2020 KTM 390 Duke: First Ride Review
Could the 390 Duke ever be more tempting? Apparently, with the Quickshifter+, yes!
KTM stunned the country when it introduced the 390 Duke in 2013. It was a motorcycle like none other in the market. In fact, many even went to call it the spiritual successor of the famed Yamaha RD350. In 2017, the Austrian brand decided to give the 390 a total makeover, with a new chassis, TFT display and even ride-by-wire, making it epic-er than ever. Now, with the BS6 emission norms getting implemented soon, the Duke has yet again gone under the knife, but this time, with very basic updates.
Check out our Youtube video review of the 2020 KTM 200 & 390 Duke
What’s new for 2020?
The biggest update for MY20 model is the addition of a bi-directional quickshifter, seen already on the 390 Adventure, which allows you to shift without the use of clutch, for both, up and down shifts. This is the only bike in the segment to sport this tech and you’ll be surprised to know how it performs, but more on that later.
There are some minor tweaks to the 5-inch TFT display. The tachometer is now orange-coloured instead of blue. The ABS modes can now be switched with a single press as opposed to keeping the button pressed in the outgoing model. There’s even an option to switch the background of the screen.
The 390 Duke retains the same single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC 373.2cc engine and in spite of complying with the new emission norms, still produces 43bhp and 37Nm of peak twist. However, with the new catalytic converter, the exhaust has been redesigned and now the header pipe is routed below the engine. This has resulted in a massive 24mm decrease in ground clearance, which now stands at 151mm. The split steel-trellis frame remains the same, but with the new BS6 trickery, the weight has now gone up by 4kg. Has the extra flab mellowed down the manic Austrian crotch rocket?
Out on the track
With no changes to the ergonomics, the seating position is the same, almost like a supermoto. Even the engine character hasn’t changed. It continues to be a joy to ride and guarantees a wide grin every time you crack open the throttle. With ride-by-wire, the on-off throttle transitions are smoother as well. It is easy to flick around too. But we already know all that, don’t we? What you would probably want to know is how the quickshifter works. I had my apprehensions about the quickshifter after some not-so-positive reviews but on the new 390 Duke, it’s a completely different story. The quickshifter works flawlessly for upshifts and while downshifts were smooth most of the times, however, a couple of times, the shifter didn’t budge. KTM has been constantly working on improving the quickshifter and there has been a major improvement from the one seen on the 390 Adventure.
Suspension duties continues to be handled by the open cartridge 43mm WP Apex USD forks offering 142mm travel at the front and a 10-step adjustable WP Apex monoshock at the rear with 60mm travel. The suspension works just about right on the track.
The 2020 390 Duke also continues to use the 320mm/230mm brake setup. The front has a ferocious bite and both the brakes offer ample feedback and stopping power.
Worth the splurge?
At Rs 2.52 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the 2020 KTM 390 Duke has witnessed a hike of Rs 4,716, which is decent, in comparison to the hike other BS6 two wheelers have seen. In fact, you even get to brag about having a quickshifter. Agreed, it’s not the most practical, or even relaxing, but then again, it doesn’t even pretend to be. If you are in the market for something that can be relaxing, you should probably look elsewhere, but if you are on the lookout for something that will make you ‘feel’ like a teenager again, the 2020 390 Duke continues to be the right choice.