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  • Writer's pictureNitin Sen

2020 KTM 390 Adventure: First Look

For almost 2 years KTM’s Duke 390 based touring/adventure bike has eluded us with multiple leaks, rumours and unconfirmed launch dates. But time went by without an official word about the bike.

Finally, at 2019 EICMA show at Milan, KTM unveiled the 390 Adventure and it immediately became the most talked about launch of the year. We too are very excited and somewhat confused about it.

Excitement is easier to understand - a new adventure touring motorcycle, small capacity yet powerful, most likely affordable and good for almost all kinds of riding.. Right?

Here’s the confusing part though.

KTM has put the exact same engine found in its small street fighter, the 390 Duke, on an Adventure touring bike. Same bore and stroke 89mm x 60mm, same HP and Torque, 43HP and 37nm and at same RPM too meaning we also get that same race-ready high compression ratio of 12.6:1, on a touring bike! Why… why?

This high compression helps the 373cc engine pump out a lofty 43hp and though this is fantastic for performance, it directly hurts the engine life. The 390 Duke and RC have an engine life of 25,000 to 40,000 km approximately, before a complete engine rebuild is needed. Our 2015 RC 390 did 23,000 kms before it started showing signs of a dying engine. These were all city miles and one 500 km road trip. No track-day, no drag racing, no burnouts and only an occasional wheelie or two.

Even if we remain optimistic and sensible with the throttle, a 40,000 km engine life is pretty damn bad for a touring bike. A few road trips from Delhi to Goa (1800 kms) and office commute for 3 years will kill the engine.

The bike should be available for road tests in 2-3 months. We’ll see then how it is.

For now, it looks like KTM has done a good job in making this new ADV a smaller version of the 790 Adventure and not a modified version of the Duke.

Let’s find out more about it.

Engine is borrowed from the 390 Duke, Single-cylinder 4 stroke DOHC, 373.2 cc, 43 hp, 37 nm of torque, same ECU. Nothing new here, until we ride it and find out. What new is almost everything else.

Engine management has a new electronic suite, until now only found in bigger Adventure bikes. 390 Adventure gets new switchable ABS with off-road mode, cornering ABS, Traction Control and 5 inch TFT colour display. It also gets a race-derived quickshifter as an option for extra money. We do not know if this will be an option in India or will come as standard or not offered at all.

The chassis is an all new steel trellis frame similar to the one found in their 450 Rally, giving it a wheelbase of 1430 mm and 63.5 degree steering head angle. Suggesting a slower, off-road based rake/trail. Seat hight is 33.6 inches, very suitable for trail riding.

Next from new parts bin is the WP Apex suspension. 43mm USD forks up front with 6.7 inch travel feature separate functionality with compression damping adjustments on left fork and rebound settings on the right. The WP Apex shocker at back has 6.9 inch of travel with spring preload and rebound damping adjustments.

This is the most important upgrades to be found on this bike because the suspension on 390 Duke is one the most basic and poorly sprung units found on any such bike.

Brakes are from Bybre and wheels are 17inch at the rear and 19 inch at the front with Continental TKC70 tyres mounted on alloys. Spoke wheels will be available through KTM Powerparts catalog.

The bike gets a windscreen, reminiscent to the 790 Adventure, taller handlebar, new seats with better padding, 1.5 ltr bigger fuel tank at 14.5 ltr and a dry weight of 158 kgs, only 9 kgs more than the Duke.

So, at least in terms of equipment the 390 Adventure has a clear edge over its main rivals, the Kawasaki Versys 300, BMW 310 GS and also the RE Himalayan.

We will test it to see for ourselves how it performs in the real world.

Stay tuned!

Images courtesy: KTM



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