The KTM 390 Duke, in my opinion, is the motorcycle that perfectly bridges the gap between the Austrian manufacturer’s smaller, beginner-friendly street nakeds and its higher-capacity models that could put a lot of supersports to shame. It received its first generation change in 2017, with an all-new design, updated engine and more. For 2020, KTM has retained most of those updates, but has added a couple features and updated the engine to comply with BS6 norms too.
What does it look like?
For 2020, the 390 Duke hasn’t received a cosmetic update that’s as severe as the one on the new 200 Duke. Visual changes are limited to the addition of two new colour schemes - one of which is this matte grey colour that’s not as in-your-face as the usual orange, but still remarkably noticeable and unique. The rest of the bike is similar to the older model and so the all-LED headlamps and DRLs are carried over, along with the 13.5-litre tank that accentuates the bike’s purposeful, aggressive and ready-for-action stance. The TFT instrument cluster is the same, too, and apart from displaying ride data, it allows for Bluetooth connectivity, along with the ability to toggle Supermoto mode that disengages ABS at the rear wheel and toggle the new quickshifter.
What’s it like on a racetrack?
The most substantial update on this motorcycle has to do with the engine. The 2020 KTM 390 Duke is powered by the same 373.2cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder unit as its predecessor, but it is now in BS6-compliant form. Despite the update to comply with the stricter emission norms, peak output figures remain unchanged at 43.5hp at 9,000rpm and 37Nm at 7,000rpm. An updated exhaust system with a catalytic convertyer is part of the update and it's been re-routed under the engine instead of the side. This has brought with it a 4kg increase in kerb weight, resulting in the bike now weighing 167kg.
The 390 Duke's exhaust has been rerouted and features a catalytic converter.
With its last update in 2017, the 390 Duke received a ride-by-wire throttle that smoothened out the throttle response and made the engine sound far smoother and more refined. The BS6 engine feels just as smooth and quiet, if not a little bit more so. The older 390 really got going after 4,500rpm and felt relatively dull under that mark. This is even more noticeable on this BS6 390 Duke as you can whack the throttle fully open under 4,000rpm and the bike won’t have you surging forward as you'd expect.
Having said that, the engine still gains revs quickly and getting into that mid-range sweet spot doesn’t take very long. Once you’re there, the 390 will have you smiling and looking forward to the next corner. What’s really stepped up the experience on the racetrack is the addition of a bi-directional quickshifter. It makes riding fast a whole lot easier and should make riding in the city easier as well. However, this unit could do with some refinement because the one on my test bike worked quite smoothly while accelerating hard, but gear changes lower in the rev band were quite clunky. Interestingly, the quickshifter doesn't use a conventional pressure sensor on the shift rod. KTM tells us it's an electronic unit that senses the mechanical movement of the lever.
Bi-directional quickshifter is great fun on the track!
Should I buy one?
Prices for the 390 Duke have gone up by just over Rs 5,000. That’s a very reasonable hike considering it now gets a cleaner engine and bigger-bike features like a quickshifter.
The 2017 update kept the outright speed, but took away much of the original Duke's raw and manic characteristics and this one seems to have upped the refinement game a little bit. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the 390 still feels very quick. From riding it around slowly in the pit lane, it also seems like the BS6 390 Duke will be easier out on the streets. But to know for sure we still need to spend some time with it out on public roads.
2020 KTM 200 Duke review, track ride