best tire for duke 390

Which is the best tire for KTM Duke 390?

Sometimes  I just can’t believe KTM supplies the Metzeler Sportec M5 tires as default with the 390. A set of those costs around 16000 bucks (if you’re lucky), which is like 10% of the entire bike’s cost! These tires are rated safe for speeds of around 250 kmph, something the Duke can NEVER achieve no matter what you do. It’s just nuts.

Anyways, the bad thing about the Metzies is that they wear out quick. A careful and smooth rider like me couldn’t use the rear for more than 17k and the front more than 25k kms, although a friend of mine named Shreyas Shetty did manage to pull out 22,000 kms from his rear Metz somehow. A hooligan friend of mine ate through the rear in less than 10,000 kms. It’s a brilliant rubber, no doubt about it, but it has its limitations:

  1. Cost: Metz pair costs roughly twice the cost of a Michelin or Pirelli pair.
  2. Off-road usability: The M5 is a great tire for the track, road, and rain. But anything else, especially gravel and slush, and you’ve got trouble.
  3. Life: Like I’ve said before, being a soft-compound tire oriented for track usage, this rubber doesn’t last long at all. The bigger problem is that once it finishes, grip levels become dangerously low. It behaves like a MotoGP tire, its life ends very abruptly.

So what to do once you are done with the Metz? This is probably the question that I hear the most online, and it’s a little bit complicated to answer. Everybody has different requirements, based on which you have to decide what tire to choose. There are 3 different type of usage patterns, most people have a combination of 2 or 3 out of these:

  1. Tourer: Somebody like me who needs long life and all-round ability. I don’t really care if my lean angle is not as good as Marquez, I don’t care for chicken strips, I need the rear tire to last at least 25,000 and the front at least 30,000 kms, I need the rear tire to not fishtail wildly on the smallest patch of gravel or mud.
  2. Track junkie: These are the people who do track days very often, so tire longevity is expendable as long as it helps them go quicker. They also don’t really care about dirt riding grip, it’s all about corner speed and lean angle.
  3. City rider: Basically just ambling around the city, never using anything higher than 3rd gear. You don’t need anything special for this, MRFs or Ralcos costing less than 5k would do the job equally well as Michelins and Pirellis costing 20k.

OK, now that you understand the issues with the Metz and the types of riders that determines their rubber choice, let’s make things a little more confusing and add the front and rear tire choices into the picture. Many people believe in this myth that I don’t really understand the logic behind:

When you change your tires, you should change the complete set.

Well, why the fuck should I? Front tires generally last much much longer than the rear ones, why should you change a perfectly good piece of rubber just because some other unrelated piece of rubber is worn out? People do weird shit sometimes I tell ya.

Anyways, the important thing here to understand is that there’s a difference between the roles and responsibilities of the front and the rear tires. Front is for steering, rear is for putting the power down. Rear tire loosing grip and fishtailing is OK, even fun sometimes! Front tire loosing grip means instant fall. Overall, front tire is much more important to a safe riding experience as compared to the rear, although that doesn’t mean you should ignore it completely.

So, now that your brains are completely scrambled, here’s my recommendations for the best tire for KTM Duke 390. I’ve done around 35,000 kms on my Duke till now, and have changed the rear once and the front twice (long story). I’ve also seen others ride with different tire combinations and noted down their experiences. So here it goes.

Best rear tire for the KTM Duke 390:

1. Michelin Pilot Street Radial 140/70:

Fantastic, amazing, better than the Metz in EVERY WAY. I got this tire for about 6000 bucks from Babloo Motors, Vashi, and have used it the last 17,000 odd kilometers. It provides as much grip as the Metz on the road, and much better in wet/slush/gravel situations. The best part is its life, even after using it for more kilometers than what my Metz lasted, the tire still looks good as new, with treads deep enough to last another 10,000 kms.

Many people have asked me if the 140 section does anything to the ABS, no it doesn’t. I haven’t felt anything wrong while riding from Mumbai to Bhutan and back over every possible type of terrain imaginable. The Michelin in fact has slightly higher profile, which I think really helped in saving my rear wheel from breaking when I went over a stone at over 140 kmph, not to mention the fact that it’s still working well even after going through hell!

2. Pirelli Sport Demon 140/70:

Costs about the same as the Michelin, does everything about the same as well. The only weak point of the Pirelli is its life. The Pirelli feels like slightly softer compound than the Michelin, which means it doesn’t last as long. It will still take you more distance than the Metz obviously, at much lesser cost per kilometer, but I personally would prefer the Michelin.

3. Ceat Vertigo 130/80:

This is a knobby tire useful for only specialized situations, like Ladakh. Cost is really cheap at around 2500 bucks, and I think you’ll have to do an insane amount of burnouts to get rid of this rubber. Don’t expect to corner like the Metz on this tire, it’s just meant to take you to places where the Metz can’t. I won’t recommend it for normal road/touring usage, just put it on when the shit’s really gonna hit the fan.

4. Metzler Sportec M5 150/60:

Even though it’s costly and gets destroyed in the blink of an eye, the Metz is still an awesome choice, especially if you like tracks. I did a track day at the Buddh circuit with it, and no matter what I tried I just couldn’t break traction. I rode from Mumbai all the way till Delhi to race on the track, and then even took the bike into remote corners of Himachal. That’s when I really understood how weak the Metz becomes once you take it off the road. If you like the track, don’t tour much, and are OK with cost of around 9,000 bucks, go for it.

Best front tire for the KTM Duke 390:

1. Metzeler Sportec M5 110/70:

It’s just the best! Front tire grip is really really important, and the Metz does an awesome job there. It performs more or less at par with other tires in moderate slush or gravel, and the good thing is the front can easily last 25k kilometers if you’re nice to it. There was a period when I had the Metz at front and the Michelin at rear, and I felt invincible! Costs around 7,000 bucks though, so much higher cost per kilometer.

2. MRF ReVZ-C 110/70:

This is the same tire that is provided on the Duke 200, and I got to use it by accident, a literal accident. When I blew out my front tire on the way to Kota, I had to get a new rubber. The shops there hadn’t even heard of Michelin or Pirelli, so on went the MRF. I’ve now used it for more than 15000 kms, and I love it! This tire costs a mere 2200 bucks, and even during the hard cornering of Bhutan I never felt it slipping or sliding. Extreme value for money, awesome for city or touring.

3. Pirelli Sport Demon 110/70:

This is the tire I changed to after my Metz front wore out. Cost me 4000 bucks at RevZ, but I was unfortunately able to use it only for about 1000 kms before a stone opened a 10 inch hole into it. It’s a very nice tire too, looks great and performs well. A friend of mine used it all over Bhutan and probably had the most cornering fun from all of us! It’s a good all-round tire, fit for track usage as well.

4. Michelin Pilot Street Radial 110/70:

I haven’t used it personally, but a friend of mine did, and as expected this is also great value for money. Not much different from the Pirelli, it looks good and should last a fair bit of distance before dying out. Cost is similar to the Pirelli, so it’ll again be a great choice for any riding conditions!

5. Ceat Vertigo 100/90:

This is again useful only for extreme road conditions. Don’t expect the same levels of grip as the Metz or the Pirelli or even the MRF once you get back on the road. It looks really fiesty, will obviously have a very long life, and has a higher profile which will definitely help your wheels. Costs a measly 2000 bucks!


One thing that you have to understand is that it’s all in your head. Tire grip is mostly psychological. Even if you have the Metz, you will rarely ever use it to 100% capacity. For everyday situations, even the cheapest tires would work well, because you’ll see the difference only when you push yourself and the bike to limits, something that you shouldn’t really be doing if you want to live.

These recommendations can be used for the KTM RC390 as well, with the exception that touring doesn’t really come into the picture with that thing. Let me know if you have something to add!

Check out my 50,000 km story with the Duke 390, mainly done with Michelins. 

123 thoughts on “Which is the best tire for KTM Duke 390?”

  1. how about the pirelli Diablo rosso 2? heard a few guys using it in malaysia and saying really good things about its grip. Also helps that it looks the part. Hard to get in India though. At least where I live 😐

  2. An awesome review. quite unbiased and helpful. Thanks. I reckon that the New Michelin 150 Profile that is due to be released in Feb15 should be the right choice for D390.

      1. Thanks for the information about tires AK, you really have a lot of experience and knowledge about it.
        It really updated my knowledge. I had a doubt and wanted your opinion on that. Which tires(both front and rear) are good and best to buy if the road is having a lot of gravel, as most of the tyres tend to slip there ?

        1. I would still personally choose the Michelin PSRs for gravel, mainly because to reach the gravel I will still have to go through a lot of highways. If you’re going to do like 100% gravel, knobbies might be a good idea, but I have no experience with them.

  3. Been usng the Metzler on the rear tire and the Michelin Pilot Street on the front on my Duke 200…. there was a time when i just had the michelins up front but the MRFs behind, and i managed to get a panic brake of 80kmph-0 in about 20-30ft without sliding out. Never would’ve managed that on the MRFs. So for the money, the michelins are really the most value. The metz rear are awesome, but like you said, wearing out fast. Was a lil skeptical about 140 section on the rear so stuck to the metzeler, but seeing ur review, will go michelins next tire change!

  4. Friend got a Michelin and had a fall because the rear Michelin’s did not stick the road like Metzelers do. This tyre had done some 300 Kms..Metzelers wld have stuck.. High speed long curves can create this situation of losing traction. I wld rather spend 3 K more for Metzelers..over a period of 30K the max difference wld be 8 K (talking abt rear tyre only).. I think is worth every penny..we cant buy a Bred Horse and expect to feed it donkey’s diet..My take.

    1. 🙂 Rear tire slides happen because of a lot of combination of circumstances. But yes, if a Metz gives you more peace of mind, you should definitely go for it!

  5. Nice post. Thanks for taking the time to write this up. I’ve decided to go for the Ceat Vertigo Sport for the front and rear. The rear tyre of my Enfield is a 120 mm wide Ceat Vertigo Sport and I’m extremely happy with it. Did Ladakh without a fuss.

  6. Good job Akhil! Have gone thru a few reviews and user experiences and this is by far the most comprehensive assessment… I just ripped off my rear Metz after 14k… actually the threads began to show off at 12k but finally they couldn’t hold up after 14k 😛 For the change, my focus is on another Ladakh trip this summer. I am torn between the Michelin (for being the best “second choice”) and the Ceat Vertigo (for its off-roading capabilities and sturdiness). However, I saw an owner’s review on xbhp who had issues with the ABS on Vertigo… Any thots on that? Coz otherwise, I’d prefer the Vertigo over any other tire in Ladakh (my query is particularly regarding the rear tire as my front Metz are holding up well as of now).

    1. I don’t think Vertigo should fuck up the ABS Paranjoy, as long as it is the 130 size. Michelin is a good rubber too, although I would obviously prefer the Vertigo over it for the extreme terrain of Ladakh. The good thing is that the Vertigo is really really cheap, so I would suggest go for it, if it doesn’t work out, no big deal 🙂

      1. @Paranjoy & Akhil – can you please elaborate on the ABS issues because of the smaller profile tyre? The only AT tyre option available is the MRF or Ceat (120 / 80) tyres, but i am worried they will impact the ABS and i definitely need the same in Ladhak 🙂

        1. The ABS unit’s function is based on calculations it makes based on the circumference of the default tires. When that circumference changes, ABS goes mad.

          Put Michelin PSRs, useful anywhere, without any problems with ABS.

  7. Very informative article on the rubber. I would be checking the speed demon and the Michelin at the store. I needed help on traveling to Bhutan. Can you please help me, thank you.

  8. Thanks a lot Akhil for such a detailed report. Infact this is what i actually needed. I’ve done about 5.5k kms and just #1 mark on the sportec has worn so far. I’ll be riding to Bhutan in Sept 2015 and was planning to change the tires. Was thinkin of changing it to Michelin pilots. I wanted your opinion whether i should change the front tire or Metz’s frnt tire is ok.

    Would it be possible for you to help me plan my ride? How can i get in touch with you offline? It’ll be fantastic if you could help. Thanks buddy. Cheers

  9. This is infact one of the best point by point write up on KTM tyres in India…..

    Believe me I keep it as a reference whenever I recommend a tyre to anyone.

    Well done riderzone!

  10. Very informative blog..kudos. Infact i’m looking to replace my 2nd set of rear Metz n looking for options. first rear lasted for 14k n second just 12k n for second set of rear i eneded up paying 13.5k in black market. So it really hurts to see them coming to end in less than 9 mnths. But thts wat it is, they r the best u can get if u can afford but can’t expect much life. Did 2 tours of ladakh n spiti; one last September n second last month (hell lot of snow) n I have to differ here with your opinion about off-roading, did not fell down even once in those two trips (not to boast about it), but just to say they are as good for off-roading as in city or track. But this time i’ll take your advice n try Micheline, as you rightly said its all in d mind 🙂

      1. I went to Ladakh on metz as well….no problem at all….they do scare you but save your ass just in time….. my brother was no so lucky though…he fell 2 times

  11. A few questions. A. The manual says the two tyres should have the same tread pattern. How seriously should one take that advice? If I have to keep the same tread on the two tyres then I have to change both the tyres together or go for the same brand. B. What are the modifications needed to the mudguard to accomodate the Ceat Vertigo? And how is general handling on normal road with them? How does it impact fuel consumption? Because the tank size is notoriously small 🙁

    1. Bullshit. I’ve been riding with different tread patterns for like a billion kilometers now. No need to keep same tires, no need to change both tires at the same time.

      I think Vertigo in 120 section will fit without any mods. 130 might be a little tricky. You’ll also face trouble with ABS. Handling on normal roads will be OKish, as long as you don’t expect to corner like with the Metzes. Fuel consumption will not be affected much.

  12. Bought michelin rear aft my metz died on me en route to goa in just 8000 km. thanx bro. Michelin street radial is good in every way and more value for money. they now give you the same spec 150 mm tyres as metzlers do

  13. hi, I am hoping to find answers here. So , I bought my Duke 200 few months back. I have ridden a mere 2k on it. The problem is that the front tyre(which is a stock MRF Revz) has slipped quite many times when on slightly muddy wet roads during rains. While the back tyre remains perfectly gripped. I was thinking if i should replace my tyre with a Michelin or Any other suggestions ??

  14. Excellent blog akhil… One cannot get any better theory on tyre selection for DUKE than this. Kudos to riderzone!!!!

  15. Hey nice write up bro! Exactly what i was looking at……real time review on this! I own a D200 and have clocked 40,000 kms in 2 and half years now with original set of tyres i.e. MRF Revz C still on and due for change now. Just in case if you are wondering, i have not drained the last bit of tread off those tyres (uploading some pics). I will have to change both my tyres. Planning to go in for Michelin Pilot Street but was confused till i read your blog. I am also a tourer just like you!

  16. Hey bro. I ride my NS 200 everyday for around 40 KMS approx to my college can u suggest me both front and rear tyres especially for good grip on concrete roads. Thanks

          1. Sorry man i was mistaken front’s a 100/80 nd rear’s a 130/70. Where can i find michelin in navi mumbai

  17. hello very informative & accurate article cheers for it, my question is same as others here I own a 2016 CBR 250R its roughly done 2000 kms but my tire already had 5 punctures at once, I need tire care recommendations to prevent future punctures my daily commute is 60kms hme-ofc on highway & inner city roads in Pune & should I change my rear tire to Michelin Pilot Street Radials or continue with my contigos & other question is that is Street radial is as broad as Contigo, as i like the broad tire profile on my CBR, plz do solve my issue thanks!!!!

    1. Stay in the middle of the road. Most punctures happen when you ride on the left of the road where all the shit and dirt is.

      Easiest method is to put in Slime or some other Tire Protector fluid. It’s not cheap, but gives peace of mind.

      Street radials are far better than Contigos, in everything. If you have to money, change.

      1. Thanks mate, do u know any such fluid plz suggest & pilot street radials rate in pune?? any guess?? can the dealer replace the tire (Honda Dealer)?

  18. I don’t understand why not give a kill switch for the headlight.
    I mean it looks awkward to see someone’s headlight ON in the day.

    1. In our country, yes. Daytime running lights is a safety feature. Bikes are small, quick and easy to miss. A light that’s always on at front makes you much more visible.

  19. Now I am not a Duke 390 user but I needed help on finding out the best all rounder in the 140-150 width segment tyres. Since you seem to have tried most of them, Which one would you recommend for a FZ16 as an upgrade from the stock 140/60 MRF, I ride in the city, I plan to start touring soon, and I tend to twist the throttle when I see a corner before hitting the curve, NOT an off-roader at all. I’ve been considering the Michelins for their excellent profile which dives into a corner like a charm, but also thinking about money at the same time, and that’s when the R3’s stock tyres (Zapper-S and Zapper FY) hit my mind. I want 1.Looks 2.Cornering stability 3.Life, with their respective priorities. What do you recommend? for a bike whose speed is limited to a maximum of 120kmph.

  20. Hi big brother,

    Nice review on tires where usually you wont find much good comparitative review on tires.

    I think the parameters are applicable for my New R3. the tires comes with it is MRF zapper where my r15 is having revz. I am planning to change it to Michelin bcoz the zapper spils all my fun in higher speed.I am a hard cornering lover .Shall i make my choice on Michelin ??

  21. I’m sure ur not someone who pushes the KTM to its limits… I’m currently running the michelin pilot street’s on my RC390 n they r horrible in every possible way. They squel n slid when it come to extreme downshifts with horrible lean angle grip as well… Crap list, for a more accurate list click on the below link…

  22. i was looking for good tyre, i found this link. it is very good info.good work Akhil, i Enjoyed it reading. i used this link to compare and find the best
    it shows why the Metzeler is best. it does its job best thats why it will wore out soon. i have Pirelli Diablo Rosso 160/60 on my 300, but it is time to change now, i am not getting any 160 size tyre in India. hopefully i go for Metzeler or Michelin. whatever the tyre use i feel ABS is one thing a fast bikes should have.

      1. thanks lakshmi for response, infact i have checked most of the sites on net, and called some dealers. but nobody had stock of 160/60, so i had to buy 150/60. anyways thanks for suggestion,i might use next time.

  23. I have a mojo and the stock pirellis are at the end of their life cycle. Given that the tire dimensions are the same as that of Duke 390, can I go by these recommendations or is does other factors need to be considered?

    I am not a corner junkie and lean angle means nothing to me.

  24. Hi Akhil, What are your views on Pirelli diablo rosso II for KTM, Which one is better as compared to Metzeler M5?

    1. I don’t like Pirelli much, there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s kinda a confused tire. If I was into track, I would buy the Metz, if I was into touring, I would buy the Michelin.

      1. Where do you get Bridgestone Tires in India in the 150/60 section? I’ve been looking around for it in Chennai for my Mojo for quite sometime and have not been able to find it.

        1. Bridgestone does not have any motorcycle tyre dealerships in India. It can be bought only through online stores. I’ve gone for the Metz again and bought a new double bubble too

  25. Hi ,
    Just done 23k kms on Metz on my RC 390 , now its time to change the tyres , im confused between the mrf & michelin ? using bike for thr daily use and sometimes for touring on the highways.. which one would be most suitable?

  26. Hey brother…great article, really cleared up things a lot for me. I wanna ask you a couple of things.
    1)I have decided to with metz at the front and I am still doubtful about the rear tire. I have had three punctures uptil now in my stock mrf tyres in duke 200 which seems to have the same specs as the 390. Do I have to change the tires. I have done around 15k with the treads almost intact. And if I have to shall I go for the michelin or pirelli. Also what are the advantages/disadvantages of using a tyre with higher profile(since you have recommended a 140/70 whereas the real size is 150/60). Which of these have better grip and do I really need it for primarily highway rides.

    2) I have skidded and fell off my bike almost once in every 4-5 months for the past 2 years. I have had 2 major accidents(one was due to my assholery). But I am responsible and the bike seems to skid even for the slightest applying of front brake. What should I do/check/change to reduce damage to me and my bike.

    1. Try any zero dep insurance.. I did and replaced fairing 3 times till now.. Insurance premium is bit costly but comes with a peace of mind. And crash protectors are good for slow crashes but harmful in high speed as it can flip your bike and do more damage..

  27. Thanks for the detailed writeup. My Duke 390 rear has started showing the threads at bare 8000km. I need a tyre for mix use, gravel and road. What will you recommend? Something less knobby than Vertigo but more than the strict road use ones.

    1. Installed continental bazooka 150/60 R27 66S.. Loving it grip is good in dry conditions.. Rainy season is coming lets see how it goes. Went to kedarnath from delhi on it never slipped even on sand it does perform well then metz. Mileage is better some how .. Getting 29kmpl sometimes.. So far so good.

      1. Hi Ashutosh,
        I am looking forward to change my D200 rear tyre to Bazooka? Did u happen to ride it under wet conditions? And what is the front tyre that you are using with bazooka? Kindly share ur updates on the bazooka?
        Thanks in advance.

        1. Its a Good tyre no doubts u can use it for duke 150/60 R17 . wet grip is good i never tried hard cornering in wet but rain is coming will tell u how it goes. Do some burnout after installation. it will increase grip and i am using metz for the front but its due for a change.
          Go for metro if u ride in city and tour in highways. It also absorbs some hard bumps . haven’t use it at track but cornering is fun . put em forget em for a long long long time..

          1. Hi my metz on rc 390 is weared out have seen metro bazooka will it be a good tyre for speeds around 150-160 . how would be the breaking grip.

          2. hi bro. its a good tyre with a speed limit of 180 . I occasionally do 165 no problem at all. Do 2-3 burnout initially after installation grip increases after that. But u can have the metz for around 4500-4800 with H rating. If u want let me know..

  28. Hey bro. Nice write up . Almost cleared 80% of my doubts . I own a RC200 and i have clocked 22000 in a year. My rear tyre is flat and i have got cracks on the side of my front tyre . Reading the article i feel i should opt for a mich rear and metz front. What say .. off road isnt much .. mostly its the city and the highway . Would like to hear from u . If u can suggest me a set that csn go around 25k

  29. Hi Guys, I want to buy a Michelin Pilot for my Duke 390. I am based in Bangalore. Can someone give me the Michelin motor cycle tyre dealer name/address in Bangalore. I dont want to buy them online .
    Thanks in advance.
    Happy riding!

  30. Hi, so first up I’m riding a Pulsar 200Ns and used to do a lot of tours but eversince I’ve shifted to Pune I’ve started doing a lot of trails. Majority of my riding is in city with trail riding/liitle bit of hard dirt riding and off roading thrown in during the weekends. So the question is which tyre should I go in for? Any help/suggestion would be much appreciated.

  31. MICHE is a very good tire and everyone has to agree if you do not cross more than 120 kmhr If you are someone like me who always like to touch top speeds then these tires are really dangerous and you will have that wobble sensation while riding the bike above 120 but pirel’s and metz does a lot better work and I would personally recommend each and everyone to buy Metz becoz the stopping power and even in top speed is a child’s play for a metz tyres
    Please dont put yourself in risk for a couple of thousand bucks more.
    Trust me, Or check it out yourself in top speed conditions.
    And that’s the reason the rates are pretty high and please do not but anything over amazon as metz tyres will cost you there around 7k for both tyres and are definitely not the original one.

  32. I’m not sure how you drive bro, you were able to pull that kilometer from your Metzeler M5? It only last for 4,000km to me for the rear, 10,000km for the front. I have change my rear tire 3 times in 2 months. I’m always on full throttle anyway maybe that’s the difference.

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