Singh, Photography: Abhilasha Singh
Warriors epitomise strength, tactics and
precision. They are elite and enter the battlefield with tactical knowledge and
understanding of their surroundings. If two come face to face for a battle,
only one is the victor. A very skilled warrior has entered the Indian motoring
battle ground. The name is Duke 390 and he hails from the kingdom of KTM. The
kingdom claims he is one of the best warrior trained by them, middle-weight of
course. We were given the opportunity to test his skills. We also assembled a few
brave hearts from neighbouring kingdoms of Kawasaki and KTM itself. We dashed
to the foothills of a laidback hamlet called Dehradun where we fought an epic
hard edged warriors we are talking about are the Kawasaki Ninja 300, the KTM
200 Duke and KTM 390 Duke. Our intention was to test vehicles to report the
seat-of-the-pants feeling rather than boring numbers. Here it’s not just about
the power or cylinder layout that matters, but it is the delivery to the rider.
What really matters is how much a rider can use that delivery.
of our praise for this motorcycle is down to the arsenal that it packs. It has
a 373cc single cylinder engine pumping out 43bhp of power. And because there is
barely any body work the 390 weighs about 138kg (dry). This lets you hit
100kmph as quick as an Audi A7 Sportback with a 3.0 litre TFSI engine! The
engine feels and sounds brawny and sonorous. You experience a shove pushing you
back in the seat past 6500rpm. And it continues through all the six gears. The
200 Duke had short gearing and started to pant after 120kmph, but this thing
just keeps on going leaving everything behind. You may just catch a glimpse of
that in the rear view mirrors. Bring the Ninja 300 to the party and the
competition gets stiffer. Both these bikes cross 160kmph and stay composed at
those speeds. However the 390 edges in front of the Ninja because of the
additional ponies in the Duke.
Now it’s time to show the 390 some corners and what
better can a place be than the curvy roads of Uttarakhand. The tight corners
and elevation lets us experience the agility and torque spread of these
machines. The biggest advantage with the 390 is that it comes equipped with
super sticky Metzeler tyres from Germany, which needless to mention are the
best there are. These tyres just would not let go off the tarmac and allow you
to achieve ludicrous lean angles with ease. Even the wet weather performance is
brilliant. In the wet the 200 Duke and the Ninja 300 generate wheel-spin, but
the 390 Duke just grips and grips. And to add to this is the anti-lock braking
system which keeps you out of trouble when you overstep the limits of adhesion.
handling is absolutely flawless. You get acres of grip, mean lean angles and
lots of pace if you know how to tame it. We say tame it because it might be
very stable and has an ABS, but still is might powerful and often too much to
handle for an average rider. The 200 Duke is still the recommended buy if you
are still learning how to get the knee down. Trust us the 200 Duke is an
extremely quick bike and enough for you to train on. The 390 Duke is for the
ones who have graduated from Pulsar 220s and Duke 200s and are more serious in
becoming motorcyclists. It is for the ones who have respect for horse power and
the laws for physics. Approach towards a corner, brake progressively, lean in
and exit out feeding back the power. The 390 rewards you if you do it right. On
a circuit a rider will just shave seconds off every lap. Every corner on the
390 Duke will add to your learning and you get encouragement from the bike to
go faster next time.
performance of the bike is so breathtaking that you will not even consider how
it looks. Yes it looks like the 200 Duke, and yes the basic structure is the
same, but put it next to a 200 and you realise that how important body colour
and graphics are to the appeal of a vehicle. Both the bikes are very distinct.
The orange wheels and the frame add to the racy outlook. Then is the exhaust
note, the 390 has a deeper and louder note which instantly sets it apart. The
only issue that you have to deal with is the heating engine, which is expected
from a 373cc single.
the end of the day the victor is decided, the KTM 390 Duke takes away all the
glory. It is extremely good fun to ride, very quick and now also has the strong
top end which the little brother lacked. And as a bonus will go 33km to a litre
on being light on the throttle. The KTM 390 Duke is one of the quickest and
most agile motorcycles on our roads. It dominates the competition without even
breaking sweat. Remember what the Sun Tzu teaches? “The supreme art of war is
to subdue the enemy without fighting”.
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