KTM 390 Duke-Ownership Review

During the middle Ages, the title “Duke” refers to the member of noble classes or the Monarch ruling a fief. In India, people are not much used to this title until few years ago, when Austria based motorcycle manufacturer KTM launched its KTM Bikes here. Bajaj autos has partnered with KTM to launch a series of KTM bikes in India. This partnership has seen a runaway success through the KTM 200 Duke and KTM 390 Duke. KTM 390 Duke was launched in India in mid 2013.

Lead up:

I have owned a Yamaha RX100, Pulsar 150 and Pulsar 200NS so far. Pleased with the performance of Pulsar motorbikes, i would call myself as a fan. Bajaj Auto owns a considerable stake in KTM, which produces KTM bikes at the Chakan unit, Pune. As per the law of natural progression I started to look for my next valuable possession which is an orange and black KTM 390 Duke.  I opted for this color scheme due to its striking attitude and eye catching graphics. And finally took delivery of the bike from Khivraj motors, Bangalore.

With the Bike:

KTM 390

 KTM 390 Duke:

If you feel that KTM 200 Duke offers you adequate power, you need to rethink because KTM 390 offers you much more. The fun of riding a KTM 390 comes from the 375 CC liquid cooled single cylinder engine. The moment you start to shift gears, you will feel the racier personality of the bike which starts to surround the rider too. KTM 390 refined 6 speed gearbox gives you a rewarding experience at higher rpm. KTM 390 develops 43bhp which gives this leaner bike a better power to weight ratio. The bike starts to give a satisfying performance starting from 5000 rpm onwards.

KTM 390

The factory fitted silencer is not an Akrapovic, but the 3 chamber silencer is well positioned near to the overall center of gravity of the bike. The exhaust note sounds music to your ears at higher power band. Catalytic converter helps in meeting the emission norms. The 11 litre fuel tank is ergonomically designed which offers a better knee contact. The front and rear disc brakes offer a better braking experience. The front disc is fitted on the left side and the rear one on the right side of the tire.

The wide rear metzeler tire offers better grip in dry and wet road conditions. The riding position is good and not compromised for its sporty stance. Even when taking long trips – given the fact that I used to do frequent weekend trips from Bangalore to Mysore on KTM 390. It’s faster as well as quicker. It’s brilliant. Now coming to factors which could have been better is its overheating and pillion seat comfort. Overheating makes me uncomfortable at times especially in bumper to bumper traffic. The Pillion seat is comfortable only if you have model type girlfriend 😉  Coming to the running costs, I am getting around a mileage of 30 km/litre.

KTM bikes

Dealership Experience:

I bought the bike from Khivraj motors in Bangalore and I am happy with the dealership experience. After sales service is good and they do it in a timely manner. So far I haven’t done any aftermarket fitments and no plans in near future too.


KTM doesn’t face much competition in this segment in India, as there are not much competitor bikes except the Royal Enfield Continental GT. KTM 390 Duke was awarded “Bloomberg TV-Autocar Bike of the Year 2014” and “2014 CNBC TV-18 Overdrive Bike of the Year”. The reason cited was its performance, ride, handling, decent fuel efficiency and a value for money (price-tag) in a winning package. I expect the KTM will sure do a good job, when they launch their much expected KTM 125 for the young, price conscious consumer segment. Among the various Bikes in India, KTM bikes standout among the crowd and it’s a sure head turner which I personally have observed many times. This bike lives truly to the KTM motto of “Ready to Race” for bike enthusiasts. I would say in one line about KTM bikes as “The Austrian prince who has won Indian bikers hearts”.

A word of caution: I would suggest my fellow bikers to wear the right gear and choose the right helmet (with proper safety ratings). Ride defensively at crowded places which will make you less vulnerable. At the same time, enjoy your driving and happy motoring.

My Dream Bike: Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R

Thanks to Parashuram for sharing his Ownership experience

Visit the KTM India website: http://www.ktm.com/in

Image Gallery:

The raise & fall of Iconic automobiles in India

What is that common between Me, Birlas, Morris Motors Limited, Kolkata and Oxford (United Kingdom)?

Its the Hindustan Ambassador car or Amby as it’s fondly called as.

Automobile Icons:

Hindustan Motors Limited (HM) was setup in 1942 before Indian independence by B.M.Birla. The initial operations started in an assembly plant in Gujarat. Later the assembly plant was shifted to Kolkata, West Bengal. Hindustan Ambassador car was based on Morris Oxford model manufactured by Morris Motors Limited in United Kingdom. Another great car manufactured by Hindustan Motors was the Contessa. Hindustan Ambassador car and Contessa both was popular among government officials and politicians. Both the cars at their time were all about Status, Style and Prestige.

Bajaj Auto Company started its Bajaj Scooter production from 1972. The first model was 2 stroke engines with 150cc named as Bajaj Super. The original design of Bajaj super was based on Piaggio’s Vespa. Later Bajaj Chetak was produced and it was named as Chetak, after the Indian warrior king Rana pratap singh’s horse.

Bajaj Scooter_Ambassador Car

Ride to a Dead end:

Hindustan Motors finally suspended their production of the Ambassador Car. The reasons cited were, not much demand from the consumers and lack of funds to continue their production. Bajaj Scooter was stopped more or less for the same reason. Both these vehicles lost their dominance in the market. In the dynamic market place, consumers have more options, their tastes kept changing and aggressive competition came from Indian, global manufacturers. They slowly started to vanish in the recent decade before it perished.

The modern motorbike/car/scooter buyer wants latest technology, safety, comfort and lower emissions. Companies like Maruti, Royal Enfield read the mindset of the buyer to manufacture vehicles like Maruti Alto, Royal Enfield Classic 350 cc and Classic 500 cc etc.. These vehicles are retro styled with latest technology advancements. This made them to survive in the market and to score in their sales chart.

The general opinion is that Hindustan Motors, Bajaj Auto’s lack of interest, to improve the quality and add technology advancements was the foremost reason for the declined sales which eventually lead to complete halt. The same happened to Contessa or Conti which was manufactured based on General Motors Vauxhall victor FE. The Bajaj Auto Company should have tried something in the lines of Honda Activa and Piaggio Vespa, considering the fact that every 4th two wheeler sold in India is a Scooter. Scooter is a 2 wheeler but carried 4 souls (entire family). Both the Ambassador Car and Chetak scooter enjoyed a loyal customer base that was built in their heydays which span more than a few decades. An opportunity was missed by the manufacturers. Many car and scooter enthusiasts started to remodel these vehicles for their value. I used to drive my cousin’s old remodeled Ambassador Car fitted with an Isuzu engine. It’s absolutely fun, riders pride and collectors favorite. Most of the latest cars of this price range cannot match with the Ambassador car’s seat comfort.


Classic cars/motorbikes/scooters are simpler to work on, made for pure driving experience, rider’s pride, have character and soul. It can’t be explained in words or paper. As an enthusiast, coupled with our nostalgic memories, most of us feel to voice our opinions about our favorite marque. Our thoughts are “the Company should have done this or they should have build that” instead of stopping the production once and for all. At the end of day its business and they would have discarded it considering various factors too. Whatever the case maybe, there is a proclamation in few countries when new monarch’s accession to the throne “Long live the King”. I would echo the same for Amby and Chetak which has now became old classics. Vacuum created by them can never be filled.