2020 KTM 390 Duke first ride

March 3, 2020 0 By The Editor

2020 KTM 390 Duke – 50 shades darker? or orangier

The Pre-lude to the prelude

The 2020 KTM 390 Duke, popularly known as the corner rocket maximizes enjoyment and user value, taking the honors wherever nimble handling counts. Light as a feather, powerful and packed with state‐of‐the‐art technology, it guarantees a thrilling ride, whether you are fighting your way through the urban jungle or carving your name into a forest of bends. The KTM 390 Duke is already available with premium features like ride-by-wire, slipper clutch, dual-channel ABS with Supermoto, TFT display ; LED headlamps. This machine packs in a class-leading power of 43.5 PS and torque of 37Nm.

The 2020 KTM 390 Duke will additionally come with a Quickshifter+ as standard feature which has been available only in superbikes so far. This first in class, bi-directional Quickshifter enables the rider to both up-shift and downshift gears without the need of using the clutch lever. Quickshifter+ allows faster shifts without compromising the power loss which occurs in normal clutch-gear shifting method.


The prelude

Riding around on a much heavy motorcycle albeit de-tuned for cruising application gave first hand apprehensions.   Biker-lore had already gotten the better of me. Knowing that I not only had one of India’s top notch creators on track but also an owner lapping the likes out of me without letting me break a sweat. Its sheer presence had overpowered me to the level of a parched palette. All but till the post parabola exit. After that I ducked crouched and let the throttle talk to the red line while the bike sonic boomed its way till the end of the curve. That is where the shades of orange seemed darker than grey…



The all new graphics and color scheme is reminiscent of a scalpel of sorts. This feature visible to the trained eyes of true connoisseurs.  Thus giving it all new edges in all the right places. Its seats are not just comfortable but blend in with the over all design. The left side switch gear is neatly arranged with the pass lamp/high beam switch placed in front and available  at the flick of a switch. As safety feature a small sticker and a metal plate have been placed to avoid accidents by cloth overheating/burning.


I got low, courtesy BS6

The ground clearance as compared to the BS4 version is slightly lower (please review the technical specifications below) owing to the changes in the exhaust system as per the new norms. To talk about the exhaust note – the bike sounds more like its cousin the Bajaj Dominar and probably a bit like a tiger somewhere in the rev band.


No clutch this

The 2020 KTM 390 Duke comes with a Quickshifter+ – a standard feature available only in superbikes so far. This first in class, bi-directional Quickshifter had to be tested. So on slower parts of the track all I did was  both upshift and downshift gears without using the clutch lever. Yes as claimed by KTM India the Quickshifter+ allows smoother shifts without compromising the power loss.



This is one of the features that I hope comes as a “Bolt on” for Bajaj Dominar, at least as a slave display. Its confusing at first but pretty intuitive and doesn’t take much time to adapt to. Be it shuffling through the playlist or toggling with super-moto ABS this is a breeze. While off hand i do not recall the 2017 display, this one seemed alot more smarter compared to its predecessor.



Legend has it that when you sit on the pillion seat either hold on or get blown away! The first iteration gave its pillion a G-force moment. However, this new grab rail not only allows for seating comfort, once can also back in luggage with all types of fasteners with much ease. All this because of a seat! The All new chiseled and well cushioned pillion seat is a welcome move. Also, not only does it add to the cutting edge styling, it adds to the ergonomics too. Now one need not worry about trading in their orange beasts for Sunday grocery purchasing scoots.


Her perspective

Adding to this new found comfort is the all new grab rail that gave my test pillion (read photographer) a scheme to upgrade her Bajaj Dominar pillion seat with this find after a quick spin in the pit lane area. Additionally i figured why limit the lady to just being a pillion? In the gentlemen fashion I offered her to take her place on the rider seat of this bike as well.  As compared to her Bajaj Dominar (2018), She found the seat to be more comfortable. Also it offered her optimum leg room. This  confidence coming in from a novice motorcyclist certainly is worth the extra read. For Ladies who want to take the throttle and just not be a mere pillion the KTM scalability is beyond breaking stereotypes.



Indeed I saved the best for the last, did I? The handling and braking of the 2020 KTM 390 Duke is a worth a swap (with my 2017 Bajaj Dominar). This iteration comes with Supermoto ABS. This offers more slides and drifts just at a thumbs distance. The bike does feel nimble on corners with sufficient room for knees when you want to tightly lock them in. Unlike its cousin, the Bajaj Dominar 400 the seat design and cover allow for quick shifts on and off the seat while riding.


Note: The motorcycle was tested in its stock nature without any change to external dynamics like addition of additives, suspension tuning etc. 


DESIGN All new graphics scheme
ABS ABS with Supermoto

Rs.2,52,928 (ex-showroom Delhi)

BS6 DIFF Rs. 4,716
COLORS Silver Metallic & Ceramic



Engine Type Single Cylinder, 4 Valve, Liquid Cooled, FI, DOHC
Engine Capacity 373.3 cm³
Power 43.5 PS at 9,000 rpm
Torque 37 Nm at 7,000 rpm
Clutch Assist & Slipper
Brakes (Front) Disc 320m, 4 piston fixed caliper
Brakes (Rear) Disc 230mm, 1 piston Floating caliper
ABS Bosch Dual Channel (with Supermoto)
Chassis Split Steel Trellis Frame
Front Suspension WP-Open Cartridge USD Ø 43 mm
Rear Suspension WP-Monoshock
Weight (w/o fuel) 163 Kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 13.5 lit
QUICKSHIFTER Quickshifter +
NEW ride-by-wire, slipper clutch, dual-channel ABS with Supermoto
SEAT All new chiseled and well cushioned pillion seat
Grab Rail grab rail and tailgate common to both (200 & 390) models
SUSPENSION Open cartridge front suspension for increased handling
DIPPER A 3 in 1 integrated dipper switch with high beam
TOP SPEED 156kmph (on track)
exhaust note A refined Bajaj Dominar like base note
HANDLING Nimble on corners with sufficient room for knees
Headlamp no change
Ground Clearance reduced due to all new cat con box


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2020 KTM 390 Duke – 50 shades darker OR ORANGIER, nevertheless its ready to race!!

Photo Credits: http://womanias.com/