We’ve been waiting for this bike for almost half a decade! So, was it worth the wait?
Now, this timeline is going to be a little difficult to follow, but I’ll try to make it as simple as possible. Rumours that KTM was working on the 390 Adventure date as far back as 2014. Then, in 2016, the first spy shots of the motorcycle surfaced amidst continued rumours. In January 2017, KTM India finally disclosed that it would launch the bike here – but no official date was revealed.
Around mid-2018, the company released a statement announcing that it would launch their baby adventure bike in 2019. Eventually, after what felt like an eternity, the 390 Adventure made its global debut at EICMA last year. Soon after that, the motorcycle was unveiled for the first time on our shores at India Bike Week in December.
But now, ladies and gentlemen, the wait for the KTM 390 Adventure has, at last, come to an end! They say all good things come to those who wait. Well, we’ve waited long enough, so, the only question is this – is the 390 Adventure good enough?
The 390 Adventure looks a lot like the 790 Adventure. The overall silhouette, awkward-looking floating headlamp, aero cowls along the sides, and shape of the fuel tank, they’re all reminiscent of its larger sibling. Frankly, I’ve never been a huge fan of how the 790 Adventure looks, which means that I also don’t like this one very much. But it’s a classic case of putting function above form – something that buyers of adventure motorcycles readily accept.
In terms of size, the 390 Adventure looks and feels quite large. The two wheels sit 1,430mm apart, which makes it 73mm longer than the 390 Duke. The 855mm seat height is considerably higher than the Royal Enfield Himalayan’s 800mm and the BMW G 310 GS’ 835mm. Interestingly, the 390 Duke’s seat is 830mm off the ground – just 25mm less than its adventure sibling. The seat narrows towards the fuel tank, which makes it slightly easier to put your feet on the ground. That being said, someone with my height, 5 feet 9 inches, may not be able to put both feet firmly on the ground while sitting astride the bike.
On the bright side, the tall-and-wide handlebar, the neutrally positioned footpegs, and the upright riding posture all make the 390 Adventure quite touring friendly. Speaking of which, those who like touring will really appreciate the additional 1-litre of fuel that its tank can now hold. It should give the 390 Adventure an additional range of about 25 to 30 kilometres, upping the overall range to about 350 to 400 kilometres.
Same ol’, same ol’
The motor is the same 373.2cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled fuel-injected engine that powers the 390 Duke. Unlike most other motorcycles, despite being BS-VI compliant, this one hasn’t experienced a drop in power or torque figures. It continues to make 42.9bhp and 37Nm, both of which are available from exactly the same rpm as in the 390 Duke.
Thumb the starter, and the engine comes to life with a familiar thrum. The motor isn’t the smoothest out there and feels a little coarse, as some vibrations start to creep through the footpegs beyond 6,000rpm.
That being said, on the road, the 390 Adventure feels amply quick – although not as manic as it’s naked sibling. The increased weight also has a role to play here. The 390 Adventure tips the scales at over 170kgs, which is almost as much as the BMW G 310 GS but considerably less than the Royal Enfield Himalayan.
Coming back to the engine, it’s free-revving and still feels the strongest in its mid-range – something that makes it plenty of fun to ride on the road. That being said, the need for better punch towards the bottom-end doesn’t go unnoticed. KTM has somewhat addressed this by fitting a marginally larger sprocket (45T instead of the Duke’s 44T), but it has only made a very slight difference – making it difficult for inexperienced riders to extract the best out of the motorcycle.
The 6-speed transmission, which continues to be assisted by a slipper clutch, shifts smoothly and precisely. The 390 Adventure also gets a bi-directional quick-shifter – a feature that makes life a tad bit simpler.
The 390 Adventure sits on 43mm upside-down forks at the front, which, unlike the international-spec model, aren’t adjustable. The rear monoshock, however, is adjustable for preload and rebound. Keeping in mind its adventure aspirations, it also gets more travel – 170mm at the front and 177mm at the rear – 28mm (front) and 27mm (rear) more than the 390.
Setup on the firmer side, the 390 Adventure does feel a bit harsh on the back, especially while riding on the rough stuff. The taller springs have increased the ground clearance to 200mm, but it didn’t feel high enough while tackling some hardcore rocky terrain at 19-degree North in Lonavla during our test.
On the tarmac, the 390 Adventure is superbly planted. You don’t quite feel the additional weight while riding, and it tips into corners with utmost ease. The ride quality is reasonably pliant too. Mid-corner bumps and broken roads don’t unsettle the bike at all. For larger potholes, you can simply stand on the pegs and continue to power through. The dual-sport Metzeler Tourance tyres that the 390 Adventure comes fitted with perform equally well on and off the road.
KTM has launched the motorcycle in India at ₹2.99 lakh, which makes it roughly ₹50,000 dearer than the 390 Duke. It’s also important to note that when the updated BS-VI Duke 390 gets launched, the difference in their prices is likely to reduce by roughly ₹10,000 to 15,000. For the additional money, you get a lot of goodies – like long travel suspension, cornering ABS and traction control, and a refreshed instrument cluster with turn-by-turn navigation.
But, above all, you get a more versatile motorcycle. It’s light, can hold good speeds on the highway, and offers great comfort too. And while it impresses in its touring capabilities, it performs mild off-road duties with equal aplomb. It isn’t perfect. Nor is it as easy and forgiving off-road as we’d have wanted it to be. But, for what it is, the 390 Adventure is an absolute hoot to ride!
- KTM 390 Adventure
Power: 42.9bhp @ 9,000rpm
Torque: 37Nm @ 7,000rpm
Price: Rs 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom)
X-Factor: Touring, off-roading, and commuting, the 390 Adventure is that ‘one’ motorcycle that can do it all.
• Highway manners
• Packed with tech
• Flat bottom end
• Ground clearance