: 3.8 out of 5 (3.8/5)
Equipment: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £200
5 out of 5 The best little bike on the block.
05 July 2021 by Lee Etherington

Year: 2020

Giant killer ! On real roads this little gem will show a clean pair of wheels to many a bigger bike.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

More than adequate brakes, handling slightly upset on bumpy roads due to unadjustable budget forks and shock, but great for the price.

Engine 4 out of 5

Great performance when ridden hard, but slightly uneven at low speeds.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Excellent build quality, has not missed a beat.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

Good TFT screen, excellent lights, Bluetooth connection.

Buying experience: Bought from Jim Aime KTM in Essex. Great deal , price matched with extras thrown in.

5 out of 5 Easily the Most Fun bike for the price
23 May 2021 by Frank

Version: Orange

Year: 2020

I worked in the MC industry and have demoed all sorts of naked and supermoto bikes over the years, from CRF250s and 701SMs to Tuonos and Superdukes. I wanted a fun bike for the city and I can honestly say that for around town at semi legal speeds to about 100kph this is probably the most fun bike I’ve ever ridden. When cost is taken into account there is no comparison.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Best for blasting around the city by yourself for a couple of hours. My favourite features are the light weight and fun punchy engine, firm handling and slick gearbox. A city supermoto for half the price of a 450 SM conversion and won’t vibrate you to death on the highway.

Engine 5 out of 5

Punchy and very smooth to redline. No real vibes. Pretty amazing really. Super slick shifting easy clutch pull and slipper clutch.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Seems to have a glitch with the oil pressure sensor coming on and off occasionally. Some oil seep but no leaks. Not perfect but no sign. issues so far. 2 yr warranty here so I wouldn’t be worried.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Oil change and check at 1000km

Equipment 5 out of 5

Really nicely equipped even compared to some middleweight naked. Upside down forks, radial front caliper, slipper clutch, light controls, ride by wire, great TFT screen, LEDs, trellis frame, awesome styling, orange wheels!!I didn’t by a small bike to get attention but it get thumbs up all the time from riders and non riders because of the distinctive looks. Pretty cool considering again it’s price.

Buying experience: Bought used as a 3 month trade from a new rider who wanted something bigger...Saved about $2500 after freight, fees and taxes on a like new bike with 1300 km so I was really happy.

5 out of 5 Great things come in orange
11 May 2021 by Paxo

Year: 2020

Delivers the same fun as my old Monster, its comfortable, fast enough, good value and would highly recommend.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Just been out on it for 5 hours and only had one very brief stop. No numb bum, room to move around on the seat and could have ridden it all day.

Engine 5 out of 5

Enough poke to put a smile on my face up to 70/80 mph and happy to cruise at 65/70 and enjoy the ride.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

I keep it in the garage and only use it for fun in the dry and after a 1,000 miles its still like new.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Had to pay for its 1st service at 600 miles after running in. Cost £160 which i think is high.

Equipment 4 out of 5

In this country shouldn't all bikes have heated grips as standard !

Buying experience: Bought from Cooperized KTM in Feltham on pcp for £4,290

5 out of 5 Want big fun on a small budget. Get a KTM 390 Duke
17 April 2021 by Fowlers Rides

Year: 2017

Annual servicing cost: £200

I fell in love with the little 390 when I first saw the latest model and at the time I owned a Fireblade and was looking to change to a naked bike. Not knowing if this was the right thing to do I bought the little KTM and kept the blade as well. Instead of buying a larger naked bike. All I can say is 4 years on I still love the little KTM and I've replaced the blade with a more comfy Z1000SX but for most rides it's the 390 I want to be. It's just so much fun. If you can only afford one bike just for blasting around local back roads or commuting look no further. It's that good

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

It is a good all round bike but I've changed the seats to the ergo ones to make it more comfy on long trips which it is(a bit) With a pillion you do need to work it a bit to make fast progress but it's more than capable. I'm even thinking of doing a tour on it to see how it copes. being a naked small bike it's not great on duel carriageways or motorways. Over 70 the wind pressure is pretty bad on my chest. I added a powerparts small screen but this was no help.

Engine 5 out of 5

For it's size the engine is great it fly's on and makes you want to hammer it everywhere too. it does run out of puff about 100mph though but the wind pressure stops you getting to that speed anyway.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

It still looks good but as the bike lives outside I have noticed a few tiny spots of rust starting to appear. Also had trouble staring it recently but after a battery charge all was good again which I'm glad of as the TFT was saying all sorts of issues were happening.

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

I think the last service was over £200 and I'm not quite sure what was done for that money but I like to keep a main dealer service history up if I can.

Equipment 5 out of 5

I paid £4600 new and was amazed what you get with this good looking little bike. The TFT is great and I've got it connected to my phone too.(you have to pay extra for this feature) and the suspension and brakes may not be top quality but work fine. I own a little fiesta ST which is a great fun car and this really is the motorcycle equivalent.

Buying experience: No issues. Sadly the dealer I bought from no longer sells KTM but there's on in Exeter now where I take it to be serviced

5 out of 5 KTM 390 it's an animal
02 October 2020 by KTM oldy

Year: 2018

So light and nimble

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Brakes fantastic, ride bit choppy on front but sure footed. Changes direction easily gives lots of confidence on lanes but can be bumpy on front and through handlebars

Engine 5 out of 5

For a single pot it's brilliant, goes well bit of an animal.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Keep an eye on oil levels, no leaks but does use oil, even from dealers insufficient oil in bike, no dipstick just sight glass and no easy to see. Be aware of dash faults (condensation) and fuel metering set too lean ,can cause stalling when new, dealers have no cure and no software upgrades

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

As usual dealers are expensive and confusing in regard as to what should be carried out at services. KTM are no help as they refer you to dealers

Equipment 4 out of 5

Needs centre stand, hazards, handguards.

Buying experience: Dealer 4995 , did a deal on 2.

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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