KTM 390 Duke review: maximum fun at minimum price – Geoff Hill

It might only have 43bhp, but on a 159kg bike with precise KTM brand handling, that’s more than enough for daily commutes on weekdays or a blast on Saturdays cheaply, says. Geoff.

Blaster: And cheaply, too

Funny old thing, power. If you are a horse, one is enough. If you’re riding the Himalayas in an eponymous Royal Enfield, 22 is more than enough, and if you’re a MotoGP rider, nothing less than 200 will suffice.

But on a bike weighing 159kg, roughly the same as one of Kim Kardashian’s butt, 43bhp is just the ticket.

Which, surprisingly coincidentally, matches the weight and horsepower of the KTM 390 Duke single-cylinder exactly, which can be driven with an A2 license but is a steal for a day of high-revving fun.

Approaching it, it looks like a slightly edgy little wasp, or perhaps a 1290 Super Duke R that shrunk in the wash, but climbs aboard, and the high seat and wide bars provide surprisingly clear space for even the larger chap or chapess.

Dinky: Looks like an angry little wasp

Even more surprising for a budget bike, the mirrors are useful, far from cheap on a small bike and too many bigger ones, and it has a very upbeat and informative color TFT screen that gives you speed, rpm, speed, fuel, temperature and even the date, in case you forgot what day it was during lockdown, and haven’t figured it out since.

Neat: TFT screen is small, but gives you all the information you need

Note that the fuel gauge is unlikely to move during your lifetime; Considering that the bike sips fuel more sparingly than an old maid having a Christmas sherry, I would say the range can be up to 260 miles under normal driving. Not that most KTM riders know normal driving if they show up and show up.

Cleverly enough, the tachometer also annoys you if you try to beat the engine while it’s still cold.

Comfortable: The riding position is surprisingly roomy for a small bike

On the right, Time to Race, as the KTM motto says that appears on the screen when you turn on the power.

Progress is smooth but languid until the engine hits 4000 rpm, after which revving keeps throttling pleasantly cheerful all the way to the red line at 10,000 rpm, at which you really should. stop beating the little darling to death and use more of a little six-gearbox as precise as a Swiss watch.

All of that comes with a whirr that tries its best to be a growl and almost succeeds, until you finally hit the dizzying heights of 70 mph, at which point the engine hums at 7,000 rpm.

But highway speeds, of course, are not the point of this bike.

Pinpoint: handling is crisp thanks to light weight and brilliant suspension

It’s about shifting your weight, keeping your speed on the bends and exploding around the bends with a manic smile; especially since the bike is so small that if you lean enough in the bends, it disappears from your vision and you have the impression of hurtling down the bends on an invisible magic carpet; an effect you normally need to get hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Handling, thanks to a winning combo of shiny suspension, light weight, 17-inch alloy rims, short wheelbase, and steep fork angle, is instantaneous, and I’ve proven the worth of l ‘ABS when I came into a bend and had to brake sharply for a banana the skin that a careless chimpanzee had left on the road.

Sharp: The turn is great if you keep the speed and revs high

Fortunately too, because stumbling upon a cliché would have been a funny but tragic way to end my fabulous career as a motorcyclist.

There is only one disc up front, but with just 159kg of bike to stop, that’s more than enough, especially with a nifty slip clutch to prevent the rear wheel from locking up when stopping. aggressive downshifting.

For off-road hooligans, Supermoto’s Alternate Riding Mode disables rear ABS to allow them to slide the rear wheel as they please.

So overall I wouldn’t want to go around the world with a passenger, but to commute while avoiding public transport or the weekend explosions on routes A and B cheaply, it’s a hoot.

* Bike provided by Phillip McCallen Motorcycles phillipmccallen.com

Engine: 373 cc single

Power: 43 hp at 9,000 rpm

Torque: 27 lb-ft @ 7,000 rpm

Colors: Orange; White

Price: £ 4,799

Crazy. And so much the better

In the 1970s, 21-year-old Chris Donaldson left the Belfast bullet bombs on a Moto Guzzi Le Mans.

He had no insurance, no other plan than to continue riding a bike that was totally unsuitable for long journeys.

Chris Donaldson’s Crazy Adventure. A good read

What followed was 50,000 miles around the world and more adventures and near-death experiences than Indiana Jones and James Bond put together.

He eventually wrote about it in Going the Wrong Way, which is a great read, by turns funny, terrifying, captivating and inspiring. Up there with the Voyages of Jupiter, it deserves to become a classic.

It’s £ 13.99 in paperback or £ 3.99 in Kindle on Amazon, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Get £ 30 off your insurance here: MotorcycleDirect.co.uk

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