advice on first bike - KTM Duke 390 Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 10-13-2016, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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Question advice on first bike

So, I'm trying to decide on what bike to purchase as my first. I'm 30 years old. I've never ridden a motorcycle. I am taking a basic training course in November. I attempted to take a course last year, but it filled up and life got in the way. Back then, I was dead set on a TW200 for my first bike. This was due to the fact that I wanted to ride trails and the TW is known as a great beginner bike. This time around I'm not interested in trails. Since a dual sport wasn't necessary I started to look at street bikes. Eventually I came across the duke390 and became convinced that this was the bike I wanted/needed.

Now, after much research and thought I'm completely unsure. So many people online recommend a used beater that you don't mind dropping as a first bike. If the only reason for the used bike is dropping, I don't think I necessarily need a used one. Unless I'm going to be completely destroying the thing.

There seems to be so many different opinions on whether or not the duke390 is a good first bike for a beginner. The things I like about the 390: ABS, small/light, good tires, power to grow into, aesthetics.

But there are also things that worry me very much. Articles such as this: negatives of the duke 390. There are many other articles/comments with similar claims. There are an equal number, if not more, articles praising this machine as the ultimate entry motorcycle. Being unfamiliar with motorcycles, it's hard to know what's what. From everything I've read, it seems like if you are in India the duke 390 is a horrible beginner bike, but in the US it's one of the best there is. Seems this has to do with the difference in traffic.

If it makes any difference: I'm 30. I'm not trying to impress anyone, do wheelies, or quench my 'need for speed'. I really just want to travel around town and explore. Eventually working up my confidence to be able to go fast, but in no rush to do so.

I'm torn. I've been looking at TWs again, and just can't make up my mind. I flip flop back and forth constantly. Perhaps the only way to know is to get my license and go test drive both of em? I also don't know how I feel about a used bike. I have no experience, so for all I know I could be buying something that is going to give out on me in a couple months. Any help/advice is appreciated..

TLDR: first bike = duke 390 or TW200 (or equivalent dual sport)? Why? My personal preference is duke, but my practical side says TW after much readings on the internet.
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post #2 of 24 Old 10-13-2016, 02:42 AM
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Well case, I'm 40, new rider and 1st bike...I happen to ride the tw200 in BRT class but had set my eye on the Lil duke early on. Just depends on your needs tw is OK but if primarily street don't think it would be as fun longer term. No bike is perfect, price wise I think they're pretty close. And basically 5k new is a low entry fee for a new bike with warranty though you'll get hit for shipping/setup fees or you could possibly find a gently used duke on this forum or Craigslist....and generally used bikes come with accessories which will save you some $$ too -good luck David
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post #3 of 24 Old 10-13-2016, 05:03 AM
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On the net you will find many reports / reviews from professionals that consider the Duke 390 one of the better " first bike " to buy . The bonus is that even experienced bikers seem to enjoy the bike quite a lot which means you are not going to "outgrow" the bike as and when you build up riding experience . There are of course many other makes and models that offer a decent entry level bike . It all depends what your needs are . It is a great commuter bike and at the same time fun for weekend use .
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post #4 of 24 Old 10-13-2016, 08:35 AM
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The video you linked is from India, where due to QC issues, misuse and bad roads, there are many more problems with the Duke.

All 390's destined for 1st world countries get final assembly and QC done in Austria, hence a better quality bike than the India assembled and QC'd product, which is built to a much lower price point.

The 1st world country bikes are not without their issues though, as witnessed by some reported blown head gaskets, clutch failure, and the cooling fan failure debacle in the US.

Mostly though, these problems are either blown out of proportion on the internet, caused by certain use-cases or easily fixable, which is why we have this lovely forum.

The 390 Duke is an absolute brilliant first bike, you can take it easy, have fun, test your limits, go touring, commute, go offroad, do fast stuff, do slow stuff, do track days, motovlog and more with ease.
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post #5 of 24 Old 10-13-2016, 11:03 AM
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If it is a straight choice between the TW200 and the Duke 390, the TW will surely win easily as a beginner bike.

By far the most important criteria for a first bike is user friendliness - everything else is secondary. For sure the Duke has a much bigger performance envelope, a bike you could keep for years and not tire of, but if you are thinking about that at this stage then you are thinking WAY too far ahead.

You have to learn and master clutch control, throttle control, low speed balance, higher speed cornering and do all of this while also braking, changing gear, positioning yourself on the road to make yourself conspicuous to other road users, while avoiding road hazards (potholes, loose gravel etc.) and trying to read the behaviour of those other road users. Once you have mastered all that then and only then will the 390 Duke be the better bike to be on.

This forum is littered with comments about a snatchy or jerky throttle or occasional stalling at inconvenient times (junctions) - these are not the characteristics of an ultra user friendly machine, rather they are the characteristics of a lean burn fuel injected single where I suspect maximum power output rather than user friendliness was the over-riding design criterion.

The TW200 does not have fuel injection and is in a much lower state of tune generally, so I will eat my laptop if it isn't a much more user friendly engine.

This forum is also littered with comments about an over-hard seat and harsh standard suspension (that may unsettle the bike and you if you happen to end up on a badly surfaced road or even if you just fail to spot a pot-hole) on the other hand the TW200 - well just look at those TYRES - I think the ride quality is going to be alot more user friendly too somehow.......

The TW is surely ultra friendly and looks a bit of a giggle to be honest it is also way nicer than my first two bikes (Suzi GP100 and 125) that I did a total of 7000 miles on.

Also do not be so quick to discount riding off - road, there is no better place to learn machine control (or learn from your mistakes) and of course the TW is more suited to that.

The 390 Duke would be a brilliant first UPGRADE bike.

Less is more - You can only use 150hp .001% of the time, but you can use 150kg 100% of the time ...........


2015 390 Duke / 2001 KTM 640 Duke2 (awaiting carb rebuild) / 1998 Bandit 1200 (half dead) / 1994 DR350 (in bits)
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post #6 of 24 Old 10-13-2016, 02:40 PM
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Well, the question of whether the Duke or TW200 best suits you, your skill level and preferred uses is a lot like that age-old question: Ginger or Maryann? Both would be fun to ride, but......WAIT! I mean the motorcycles! Ummm....it was just locker room talk!

But seriously, it's hard to say. And maybe the better choice is somewhere else altogether. My hesitation on the TW200 (mind you, I have never ridden one) is that bikes with that small amount of horsepower present a real problem on the highway. Even my old KLR650 had me looking in the mirrors half the time worrying about getting run over from behind. If you are no longer interested in trail riding a highly specialized bike like that may not be appropriate.

At the same time I'm not sure the 390 Duke is the best choice, either. Not because of mechanical problems, because mine has had none. But it is a twitchy little beast, quick steering and with a kind of notchy throttle that catches even me (with 45 years of riding experience) by surprise now and then. And it is not particularly well suited for puttering around since at low rpms the engine is pretty unhappy and will let you know about it.

When you take the MSF class they will probably put you on a 250cc Honda or the like, and maybe that will suit you. The good thing is there are a lot of entry-level choices out there. Keep looking.
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post #7 of 24 Old 10-13-2016, 03:08 PM
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Certainly the TW200 is better adapted to Indian road conditions than the Duke 390. With its ultra-fat tires and spoked wheels, the TW would unquestionably be my choice for traversing a large, sharp-edged pothole. The broken wheels observed on 390's are far more the product of very difficult road conditions in India than because the wheels are of poor quality. In countries where Dukes are ridden on well-maintained tarmac, the wheels are not an issue.

However, the TW seems rather over-specialized and basically intended for offroad use. If you are now more interested in street riding, I think a small dual-sport bike would be your best choice.

It is ironic that the built-in-India Duke is not particularly suited to road conditions there, and fares better in other countries whose road conditions are less stressing and cause less damage to the bike.

Cheers, Will

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

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post #8 of 24 Old 10-13-2016, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikebet View Post
My hesitation on the TW200 (mind you, I have never ridden one) is that bikes with that small amount of horsepower present a real problem on the highway. Even my old KLR650 had me looking in the mirrors half the time worrying about getting run over from behind.
Admittedly, where you are going to be riding has a major influence on the level of user friendliness offered by a particular bike.........

As does your height and weight.

Less is more - You can only use 150hp .001% of the time, but you can use 150kg 100% of the time ...........


2015 390 Duke / 2001 KTM 640 Duke2 (awaiting carb rebuild) / 1998 Bandit 1200 (half dead) / 1994 DR350 (in bits)
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post #9 of 24 Old 10-13-2016, 05:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies. I have no intentions of taking the bike on the highway. I've looked at other bikes but about the only other ones to catch my interest are: dr200 and grom. I think the grom would be fun, but not the best first bike. The dr200 seems ok, but then, why not the TW? The TW seems better suited to beginners with its fat tire.

If the duke 390 is a bad beginner bike and I would be putting my safety at risk, then I won't get it.

Most other entry level bikes, I can't stand the look of.

[mods: I realized i posted this in wrong section. Feel free to move it]
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post #10 of 24 Old 10-13-2016, 05:49 PM
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I disagree that the 390 Duke is a bad first bike. The amount of control you have at low speed is insane.

Combine that with the low weight, wide bars and upright seating position and what more do you want?

There are a couple of niggles that you'll likely need to sort out, but show me the bike that doesn't have something you'd like to change or optimise from factory.

The speed you're going is dependent on your right wrist, and the motor has a lot of torque being a single.
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