Illustration for article titled Ride review - KTM 390 Duke

I wanted to love it.

A brand new 390 was available for under $4k out the door, which is a good $1500 off MSRP. All the reviews made it sound like the best low displacement bike ever made, and visually... Well. It’s stunning. One of my favorite bike designs on the market at ANY price.


Not the bike for me though.

First off was a stretch of I-90 on a moderately windy day, where the Duke felt incredibly ill-at-ease. Swaying like a drunk and accelerating with all the gusto of the Miata, it was pretty obvious that highways weren’t the KTM’s forté.

This was made worse by the incredibly annoying RPM Guage flashing like crazy whenever you went over 6k. Which—Spoiler alert—is all the time when you’re driving at 60mph. May not sound that bad, but it was incredibly distracting, and I can only imagine how frustrating it would be a night.

Next up was backroad canyon carving!

Unfortunately just as I was starting to enjoy my time with the Duke...

*Bap bap bap*

I was bouncing off the rev-limiter.

This continued for a few more curves, really putting a damper on the twisties, until I shifted up into 3rd. No more Rev-limiter action, but also no more fun, as the bike suddenly felt pretty gutless and (relatively) unresponsive.


So yeah. I showed up expecting to absolutely love it, but walked away with a completely different view of KTM’s entry-level Duke. :sadface: The salesman was a pretty cool guy, and said something about people either loving or hating single cylinders. This was my first, so hell if I know.

I will say though that this bike got more attention than anything else I’ve rode. I had no less than three people yell out there window about how amazing the bike looked. Can’t say I disagree.


I think I'll stick to looking at the more powerful middleweight and up bikes, as I really like the extra stability, and knowing I have power everywhere in the rev range. 

Illustration for article titled Ride review - KTM 390 Duke

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