KTM Duke 390: Our observations after a day of riding

The 2024 KTM Duke 390 is an absolute hooligan to ride, with its power delivery making you want to take it around the track the entire day.

Riding the KTM Duke 390

The third generation Duke 390 gets a new 399 cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled four-valve DOHC engine. This beautifully tuned engine is capable of 45 BHP @ 8,500 rpm with a peak torque of 39 Nm @ 6,500 rpm. With the new engine, 80% of the torque is available right from 5,000 rpm, making puttering around town an effortless affair. Purely for academic interest, with the new engine, the 2024 Duke 390 gets a bump of ~25 cc in capacity, about an additional BHP in power, and a couple of Nm of extra torque.

The 2024 KTM Duke 390 is an absolute hooligan to ride, with its power delivery making you want to take it around the track the entire day. There’s no other way to really say this, and it is every bit a compliment to its engineers. The power and torque delivery chart provides ample evidence of just how humongous the mid-range is, supported strongly by the top end that has more than enough juice to take you towards the top speed of ~155 km/h. The older engine was known for a weak low end, requiring a medley of gear shifts between 3-2-1 and 1-2-3 especially when navigating the speed breakers peppered on our city streets. The new engine gets a bump in torque at the low end of almost 5 Nm.

Making way on the 2024 Duke 390 is a new curved radiator with two cooling fans, allowing for better cooling efficiency. There was hardly any heat felt on the legs / thighs despite pushing the bike to its limits on the track for a few laps, or when riding through dense city traffic.

Rounding up the powertrain is the 6-speed manual gearbox that gets a Slipper Clutch and Quickshifter as standard. While the Quickshifter is significantly better than the one on the outgoing model, it isn’t the gold standard of the segment. There is just about that small amount of tentativeness during gear shifts. The engine-gearbox “marriage” is superb, allowing you to be in the 3rd-4th gear for the majority of the ride, without having to compromise on power or torque.

KTM claims that the new Duke 390 does 0-60 km/h in ~2.4 seconds and 0-100 km/h in ~5.9 seconds. When in Track mode, you can engage the Launch control that limits a “wheelie”.

All said and done, this can be just as much a hooligan on the track as it can be a daily drive in the city, just as much as it can be a weekend breakfast ride companion. It is thoroughly entertaining and has something for riders of every calibre.

Refinement & NVH

The new engine is very refined, and the new exhaust puts out a subdued growl. You don’t feel any unusual vibrations, feedback or harshness from the physical touch-points with the bike in your typical riding conditions. But push the bike on the higher rpms and the engine immediately makes its presence felt. The growl beyond 5,500 -6,000 rpm is very noticeable and feels like a sweet symphony, given how well the sound of the exhaust is supported by a surge in power. Given that this is a single-cylinder engine, vibrations start creeping in as you get into triple-digit speeds and are prominent on the handlebar as you cross 120 km/h. The tight finish on the MID and ORVMs ensure things don’t get blurry even if the view up front does.

Suspension and Handling

The 2024 Duke 390 finally gets a feature that has been much requested, adjustable front suspension. Up front, you get 43 mm WP APEX USD (Up-Side Down) Open Cartridge forks with a 150 mm travel and are 5-click Compression and Rebound adjustable. Adjustments, for both Compression and Rebound, are easy with simple turn-switches on the top of the forks under the handlebar. You can make these adjustments without the need for any tools.

At the rear is the WP APEX Monoshock suspension with a 150 mm travel, and a 60 mm stroke. It allows a 5-step Rebound damping and is 10-step preload adjustable. To change the suspension setting here, you’d need a C-spanner and a screwdriver.

For a naked sports bike, the Duke 390 handles well on the track. Even on typical broken country roads, the bike feels surprisingly well to ride. The suspension is set up well, and a ride on bad roads isn’t backbreaking. The ground clearance on the new Duke 390 is a very generous 183 mm. The wheelbase is now a touch shorter at 1,354 mm; coupled with a kerb weight of ~163 kg, the bike is easy to very to flick around the corners of the track, as easy as it is to navigate through the city.


Braking duties are handled by disc brakes by ByBRE, Brembo’s budget brand, which has now become the mainstay of most bikes in the segment. At the front is the 320 mm disc with the new four-piston radially-mounted calliper, while the rear gets a 240 mm disc brake with the new twin-piston floating calliper. Cornering and Supermoto ABS are now standard features, albeit customisable through the MID.

For a bike as capable as the Duke 390, braking could have been better. When at high speeds and under emergency braking, a sharper bite would certainly be more confidence-inspiring.

Continue reading the discussion on the KTM Duke 390 on our forum.

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