KTM 390 DUKE & 250 DUKE: THE ORANGE MISTPosted On: August 1, 2017 By : AutoLife Team
A roaring tyrant or an inspiring leader; an aggressive hothead or a driven player? Roy Keane had always left opinions divided. He rarely left anything behind when he got on to the pitch, and he exhibited a ferociousness that earned him the respect of every man on the field. Horrendous premeditated tackles, a ferocious vendetta with Patrick Vierra and a slew of other similar events garnered him a reputation of a player with unsullied aggression. However, there was no disputing his effectiveness in the game and the fact that his aggression aided his performance.
What we mean to say is, well placed and well-timed aggression can be an asset; a principle KTM have exhibited time and again. The Austrian manufacturers have rarely ever been timid about their designs or engineering, but with their new offerings even KTM have pushed their boundaries. Transmitting the demonic genes of the Super Duke, we have with us two of the meanest machines in the market: The KTM Duke 390 and 250. While the stripped down Dukes that KTM first introduced to the smaller motorcycle segments was no nervous Nancy, the newest iteration is the epitome of bad-assery.
It is amazing how something so small can instill this much excitement and apprehension in a rider at the same time. And that’s even before you start up the engine and get rolling. Kiska GmbH, the company that has been designing KTM motorcycles since 1992, pulled out all the stops for the 390. Taking inspiration from the 1290 Super Duke R, the Duke 390 is pure belligerence on wheels.
Integrating even more sharp lines and angles than its predecessor intensifies the predatory stance of the KTM. The six-LED headlight replaces the less-aggressive unit on the previous edition. It combines optimal illumination of the near field with maximum light output. And the parking light, which consists of 20 LEDs, ensures that the motorcycle stands out in traffic, which offers massive safety benefits.
The entire chassis is completely new: a new frame, with new geometry, new suspension, brakes and wheels. The 390 Duke’s meticulously manufactured, die-cast swingarm is designed and produced according to the same standards and principles as the one on the 690 Duke R.
A noted development for taller riders will be the newly sculpted tank. In the older KTM the protruding tank indentations meant that some tall riders had their knees digging into it; and the cramped space led to some stress on the shins and calves. This problem is alleviated with the new design.
The coolest addition, by far, is the spanking new TFT display. This absolute first in its class is a multicolor combination of relevant information that changes the instrument console game. As you rev the engine, the display bars change color, either spurring you on or telling you to back off when the engine’s still cold. As you rev the engine, the display bars change color, either spurring you on or telling you to back off when the engine’s still cold. The display also automatically adapts its illumination to the ambient light.
Furthermore, a smartphone can be tethered to the bike, giving you full control over incoming calls and an audio player. All the information pops up on the bike´s display as you manage this optional extra with the menu switch, keeping your hands where they belong.
The anticipation that the styling builds up might seem difficult to live up to, but as always KTM does not disappoint. When we reviewed the KTM 390 back in 2012 we were simply blown away; judging by the smiles we had plastered on our faces during the entire ride the new KTM was not a let down.
A state-of-the-art, single-cylinder engine with twin overhead camshafts once again beats at the heart of this feisty machine. And it’s your ticket to torque city. Give the 390 the slightest hint of your accelerating intention and it bolts like a bullet out of a barrel. This spirited nature is attributed to the 149kg (dry) weight and 44bhp at 9000rpm, which provides the quintessence of power to weight ratio satisfaction.
This power is smoothly transmitted via the ride by wire technology. This provides the smoothest throttle response and ensures perfect application of the readily available and plentiful torque. It also electronically translates the throttle commands of the rider into throttle valve positions perfectly suited to the riding conditions. Slipper clutch inclusion into the equation means that downshifts are now jolt free and thus provide seamless power.
The 390 is definitely ready to race, the 6 speed transmission transitions with buttery smooth clicks and the short gearing ratios mean that you’re going to be rev happy most of the time. The suspension impresses with a WP shock that provides good comfort through a progressive-rate spring. A separate function WP front fork with open cartridge technology provides much the same, and thanks to the bike’s 10mm shorter wheelbase and 5mm less trail (when compared to the outgoing model), this 390 feels even more agile than before.
You get an option of turning the ABS off, on or into Supermoto mode. The supermoto mode, which you can switch to with a touch of a button, applies ABS to the front brakes only and allows for some slip and slide action. The new 390 Duke still utilizes the same ByBre calipers manufactured by Brembo, they now house sintered pads clamping down on a larger 320 mm rotor at the front wheel. Combined with a revised master cylinder, braking is vastly improved over the previous version, with more bite and less fade.
Despite the power, the KTM 390 is nimble in city traffic. The suspension is slightly on the stiffer side but that provides incredible stability and prowess around corners.
The KTM 390 Duke was always a blistering mad pocket rocket that left no stone unturned for a motorcycle of this capacity. But the new iteration has just set the bar even further up. Improvements come in plenty and not just in terms of aesthetics. While the new designs scream hooliganism, the ride by wire and TFT displays along with improved breaking and ergonomics ensure that this isn’t just a cosmetic upgrade.
Slotting into the quarter liter division, the KTM Duke 250 is the newest addition to the Duke family in Nepal. While the new 390 gets amazing new additions like the TFT display and ride by wire throttle, it gets a little expensive; so that leaves a void in the market that the 250 duly fills.
In terms of looks it does not compromise. The KTM 250 Duke shares its design with the new generation 390 Duke and it has definitely shaken things up in the segment. Sharp lines and graphics add maximum oomph but the headlamp cluster is what takes center stage. It is a conventional unit using a halogen bulb but it comes with the boomerang-shaped DRLs, which have been well-integrated into the design. The aluminum side-mounted exhaust has been carried over on the 250 and the more effective exhaust note sounds calmer and throatier than before.
Differentiating the 250 Duke with the 200 and bigger 390 is the black finished alloy wheels that come with contrast orange streak and are wrapped with MRF tyres.
Unlike the new 390 Duke, KTM has not updated for the 250 Duke with the TFT screen, for cost reasons. Instead, you get the same orange backlit all-digital instrumentation as the outgoing 390 and the current 200. Nevertheless, the unit now shows real time fuel consumption and a ‘Kill Switch’ warning sign, when the kill switch is on. Previously, the screen would just go blank and that continues to happen on the 200 Duke. Other features remain the same and you continue to get a multitude of information at all times on screen.
The 200 and 390 both excelled in their segment and that is thanks much to their power to weight ratio. This innate instinct is carried onto the 250. Churning out a healthy 29.6bhp at 9000rpms this is a machine that loves to be pushed and flicked around. The engine loves to be revved and that is exactly what you’re inclined to do once you straddle the KTM 250 Duke.
While not as intimidating as its older sibling, it is an extremely fun motorcycle. The Power Assist Slipper Clutch (PASC) that ensures downshifts happen seamlessly, without causing the rear wheel to lock at high speeds. The geometry of the chassis on the 250 Duke remains the same from the older Duke range which keeps the dynamics of the new Duke 250 super sharp. The 250 Duke also benefits from the more sophisticated open cartridge USD front forks and monoshock suspension setup that have been introduced on the new 390 Duke.
Owing to the comfortable seating and its KTM genes this machine is an agile beast that you won’t get tired of riding. It’s extremely maneuverable and moves to the direction you point at. However, the brakes do not get ABS even as an option. The bike uses a 300 mm front disc and 230 mm rear disc setup, same as the 200 Duke, but lacks feedback on the 250.
With the KTM Duke 390 moving higher up on the price scale the 250 Duke makes sense for prospective KTM riders. The Duke 200 is the idle city slicker and the 390 Duke is the frantic fanatic, and the 250 Duke is what finds the balance. It might just be the best value proposition from KTM’s roster.
2017 KTM 390 DUKE & 250 DUKE | PRODUCT WATCH | AUTOLIFE NEPAL