KTM has raised the A2 licence bar with its 2017 390 Duke. 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.
Ride Quality & Brakes4 out of 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.
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.
Engine5 out of 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.
Build Quality & Reliability4 out of 5
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.
Insurance, running costs & value4 out of 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.
Equipment4 out of 5
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 colour dash with Bluetooth adaptively.