Almost there to where…? The answer lies in within this experience of the KTM 390 Adventure. With the increasing amount of adventure enthusiast in the country, the industry is going to give more and more adventure bikes. The Adventure bikes are like the SUVs of the bike market. A lot of high hopes were from the KTM 390 Adventure. Has it been able to deliver those? Is it the Ultimate Adventure bike that India gets?
In terms of design, the KTM 390 Adventure takes inspiration from the bigger bike the KTM 790 Adventure. This new design does not just change of panels but a larger subframe which evidently makes the pillion seat comfortable and spacious. But also adds weight to complete bike.
The front with the pitchfork headlights makes the bike look mature and takes off that aggressive stance of that is offered on the duke. Although the engine on the bike is the same these design changes make the bike appear somewhat mature.
The lights are all LED and you do not expect anything less on a bike that is priced that high. The windshield looks decent enough but has a drawback which comes to notice as we move ahead with the drive.
From the side, the sharp lines remain but the angles have become more acute. They make the bike look a bit sleeker. And the height of this bike together gives it a compact appearance.
The headlight assembly is fixed on the fame taking some weight off the handlebars but it creates a design drawback that makes the bike feel a bit mid-heavy. The headlight unit looks changed but it looks like a duke 390 has been on a head-on crash
The bike looks long and that is the new subframe which accommodates a bigger seat and mounting points. It’s not that functional as there are no easy modular mounting points on the frame and aftermarket saddle stay is a must for saddlebags.
Touch and Feel
Swinging your leg over this bike is not easy. The bike is tall but the suspension is soft so once your weight acts on the bike it sags a bit and it makes it manageable. But this manageable is okay in city traffic. During the adventure, you need your foot on the ground firm and this is not possible for shorter riders.
Once you are on the bike you are greeted with the same display as the KTM 390. The TFT is good but being a digital display it could have been easy for KTM to give it a these of some sorts to give it an adventure vibe. The tank is slimmer than that of the duke. Around the tank, there is a plastic part which looks premium but does not have the highest quality of fitment. this is the case with most of the plastic parts.
For the amount of money, it charges it seems to offer a lot on features, but the compromise it does with the plastics and the vibration of the plastic part is something which KTM has to now address. The touch of the plastic is also not that great and it looks plastic with that bright orange colour. KTM has actually done a great job with the metallic grey finish on the Duke in the new paint scheme and should have brought that instead to the 390 Adventure as well.
The tank is good to grip while saddling but the handle-bars are a bit awkwardly set for that. The clutch lever on our specific review unit seem to be pressed down for better control while holding the handlebar while standing up.
The footpegs are not that high up and when you sit on the seat the seat feels spacious. The seat is not that comfortable for long rides and it would be great if KTM offers a special seat for touring purposes. Maybe they could also work on the seat hight too.
The pillion seat is comfortable but the access is a bit high which can be a problem for some pillions. Now let’s get to riding part where it shines and one can overlook the problems mentioned above.
The engine on this bike has not been reworked for off-road specifically. It is the same BS6 compliant 373cc engine as on the Duke 390. The 43 bhp of power and 37 Nm of torque seem enough but the torque band is what sets it back. On the highway, it shines like it always has been.
The braking setup is good and has the best bite and progression if compared with its rivals.
Setting off on this bike and hitting the highway made one thing clear that the highway is where this bike definitely shines. The top end of the rev range is as exciting as the Duke 390 was and the long wheelbase and the added weight make it more stable to sit at high speeds. Also, the windscreen is ok for shorter riders but adding an aftermarket addition will reduce the buffeting.
On the highway, one can sit at 80 or 90 in the 5th gear and there is a reason why I say 5th gear not the 6th. The 6th gear is too high. It starts at 96 and then stretches till much higher speeds. This speed might be good on an open highway but not inside the highways where the traffic is unruly. So a 5th gear gives a relaxed ride without changing gears.
Before we reached the offroad patch of dirt we had to go through a city where the heating of the bike was tested. As the bike had stretched its legs on the highway the engine was hot and the sudden drop in speed kicked in the radiator fans. Yes fans, it has 2 of them and they are noisy but they do work well in keeping the heat off your legs.
The bike does demand some attention in the city because of the tall seat and bright orange colour and that does seem good after spending almost 3.5 lakhs.
The Metzeler Tourance tyres on the bike have a lot of grip even on loose surfaces. Now, this does translate into confidence but the alloy wheels might cut it down. But KTM has developed it keeping in mind for the Off-Road and they might suffice well. There aren’t any aftermarket wheels that we have come across. Do let us know the comments so that we could also compare them both.
The bike does have a higher torque band. Along with that the clutch is a precision clutch with the slip and assist features. This makes you push the bike harder in lower gears to bring out the torque. Or you end up stalling the bike. The first gear is short and the engine feels stressed if you want to tackle technicals situations in that gear.
The ground clearance is not as high as other bike and this might be a problem with rocks scraping the bash plate. The rear ABS is switchable and there are a lot of electronic aids which do aid the bike offroad. But if you want to kick in some slides and have some fun off the road then switching them off is the only option there is no way you can turn it down to training wheels level.
Maintaining the bike
The bike was not there for long so we cannot tell you exactly how much the service and long term ownership costs but the bike is a good deal. The bike does offer something that more premium bikes offer at a lower cost but as said before it does compromise on quality. The first service costs about Rs 2,000 and the are reports that the bike does feel more tuned and compliant after that.
It does have features like Quick Shifter which seem to have their mood swings and tend to works only when they feel like. The fuel tank is about 14 litre and offers a nice range of 350 km at max although you can stretch it by riding it gently which someone hardly does on a KTM. There is a car charger socket below the speedometer which is a good touch as that could be used as a port to charge various devices during the ride.
Should you buy it?
After all that I have experienced on the KTM 390 Adventure, I can definitely tell that this bike does offer something that no other bike in this price bracket offers. But the question is that do you really need that. It feels like a bike which is for a person who wants a good touring bike with a powerful engine and comfort. This bike can do mile-munching and that too with ease. It has the power when needed and the safety net of the electronics to save you from immature panic moves.
But if are looking for an offroader and an adventure bike this might not be a good deal. It is expensive and if you drop it then it will not be a happy time for your pocket. Also with this expensive bike, one would not push it to its limit with the fear of breaking it. Instead of going for something that is much cheaper or custom made would be a better idea to learn the art of offroading and adventure.
Lastly, at Rs 3,04,000 ex-showroom, it is the best touring bike that you can buy now. But there will be time till it is perfected we have a proper balance between touring and off-roading. Let’s hope that the 490 series that is slated to come in the market will be the one that meets this goal. Till then the 390 will be the ruler of this segment.
Read more about KTM 490: KTM 490 Under Development in India