KTM 390 Duke coming soon!By Team Overdrive
And so the wraps are off the KTM Duke 390 that many of you, certainly many of us, having been waiting for. Here is everything you need to know about the motorcycle.
What is it?
The KTM Duke 390 is the bigger single-cylinder model that was expected from the Austrian manufacturer's Bajaj tie-up. The engine, says KTM, is all-new, displacing 375cc with an over square 89mm bore on a 60mm stroke. Visually, the motorcycle looks identical to the 200 and this isn't an illusion. The frame is exactly the same, from the 43mm upside-down forks up front to the 150-section tyre at the back. Will the tyre compound be softer for more grip? The details will become clearer once the motorcycle becomes commercially available. KTM claims the fuel-injected motorcycle makes 43PS at 9500rpm and 36Nm at 7250rpm, which are extremely robust figures. When you add in the fact that the motorcycle only weighs 13kg more than 200 Duke, the 390 promises to be a proper, no-hold barred hooligan that will set the tone for affordable performance in the country when it launches.
So when does it launch?
Despite what the internet says about the launch in India, our sources suggest that we will only get the 390 around May-June 2013, not earlier. The initial production will probably go to Europe where the mid-displacement single is expected to find a warm welcome thanks to good performance, cheerful pricing amidst a gloomy economy outlook. The prices announced at the EICMA show suggested that the difference in the price of the 200 and the 390 is shockingly low - the similarity in components suggests this is by design - and we expect that the new motorcycle will arrive bearing a price tag around Rs 45-60,000 more than the KTM 200 Duke. Which makes it likely to fall in the Rs 1.8-2.1 lakh on-road price bracket. Which, if you look at the equipment and performance on offer, is a serious value.
But it looks the same as the 200, no?
Unfortunately, that is true. The seat height is actually a smidgen lower and the tank does hold half a litre of fuel more than before, but there is no getting away from the fact that it looks exactly the same with new graphics. Bajaj, of course, are past masters at this game, having made a success of the Pulsar 150 and 180, for example. That having been said, we expect the attractive pricing to carry it through and we believe a lot of Duke 200 owners will be seriously tempted to upgrade. As far as we know, no other manufacturer is aiming for this kind of value-performance sweet spot at the moment, and that's going to be the ticket for the Duke 390's success.
What about KTM CBUs?
They are coming, no doubt, but Bajaj have so far not offered even a hint at the time line. Bajaj were clear that the KTM plan for India was to begin with the establishment of the smaller machines before they could be used as a base to get more serious machinery down. We know the SuperDuke, especially the new one, and the RC8 super bike are near perpetuals on your (and our) I-want lists, but at the moment, there is no timeline to offer. Hopefully, the response to the 390 will encourage the KTM team to bring the CBUs in sometime around the end of 2013, but that's us hoping rather than Bajaj doing.
What I do want is the 690, to be honest.
So do we. But we understand that the KTM 690 Duke is currently on the back burner for the Indian market. The motorcycle was in serious consideration not very long ago but the slow volumes expected rule out the possibility of local assembly. Which in turn, means the prices when it goes on sale will be way too high for it to have any significant traction or impact in India. Which is unfortunate because it promises to be a terrific machine and Bertrand returned from the media launch in Spain with the Duke 690 on his to-buy list. The 690's second challenge is the Kawasaki Ninja 650 which is not only affordable thanks to its Thai origin but is also a twin, which makes pricing for the Duke 690 very sensitive - they are going to be sitting next to each other in the showroom should Bajaj launch it. So, for those of you waiting for the 690, the wait promises to be a long one. Those who just want a super-fast KTM, the 390 is headed here shortly.