Motoring

KTM 390 Adventure review: When adventures await

While the KTM 390 Adventure has the capability to go almost anywhere, it also looks to be a fantastic long-distance road bike

The KTM 390 Adventure has just made its India début. It promises to be just the sort of fast, premium and (relatively) affordable go-anywhere motorcycle the Indian market has been sorely missing. The 390 certainly looks the part and has quite some presence. In person, you will realise that the 390 ADV is a considerably large machine — it is bigger than the BMW G 310 GS in every dimension, and is taller and wider than the Royal Enfield Himalayan as well. Thankfully, it isn’t as hefty as the 199kg Himalayan, but at 177kg kerb weight, it is about 8kg heavier than the BMW.

Substantial it may be, but the 390 Adventure certainly isn’t pretty. Just like KTM’s big ADV family, its trademark insect-like styling is instantly recognisable — but it is not for everyone. There are a few interesting details, though. The fuel tank plastic, for example, is infused with colour, instead of being painted, and this should help keep a cleaner look after a period of time and wear-and-tear.

KTM 390 Adventure review: When adventures await

As far as comfort and practicality go, this bike is miles ahead of anything else KTM offers in India. The 14.5-litre fuel tank is the largest on any India-made KTM to date, and you should easily get well over 300 kilometres on a full tank. A new subframe has liberated vast seating space for the rider, and there’s a decently-sized pillion seat as well.

Technology-wise, there is the now-familiar, full-LED headlamp that comes right off the 390 and 790 Duke. The TFT display is also nearly the same, but this one can display turn-by-turn navigation assists if you purchase the optional KTM MyRide Navigation App for ₹600. And then, of course, there are the headline-grabbing electronic assists. The bike gets a bi-directional quickshifter that works decently well, even if it’s not as smooth and crisp as the system in the 790 Duke. There is also a three-axis IMU that enables a cornering ABS feature, and a corner-sensitive traction control system.

KTM 390 Adventure review: When adventures await

Our first taste of the 390 ADV was on some rocky, gravelly trails, with a few steep climbs strewn with large boulders. First things first, the ergonomics are quite decent, in terms of the feet positioning and shape of the fuel tank, but most of us agreed that we would have liked a taller handlebar for when standing up and riding.

Switching to the faster, more open trails, the 390’s trademark raucous power delivery was great fun, especially when you cross the magic 6,000rpm mark. But just as the 390’s excellent top-end thrills in the fast stretches, its grumpy bottom end makes it a pain when climbing steep and technical trails at low speeds. There is no significant pull below 3,000rpm, and you have to slip the clutch quite a bit to get things going if you lose momentum. Shorter gearing (or at least a change in the final drive ratio) would have been nice here, but the set-up is identical to that of the 390 Duke.

In the dirt, the off-road ABS mode which deactivates the rear wheel intervention worked beautifully, but the same cannot be said for the traction control. A number of us encountered an unusual issue where the TC would randomly cut in briefly, robbing you of all power, and this was with the system fully turned off and while the engine was running.

It is on the road where the Adventure’s 1.5-degree increase in steering rake and 77mm increase in wheelbase over the 390 Duke reveal their biggest change. While we didn’t get to evaluate high-speed stability, it is clear that this bike feels nothing close to as fidgety or on-edge as the Duke. Instead, there is an enjoyable sense of stability, which comes without a major sacrifice in agility and front-end feel, despite the 19-inch front wheel.

As far as comfort goes, the riding position is commanding and simply excellent. What you should know is this is a bike that will be easier for taller riders. On the road, the 855mm seat height will be just about manageable if you’re over 5ft 6in, but things can get quite tricky off-road if you don’t have long legs to mask a lack of talent.

Performance-wise, the BS-VI engine makes the same 43hp/37Nm as the BS-IV motor in the 390 Duke, although the exhaust note sounds a bit more muffled. What is new, however, is a redesigned curved radiator with a dual-fan set-up. The intention is to improve cooling efficiency and redirect the hot air away from the rider.

The KTM 390 Adventurealso looks to be a fantastic long-distance road bike. The ₹2.99 lakh ex-showroom price is stunning when you consider how much this bike has to offer. If KTM can offer a reliable and niggle-free experience from the start, the 390 Adventure could be quite a special machine.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 26, 2020 6:19:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/motoring/adventures-await/article30852018.ece

Next Story