2023 KTM 390 Adventure Spoke Wheel variant review | Best all-rounder for under ₹5 lakh?
The much awaited KTM 390 Adventure, shod with spoke wheels, has finally launched in India at ₹3.6 lakh (ex-showroom) and I have thoroughly ridden it over two days on some amazing twisties near Kolad and also taken it off the road at the Pro Dirt Adventure off-road training academy to see what the fuss is all about. The spoke wheel variant demands ₹21,000 more than the standard KTM 390 Adventure and it also gets fully adjustable WP Apex suspension at both ends. With this update, has the Austrian giant made the 390 Adventure the best all-rounder under ₹5 lakh? Read on to find out.
2023 KTM 390 Adventure SW design and features
Cosmetically, the spoke wheel variant of the 390 ADV remains unchanged when compared to the standard 390 ADV, save for those sweet looking black anodised wire-spoke aluminium wheels. There’s no mistaking it to be anything else but a KTM, courtesy of it sporting the brand’s signature split-LED headlight, vertical DRLs and flashy Orange frame. Even though it has been out since 2019 and in the Indian market since 2020, the 390 ADV still grabs eyeballs wherever it goes. It’s a good looking adventure motorcycle and unlike other small-capacity ADVs, it feels like a proper ADV because of its sheer size. With the spoke wheels now, it looks like a proper ADV too. Unlike its siblings, the spoke wheel variant is offered only in a single colour option: a new Dakar Rally inspired dual-tone black over orange scheme. Apart from this, the 390 Adventure SW gets all the features and kit from the standard 390 ADV. There’s traction control, cornering ABS, a bi-directional quickshifter and even two riding modes (street and off-road).
2023 KTM 390 Adventure SW chassis, suspension and ergonomics
Like most modern, road-going adventure bikes by KTM, the 390 Adventure SW is underpinned by a steel split-trellis frame. In terms of overall ergonomics, nothing has changed on this bike, in contrast with the standard 390 Adventure. It continues to have a highest-in-class 855mm seat height, but fear not; the suspension has enough sag so as to allow riders even up to 5ft 7inch (like me) to get their feet on the ground after you sit on its seat. The riding position is slightly forward set and the pegs are mid-set, ensuring you stay comfortable on the saddle for hours. I rode the 390 ADV from Kolad to Lonavala and was only left fatigued because of the summer heat. Its seat is wide and plush, its adjustable windscreen (requires an allen key) does a good job of deflecting winds at triple digit speeds and the 5-inch TFT cluster is legible even in brightest sunlight.
The second biggest change that the 390 Adventure spoke wheel variant has received is the adjustable WP Apex suspension at both ends. The upside-down front fork is adjustable for 30 clicks of compression and rebound each. It is an open cartridge unit, which ensures better performance as it dissipates heat more effectively. The rear monoshock gets a 20-click rebound as well a 10-click preload adjustability. After fiddling with this setup on my way to the Pro Dirt academy on the road and even off-the-road on trails, I understood why the enthusiasts demanded it adamantly. As expected, it makes a world of difference in the way the 390 Adventure tackles tarmac and no tarmac at all. The 390 Adventure has always been super enjoyable in corners and now, it is even more capable as a corner carver. Because of the vast setting for compression and preload adjustability that the front fork offers you can tweak it to as per your liking and make it a better feeling bike on the road. The stock 15 clicks each setup is good enough for everyday use, but all you have to do is add damping by turning the compression dial clockwise to make it stiffer. Similarly, to make it ride sportier, you can decrease the rebound by turning the dials anti-clockwise.
Because of the wire-spoke wheels the ride quality is also oh-so slightly improved and that coupled with a 200mm ground clearance, allows you to just float over small undulations and ride over large potholes with no fear at all. Off-the-road, the suspension setup just adds to the 390 ADV’s capabilities, again, letting you get a good feel of its front-end on different terrains, simply by dialling up or dialling down the suspension settings, allowing you to ride faster than before.
The 390 ADV SW rides on Metzeler Tourance tubeless dual-purpose tyres, but there’s a catch. For the Indian market, KTM has decided to equip these tyres with a tube, to reduce cost. The grip from the Tourance tyres is ample and the faster you go, the better they get. Braking duties on the 390 ADV SW are handled by the ByBre brakes with a 320mm front and 230 mm rear disc. This setup gets a switchable supermoto ABS, to aid off-road performance. It performs consistently every time, with little to no fade and excellent feedback. The dual-channel ABS calibration is spot on. It does a good job of working under the radar under hard braking. At 177kg, the 390 Adventure is light for an ADV and does a good job of hiding its weight once on the go. It has a fairly light steering and much to my surprise, is super agile.
2023 KTM 390 Adventure SW engine and performance
The way its engine was, or rather wasn’t, tuned was one area where the KTM 390 Adventure could have used some improvement, but sadly, that hasn't been addressed. Don’t get me wrong the 373cc single-cylinder 42.9bhp engine which produces 37Nm of peak torque is a hoot. But that’s exactly the hiccup with it, in the 390 ADV. Because it makes power in the top-end of its revv range, it isn’t very tractable and begs to be on the boil all the time. The lack of lowdown grunt means the clutch takes a hit and you need to keep the engine above 4000rpm to keep it moving. Not exactly ideal for slow off-roading or seamless highway cruising. But once past the 7000rpm mark, the creamy torque delivery brings a smile to your face and this engine revvs hard till its 10,500rpm redline, always. The power plant feels refined on the move, and only starts to transmit a few vibrations once it surges past to the other end of the tacho.
The engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox along with a slipper clutch and a bi-directional quickshifter. While the gearbox is fairly slick, the quickshifter is not the smoothest out there. Like one expects, it doesn’t work seamlessly; the shifts are jerky and it also cuts power sometimes mid-corner which can be dangerous. Thankfully, you can turn it off.
2023 KTM 390 Adventure SW verdict and price
If you are looking to buy the KTM 390 Adventure, do yourself a favour, pay the ₹21,000 premium over the standard bike and get yourself the spoke wheel variant. The spoke wheels give you the added peace of mind to not worry about cracking and then replacing the whole rim when you’re belting it out off-the-road and the adjustable suspension allows even novice riders to ride better both on and off the tarmac. Already own a 390 ADV? Have I got good news for you! These parts are retro-fittable.
The 390 ADV can do it all. It can cruise effortlessly on the highways, is comfortable in the city, can let you have fun in the twisties and also make you feel at home where there are no roads at all. Except for the fact that it lacks outright torque in the low-range, it's safe to say that this is the best all-rounder motorcycle that you can buy under ₹5 lakh on sale in India, currently. But then again, Royal Enfield has something that has this Austrian Orange in its crosshairs right around the corner.