Negatives in Duke 390

6 Negatives of Duke 390 and why it is not perfect.

I like my bike, a lot. It is possible that in that love I may have blindly said that it is a perfect machine. KTM Duke 390 has been a game changer, with no bike even more than a year after its launch being able to hold a candle to its brilliance. But all good things aside, there are certain aspects that definitely need to be improved.

I have ridden the bike for around 11,000 kms now in just around 5 months (UPDATE: Done 30,000 kms in 1 year now). The terrain has included everything, except snow, which should be taken care of by July. I take it to office everyday, so that is city traffic for you. I rode it from Bombay to Bangalore in a single day, so that takes care of high speed riding. I took it from Bombay to Himachal and back, going through disastrous sections in Rajasthan and MP, utterly bad roads and hot + dusty conditions. After all of this bashing around, of me and the bike together, here’s some negatives of Duke 390 that I would like you to know.

Negatives of Duke 390 – Heavy Clutch

The clutch on Duke 390 is just too heavy. I have ridden a wide variety of bikes in the last 6 years, and this thing has to have the hardest clutch of them all. I think part of the reason it feels so uncomfortable is that it has been taken straight from the Pulsar family. I don’t think the clutch levers of Pulsars were made to handle anything more than 20 bhp, but that’s just my own theory.

After every long ride, my clutch hand pains like hell, especially the little finger. I have tried everything, done the two-finger method, whole hand method, and whatever else there is, nothing helps. If you get stuck in city traffic then it is just a whole new level of nightmare. I sometimes simply have to get off the road, stop the bike and rest my hand when stuck in traffic. The pain is so much I just can’t continue.

Negatives of Duke 390 – Rough throttle

The throttle response of Duke 390 is quite rough, especially at low rev ranges. The power comes in short bursts, which isn’t really good for stop and go traffic, considering how difficult it is to control 44 horses when they are all just waiting to run away like crazy. To fix this problem, I need to ride the clutch a lot, which again adds to the pain in my hand because of the heavy clutch.

I have heard people going for ECU remaps from KIIRUS getting better throttle response and smoother drive. I don’t understand why the OEM software would make the bike so rough, and why you need to pay around 12,000 bucks to an aftermarket guy to get that fixed. I haven’t ridden a KIIRUS bike till now, but hope to do soon.

Negatives of Duke 390 – Short gears

One of the advantages of Duke 390 over Duke 200 was said to be the longer gears. Guys on Duke 200 were always shifting to squeeze into the perfect rev range. Even after this supposed improvement, I find the gears on my 390 to be quite short. You can’t go over any speed breaker without shifting down to second gear. 3rd gear is only comfortable over 40 kmph, 4th over 50, 5th over 60 and 6th over 70 kmph. If you are in the wrong gear at the right speed, the bike lets you know that quite strongly, with horrible sound from engine and lots of vibrations all over.

This short gearing again leads to lots of gear changes and lots of pain in the clutch hand. There is a very narrow rev range where each gear feels at home, and constant shifts are required for any type of terrain. I can’t even begin to imagine how Duke 200 guys live with their bikes. This short gearing problem also appears to be fixed by the ECU remap by KIIRUS, which is again sad.

Negatives of Duke 390 – Bad wheel quality

I would like to clarify that this is NOT a problem that I have faced, but something I have seen in other 390s. The wheels seem to break with very little effort, the smallest pothole at a relatively slower speed. I have seen this in many photographs, and heard from many people. I haven’t met any rider or seen the bike in person though.

The wheels have been designed with weight saving in mind, you can tell that just by looking at them. But if the experiences of a few Duke riders is taken into consideration, you will feel that KTM may have gone a bit cheap with the alloys. It does look like a few corners have been cut in making this bike cheaper than anything out there with this much power. The photo was sent by a fellow member of Duke 390 Mumbai owners group.

Negatives of Duke 390 – Engine oil problems

This is again something that I haven’t faced with my bike, but I have seen it on quite a few machines, personally. A lot of Duke 390s seem to leak oil from top of the engine block. This leads to the oil level reducing over time, leading to major trouble. When I went from Mumbai to Delhi, I was accompanied by 2 guys on 2 Duke 390s. One of the guy’s engine seized just 150 kms from Mumbai. It started with white smoke coming out of the engine, and he suddenly lost power. The dude had got his bike serviced just days ago, but there was no engine oil to be seen in the window.

He got a new engine that same evening, and rode to Delhi like a mad man. In between he got the bike serviced again. Then on the return trip, his new engine seized too. His bike is now sitting at some service center in Mumbai. As expected, this guy is pretty pissed off and is looking to get a new bike, not just another engine change, and I totally agree with him.

The other guy on his 390 and I continued onwards, and just after Godhra his Duke’s “Low Oil Pressure” warning came on. There was no oil to be seen in the engine oil window. We looked around and couldn’t find the 10w50 Motul engine oil that Dukes use, so we had to do with Castrol one. We rode with that till Udaipur, got the proper engine oil and then went on our way. There definitely are some problems with the engine oil management on a 390.

Negatives of Duke 390 – Abrupt stopping of engine

This issue has been faced by almost every 390 owner that I know. When you suddenly apply the clutch from high speed, the engine simply stops turning. This is pretty scary on hairpins and corners, especially in hilly areas. No reason or explanation for this has been found till now. KTM service guys relentlessly deny this as a known problem.

For me this problem happens generally when the engine is cold, although it has happened after long rides as well. You would be approaching a speed breaker, you brake and hit the clutch to downshift and bam, the bike is off. All you can do is shift into neutral and start the bike and then go on your way. Pretty annoying at times.

I haven’t mentioned chain slapping, since that doesn’t do any harm, just an irritating sound comes from behind. There have been instances of coolant leakage, but that seems to be a common feature of the Pulsar family and is readily rectified. I also haven’t mentioned the low mileage, the pillion discomfort, and puny fuel tank, because that’s something I was aware of even before going to for the bike, and can live with.

Yes every machine has its own faults, yes we still love our bikes no matter how much tension they might give us, but this article is meant to make the future buyer of a Duke 390 aware of what might be in store for you. For the money you pay, there is nothing like the Duke 390 out there, just don’t expect it to be a perfect relation. If you think any more negatives of Duke 390 need to be added to this list, do let me know in the comments.

Below is a 50,000 km video I did for my 390. 

237 thoughts on “6 Negatives of Duke 390 and why it is not perfect.”

  1. Bike seizing is worrying , did service centre guys erred while filling Engine oil?

    i have been keeping eye on duke series from long time.breaking alloys and other little niggles are worrysome but still there is no such enthusiast bike in india 🙂

    1. Possible Lalith, although that would be a fucking big blunder to make! They have now again replaced his engine. Let’s hope this one lasts long enough.
      That is true, the amount of fun you have on this bike is simply amazing. For just 2 lacs, this has to be the most VFM thing out there.

      1. hi i have old karizma 2006 planning to buy duke 390.i heard there is a problem of hotstart..n stuff like a die hard fan of KTM(duke)
        should i go for it akhil

        1. Totally man. I have never faced the hot start issue, although I have seen people face it. In any case, it’s not a big issue at all. The positives of the bike far outweigh the negatives. I am happy with it after 30,000+ kms of riding.

  2. You have practically noted all problems a bike could have. As i see it all bikes are machines and are bound to have mechanical problems and it also depends on how you maintain ur machine. Also you should go by law of averages when it comes to identifying a problem. My bike is awesome and i dont have any complains …..yet.

  3. The wheels are indeed flimsy and are off poor grade than one can expect. They are a nightmare an insurance Hassel. But it is the engine switching off at downshifts that you mention. I had this problem a month ago. And a skilled mechanic can identify the issue in no time. The problem with my baby beast was due to a worn out shim. It was readily replaced and I was on my way. I am Happy and content that it is not gonna happen again.

    1. With my bike the issue was there since the start, doubt the shim would get worn out so quick. Will ask my mechanic though. Good luck with your baby!

  4. I am the owner of the first batch of the Duke 390s and I have faced every single one of the problems that you have listed above.Does it make me want to hate my bike ,so much that I want to sell it or classify it as a poor product? the answer is NO.
    I’ve clocked over 10.5 k kms on the bike in a little over 6 months of ownership,with over 60 percent of it on the highways spent mile crunching ,taking the bike offroad into slush and sand . I’m happy to say the bike has behaved remarkably well. As for the problems you have listed-
    1.’Heavy clutch’- I’ve owned a Ninja 250R before this and clutch on that felt heaver to me. Though I did feel the clutch action a little bothersome during peak traffic,trust me as you clock more miles it tends to become easier and the clutch action smoother.
    2. ‘Rough throttle’- The low end power delivery is a bit off,I agree but that issue has kinda sorted out on itself. The bike feels much smoother lower down the rev range now and I’ve seen the same opinion among several other owners as well.
    3.’Rim crack’ I am one of the first few owners who had their rims broken ,that too during the run in. This is a serious issue and I hope KTM have improved the quality on the newer batches.
    4-‘Oil leak’-I’ve faced oil leak issue twice within 10k kms . I was told that the sealant used has been upgraded now and it wouldn’t recur again.
    5-“engine stalling’I have faced this just twice in 10k kms,hasn’t caused me any major problems .
    6-‘Short gearing’ – the 390 is considerably taller geared than the 200. Which means that it is more inclined towards highway riding and the 200, shorter geared is meant to be a hoot in the city.KTM have been quite clear in positioning the twins.
    Each and every new bike launched will have its own set of glitches and issues to be addressed.Case in point – the CBR 250R. KTM have been quite sincere in rectifying the problems and diligent in replacing the faulty parts. I think that is one aspect that the prospective owner will have to come to terms with while going for any new product,not just the 390.

    1. True Vijeth, and that’s exactly what the purpose of this article is. Every bike will have some problems, all you need to decide is which ones you are OK with.

  5. Hi, I got my duke 390 a week ago. I commute in dense traffic everyday. The heat from the engine is becoming unbearable at times. Once I got high coolant temperature although it went off after crossing 30 kmph. Apart from that the temp level always shows 10-11 bars at all times. I understand high compression engines emit lot of heat. My question is will this heat reduce after first / second service and oil change to motul 7100. Or will motul 300v do any good? Dealing with so much amount of heat is becoming increasingly painful especially in dense traffic of Bangalore.

    1. Even in my bike the temperature area has 10-11 bars mostly, but never got high coolant temperature warning. I always use Motul 7100 engine oil. I think yes, the heat will go down after first service, but still get your bike checked at the service station. It may also have something to do with the really hot weather nowadays!

  6. Bro for the stalling issue my mech just raised the idle speed to 1800 (on a hot engine) that worked for me. Now no more embarrassment in the middle of the road.

  7. Hi,thanks for your list. I was not aware of the cheap rim issue but now its better to be aware.
    I am planning to book/buy a used duke 390. Won’t do much city driving. This would be my first bike(a 100% petrol head btw).
    I wanted to know if it is a good idea to get a used one? OR should i wait for a new one?
    How much time can ktm take to deliver the monster?

    1. I always prefer a new one, can never be sure what the previous owner did. There is no waiting period on the 390, as soon as you make the payment, the bike is yours!

      1. Sorry for the late reply Ishan, missed this comment somehow. I’ve seen tall people riding the 390, and to me they look a bit out of place. Duke is a small bike, so tall people do stick out the top a bit.

      2. A late rely here as well. I didn’t go for the duke as I too felt that it might not suite me well and should wait for the RC. Now I am glad that I have,I find the rc a lot more accommodating somehow. But I plan to ride it daily and to long road trips which may have some rough terrain maybe even Leh. So do you think the the rc is as “durable” as it’s naked counterpart? I will go for the 390. I don’t think that there will be a significant difference as they are quite similar mechanically.

  8. Nice points Akhil. Regarding the clutch lever pain, I would suggest you to change your lever to the aftermarket lever which come with 5 step adjustment. If your palm is small, you can adjust it as per your need. Even I had pain while using the clutch lever, but I changed it to a different one and also adjusted it to the least/smallest width, and the problem vanished. I also adjusted my clutch cable and kept the play more, so it is become very easy to use the clutch lever.

    1. You can get it on eBay. Just google for Bike Adjustable Brake Clutch Levers and you’ll get a variety of levers with different colors. The one which I bought was somewhere in Andheri West, I forgot the address from the shop where I bought my levers. My brother took me there. It is pro biking shop. You get each and every genuine bike accessories and stickers, tankpads, etc.

      1. Yes, yes. that’s the shop. But the accessories are quite expensive. It costs 3k for a pair of levers, clutch and brake.

  9. Wow bro u have compiled and pointed out all the faults of the 390 found on all biker threads and got them together thanx for the heads up! im ok with a heavy clutch! but rims breaking at low speeds over small potholes is a really bad thing! oil leaking is something i have faced loads of times its the sealants that need to be of good quality and the adhesive applied around them should be thoroughly applied!! ill get used to the tall gearing once i finally get the bike!! heating issue is really bad!! i test rode the 390 and i was the first one to open the throttle for the day at the showroom and within seconds at the 1st traffic signal i felt the heat get thru to me thru my jeans! my old pulsar did that only after say 50kms in the city filled with traffic at around 12 in the afternoon! keeping my fingers crossed to not face any of the above listed issues

    1. Looks like the rim issue was only for a particular batch, so you should be good there. Rest it’s all OK man, you’ll get used to it with time 🙂 Good luck!

    1. Krash (or whatever the fuck your real name is), everything is relative. Duke 390 has short gearing as compared to say a CBR250R or a Pulsar 150. It is definitely taller if compared against a Duke 200. My point in saying that the Duke 390 has short gearing was that a lot of gear changes are required during city riding, so please try and understand the logic behind my words.
      I am pretty sure you’ve never ridden a bike in your life, or you would’ve known that you don’t lift a clutch on a motorcycle. I have now done 17k kms, and I still find it heavy and hard. Please elaborate your experience with bikes, so that I may understand why for fucks sake you had to leave such an asshole of a comment on my personal opinion.

    2. Buddy, too many gearshifts is a sign of taller gearing. And the Duke 390 has taller gearing, you may check with any internet source.
      Short gearing = lesser shifts. Do you get me now? Example: Shine 125 or Duke 200.

      And I too own a Duke 390. No, I don’t find the clutch hard. Compared to my 7 year old P180, its just ok, not too hard…. And I’ve done 5000 kms so far.
      Even on the internet, no one seems to speak of hard clutch on the Duke.

      And unless rims don’t break with your own experience, it is no use pointing it out. I can say that CBR 250R rims broke, but would that hold a candle, unless its not clear what I was doing that caused rims to break in the first place?

      Of course, krash’s words may not be suitable, but I agree with his point. I’m just replying to your points though.

      1. I haven’t got a verifiable definition of gearing Samarth, or maybe I don’t understand it 🙂 But the point of what I was trying to say is, 390 takes a lot of gear shifts, which you seem to agree with.
        A lot of my friends who own 390s find the clutch hard. It may have something to do with your personal preference, bike setup etc. If it works for you, awesome!
        True, if something hasn’t happened with me, it is rather hard to check its authenticity. The reason I included it is because it is something major, and quite a few people seem to have been affected by it. It is possible those people did some very stupid things, but the stories they told were pretty scary.

        1. I don’t think there is any way the Inazuma is better than the Duke! It is smoother for sure, like all Japs, but apart from that it is an overpriced, ugly looking bike.

    3. Akhil bro, 10 days before i booked RE contiGT , now my friends suggesting me to go for the STICKING curious duke 390, but honestly speaking this 390 is much perfect performer then GT , now wondering what i should i go for , like MY heart says or technology way???? im a fan of RE because i love vintage bikes …that’s the biggest reason why i been booked GT ,it got cafe look – vintage design with present technology within it….. Im asking u , what should i do – all the way to GT or convincing myself to duke 390???

      1. Surendar, the Duke 390 is a much better bike as compared to the ContiGT. It has more power, more technology, more fun, and cheaper to maintain.
        Conti definitely looks good, but have you ever seen the 2 seater version? It looks strikingly similar to a Bajaj Boxer. If you are always going to travel alone, with no luggage, GT may be a good idea. But then who does that? 🙂
        Go for the 390, there’s nothing like it out there.

  10. My bike came in first batch too, the clutch is Hard i agree but i can live with that and i am used it actually because of my previous bike Yamaha FZS. but i have not faced any other problem which is stated above, i ride my bike on a pretty bad road of bangalore and sumtimes i have gone hard on few of the potholes or i can call it craters rather, the alloys are rock solid and bike is still running like a charm.

    The short gear is obvious because of the Power it is packed with and the acceleration it has. i have seen oil leak age around the oil cap, that is after going at high speeds, because of the oil pressure you will see a bit if oil leakage.

    The only thing i was concerned of was the heating up, which has reduced considerably when compared to initially stage when i brought it.

    it is really hard to quench the thrust of the beast to have more tarmac, but some how in 6 months i am able to do 10k odd kms. buying the beast was the best decision of my life till date.

    Stay safe and Ride ON!

  11. Brilliant post Akhil!

    I am getting this beast very soon and I just had one question that your piece didn’t answer – the life of the Metzelers (it’s not exactly a negative point, but it’s a concern as they cost a lot).

    Considering that you have done 17k odd kilometers already, did you get them replaced with new ones at some point? (I read that they last for 10k kms or so)

    1. I got them replaced almost immediately after writing this post! Life of Metz is 15-16k, depending on your riding style.

    2. So I kept my word and got the bike 😀 I’ve done 1.5k kms so far.. The ride is bliss 🙂

      There’s just one point about which I feel unsure.. The speeds it hits at different revs..

      I touch 80-82kph at 5k rpm on 6th gear, whereas many internet sources claimed 100kph.. Similarly they claimed120kph at 6k rpm.. While I suppose my bike touches 7k or so at 120..

      Who is right? My bike or the internet? :O

  12. A very detailed list .. Thanks a lot Akhil 🙂
    Could you share which petrol you use on your bike, regular or Premium, also what average you get per litre from your Bike.
    I own a yamaha fzs at the moment but want to upgrade to KTM RC390 in future
    Pleas share any tips if you want to with me, Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. I always use regular fuel, and the average ranges between 25 and 28.
      RC390 would be an awesome machine, although very track focused. Depending on your riding style, you might love or hate it 🙂

    1. If your budget is enough, and you are OK with the little problems you might face on the way, go for the 390, it is one hell of a machine!

  13. Hi Akhil, your review was very helpful. I am planning to buy 390, i believe the oil leak problem is of more concern, after how many Km’s does it happen or while highway rides above 300 km’s will it occur?. Another question (may sound crazy or funny) is this bike suitable for family riding with my wife and 1 kid in city, as you have mentioned pillion is not so comfortable, if not suitable, please suggest me know any other sports bike that is good for family riding as well. Thank you.

    1. There seems to be not set number of KMs for the oil leakage to happen. In my bike it rarely occurs, in others I’ve seen oil loss after 1000 kms too. It is a fixable problem though.
      390 is NOT suitable for family, at least not for long rides. There’s very little space for pillion, and the bike is really rough at lower revs, which makes it really uncomfortable for the pillion.
      There’s no sports bike that’s good for family! That’s part of being a sports bike, it is meant only for the rider. You can go for Avenger if family is of utmost importance. Royal Enfield Continental GT may also be a good choice, but it looks ghastly with a pillion seat (optional).

  14. Has Bajaj’s quality improved with the pulsar 200NS and avenger or its still the same as its other old model pulsars, i know bajaj two wheeler s cost very less comparatively with little compromise to quality, but still worried about quality, please advise. Thank you

    1. I own a 2007 Pulsar 150 that I took to Ladakh and then all the way till Mumbai. The bike os reliable, like most Bajaj products!
      Recently a lady did Kanyakumari to Kashmir on her Avenger 220. Quality wise, I don’t think you’ll face any trouble.
      200NS will also not be too comfortable for pillion BTW.

  15. Hi Akhil, I am riding a duke 200 presently over a year and found it quite capable in my city. I have also tried out the 390. When I bought my bike the 390 had not launched yet and as I work abroad I couldnt wait for it. I am planning to get a bike upgrade next year . I have the rc 390 and the ninja 650 in mind. ( Ninja 300 is a very bad p2p deal) What would you suggest as a bike upgrade from the duke 200 considering occasional city riding and some visits to open roads and that I ride half or less of a year.

    1. Definitely the Duke 390! 650 is a great machine, and better value for money against the 300, but it misses out on THE most important safety feature that 390 has – ABS. I was also torn between 390 and 650, but trust me, I have now ridden about 7000 kms along side 650s, and most of them feel 390 is a better bike! It’s definitely not as quick, but it is much easier to handle, cheaper to maintain, and doesn’t attract too much unwanted attention 🙂
      As far as Duke vs RC question goes, if you will be riding mostly in city, and are OK with shelling out ~40k more, RC 390 is not a bad choice at all. I wrote an article on this a few days back, take a look at that as well.

  16. I really thought of going in for the KTM 390 but your review has made me rethink my decision.

    I owned a M&M Scorpio which I sold off last month , to avoid price crashes when the New Scorpio Comes , Gonna buy that but I do need a bike for as I drive for more than 5 hours a day inside Delhi( Including finding parking space, & being stuck in traffic jams at Karol Bagh)

    I was hoping to get speedy yet having fun, but I cant afford to handle all these issues u mentioned.
    If possible, could you give us a heads-up when all of these basic problems are fixed so we may venture out too….

    1. 390 is not a good option for the traffucked streets of Delhi Ashish, it is awesome for highways and twisties, but stop and go traffic makes it overheat, and the clutch will cause pain in your hand. The handlebars are wide, so getting through traffic is also difficult.
      My suggestion would be to go for some cheap alternative for city, like Avenger/200NS/220, and keep the Duke for weekend rides. I have just completed 21000 kms on it, and it’s still as fun as 10 months back 🙂 As far as the issues mentioned in this post, you gotta live with them. It is still a very easy and cheap to maintain bike, but needs a little bit of daily attention.

    2. Ashish you may try the RC390. Motorbeam says that KTM has taken feedback seriously and the alloys are stronger now. Abrupt stopping of engine can be controlled by using Speed97. Oil level is not a problem with 1500+ KTM Dukes already sold. Heavy clutch is hardly noticeable…. I don’t even notice it.

  17. another problem is the gear shifter nut falling off. Got a normal nut over the counter nut and replace it and it fixed the problem.

    1. UP70CP5118 this has also happened with me and that too when i was returning to allahabad from kanpur after getting it repaired. Just 30 kms from service centre. I was lucky that the nut fell just opposite to the honda car dealership and the good folks there fixed me up with a regular nut in less than 5 mins and also offered me tea and snacks. It was almost 6 in evening and they had almost closed. If this would have happened after 5 mins or some other place. I would have had a really long night. The first thing i asked them after profusely thanking them was the way to the nearest temple. There was one less than a km away. Did pooja, the regular nut is still holding its grounds after more than 6 weeks.

  18. “Abrupt stopping of engine” – To my knowledge these bikes come with higher compression ratio. One of the method to achieve it is to tighten the tolerance between the Bore and piston. This tight tolerance at low temperatures force the engine to shut down. Allowing the engine to warm up and reach its regular operating temperature seems important to avoid the problem of abrupt stopping of engine. I hope this helps.

  19. That engine stopping has been found, I think, I saw a video in youtube. I am not KTM user but saw this video, you check it out.

    I think the main problem with Ktms is its bajaj. 🙂 . I am not a hater, but the fact is bajaj, Tvs are great value for money but built quality is just not there compared to Japs. It really intrigues, those jap bikes are also made in India, Indian workers, Indian Contractors mostly everything indian. But still they are way better in terms of built quality and higher in terms of pricing. Why is that?

    1. Yeah, saw this video, it doesn’t work for everyone 🙂
      Japs are crazy, they have some voodoo magic in their factories man! They are extremely disciplined, have amazingly high quality standards, and they know their shit.

  20. Akhil,

    You must have done a thorough research before zeroing in on Duke 390. You would have definitely read a lot of reviews before deciding that Duke 390 is THE BIKE for you. Yet all you have is a number of negatives for that bike. Also please read Anirban’s question thoroughly. He has clearly asked you whether he should buy RC 390 or Ninja 650 and you have answered that he should buy DUKE 390. How come you are suggesting someone to buy a bike that is giving you so much trouble? Please take some time to re-read your own comments for the questions asked. I feel that you are contradicting yourself. At the outset you are telling that Duke 390 is giving you problems but at the same time you are telling people that investing in Duke 390 is not a bad idea.

    Pls clarify your thoughts………

    1. Hey Sid. I also have written long beautiful reviews, and short lusty poems for my Duke 🙂 This post is solely for the negatives, and still I write in the end that I think it is the perfect machine for me, even with all the flaws.
      Anirban asked me to between RC 390 and Ninja 650. I told him Duke 390, because in my opinion it is a better bike than both.
      I understand it might look like I’m contradicting myself, so let me repeat: Duke 390 is an awesome machine, but all awesome things come with their problems too. All in all, Duke 390 is a better machine as compared to RC 390 or NInja 650. Hope this helps!

  21. My bike started showing High coolent Temprature and gets stop after Running just 5 kms from my office That to My bike is yet to get Its First servive it has Run only 600 Kms as of now , Apart before this it was showing Low engine level and Now its Rectified now The above one is a new Problem with in 5 Minutes after i start bike gets Hot and Temprature goes to Full scale …., Iam worried about this Bike now , what should i do Should I get my bike Replaced of Get repaired..

  22. guys!! need help.. i have taken a couple of test rides in bangalore. duke 390!! what machine that is.. i think the best bike in that segment with a comparatively best price point. . I am planning to buy one within a week or two, but these reviews are forcing me to rethink.. hard clutch and rough throttle can be ignored as they are very minor issues. But a rider would definitely not like to have his engine seized (is it happening to many?? is it fixed?? ) or a broken alloys (is it still happening or have they improved?? is it so cheap in quality that it will not allow a rider to do a wheelie/ pop ups??)… Any suggestions ??? waiting for replies..

    1. It’s not a common issue, and my bike is still running good at 30000 kms. The purpose of this article is to let you know everything that’s going on around the D390.

  23. True, the engine coming to an abrupt stop while slowing down from high speeds with clutch depressed is a problem. I have faced it intermittently. It is shitty scary

  24. Hi Kalsh screw you for wasting two hours of mine at work going through this amazingly informative and funny blog :)) I accidentally came across your Benelli article, on google.

    Keep up the sarcasm and good work 🙂

    P.s Isn’t it an amazing feeling getting the throttle blips right ?Took me a fair bit of practice but it was worth it.

    1. You’re welcome 😀
      To be honest, I still haven’t gotten the throttle blips perfect, after more than a year and 31000 kms of ownership. But then maybe I’m being too much of a bitch 🙂

  25. => Heavy clutch. A common problem for bikes without hydraulic operation of the clutch. Try to change gears without using the clutch, except for starting and stopping. I had the same problem with a another motorcycle and solved it in that way. After a short time I was getting familiar with this and meanwhile it’s working quite well. I know this is no solution for that problem, but helps the muscles of my left hand.
    => Bad wheel quality => Spokes might be more elastic? 🙂

  26. The engine shut down problem when you apply clutch is a tuning problem and not a hardware issue. I had the same issue for 8 months where the engine would shut down in middle of traffic whenever i braked and depressed the clutch and hence got used to blipping the throttle while using clutch. KTM service guys had no solution, they checked and cleaned the system but to no avail. Finally one service guy from a different service center told me he could correct the problem and took 15 mins to tune the bike and the problem was gone forever. I also changed the air filter to K&N and the bike felt even better.
    I haven’t faced any other problem yet and don’t think the heavy clutch, engine heat, rough throttle at low speeds, hard suspensions and seat, frequent chain maintenance is much of an issue. Get used to it. That’s the way the bike is… After 15 months and 20k kms I still absolutely love it.. Ride hard !!

    1. That I would not know. Delhi riders can show the problem to Suman auto in Sector-2 noida where my issue was resolved by mechanic, i think, named Salim.

  27. Hello Akhil, thanks for putting this article through, It is very usefull for me, I am just about ready to buy the Duke 390(black) by 15Jan15, but I cannot afford to spend much time at the Service center if my motorcycle ends up being an victim of these issues. What are your thoughts on these issues on the latest manufactured lots???? Additinally I have I have started looking for used N300, which are hard to find though….390 was fun, the torque is amazing, but not at the cost of mental peace…please share your thoughts……

    1. Hey man. I’ve now completed 35000 kms on my 390 in 1 year 2 months, and it’s awesome. This article was meant to list the potential problems that a 390 can have, but in no way means that you will have to face them for sure. The best part is that even if something does go wrong, KTM spare parts are dirt cheap, even cheaper than Passion and CT100 ones! So don’t worry much, go for it 🙂

    2. Thanks Akhil for the qucik reply….How would these 2 proposition stack, a new duke390 or a used ninja 300 for Rs350000

      1. Definitely the Duke! The Ninja is a nice little machine, but extremely overpriced for what you get and against what the competition is offering. After getting used to the Duke, I found the 300 to be rather boring 🙂

  28. Hey u guys are f***ing pussies….duke390 is super value for money…if u guys wanna think so mch nd want a bike widout a problem…truly ride a passion or a discover 100 cc…..wen d light goes green…aint no bike matches d 390 straight…nd jst love d way it corners….still der is a scope for improvement but not all shits perfect in dis world…thanks akhil for giving heads up to all d future owners of the beast

  29. I know this is nothing relevant to Duke.. but the heavy clutch problem is something I got a problem with too(i suppose that it is). I ride a R15 version 1… I experience terrible pain on my clutch hand around 60 kms into riding (The first time i experinced this was when towards the end of a 500km ride… n then after 200kms of ride… but today morning just after some 60kms itself the pain started to happen)… The strange thing is I experience this pain only when using the clutch ..the pain seems to be non existant when i try the clutch action without actually clutching… but the second i try it while actually using the clutch while riding, i can feel the pain n it becomes almost impossible to ride beyond a point! 🙁
    I do not use riding gloves while riding.. so is it something because of that… tho the first time i developed this pain .. i had the Knighthood gloves… if u call it riding gloves tho! (which makes me think that i developed pain only after 500kms)
    I know u are against the idea of riding without Gear. but I am kinda a newbie to riding bikes n hence the ignorance.. pls help me on this !

    1. Hey man, yeah the Duke’s clutch is fucking heavy. It took me a very long time to get used to it, and even today if I get stuck in traffic, it gets really painful really soon.

      Gloves definitely help, especially thick leather ones. They help take some of the burden off.

      The other thing you can try is going for a half clutch, where there’s a lot of play in the clutch lever and it engages only very near to the handlebar. That makes it slightly easier to live with it. There are different techniques as well, 2 finger, whole hand, 3 finger, try all of them with your clutch and see what works beast.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks for the advice bro!!! Its high time I should get a gloves tho… I am planning to hit Bangalore for some Gear shopping cos there’s apparently no outlets for that here in Udupi/Mangalore 🙁 !!! I got plans to go Ladakh in June too.. so any advices on what Gloves i should be getting?? Also I was looking around online for Jackets… wt do u reckon of Cramsters K2k 2.0 Enduro Touring Jacket?

        1. Go to HSR layout Bangalore, there’s a place called Let’s Gear Up, they’ll help you with gloves.

          For Ladakh you’ll have to get special waterproof winter riding gloves. These gloves are unusable in normal weather, and meant specifically for the harsh environment of Ladakh. Check out DSG Hydro for that.

          Cramster doesn’t really have that good an image nowadays, quality niggles and shit. Make sure the jacket you buy is well ventilated. You can wear a sweater under it and a rain coat over it for Ladakh, but if your jacket is meant only for cold weather, you’ll not be able to use it on normal days.

          Spartan has a good range, so does DSG 🙂

  30. I completely agree on the heavy clutch, & the abrupt halts… But apart from that didn’t notice the other issues. I have ridden through many a potholes on the highways, and the gearing doesn’t feel short either.

  31. Hi Akhil!
    Saw you on Team-BHP, thought to ask over there, but then, it might be a repeat question. I do like the D-390 or the RC, thing is, streets at my place are dug-up and the ASC is a good 180 kms away (one way), so if something goes wrong I will have to waste an entire day to get it fixed.

    Moreover, I am relegated to commuting nowadays with very few rides happening. Will you suggest the KTM’s? While I don’t want a faster bike (lying, who doesn’t want one) I don’t like how my CBR-250R feels while braking/cornering. I miss my R15 then. But on bad-roads, my ass thanks the CBR.

    Oh, by the way, am not fit, weigh close to a ton and stand a wee bit less than 6 feet.

    1. Hey man, for a guy of your dimensions and commuting more than touring, I would advise you to stay away from the KTMs! They are a nightmare to handle at slow pace, they absolutely hate being ridden below 5,000 rpm. The clutch is heavy, they heat up like a furnace, have a non-existent pillion seat and are extremely rough at the bottom end.

      They are reliable machines though, so the service center being far away won’t be a big problem.

      In my opinion you should stick with the CBR until you can upgrade to something better. If your budget permits, Street 750 should be perfect for you, but then cruisers aren’t to everybody’s taste.

      1. Harley & Bullet, two genres which I never understand. Heck, I can’t even recall the exact models they make. I prefer cars than cruisers.
        I think I should stick with 250R for now.
        Thanks 🙂

    1. Yeah man, seen that. I don’t think that fixes the problem for all 390s. People have tried that, and it didn’t work out for them.

      The problem is with KTM’s quality department 🙂

  32. Hey! Dude im planning to buy the duke 390 in a month or two.Do you think that these problems might be rectified till now?
    And ya ive ridden the duke 200, and didnt find any problem with the clutch, do you think that the riding experience of the duke 390 might be same as the duke 200?(obviously not the power but everything else). im not an experienced rider,so it would be good for me if you would help me out.
    The bike is controllable on indian roads right? Im from hyderabad, so do you think that i should be buying this beast?

    1. Hey man, yes most of these problems have been rectified in the upgrade to the Duke. The clutch is much better now.

      The bike is controllable and fun, but gets very hot in traffic. Hyderabad may not be the perfect city to own it in, but then the whole of India isn’t! Go for it.

      1. Thanks for the reply dude but i rode the bike yesterday, and found it really uncontrollable. And lemme bring this to your notice that im 17 yrs old. So ive short liisted 3 bikes as of now-
        Duke 200, rc 200 and the cbr 250r. Can you plz help me out with this? Which one would be the best for me? I love all the three but the posture in rc 200 and cbr 250r doesnt suit my height much. So is it right to buy them? Please suggest the best one?
        Thank you.

        1. If the posture doesn’t suit you, don’t buy it! It’ll be a pain to handle. Go for the Duke 200, brilliant machine. CBR is overpriced for what you get in my opinion.

        2. You will get used to 390 with time, its no big deal. I don’t recommend any bike to underage riders, but I was scared riding the 390 initially, even at the age of 28.
          Duke 200 should be good for you now. Don’t waste precious money on CBR unless you’re really into intercity touring on motorcycles.

  33. Just my two cents, you get that uneven fueling and power coming on in bursts because that’s how the factory designs the ECU and the code. But why? It’s because of the STRANGULATING emission norms which are forcing the manufacturers to lean off the fueling. KIIRUS, RaceDynamics and other aftermarket tuners either re-program the ECU or swap it off altogether to overcome it’s shortcomings so that the fueling is improved and the ride experience is more pleasant. What you need to note here is that, once this is done, the emissions will increase. But what is the fucking bid deal? Trucks and buses pollute more in one day than a remapped duke 390 would in a few months! Emission norms if any, should be slapped on the faces of truck and bus manufacturers, not us poor souls!

    Coming to the shutting off of the engine and hot start issues, first off the stock tune is a wee bit on the leaner side. Next, most owners run on RON91 fuel on a 13:1 compression engine which is not good for it, even if the manufacturer claims it’s okay. Of course the ECU will retard (delay) the ignition to an extent to avoid knock and keep the engine safe, but this is the side effect of ignition retarding: engine shuts off when you pull in the clutch. No matter how good a bike may be, it’s better off with the fuel that it’s compression ratio deserves.

    1. I’m not a technical guy Aditya, I have no idea what these KIIRUS and RD guys do to the ECU. I know the government does everything it can to fuck up a biker’s experience, but there are a lot of bikes out there which are not as jerky or rough as the Duke. Some blame goes to KTM too.

      I also never understood the higher quality fuel concept. Whenever I use these so called premium fuels, I don’t feel any difference, at all!

      1. Akhil, it’s all about compression ratio of the engines. Higher compression ratio engines can burn higher quality fuels which have more energy per unit volume or weight. And also higher flash point. That’s measured through octane rating. So higher the octane rating, higher the fuel quality, it can burn at higher temperatures without exploding. For example, if you take Suzuki Hayabusa, it has a compression ratio of 12.9:1, so if you use a 97 octane rated petrol. It burns well without exploding or knocking in the cylinder. But if you put a 85/86/87 octane rated petrol (normal petrol) it will have less energy per stroke. Also soot or carbon will form faster in the engines. But for a 200 duke if you use a higher octane petrol it will knock sometimes and knocking occurs every time in 150 cc motorcycles. Sometimes you can’t even know the knocking. Knocking damages the cylinder surface through vapor pressure cavitation & also high temperature thermal shocks. I hope you understood 🙂

        1. Now, I can’t correct you, right? Because you will feel I’m criticising you…
          So, if the fuel “explodes” in lower octane setup, does it mean the fuel has lesser energy?

          And how does a high compression setup of a hayabusa and Duke 200 differ? How can you say Busa will deliver low energy but Duke 200 will knock even on high compression?

          You seem to be running an Anti-Bajaj compaign…. All I can say is, Focus on life & its enjoyable things, man. 🙂 Maybe the Bajaj Service center cheated you or something, or maybe you did get a defective piece, but stuff happens.

          I would ride anything any day… be it HD, Triumph, Royal Enfield, Honda, Yamaha, etc….

          1. I don’t care about who criticizes me! You seem to be running against me! You arguments & my replies below:
            So, if the fuel “explodes” in lower octane setup, does it mean the fuel has lesser energy?- In a way yes, it’s capacity to release energy is less or the fuel isn’t able to release all the energy it has!
            So, didn’t the highest quality fuel was not taken out from the same crude oil? Can you deny that crude oil didn’t have petrol in it at all??
            And how does a high compression setup of a hayabusa and Duke 200 differ?
            How can you say Busa will deliver low energy but Duke 200 will knock
            even on high compression? – Sir, Hayabusa is a 1340 cm3 capacity bike while KTM is just 200 cm3. Higher capacity engines have higher volumetric efficiencies at any given moment and more the volumetric efficiency more the capacity to burn fuel & that too at a higher temperature & pressure ratios. So higher octane rating fuels have this high temperature capacity for efficient energy utilization. Hayabusa has 12.9:1 CR & KTM has 11.3:1. That’s a huge difference. In automotive field such small quantities count a lot. And who the heck said that power delivery of Hayabusa is low compared to its volume? Hayabusa actually had a 222 crankshaft HP when introduced & has been electronically limited then due to EU Regulations.
            You seem to be running an Anti-Bajaj compaign…. All I can say is,
            Focus on life & its enjoyable things, man. 🙂 Maybe the Bajaj
            Service center cheated you or something, or maybe you did get a
            defective piece, but stuff happens. – Yup I might have been cheated by Popular Bajaj Showroom but the frustration is due to no response from the company & also the inability to claim the warranty, where I had to pay for every defective $hit they threw at me. For me Bikes are one of the most enjoyable things in life & when I buy something I expect it to be not that perfect but at least bearable!

          2. “Higher capacity engines have higher volumetric efficiencies at any given moment.” – Hey man, I just want to say one thing. Increase in cubic capacity does not necessarily result in increase in volumetric efficiency. Higher displacements take in higher quantities of charge in the combustion chamber (due to larger volume of combustion chamber), but that does not mean it has higher volumetric efficiency.

      2. @akhilkalsh:disqus AK: You don’t feel difference in premium fuels, because they’re not higher octane.

        Apart from Speed 93 and Speed 97, all the so called “Premium Fuels” are just the same 91 octane fuels with some additives “for better & cleaner combustion” according to companies.
        Man, what burns better than petrol, who can tell these companies??
        You take my advice. Stop using premium fuels, unless they’re speed 93 or 97, and unless your vehicle could benefit from it. Duke 390 does benefit from it.

        And no, higher octane doesn’t mean better performing. This is a myth. It only means more resistive to pre-combustion. So, the combustion becomes smoother and regulated, even under higher temperatures, that’s it.
        Lean tuned engines can benefit from it too.

  34. I am not sure, but what I feel is there are plenty of low quality parts in the KTM bikes that are sold in India, keeping in mind that Bajaj introduces many cheap parts to keep the price low. If we were to get an original KTM bike from Austria, I think that the original cost would be much higher because the parts are of much better quality. Bajaj does a lot of cost cutting on the switchgear, clutch and accelerator cables, the headlamp and tail lamp, the rims of the wheels, and other parts about which people normally do not bother much.

    Please correct me if i am wrong.

    1. It might be true mate, otherwise it’ll be impossible to price the bike and spares at the level that they do! But after using the bike for nearly 40,000 kms, I can tell you that it it’s hard to tell that while you are riding.

    2. You hit the bulls eye. They make the initial ownership cost low but you’ll end up buying spares a lot. This is their strategy to make more profit through spares & have you seen their policy? “NO GUARANTEE FOR SPARES”, as though the spares came from my grandpa’s a$$! This is written on all their bills. This is pure gandugiri from them!

    3. But, don’t you have Kawasaki Ninja 300R for “that” level of quality?
      Come on, why all this confusion?

      KTM could be for a budget Indian, who wants performance at a good price, otherwise why would they price a 44 PS bike at 1.86 exshowroom??

      I’m an Indian who’s ok as long as the bike performs as it should. That’s it.
      I got the first batch Duke 390. And I’m happy. I don’t want to spoil my day cribbing about so called quality issues like handguard quality, rim quality (it didn’t bend/break for me), switchgear quality, etc, etc…

      I do a 0-100 around 6-7 seconds everyday, sometimes I cruise at 70. and I enjoy the breeze on the way…

      1. Bro, Karan has a valid point. There are issue with KTM inidan version of bike, that’s the reason we are all here under one roof. Its Good that you have been lucky so far, but not all brother are 🙁

        service centre are like money laundering machine.

  35. I m duke 390 onwer from Nepal. I have also face these problem. Specially engine oil grade which bajaj motors are not providing to duke onwers, 10w50 is needed oil for KTM, and other about cheap quality of wheel. Thax for known me abut this problems coz I thought its only my problem but its all owners problems

  36. Looks like BAJAJ is spoiling KTM Too. My friend has this, I rode it many times, didn’t like it. I heard a story about a guy on 390 a year ago, whose rims had bent because of harsh braking on a speed bump. I was planning to buy this bike but decided not to invest on something that’s been taken up by Bajaj to manufacture. Part of my experience comes from owning a Pulsar 220. Real worst $hit I have seen on this planet, only TVS comes next to this. I don’t know what’s the problem with Indian corporate mentality, they just don’t want to give good motorcycles to Indian youth. To cut costs and make a huge profit these guys use low grade material, cheap processes & 3rd grade suppliers to manufacture those parts & their drawings have loose tolerances. Have seen this personally on Bajaj drawings. The wiring harness on a 390 is a rip off from 220, got to know after observing carefully. And the handle bars, throttle grips, many other plastic/rubber components also come from 220 itself. Well, now I own a vespa 125, a bit less power, Good service, durable parts but a bit costly & any complaints, I can just call up vespa customer care, they followup with the dealer for you & make sure he responds. Besides, there’s been no problem as such. And for a city ride this is more than enough. For biking, I will buy a triumph 675R, costly but reliable & durable parts with good service, of course an awesome machine to ride. Even if Bajaj brings out a litre class super bike for 6/7 lakhs I am not going to buy it. NEVER!!! BOYCOTT BAJAJ/KTM/TVS (all other Indian brands). WE NEED TO TEACH THESE GUYS A LESSON, THAT IT’S NOT ONLY ABOUT YOUR PROFITS BUT ALSO OUR PASSION FOR BIKING TOO!

    1. I have a Duke 390 and its doing great. No, my wheels didn’t bend, while I have about 13-14 speed breakers on way to work. And harsh braking on speed breaker, what do you mean by that?
      Components coming from 220 doesn’t bother me as long as they work good. And they do.

      Instead of Boycotting, why don’t you have a industrial visit to Bajaj with your college/ corporate group, and then decide which direction they’re going?

      1. Your suspicions on me are valid since you don’t know what I am talking about. I meant by harsh breaking, the guy didn’t see the speed breaker at night and immediately hit on the brakes but it didn’t give him sufficient room. So he had to move further & hit the speed breaker hard and had to fall to other side with a loud thud. And this caused his wheels rims go kaput. This can happen through improper heat treatment or residual stresses not getting eliminated after casting/forging/machining. By the way, I’ve seen Bajaj drawings & I did work for a company which manufactured parts for MV Augusta/Harley Davidson. I could see a lot of difference, so I am speaking technically and Bajaj is no way near to those European/American makers so don’t give me lessons on quality. By buying KTM shares, Bajaj got a new lease of life from them (49% stake in KTM). KTM is good but the quality is not up to what European standards really are! And also, since I’ve owned 220, now running on 22650 kms approx, spent almost 20,000/- already on maintenance. Things which blew off before 10,000 kms were clutch plates, carburetor float chamber, fork spin tube, dust seal. Around 18,000kms exide battery went away. At 20,000kms chain sprocket went away. Even now the bike does not hit speeds of 120 & above! Now clutch plate has to be changed again. Cylinder head is leaking near the timing chain port. Of course front brake tube sheath is broken as well, with many wiring harness sheaths cut open. And many joints are starting to rust. I pity you if you think that’s quality. Well, had a Honda Unicorn before, for 33000kms didn’t do any major part change except chain sprocket at 33000km & steering stem bearing set at 30000kms. Maybe you got your KTM alright but there are many suffering by buying this bike. This is a case of inconsistent quality. You agree or not, that is the fact!

        1. Agreed that Bajaj is not near HD/ foreign country. But why should Bajaj be? I’m agreeing that Bajaj might not have equal quality as a Japanese, but they’re improving…
          Yes, I agree there are inconsistencies from unit to unit….

          Bajaj’s defective count in a certain measure was around 1106 in 2001, and in 2013 it was around 4. And they target 0 for 2015.

          Although my Duke is of the first batch, still the customer feedback has been taken note of. The new rims are strengthened and hence the issue is rectified now. For new bikes as well as for spare parts.
          This happened because the alloys were designed for European Roads… and may I say, they do an ok job on most Indian roads too…

          Other complaints about quality issues don’t affect my ride. My acceleration, braking and top speed are in place, I don’t give a damn about anything else…
          This RC390 does a BIC lap in 2:28. That’s enough.

          I have also ridden Pulsar 180 UG3 2007 for 28000 kms now… And I’ve not spent so much. So, I have no idea, what to say to you.
          I do believe riding style also matters a lot. And no, I didn’t ride like an Uncle. I did rev high once in a while.

          And lastly, they’re from our country.
          Bajaj are not some British company which claimed 106 PS power to the Indian customer, and delivered 78 instead, before they were exposed.
          Bajaj is not the same company as above, which did not even properly compensate the owners who purchased it thinking it to be 106 PS.
          And Bajaj are not the same company above, which offers celebratory EMI offer for their products at 21.7% Rate of Interest, when common banks offer this at 13% without -motorcycle related formalities, creating a difference of almost Rs. 1 Lakh in total payout.
          Now, you’re free to buy a 675 from the above company, but you better keep your eyes open, ok? Who knows how you might get cheated?

          1. Dude, its plain simple. Indians are less patriotic, You got to Agree else we would not have been a third world country as it is today. So, every f.u.cker takes advantage of us. To be frank Bajaj chetak too was known for its quality but Pulsars are not known as such & have less resale values. This is because company strategy changed when R@jiv Bajaj took over form Rahul, he’s been thinking after mass market only. It’s the same story with every Indian firm which is a family business. There are exceptions. And what’s the harm in trying to build a high quality product in India?? Is there a law against it? Only thing is your should be able to let go of profits or margin not fully but a bit less. If your margin is 30% then bring it down to 20 or 22%. I will tell my personal experience, I know a supplier who runs a 400 crore Hi tech machine shop and really keeps himself very less, pays workers well, trains them abroad when they import machines and all his customers are uber satisfied with him for the quality work he does. He charges the customers some reasonably good amount. The owner himself is a man of simple tastes and never shows off. He is successful & didn’t go bankrupt & all his staff, labor just don’t quit their jobs & hold him in high respect. It’s possible to be like that in India!!

            I am not fixing my focus on Triumph only but felt that to be a good bike reading reviews and personally seeing & meeting some owners. There are lot of brands coming into India right now. Will wait out for another 2 years & see which one to buy! But for me 500 to 700 cc will be apt bike to ride in Indian conditions with good HP but not too much like a 1000cc.

          2. Alright then, I wish you all the best for a good bike. I also don’t like it when people don’t get reliable motorcycles or when they break down.
            Although, I’ve been mostly lucky…. I’m into touring also, so you can see, a 2007 P180 doing 580 kms in a day without problem. It makes you believe in the brand anyways…
            But yes, it too has rust issues and all. Few issues are with Duke 390 also, none big enough though.

            A Royal Enfield of one of my friends has such bad quality that its exhaust was mounted only by one nut, and guess what…. while riding side by side at 70 (I was on my Duke), he just disappeared behind with a bang!
            I went back to see the hot exhaust lying in the middle of the road and he had to call a friend with a car to help him out….
            That is something I would call, really bad quality.

            Anyways, you know GoColor and Kodak make Photo papers, and GoColor makes the cheaper one… But when you use Kodak, the quality is just so good that you won’t go back to GoColor…. My point is, Quality does increase the cost. Its a fact. I wouldn’t have liked my Duke 390 at Rs. 3 Lacs with better quality.
            Why? Because, I wouldn’t be able to purchase it then. I’m just a salaried lecturer…

            So, this was my point of view. But you’re right. India should have good quality bikes, and I would want it too.
            BTW you can consider any of Kawasaki’s motorcycles, they all have high quality standards. And the good thing is, they’re present in each segment as you go upward, from 250 to 300 to 650 to 800 too. And a variety of styles too. Even ZX6R is coming soon.
            Wish you all the best. 🙂

          3. Thanks BTW and you are right Royal Enfield too is not above Bajaj, their reliability is worse than what Bajaj can offer, forget KTM, RE is no where near it. In fact my friend whom owns the 390 duke(which I said days before) was planning to buy bullet classic 500/TB500. But after riding 390 he just quit thinking & talking of RE:-). Yes, Affordability is also a factor. And in India Labor costs are very less , 1/3rd or 1/4th of what is paid in America/UK/Europe/Australia for a blue collar or a white collar worker. So if we could make super bikes in India, then we could sell it within 6 or 6.5 lakhs probably 7 lakhs will be max. At present they are selling 3 times the price. An R1 Yamaha will cost you 18 lakhs on road. Import duty is 105%!!! I know Kawasaki makes good motorcycles but their service is bad, my friend owns a Kawasaki Z800 and he gives it to a local Mechanic, who specializes on imported bikes. Well, its still 2 years to go before I could really afford a 15 lakh bike, if and only if I don’t run into financial troubles. Right now, I am in saving mode:-)

    2. I agree with you, i am bit frustrated with the bike now specifically with poor quality parts. There are many people who are selling this bike sheer due to cheap spare parts.

      1. Dude sell ktm and buy Ninja 300 or something else. Even if you spend 4 or 5 lakhs it’s ok. You’ll be tention free.

        1. Yes we all need to boycott these Indian Manufacturers and shut down this subpar quality production and design shoved down our throats. India should only use phoren ka maal and abolish the unfair CBU regime. in fact govt should give subsidy to imported bikes (and cars) because we will get world class imported quality products. !!!

    3. i have used honda unicorn for past 9 years i had none of these issues compared to my friends who have a pulsar and a apache. Both these bikes are now **cked up but still my bike is so sweet and smooth. I am proud of my investment. I too thought of upgrading from Unicorn to RC 390 but after a lot of research on the bikes i came to know RC 390 wouldn’t work out for me, as i like touring more and at the slightest of the problems i’ll get irritated. if engine stalls some where in some forest in India, with no signal in my mobile, i’m totally **cked up. So i am planning to take a KAWASAKI Versys 650 which is best for me, even if it is way beyond my budget.

    4. ders a lot of diff between a 220 and d390 at a price of 2 lakh u cant ask more of it mate, the 2016 model comes with better alloys, slipper clutch by whch down shifts r grt and d clutch leaver can by literaly pulled by a single finger, 220 was crap i accept but bajaj too has improved with the ns and rs, and we shoudnt boycott indian goods cause many indians working in those factories would suffer, we should rather help them develope.i own a d390 2016 model and my bro owns a d390 2014 model both give 0 problems( cept heating in traffic which is considerable due to the engine type ) if maintained regurarly.if u r so against indian brands then go live smwer else ul b happier with a daytona elsewhere

  37. Hey guys just now at the speed of 40-50kms my rc390 which is just 2weeks old got into a pothole suddenly and my front rim got bend and rear one is broken and sadly I had to leave the bike there itself and return home in an auto rickshaw which was certainly irritating and annoying for me ktm use cheap parts as it is been manufactured in India can anyone tell me what would the rim cost me.?

    1. I’m not sure how much the rims cost. Since your bike is just weeks old, I would suggest you take it up with KTM India and try to get it fixed free of cost.

      1. Thanks for ure reply i’m in process to take the bike to the service center and have even mailed ktmindia and proservice bajaj they told me they contact me soon and vl investigate and resolve my problem i’m hoping for something good..

          1. Yes after three mails and follow ups the regional head contacted and informed me about orange assist which I have purchased now and ktm told me it is a road impact and research team have looked into the matter and they won’t approve the warranty so you have to claim in insurance so later I told them to prove me and give it in writting so that I’ll have a proof of the incident and they agreed to it but later after my last talk ktm agreed to replace it as a goodwill gesture for me which I appreciate I’ll be getting the bike on Friday as I’ve been informed I’ll post again ASA I get the bike as till date everything is just a verbal conversation

          2. Hey I got the bike on the Friday itself but wasn’t able to post ktm change my rims for free as my bike was just 20days old and they charged me ₹1538 for the 1st service but I haven’t got the bill for it has they had some server issue and I’ve also lost my rc receipt and insurance copy which I submitted with the bike so can u tell me how can I get a duplicate registration receipt from Mumbai Rto.? As I’ve got the insurance copy through my mail but still I cannot ride my bike widout registration copy so can anyone help.? Thank you in advance..

          3. I’m not sure about the procedure to get a new RC. My suggestion would be to go to HV Kumar – Fan, Forum and Message Board group on Facebook and ask the question. Plenty of helpful people over there.

    2. Could you please check your VIN (also known as the chassis number)? It’s a 17 digit number. If the tenth digit is F then it is made in 2015. If it is E, then it is 2014. Please let me know what you find. I am asking you to check this because the buzz is that the rim problem has been solved in the 2015 bikes. Please do check if you have a 2015 manufactured vehicle.

        1. Indeed very sad 🙁 I was looking at a post on team-bhp where the footpeg broke when the bike fell from a stationary position. It’s hardly any impact when a standing bike falls and yet the footpeg can’t take it. Shoddy cost cutting everywhere, it seems.

          1. Cost cutting in KTM parts is there for sure, but I guess that’s what you get for such a cheap bike and even cheaper maintenance.

  38. In the 2015 Duke 390 (which I have just purchased this month), the clutch is not an issue any more. They have even given a slipper clutch which takes care of the last negative point in your write up as well. I am not too sure about the rim issue but apparently that has been taken care of too in the new bike (but it is very unfair on older customers). Incidentally older customers can retrofit the slipper clutch. One negative point that i have to deal with is engine heat in city riding. I will have to wait till the first service when they change the oil. Things might improve. To me its worst negative is the small tank.

    1. Yeah I’ve the heard the slipper clutch is softer.

      From what I’ve heard, you can’t fit the slipper clutch into the old models.

      Engine heat is a problem for sure! Changing oil won’t change it much unfortunately.

      390 fuel tank is a joke 🙂

  39. What you are telling is right.Even I own duke 390.The only thing i hate about is suddenly getting switched off in middle of traffic.Now I have learned how to deal with it.You should tune it perfectly to overcome this problem.Beside that,man it is a real beast.It is everytime ready to go like a raging bull as soon as you pull the trottle even slightly.No other bikes in 250 to 400cc catagories,even come close to this beast.That ninja 300,Honda cbr,pulsars,all are ass holes compared to duke 390.Your problems are negligible compared to its performance.I feel like I am riding a 1000cc bike while i ride it.It is awesome.

  40. HELP guys!!! The engine stopping issue on the 390 is driving me up the wall.
    It used to be bearable, but now it has increased to the point where the bike stops about 20 odd times on a 150 km ride!
    Have taken it to the KTM service guys in Pune, but one of the “informed” KTM guys at the service centre told my wife ( who owns and rides the bike) that its a safety feature!!!
    Another mentioned to her that it is “normal” in a “big single”, and started pointing about the issues with an enfield! That helped… because talking about the issues on an Enfield would definitely solve the current KTM problem

    I do not believe that the problem on her bike has got anything to do with tuning problem, because the engine cuts off at a very specific moment i.e. when you change down from 4th to 3rd, and depress the clutch.

    Would really be grateful if you guys could shed some light on the same. I am not keen on spending any more money at the KTM service centre, as i honestly believe that they are groping in the dark, and then to add insult to injury, I have to spend cough up the money for their trial and errors. I am fed up of that shit.
    If any of you guys have a good mechanic in Pune, please could pass on their information.

    Have written to all the guys in the service chain of command, and have got nothing from them.

    If it were any of the small time niggles, like vibration, heat, etc, I would not care, but that horrible thought occurs, that in case she downshifts, and the engine cuts off while overtaking, it could be fatal.


    1. In my experience, the engine cut-off issue happens only when you are slowing down, and you depress the clutch to downshift. I have faced this trouble from day 1, and unfortunately there is no known cause/solution to this problem.

      The way I’ve worked around this issue is by blipping the throttle every time I downshift. It’s not a perfect solution, but it works 90% of the time. It has changed my riding style completely, and I find myself blipping throttles on other bikes and even cars, but that’s how I’ve done the 40,000 kms that I’ve done on this thing.

      1. Akhil,
        thanks for your reply. I have been doing the revving bit, but was hoping that there would be a more permanent soution.
        Ps Love our blog.


    2. This motor is not suitable for engine breaking (unlike scooty). So, never use engine breaking. The ABS is provided to avoid that situation.
      And check if the Piston Position Sensor from Bosch is fine or not.

  41. hi akil….i plan buy a duke 390….do it correct dessison or i consult a other bike,….plz clear my douth

          1. Not really, someone who’s used to the refinement of the Ninja will probably have the Duke. Power increase is significant though, especially at lower RPMs.

            If you have the experience and the money, try something around 600.

          2. frankly, I don’t have enough moolah for 600’s. Reason why I asked was that, N250r spares’ costs are a nightmare. D390 on the other hand is relatively easy on the pocket

          3. True, D390 is hilariously cheap to maintain. I just walk into the service centre and say YES every time the mechanic asks to change something. You can certainly go for it, or the RC390 if you are into sporty riding positions, but be prepared for the problems that come with cheap whores. It’ll be fun, but there’ll be weird stuff too.

          4. ‘cheap whores’….? oh you mean the D390 by itself 🙂 what sort of problem, if I may know?

          5. Weird sounds, parts don’t last long, engine stalling, speedo stops working, and a bunch of other shit.

  42. Akhil you forgot two other problems. Fuel Tank range when touring and heating issue in stop and go traffic. But I believe the 200 suffers from the heating issue more than the 390. And I am surprised you say the gearing is short. I found the gearing perfect for touring infact. The 5th and 6th gears are tall. Particularly the 6th.

    1. Maybe it’s my bike that’s the problem! My 6th gear is unhappy at anything below 75. Fuel tank and heating are major issues, but rather well known.

    2. My KTM duke 390 also facing the same overheating problem. It throws hell lot of heat on legs after 10 minutes of ride.

      1. duke 390 has a single cylinder high compression ratio engine so its obvious to get heated anyways u can get a rc 390 radiator fan cover which diverts the heat downwards and not on your legs

  43. It’s been around a year since I’ve learned how to ride a bike. Will it be safe for me to ride this one? I’ve been riding avenger this past year.

    1. Yes, if you can control yourself. Duke 390 is a powerful and extremely rough bike, chances of crashing are high if you are not easy on it.

      1. 150cc is too less…i wouldnt b riding it fast…when i build up confidnce thn i will…can it b handled easily?

      2. Don’t the duke 390/ rc 390 come into the category of beginner bikes in USA and Europe (although the reviews do say that it is not the best beginner bike), so why not have it as a beginner bike in India?

        1. Its not a beginner bike in Europe. To use this bike somebody must pass a stringent test, of which there are 5 stages, theory, road test and manouvering tests. Its not easy to pass if you have no bike experience, you will need several weeks if not months of practical lessons. You can ride up to a 125cc bike as a learner for only 2 years then you must pass the part 2 test. It is not even comparable to the situation in India

          1. ok. But why do so many reviews put bikes like ninja 250, 300, R3 and RC 390 as good bikes for beginners?

          2. Because nobody gives a shit about road safety, despite significant numbers of young people being involved in road accidents. I would not recommend the Duke 390 as a beginner bike.

  44. Is cheap KTM 390 worth?
    I own a Duke 390, it completed 1 year by june 2015. So, far journey with duke was fun filled. But at this point of time i am looking forward to sell of the bike sadly as i have loosing faith

    – Indicator not working after repetitive repair.
    – Steal metal covering creating noise as the screw/hinges loosened/rusted . Took to showroom but in vain. Finally i have to remove it
    – Recently my Air filter box developed crack automatically and hot gas from engine coming out of it with a typical uncomfortable smell. As i was interacting with the mechanic he revealed that its common problem.

    Overall the lack of spare parts is a big issue . Many of us are having issue with their bike
    .Lets us together raise our voice. KTM in other countries are recalling back duke 390 for various reason.

    its just an year i am bit frustrated with issue pooping now and then.

    Service head from Kolkata is coming to Bhubaneswar let me put these issue to him. On behalf of entire forum i will discuss the issue that every one has brought up.

    Lets see if he take these seriously.

      1. Hey Bro,
        ILove and admire the enthu you have. I too hope they listen to us. I havent rod the beat from 20 straight days 🙁 hope you can smell my impatience 🙂

    1. The sale Guy Shnehasis was , he admitted that that there are problems with KTM.
      He has told me to replace my air filter box under warranty. But the KTM Bhubaneswar delar was plying mischief. As of now the part is already delayed due to durga puja.

      But the problem is its nearing to 20 days i haven’t rode the bike. due to lack of spare parts.

  45. I didn’t have any of these problems except the stalling at low revs when backing off the throttle leaving you wobbling along at 1 KM/h trying to get a restart. The clutch was fine, the rough throttle was not something I found, maybe I rode more aggressively using more clutch throttle to unconsciously avoid the above situation. I was blessed with decent wheels, I hit some huge holes and totally bottomed out the shocks on several occasions but found nothing in terms of cracks on the wheels, the tyres exceeded my expectations as did the bike. Selling for 4 Lakhs in Europe so amazing value for money in India, for this money it could be as bad as an RE and still be good value.

    I heard a lot about the oil issues, I wonder what factors are at play if its simply poor components or if people were not reading the manual, checking the oil when the bike is cold and overfilling it, as you can not see a level when its cold. The shop should have told customers about this, they did not tell me.

    I miss that bike, a huge amount of fun.

    1. It’s insane fun indeed. The issues may not be there with all bikes, thanks to the wobbly KTM quality control.

  46. hi i installed the powertronic ecm module and the engine seized . does any one have any idea what a cylinder piston and crank for a duke 390 cost ?

  47. hi akhil not saying powertronic did it ..was on a really fast revving trip, may have overdone it. just trying to get my head at the costs i am going to incur

      1. Around ₹13000, alone for a piston and bore kit of a Duke 390and that excludes any labour charges that may arise. That should be quite an expensive affair to most people!

  48. Hi i had 2 RE Classic and Machismo, post which i was convinced that this is not the bike to own. Apart from the Aura that was built for RE in 80s and 90s which is still running for them, the bike is hopeless. You will have a fantastic relationship with your servicing center. They will attend all your family function because 80 % of your weekends will be spent with them. Thier children will go to Havard on the money you spend on getting your RE repaired. One rainy season and down she goes. Totally unreliable bike RE dont waste your time and money.

      1. Hey Akhil nice article, keep riding the negatives of motorcycles, can u write the negatives aspects of the Himalayan? Thanks.

    1. BS. Riding Machismo for last 15 years+. More than a lakh kilometer, one engine bore replacement and 1 set of Tappet valve replacement since 2002. Many trips included many 700 KM a day. rides. You got a bad piece of bad technician.

      Added Himalayan now. Its just 6k on ODO. Too early to comment.

      1. i own classic 500 chrome., all good but engine started knocking at merely 21000km mark.
        either the piston has to be replaced or there is some work on the crank shaft.

        1. Hi. Our 500 standard had the same issue in Jan 2017. The company replaced the crank for free as it was under warranty. It was that knocking noise. It was at 16000 km. The service was done via the showroom and they said they had technicians brought down from the factory just for this purpose. Anyway, the noise is gone now and the bike is fine, better than i expected it to fare, really.

          1. Nice. you are lucky here. My engine got down after 1000km crossing the warranty.
            But still I would vouch for KTM on reliability than Enfields.

          2. That is unfortunate indeed. I bought my first 390 3 weeks back. A great bike, it is. Performs exactly as described. A real,no nonsense tool.Looking forward to a nice many years with it.

  49. Akhil, hope u r doing well. And thanks for this unbiased article it does help knowing owner’s experience.

    so, i am contemplating buying a zippy bike. I had Ninja 300 & RE 500 for obvious reasons (speed/acceleration & RE ride experience respectively). since ninja was no fun in city conditions where i spent much of time i sold it. RE 500 was good experience in itself but that too is no more in my garage. Since more than a year i am on electra 350 and it’s been fine but i miss the acceleration & refinement of Ninja.

    so, i am in the market to fulfill this teen inside me which wants to zip through traffic sometimes. i am mostly a sedate driver (guess RE made me :)) but i do want those horses underneath to zip past at disposal. Again mostly in city but must be a winner of highway speeds. Now why this bug now again? because i moved to NCR from bangalore and roads are much more better to zip through/high speeds and i do plan on doing long rides.

    without doing away with RE, here are the options i am contemplating low cost range–D390/Z250/Z300 (hoping launch shortly)/ higher cost range –E6rn/versys. as you can see my preference is naked bike, upright or slightly bent over positions. Neither Honda/Yamaha have alternatives and i don’t like pulsars/mojos and other indian brands..exclusivity is must… D390 has all the performance numbers but quality of bike is a worry (reiterated per your review as well) compared to kawasakis and i really don’t like that exhaust note of KTMs esp. after experiencing ninja’s…i learnt that with recent 390 launch, heating has been reduced & slipper clutch is fun. Do you have any ride experience of new 390 engine? And would you have any other option to add to my list? kawasaki and versys esp. is checking all boxes so far so it .

    Appreciate if you could share your experience & thoughts please.


    1. Yes the updated 390 is far easier on your body than the old one that I have, but I don’t think it’ll still be a city winner. As long as you are going fast it’s all good, but the moment you get stuck in traffic, you’re fucked.

      Z250 is a pointless bike, overpriced and not selling well at all. I won’t be surprised if they stop selling it soon, don’t buy one. Z300 isn’t coming.

      Yesterday I rode the Mojo for 700 kms in 12 hours, it’s quite brilliant for city, good for highways too, but has many small niggles that I doubt anyone can happily live with. Still give it a test ride, always try everything before you buy anything.

      If you have the money, ER6n checks all the boxes for you, although it isn’t much fun in city traffic, too heavy and too big to zip through anything. It’s awesome on the highway, looks good, and will give decent mileage too. However, if you didn’t like 390s sound, you wouldn’t like this one’s either.

      Take a friend’s 390 and ride through the city, that should clear up your doubts completely. Duke is a brilliant bike is so many different ways, but you will need to live with issues and you can’t expect Japanese level refinement.

  50. Most of these problems you mentioned have been sorted in the 2016 model and can be sorted in the older models too , i own a 2016 model and my bro has a 2014 model so ik, and neither i nor any1 in my group had an engine oil issue ever. and seriously people if u need 100% refinement and reliability pls go for a splender.

  51. //You would be approaching a speed breaker, you brake and hit the clutch to downshift and bam, the bike is off. // Happens with my Duke 200 2016 model too. It happens so random & abrupt.

    1. It might be due to loose battery cable. I had the same issue. Engine turning off randomly. Took it to the service center and they tightened the wires and it was solved just like that.

  52. my 2013 duke 390 had done around 45,000kms and i need an engine overhaul,im hearing rattling sound in the engine and the engine oil seems to be drying up can someone who dealt with similar problem tell me the aprox price to fix it

  53. I bought the 2016 D200 in August and have already done 12k on it. Now I’m thinking if I should upgrade to the new 390 or should I wait for a little more time before making any decisions.

  54. I using duke 200 for last 3 years …. I m repeatedly facing problem of leakage in oil seal of right fork….

      1. Every six months or so? this really isn’t a practical motorcycle is it?
        I was planning on buying a D390, but now I’m not so sure
        Tiny af gas tank, short gears, heavy clutch (not sure about the slipper), uncomfortable seat, leaking gaskets, weak alloys, rough engine
        I mean wow, just WOW

        1. I have this bike from 2013. 39th bike in Pune from the first lot of 100. Gas tank is tiny, cant change that. Gearing is perfect for the acceleration that this bike delivers. Come on now, you cannot expect to use a gear to touch 130 and use the same for 30, its basic. Engine is not as smooth as a ninja, but the ninja would cost you almost double and still loose in a drag race. And no, I haven’t seen any week alloys or other problems mentioned above. And believe me, we have some bad ass roads in India ;). Four years down the line and the only thing I have changed is the rear tire. Rest is up to you. Ride safe.

  55. Hi,

    I have a 390 Duke too and had a few notes related to what you have said.

    I had a heavy clutch too but once, when I had given it for serving, the mechanic (official KTM guy) told me it was adjusted wrong and readjusted it. It’s been a joy ever since.

    The oil problem has just reared its head. 3000 km after the last service I started getting a low oil pressure warning. Don’t know the issue just yet since I just dropped the bike off at the service station.

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