Duke 390 vs Ninja 300 – Who’s the King?



duke 390 vs ninja 300We recently came across a review by the Motorbeam team, which pitted the Duke 390 vs Ninja 300. As awesome the people at Motorbeam are, the verdict they came out with was quite surprising. The Duke has better performance, more features and lower cost of ownership. Still they decided that the baby Ninja was a better deal. Well, we think there is a need for second opinions here, considering what a splendid package the Duke 390 is.

So here we are, bringing you our own perspective into this clash of the mini-titans. Both of these bikes have completely changed the Indian biking scene, for the better, bringing in excitement and fun that we have been waiting from a long time! Let’s begin with the heart of the matter, the engine and specs and see what these two machines have to offer.

Duke 390 vs Ninja 300 – Engine and specs

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As you can see, the Ninja 300 is nowhere close to the Duke 390 as far as the engine and specs department is concerned. The only advantage that the baby Ninja has is its engine is a parallel twin, as opposed to the single cylinder on the Duke. That will make it smoother over the entire rev range for sure. Apart from that the Duke blows the competition away completely.

Duke 390 vs Ninja 300 – Features

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In the features department, the Duke again edges past the Ninja by a long shot. It comes with a standard ABS, which is a first on an Indian motorcycle. Add to that the fact that it uses superiorΒ Metzelers rubber against the IRC of the Kwacker, and you feel much more comfortable on the road. The Duke also uses better Trellis frame and upside down shock absorbers upfront that give it better maneuverability than the twin spar frame and conventional telescopic suspension on the Ninja. Also, the Duke offers 170mm of ground clearance, perfect for the Indian riding conditions, against the 140mm of the Ninja, which will make a huge difference when it comes to badly shaped speed breakers that we have in abundance.

The Ninja does hit back with a slipper clutch system, which makes the shifts smoother and lets you make quicker downshifts during hard driving. Also, it has a much larger fuel tank (6 liters), which will help during those long rides. All in all, the Duke wins this battle of the Duke 390 vs Ninja 300 war, comfortably.

Duke 390 vs Ninja 300 – Cost of ownership

The Duke 390 is priced phenomenally, at around 2 lacs on road. The Ninja costs almost double on road. Add to this the fact that the service cost of Duke 390 would be about half that of the Ninja 300, and you have a clear winner.

Apart from the outright cost, there comes the factor of after sale maintenance. The Ninja is a fully faired beast, as opposed to the naked beauty of the Duke. If you happen to take a fall on both of these machines, the cost on repairs would be substantially more on the Ninja than the Duke.

Duke 390 vs Ninja 300 – Verdict

In our opinion, the Duke 390 wins hands down. The only factors in favor of the Ninja are its aerodynamic body, better looks, slipper clutch and bigger fuel tank. However, the Duke is extremely easy on the wallet and much more fun to drive. If we were going to buy a bike between these two, it will be the Duke for sure. Both of them have quite a lot of aftermarket parts available, which should make the whole deal even more interesting.

If you are inclined towards the Ninja, put in just 1 lac more and go for the 650 version. There are rumors of the 250 Ninja being launched at a lower price, so that would be something to look forward to as well!

Image Source: MotorBeam.com

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  1. Reeto

    Completely agree with u Akhil. The Duke 390 wins hands down, barring the fuel tank capacity. The Ninja 300 is definitely good, but it makes a lot more sense in picking up the 650R for a lakh more.

    1. atul

      Duke 390 is more of a kids fun bike. How old are you akhil ? Ninja is a sports bike. Not a fun bike . It has farings, rides like a sports bike, performs on track. You might have ended up with a duke but dude that doesn’t make it a performance bike . Grow up. Ride sports bikes not compare specs on paper. I’ll let you know when you become an expert. Till then no more craps comparisons based on spec sheets

      1. Naveen

        I agree with atul i own a ktm duke 200 and i know the drawback of duke. Ninja is farmost better than duke…… I am planning since from 1 year to upgrade to duke 200 to ninja instead of 390.

        1. Senaritra

          @Naveen dn post it here tht u love Ninja πŸ˜› Akhil dn like Ninja πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

          1. Senaritra

            @Akhil Sir ruko mein mumbai ata hoon πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

  2. RAHUL

    Ha ha ha..u r a duke fan…..well their is issue with suspension…radiater..and some wires and some more faulty part in duke…its display meter is tottally rubbish…i think its service place is very less……and this thing is not practicle….sorry to dissapoint u…but this is my opinioun..

    1. Lijo

      What issue with Suspension, radiater and what wires ?
      there are more then 1000 bikes sold and you talking about a bike or two which was reported for some and issue was rectified easily.(not considring that the guy who reported the bike to has fault , had what riding exprience or where did he ride the bike to or whatever ; less of 4lakh bike sold and there are stil people reporting small issues on the Ninjas)

      Talking About service place, i think one staying in a remote place will not buy a KTM or Ninja(Both serviced at the same place)

      What bike do you have to share your opinions on?

    2. Senaritra Dutta

      AK you should have properly ridden a Ninja 300 before commenting………..Ridiculously bias Interview….Ninja 300 is far far more premium than Duke 390…Those who loves sports bike they will never happy with N650 ……. dn compare street naked with a full flair ed expensive bike…..Duke 390 have zero road presence as Ninja 300 as a Superstar image in Indian Road…Ask any mature rider everybody will prefer Ninja 300 as Its refined and super aerodynamic for long ride….and better engineered bike …Duke 390 no doubt is value for money prospect but its just a another bike in the Road …Ninja is special always keep special…

      1. Senaritra Dutta

        akhil dude. just ride the ninja 300 for properly…then u will relize…what cracker of a machine is tht…more over duke 390 having new engine which has no data of relibility…ninja is around 20 yrs…..lifelong engine….

      2. Senaritra Dutta

        dude akhil. ..300 is same engine as 250…they have increse the cubic capacity by altering the stroke and bore…they have tuned for more better midrange and low range torqe and power for city ride..its a supev machine in city as nimble as r15 despite being 172.kg….u will never feel it…it has outstanding handling and stability in corners…..its a treat to ride as its never heats up due to awesome hear air management system by kawi….after riding it i can safetly say its worth every penny

      3. Senaritra Dutta

        Dude my baby nt in kolkata its in Hyderabad in my workplace πŸ˜€

  3. narain

    Duke 390 is scary because there are multiple reports that its rim breaks even on low speeds in potholes… U can resd ownership review on xbhp

  4. ajay

    ridiculous to see (expect) a professional article here…what a sham

  5. Avin Raj

    the review is very biased from the beginning… only proper upside of duke is price… everyone would buy a ninja if its priced similar to duke..

  6. Pradeep

    Its unbelievable that people are even talking of Ninja 300 now that Duke 390 has entered Indian markets. Your review is spot on and those that do not agree with you should consider racing their Ninja 300’s against a Duke 390. Boy would that be an egg on the face of Ninja 300 lovers!

  7. Igoy

    I lately bought a 390 Duke, Midnight Black edition. Had choices like a used Ninja 250 R at 1.75 L, a New Duke 390 or a Ninja 300.. The best bike overall I felt was Ninja 300 assuming lot of touring. But the fact is 390 Duke beats Ninja in 99% cases, a Ninja cant overtake a Duke rider of same quality, and how would you feel being behind but marginally after spending twice as much. So in the end choice was fairly simple.Initially I found the seat hard but after I got used to it, I found its an amazing bike to tour, the bike never tires and you don’t even know you get to high speeds so comfortably. At the end it comes with ABS as standard, which really makes me so confident about riding and riding quick, This totally makes the argument in favor of the 390 Duke. Unless you see no difference in 4 lacs and 2 lacs, dont give a shit about ABS, ninja is the bike to choose for its better touring abilities and almost same power.

    1. Senaritra

      Price of Ninja now 3.75 lakhs onroad …Duke 390 2.1 lakh ………… so plz don stretch too much πŸ˜› See…even it manufactured in india Ninja will cost u atleast 3 lakh as its twin cylinder engine …and full flaired bike …

      1. Igoy

        Price of Ninja On road in Bangalore is 4.12 lacs, whereas of Duke is 2.16 Lakhs, Ninja is almost double..

        1. Igoy

          To be fair, we are comparing Apples (Green ones) to Oranges, due to our limited choices, just that we have two bikes with similar outputs end up wid a comparo. They two are completely different, a different heart and a different body. Completely different riding styles and feel, so I would prefer having both at different times. But I am not convinces why Kawasaki didnt give ABS as standard in the Ninja, its a must have for such a powerful bike.

    2. Raviprakash

      They both are very different. The component quality in Ninja is top notch, it even has a slipper clutch that mostly reserved for SS class bikes.
      And Ninja 300 is a way more refined machine than Duke 390. When you ride Ninja for 600km in a day, you will have a smile on your face (I’m sure, wider one than one after riding a 390 for same distance).. the way machine revs is a dream… ride a duke that’s done 30k kms and Ninja that’s done 30k kms.. you will know the difference for yourself. KTM is good for short rides and track (RC390) but you cant ride it all day long.

  8. Anirban

    Finally a place where the ninja is not over-hyped given that there is a price to performance ratio to be considered. Really Motorbeams review was like it was being written by a ninja smitten awestruck teenager. Given the rc 390 launch at this fall, even the fairing advantage will go away, where will the green baby hide its face then.

    1. Senaritra

      Dude anirban I am not sure why guys r so bother about this reviews ….if u like duke 390 buy it and ride it …..whts the big deal…who even can buy Ninja they will buy na…. U can say 1000 bad thing against ny report like motorbeam …dn forget motorcycle world closly associate with this brand Ninja for last 20 yr….so like bollywood its just Khan s vs Kapoor or Roshan Comparison as simple…..Ninja having a cult following like Bullet …that if u have in ur garage people will be curious u will make fans unknowingly where ever u go….its like Honda Accord u kno hw many competitor comes people will Worship ninja u like it or nor.. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ until n unless u r a owner u never ever able to know the real thing ….

      1. Senaritra

        Akhil Bhai ………..Dont u think Biking itself coming from heart not from brain ….coz other people cant understand biker maybe called us mad ……..so how come u become logical buddy ….asking points n stuffs….u r riding a stiff and hard seated naked bike which is no where near to be toruer in any case but still u r going 1000 km a day for the love towards that machine ….is it practical ?? So always judge a biker by heart not by brain they you can understand y people have a cult following for bulllet as a example πŸ™‚

        1. Christofer

          Senaritra.. True that.. It is stuff from the heart. @Akhil don’t you think that the build quality of the ninja is better than that of the Duke 390. I agree that the price of 4L on road is quite premium and it puts the ninja out of range for most of us. πŸ™

        2. Igoy

          Bhai Senaritra, I don’t disagree with your heart of the biker stuff… but the Duke’s hard seat is what makes the ride bearable for long runs, counterintutive maybe, personal experience with any softer seat for any run >300 Km, Duke didn’t hurt my bum in 800 in a stretch. It did hurt my hands due to the clutch.

    2. Senaritra

      @AK humm lose out to look factor aha πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ really Akhil …anyways looks r subjective πŸ™‚

  9. Sanat Unkule

    LOL!!! Ninja 300 has a top speed of around 185kmph….
    The RC390 and espically Duke 390 sucks infront of Ninja300(No Offense).
    Dear AK…You own a Duke 390,Dosen’t just mean You declare it a winner in every section.Many of My Friends have a duke390 and my Friend is one of the first owner of RC390 in Pune.
    I know the performance of KTM Bikes very well…Duke suckss on highways,it sucks in traffic,not suitable for city rides and Long Rides too. I am not saying that it is a bad bike….But Yeah!!!!
    KAWASAKI NINJA 300 is Definately Better than Ktm Duke 390 and RC 390!!!
    That’s it!!!!!

  10. frazer

    390 can beat ninja only till 130kmph..after 130 ninja catches on…ninja 300 has a better top speed… Nd rc390 is no were near ninja 300 in the looks department ..

  11. Matt

    I feel that I would be able to shed some light on this topic based on long term owner experiences ( my own as well as those of the people I know).

    I’d like to start by mentioning the things that I really like about the duke 390.

    β€’ The instrumentation
    β€’ Agility
    β€’ Low weight
    β€’ and the torque.

    I was all set to jump on the 390 band wagon, but after I got to test ride the 390, I have to say I wasn’t all that impressed.

    Sure it did have the torque and was extremely agile, but as I hit the high notes it felt like the engine was running out of breath. Well it’s not exactly a fault of the bike but just it being a single cylinder configuration. If you’ve only ridden a single cylinder bike before then this won’t bother you at all ( had I jumped straight from the Thunderbird to the 390, this wouldn’t have affected me ) But coming from a ninja 250, I certainly missed the screams as you open up the throttle. The vibrations were also a turn off for me since it kinda takes you out of your element and you start worrying if you’re about to blow a gasket ( not that it was going to ). Ninja on the other hand is buttery smooth and vibration free even at 13k rpms.

    Also the ride was quite bumpy when i rode over the flyover joints. The bike kept throwing me off the seat and the seating posture was also kinda like sitting in a chair. Another main Issue for me was the fuel tank. Went on a group ride and we had to make extra fuel stops for just the 390 while cruising. Although I have to be honest, It was a different story when we all went WOT around the twisties. Both the Ninja and the duke used up nearly the same amount of fuel.

    Finally the ‘Build Quality’. Duke is nowhere near the build quality of the Ninja which is built well and solid. I have run into so many potholes deeper than the one that cracked the old Thunderbird’s front alloy, which btw could usually take a beating. Having seen so many duke’s with bent and cracked alloys I have to say it doesn’t inspire me with much confidence in choosing it. Not to mention some of random problems like the water shorting the electricals, the seizing engines, oil loss… etc. In my two years of ownership of the Ninja, the only issue I’ve ever had was a faulty sensor, which automatically shut off the engine while riding. It was annoying but nothing scary. Got it replaced within a few days under warranty and never had any issues since. Two years and the engine is fully broken in and have noticed a slight increase in performance as well.

    So in short, there is a whole world of difference between the two bikes. Its easy to pick a winner based on what you read on the brochure. But it all comes down to how you can live with it after you buy it.

    Cost of ownership for a Ninja is kinda over hyped. Its a low maintenance machine and can last a lifetime. All I’ve ever changed in the past two years is a set of tyres, two sets of brake pads and 3 low beam bulbs (since I use the 110 bucks H7 bulbs from the pulsar )

    My Verdict,

    The Duke is an amazing machine to ride and just be a hooligan. It will deliver on what it promises. But if you plan on keeping the bike with you for the long run. Them the Ninja would definitely be a better choice as its easier to live with. If you feel the Ninja is too out of your price range, you should look out for used 250’s that you can get for the around the same price as a new 390, sometimes even cheaper. Do not be discouraged by it being a used bike. The bike is built to last and plus, the real fun on a Ninja comes in after the engine’s been broken in.

    Else you could look forward to the CBR 500 or the Yamaha R3.


    1. AK

      Hey Matt, you are correct in everything you’ve mentioned here. Ninja 300 has that premium feel in everything, but does that justify the hugr price difference? πŸ™‚

      Duke 390 is a very weird machine, rough on tbe edges too, but it does everything that a Ninja can, plus has ABS, and is cheaper than a CD100 to maintain. Duke 390 brake pads + levers + cables, everything combined will cost you 1000 bucks!

      If I have the money to buy a 300, I would probably go for the 650, which in my opinion us far more value for money. Everyone has their own choices, but objectively speaking, Duke is overall better VFM than the Ninja.

      1. Matt

        As an ex-potential customer for the 390, I’m indeed looking at this more objectively than how it might appear to be, like I’m in favor of Kawasaki which can’t be any further from the truth. There are indeed things I don’t like about my bike, like a fuel gauge which for some unknown reason Kawasaki didn’t bother to add along with a proper rear mud guard. The lack of ABS doesn’t bother me since I’m accustomed to riding using engine braking and I don’t speed during the rainy season to avoid unnecessary risks.

        I don’t however disagree with you on its price and yet if you ask me if the Ninja is worth the money, I have to say that quite surprisingly; it is! Quality makes a whole world of difference when it comes to long term ownership.

        I actually just got back from the service center after having the chain cleaned and lubed. I asked a guy who usually works on my bike about the Duke’s Alloy problem. He showed me 3 Duke 390’s there with cracked and broken rims and said it happens occasionally and the garage was filled with several Dukes, some with the same problems as I had mentioned earlier, two 200s and a 390 on the lifts with their engines taken apart completely. There were a handful of Dukes for regular service and a horde of crashed 200s, 390s, two crashed RC 390, one crashed Ninja 650 and 3 ninja 250s for periodic service.

        The issue here is not KTM, but with Bajaj trying to make the bike affordable to the masses and hence in their quest for cost cutting, it takes a serious toll on the overall reliability of the KTM which is otherwise one hell of a bike. Sure, the initial buy in price maybe cheap and affordable, but then once you start to live with it, you start spending more time and money on it over and over again unless you are one of the lucky few who gets that exceptional bike without any problems at all.

        I completely agree with you on the last part as well. If I have the money for the new 300, I’d buy a used 650 as well. Its the more sensible choice.

        1. AK

          Yeah, KTM does have major troubles in the quality department. I have been lucky to get a nice little machine, done 35000 kms in about a year without any trouble!

        2. FilteringBunny

          Pin point precise Matt! Agreed with all your points. To add to that the sound of a twin is far more better than a single cylinder. Speaking about the built quality, the plastics on ninja are a ton better than duke
          The problem is the stupid cost cutting measures of Bajaj, I fear about the reputation of KTM.
          And finally its down to personal choice to go for the Orange plastic or green premiumness
          and Akhil I’m afraid you shouldnt be posting review without riding the other bike!

          1. AK

            Can’t argue with that! It’s true I hadn’t ridden the 300 when I wrote this review, but now I have!

            I agree about your points of premiumness, but I still don’t agree to the price difference, especially now that the Duke will come with a slipper clutch.

  12. SId

    Let me be point to point here, before i start of i would like the narrow minded or bull headed people to know that i am RC390 owner, so my opinions can easily be biased :p

    1) Acceleration – RC390 is much capable of pulling ahead of ninja till 160 KPH and post 165 KPH, is where ninja puts the RC behind, ninja tops out at 189 KPH and the RC at 179 KPH, when you compare the D390, it has the same capability as the RC only to be a tad slower than RC post 150 KPH i.e. Both KTM’s are faster accelerating than the Ninja.

    2) Top Speed- Both RC and D390 tops out at 179 KPH and Ninja can push till 189 KPH.

    3) Quality of parts – Yes i do admit that accessories on the KTM’s are almost subsdised when compared to Ninja 300 but people complaining about rims breaking or parts breaking are off target by miles, KTM’s are known for thier tensile strength and i have experienced the same.

    4) Handling – Now this is very important as per, in any scenario the D390 handles much more better than the Ninja 300, RC just adds to the glory of D390 in the corners, let me be very discreet by saying this is mostly because of riding confidence given by ABS and the Metzeler’s.

    5) Premium Factor ( In the interest of the public) – The kwackers looks smart but now in today’s time KTM has outshined the kwacker with projector headlamps, DRL’s , stunning orange and the full fairing of the RC and the D390 if you compare with the N300 for aesthetic beauty then you are plain stupid.

    6) Touring Capabilities – KTM both the D390 and RC390 have small tanks when compared to the N300 for touring and when it comes to riding comfort, it all depends on the rider, my longest spent on the RC390 is 450+ kms and the same can be done by any D390 or N300 rider.

    7) Riding feel – Yes the D390 and RC390 are single cyclinder engines, my suggestion is ride in 5th gear at 120 your rpom range would be 7.5K rpm and the engine feels super smooth and vibrations almost next to nil i.e. every gear has its sweet spot, you need to find that and not crib about it. But yes the N300 is a lot more refined

    8) Cost of service – My first service pushed me back by Rs 1400, i dont the see the kwacker getting frugal than that.

    9) Technology – KTM has ABS and Ninja has slipper clutch both are safety equipments but ABS being more important, any idiot who says ABS is not important is well a idiot :p (KTM d390 and RC390 are to get the slipper clutch mid 2015)

    10) Price – D390 OTR is 2.1 in Mumbai and RC390 2.35 in Mumbai and the Ninja is 4.2 in mumbai, i should not even justify this point, it speaks volumes for itself.

    KTM Pros – Acceleration, tyres, handling, DRL’s, Projector headlamps, WP forks, ABS, ease of maintenance and cost of maintenance.

    KTM Cons – Shit fuel capacity, shoddy parts by Bajaj, Single cylinder enginer

    N300 Pros – Top Speed, Slipper clutch and Twin cylinders

    N300 Cons – No ABS, Cost of maintenance, Heavily over priced,

    Verdict: If you feel buying a 4 lac 300cc bike is premium then i guess save the 4lacs, take out loan and buy the benelli T899, cause your ninja is not premium and “premium” is the word used to hide the fact that you got ripped off by Kawasaki. KTM is a monster of a performer, with set of ABS and the best tyres in India coupled with the ease of maintaining the bike.

    1. AK

      Agreed! Kawsaki cost and maintenance is just a bomb, totally unacceptable in my opinion.

      1. ABHY@93

        Hi..I am about to get myself with a new bike typically should possess touring capability no problem if it is a sportsbike.
        AS budget of around 2 lakhs i narrowed on to
        RE THUNDERBIRD 500
        KTM DUKE 390
        Took TD of both bike
        1. As soon as thumb started the beast vibration comes in an action.Speedometer starts shaking weirdly.At 80kmph even my legs started shivering.
        2.In short POORL ENGINEERED cruiser bike with old technology and unreliable components.
        3.REs notorious for being more at service station than out on long tours where it should be.
        Dropped that shit idea.

        KTM DUKE 390
        really fast machine at such a price point.loaded with features like ABS,informative instrument cluster.
        when i light twist the throttle the little monster just hauled violently..power delivery i found was very violet as well as tempting. Now coming month i will book that bike as i have to selloff my pulsar 150.
        will KTM prove to be reliable,trustworthy as i would use it for my dream rides like LEH LADAKH.

        1. AK

          Yes! It’s an extremely reliable, trustworthy bike, you’ll never have trouble with it . Have fun πŸ™‚

  13. Michael Connor

    To start off a brief background of mine related to this topic – I am an RC 390 owner and have also ridden the D390 and the Ninja 300 extensively. Article is good but misses out on a few points – the exhaust note of the D390 is like that of an auto while the screaming parallel twin is absolutely insane. The ride quality of the D390 is v v harsh compared to that of the Ninja (not even in the same league). As far as suspensions are concerned the telescopic forks are actually better for pot holed ridden roads. Agreed they do not inspire any confidence compared to USD forks while cornering but for commuting and touring its a real boon. Also I cannot emphasize enough how annoying the puny fuel tank of the KTMs are while touring. As far as N300 vs N650 is considered I guess looks play a big factor and the only other difference is slipper clutch (you’re sacrificing a lot of power tho) – and another intangible is that you’re looked at as right at the bottom of superbikers (N650) while N300 puts you right at the top of the entry level performance bikes segment. Not here to argue with anyone ultimately ppl will buy what they want to, just a thought I’d point a few points across tho…

    1. AK

      Agreed! 390 is an extremely rough bike, but my point is that the premium that Ninja 300 demands over the 390 is not worth what you get for it.

      1. Michael Connor

        its such a pity with our import tariff and lack of quality manufacturing. In the U.S. the Ninja 300 is actually cheaper than the RC 390 and has the life saving ABS as an option along with dunlop tyres… all I can say FML!!! πŸ˜›

        1. AK

          Tell me about it!

  14. vinay

    ABS was first introduced in India by TVS through Apache.. Not duke 390