The highly anticipated 2017 KTM 390 Duke has finally been launched in India, and in many ways, it's a significant change from the last-generation bike. With deliveries for the first bikes just about kicking off, we thought we'd take a look at some of the most interesting aspects of the new bike.
The motor isn’t really new
The 373cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder motor that powers the new 2017 KTM 390 Duke hasn’t changed from the previous-gen bike in any significant way. In fact, the engine block (and pretty much everything in it) is absolutely identical, which means the bike’s peak power output of 43.5hp remains unchanged. However, that’s not the entire story. A larger airbox to improve the engine’s breathing has resulted in a 2Nm increase in torque, taking peak twisting force up to 37Nm. This increase in torque should help in offsetting the new bike’s nearly 10kg increase in dry weight.
To make things more interesting, the new bike also gets a ride-by-wire throttle. This has helped in precise fuelling even with a shorter action throttle; the motor is a lot smoother than before. A lot of fans of the previous-generation 390 might not enjoy the more linear power delivery as it lacks the drama of the older bike when you get hard on the gas. But in the real world, smoother is usually faster, so we’ll have to let the lap times do the talking.
The new engine also carries over the slipper clutch which was introduced during the previous-generation bike’s mid-life upgrade, and which was just recently added to the RC390. However, the 2017 390 Duke’s slipper clutch works even better than before and absolutely eliminates any rear wheel hop when rapidly downshifting at speed.
Brakes are now significantly improved
One big complaint that everyone had with the previous 390 Duke was the brakes. There was adequate bite for the most part, but feel at the lever was sorely lacking and one needed to just grab a handful of the brake while putting full faith in the ABS and grippy Metzeler tyres. In order to abate this, KTM has gone with a larger 320mm front rotor for the new bike. And while the radially mounted caliper remains fairly unchanged, it now sports sintered pads, making a significant improvement in braking performance.
That being said, feel at the lever is still a bit on the vaguer side, but the brakes do have much more bite now. To top things off, the already highly capable Bosch ABS has seen an upgrade as well, and now offers three modes – Standard (where ABS works on both wheels), Off (where ABS is turned completely off) and Super Moto (where only rear ABS is turned off). The new Super Moto mode should be a welcome addition for fans of “backing it in” into corners.
The H-rated Metzelers are really good
A lot of spec sheet warriors will be up in arms regarding the switch from the W-rated Metzeler M5 Sportecs on the previous 390 Duke to the H-rated ones on the 2017 model. Now while the W-rated tyres are designed for much higher speeds as compared to the H- rated ones (270kph for the W vs 210kph for the H), it’s important to realise that the 390 Duke doesn’t do speeds in excess of 170-180kph. So in terms of safety in a straight line, the new tyres aren’t a compromise as such.
That being said, there will be a very slight difference in cornering performance of the two tyres. But in all honesty, unless you’re really pushing the bike’s (and your) limits on a race track, this difference won’t be apparent. The real benefit of a switch to the H-rated tyres is significant cost savings. Not only are replacement H-rated Metzeler tyres about 30-40 percent cheaper to buy than the W-rated ones, they last longer as well, which means a significant lowering of running costs over the life of the bike.
Send a message to Priyadarshan Bawikar
Issue: 212 | Autocar India: April 2017
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