Borrowing the motor-gearbox combination from the Duke and RC 390 means that the 390 Adventure is just as high-revving. This is something that’ll take some getting used to, especially if you are moving up from something like a gentle-revving Himalayan. Another thing that might take time getting used to is the fierce acceleration, which, when paired with the quickshifter, takes you to triple-digit speeds rather quickly – just 0.49sec slower from 0-100kph than a 390 Duke. Speaking of the quickshifter, it works well high up in the rev range, but it’s not as smooth at lower RPMs, which is where you would find yourself often in the city.
In the city, the 390 Adventure is not as natural a commuter as a Hero XPulse, but it gets around quite well. The revised cooling system uses two fans, a larger radiator and some comprehensive shrouding, all of which make a big difference and the bike never gets unbearably hot. Over the years, KTM has worked on the engine’s smoothness, and it now feels so much more refined and manageable at low speeds. City speeds are no longer an inconvenience, and once you pick up speed, the bike can hold on to gears higher than needed without any complaint. Large speed breakers still demand first gear though.
When you venture off-road, the motorcycle is slightly less impressive. It does manage to blaze through most fast open stretches, but slow technical bits and large rocks highlight the 390 Adventure’s weak bottom end, and working around this demands more skill from the rider. Some modifications to the final drive sprocketing should really help, but make sure you check the implication of this on the warranty.
The suspension isn’t as plush feeling as a BMW G 310 GS or a Royal Enfield Himalayan, but with its dynamic setup and grippy Metzeler Tourance tyres, the 390 will run rings around either on a winding road. Get on long highway stretches, and the long wheelbase and 19-inch front wheel provide all the stability you need. It’s also 22kg lighter than the Himalayan, but it feels just as planted on the highway, if not more.
At 855mm, there’s no denying that the seat on the 390 Adventure is quite tall, but it is quite comfortable for long durations. The pillion seat is also comfy, accommodating, and practical. The problem begins when you need to stand and ride the 390 Adventure. The handlebar just isn’t tall enough to allow for a comfortable stance – which means you will find yourself leaning forward awkwardly. We won’t be surprised to see many customer bikes with aftermarket handlebar risers.
Lastly, the large 320mm disc brake setup at the front also inspires confidence. The rear, meanwhile, is adequate, and off-road enthusiasts can deactivate the rear ABS if they like.