1400 mile quick review - KTM Duke 390 Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 05-27-2016, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2016
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1400 mile quick review

So I think after a few months it's worthy of a review.

Just a tad background - no mechanical experience, owned a 125 for around a year before the 390, 20 years old living in London uk.

So - the good.
Ok I like bursting it into the high rpms quickly. Love the acceleration on the bike. For me at the moment it gives me enough to giggle- definitely can imagine being with the little duke for a year or two. This is my first upgrade in any case. I have ridden 500's before but I feel like I can totally use the power which is exactly what I wish from a machine. I would hate to own a 600/1000 and never leave 1st or 2nd!

Looks, sounds and cosmetic stuff. I'm a fan. I have the stock exhaust and it doesn't bother me too much (might I dare say that I like quiet over loud!?). But to be fair I have never fitted a loud exhaust on my own personal bike. I reckon I like the whirring it makes at high rpms that I couldn't imagine with a loud ass exhaust. Who knows.

I have a white duke and the way it looks is good - I don't think it's the most special looking naked. Although I do get looks from cabbies at reds and people have mentioned it's a nice looking bike. I just get this vibe that it is quite childish with such glaring sticker combo and bright wheels. But doesn't bother too much. It's definitely not a negative - just a thing. But all in all I like the position of the ride and it definitely is a little thuggish in looks. Bigger tyres and slight more forward lean could do it justice ( in design not in the shock - although super duke is there for a reason.)

I love the handling. It just feels great - especially for a beginner. Confidence inspiring has been said multiple times everywhere but for a reaosn. I'm awful at reviews I'm finding.

It's fantastic in London traffic as filtering is legal here and often takes me around 30 minutes to go 14 miles to university because of how nimble agile and small it is. Although low rpms in 1/2 is not its forte.

Fuel - I get 16miles per litre which last me around 3 days. £8 to fill up. It's ok. That's it.

The bad.

Ok. Everyday I go on a ride and the horror stories are on my mind. I'm just sorta kinda waiting for something to happen - always. In fact, every time I go on a ride the bikes engine sounds different which is what I am pinning down to the fuelling. Sometimes it feels smooth, sometimes groggy, sometimes jittery. I don't know if the fuel map is correct although when I went back to the dealer to talk about he plugged it in and said nothing was wrong and had latest map. So I Donno. So it's a worrying ride.

I've also gone on the motorway which was hella fun just because of the wind blast. I felt like I was going super fast at 70-80mph because of how much my body was acting like a kite. Although I'm gonna give this a negative. It's just I can't imagine this being something a rider would enjoy if it was common.

Unfortunately - most of the talk here is on mods and how much improvement and how much ECU controllers etc change the bike and make it. Unfortunately, I paid for something to be great out of the box. Yes yes, it's cheap for a reason. But still, it's disappointing I need to spend an extra grand on mods to get the most out of it. Nonetheless I'm enjoying it.

I think overall it's great. But it's definitely not a keeper. I mean, in the first 800 miles I have to drive 25 miles each way to the dealer 4 times just to be like what is going on with my BRAND NEW BIKE.

I have been riding it in the rain the sun, the cold. Let's see how it holds up in the English winter. Good luck to me and to the rest of you in your journeys !
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post #2 of 6 Old 05-27-2016, 10:31 PM
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Hi 123, Thanks for the candid assessment of your bike. I'm glad that, despite the niggles you have had early on with the Duke, you can still say "I think it's great overall". As you become more accustomed to the bike, I think your confidence in it will grow. Perhaps you worry a bit too much about things like the engine noise, for example - noise can be influenced by various factors in the acoustic environment that have nothing to do with the state of your engine. It would not be surprising if, a year from now, the realization dawns on you that maybe this little bike may be more of a keeper than you at first thought. And yes, it will be interesting to see how it holds up through an English winter. Our colleagues Hedskatoom, 640 and others undoubtedly can coach you through that crucible.

Don't stress over mods. At least 90% of the mods owners make are simply discretionary, and really unnecessary. Just entertainment. The bike is really very capable right out of the box, and actually NEEDs very little more/different. I would say the only quasi-mandatory mod is the PP ergo seat - though some do like the stock seat. A few other safety-oriented minor mods would be good but not required: front brake pads, a proper loud horn, an LED headlight bulb. If your fan has not self -disassembled by now, you likely have one of those that will work as intended. Some inexpensive adjustable control levers might be helpful. But even if you did all that, the total expense would be much less than you are thinking.

Remember, this forum and others of its kind are focal points for tales of woe, and do not present a representative picture of the vehicle. Try to worry less and enjoy more! Ride safe, stay warm.
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Cheers, Will

"If you don't know where you're going, you might wind up somewhere else."
--Yogi Berra

2015 390 Duke
1980 Moto Guzzi V50 II (becoming a cafe racer)
1984 Moto Guzzi SP 1000

Last edited by Diploman; 05-27-2016 at 10:35 PM.
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post #3 of 6 Old 05-28-2016, 02:14 AM
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Good write up and I recognize most of your " negative " points of the Duke . True , one needs to spend a bit of money to render the bike more comfortable .
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post #4 of 6 Old 05-28-2016, 02:55 AM
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Very good write up, and agree with all the other comments from the gents. My main purpose of getting the 390 was for commuting to work and back. In that department it is ticking of all the boxes. It is light and nimble and has enough power to get out of the traffic from the redlights. My mindset was from the beginning to start on this and then in a years time to upgrade to the 690R and then to the SuperDuke. Have done a few longish trips of over a 100 km. at a time on the freeway, while it is fun and keeps up with traffic and more, it just feels that it is not very happy at those speeds. Maybe just me, who knows. I love this little duke, and has not been disappointed so far in what it is and what it is capable of. I only did a few cosmetic changes, for it to look a bit different, but wont go all mental on engine, exhaust and fuel controllers. When i sell it, i wont get anything for the extras, so that way it will also be easier to trade it in.
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post #5 of 6 Old 05-28-2016, 09:28 AM
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Duke 123, I've wrestled with many of the same thoughts you've had.

But at 2,500 miles, my Duke has yet to disappoint.

*My fan still works.

*My sidestand hasn't fallen off.

*And it has never died at a stoplight for no apparent reason.

I have a bigger bike in my garage that I don't ride much any more.

I'm going on a 4-day, 1,110 mile trip beginning tomorrow. Riding the Duke. The Sierras are better on a small bike.

Need I say more?

(BTW, apparently these bikes get better with each passing mile. Mine is amazingly better at 2,500 miles than it was at 1,400 miles. Hang in there!)
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¡Qué padre!

Current garage:
'16 Duke | '15 R1200GS | '15 MINI Countryman S | '10 Honda CRV
[16 departed -- Hondas, Yamahas, BMWs and one HD]

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Last edited by Geoffster; 05-28-2016 at 09:35 AM.
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post #6 of 6 Old 05-29-2016, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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It's really settling down in fact. The past 400 miles I have definitely felt like its "learning to be" much more - like a baby of sorts. Smoother and less snappy.

I'm looking forward to the next 500, 1000 and 5000 miles. Let's hope it stays learning and grows with me and guides me to the next friend I have, a bigger bike that will make me grow as a rider even more. That's the relationship I have with it - just a guide to my next bike.

I've done only a small mod - the clutch and brake levers as they were causing repetitive strain injuries due to the bite being quite far out on the clutch range. Fixed it and I'm happy with it.

I saw an MV Augusta brutalle on the street at the red lights next to my duke. And my God was it beastly. Although the super duke is my dream bike. One day hopefully.
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