2019 KTM 390 Adventure: Four things the spy shots tell us
The BMW G 310 GS is the hottest property on the market right now and it's less than a month to go before we officially get price and delivery confirmations. But the motorcycle that's ruled the roost when it comes to buzz has been the KTM 390 Adventure which has been in the news for six or seven years at this point - ever since KTM confirmed that an Adventure-branded third cousin was part of the plan for the 125/200/250/390 platform on which the KTM 390 Duke and the KTM RC390 are based. However, after many fits and starts, the project was confirmed sometime last year and more recently, KTM confirmed that the 390 Adventure will be launched in the next calendar year. A series of spy shots of a near-production prototype on test shows that the 390 Adventure is not going to be the off-roader that many people have imagined it would be. And we wrote about how the 390 Adventure spy shots suggest that it wasn't going to be a hardcore off-roader, at least not in the stock shape it's likely to go on sale in. But this is the other side of the story - here is what to expect from the KTM 390 Adventure.
1. It'll be great on the highway
The all-LED headlight assembly on the 2019 KTM 390 Adventure looks similar to one offered on the 390 Duke. The hand guards, mirrors, brakes and switchgear too will be retained from the 390 Duke (Image source: BikeSocial)
If you've read our stories or been out on the highway, you will know that the smoothness and refinement of the updated ride-by-wire KTM 373.2cc engine from the latest KTM 390 Duke makes it a great highway-going bike. The new 13.5 litre tank supports the engine as well and makes this, frankly, one of my favourite highway bikes for India, across budgets and classes. If KTM keep the engine the same - and I think they will - and adjust either the first and second gear ratios - lower for off-road ability - for the 390 Adventure, you're looking at what might be the new best highway motorcycle in India. The other components of that ability will be absorbent suspension and a comfortable riding position.
2. It'll be good off-road
(Image source: Motorradonline)
I know that my story from yesterday suggested that the KTM isn't an off-roader. The problem is that everyone I've spoken to and everyone who has ever asked me about the 390 Adventure has a full-on off-roader in their heads. And KTM believes - correctly - that an affordable entry-level dirtbike isn't as appealing as a motorcycle with a blend of highway and off-road ability. It appeals to a wider set of people and even those who never go off-road will appreciate the idea that you don't have to stop riding as soon as the road ends. For this, you need a 19-inch front wheel so there is some dirt ability but a 21-inch (great off-roading) will kill road manners by feeling far away and vague in the twisties. So while the stock tyres will be 80 per cent road pattern, with more off-road tyres, the KTM 390 Adventure will venture farther into the wilderness than anything on sale right now. And with nearly 44PS on tap, it'll be very quick there too. Will you be landing 30 foot jumps easily though? I don't think so.
3. It'll have suspension similar to the 390 Duke
As seen in the image, the 2019 KTM 390 Adventure will have a semi-knobby tyre with a big-block open tread pattern that should bring road handling as well as ability to hook up and drive off-road (Image source: BikeSocial)
Since the 390 Adventure will aim to be a great highway and a light off-road duty motorcycle, it doesn't need outrageously long travel or complex suspension. This is important because on a dirt bike, the sophisticated suspension is usually one of the major cost factors that pushes prices up. What are we talking about? The KTM 390 Duke's upside down forks and rear monoshock offer 142mm and 150mm of travel. Now, the Suzuki DR-Z400, a single-cylinder dualsport with fairly well-developed dirt abilities offers around 270mm at either end. That, even though the DR-Z is far from the creme de la creme in terms of suspension spec, makes bikes expensive.
My guess would be that the KTM will have 20-30mm more travel but it will be tuned to offer a compliant, absorbent ride that will make for excellent highway manners and reasonable off-road ability. Want another reference? The Kawasaki Versys X-300 offers 130mm up front and 148mm at the back. On the flip side, the Hero X-Pulse 200 looks like a vastly more serious off-roader then. Not only does it get the 21-inch and 19-inch front-rear tyre combination that usually marks off-roaders, it also get 180 and 190mm of travel front and rear respectively.
To return to the KTM 390 Adventure, as you can infer, not a lot of adjustment to the actual travel is required for the KTM 390 Adventure to offer a genuine step up in ride quality and the ability to absorb bumps. So while the KTM 390 Adventure might have longer fork tubes to accommodate both the higher ground clearance and the bigger rake angle, it may not have, or need, substantially more complex or longer travel suspension.
4. It'll be priced well
So if KTM does the parts bin sharing that they already do so well, the KTM 390 Adventure will not be a big step up in price from the KTM 390 Duke and KTM RC390. I would suspect that the KTM 390 Adventure will be the most expensive motorcycle from the platform, but it will sit within Rs 25-30,000 of the KTM 390 Duke's pricing, as current a the time of launch. Today, the KTM 390 Duke costs Rs 2.4 lakh ex-showroom Mumbai. That should place the KTM 390 Adventure in the Rs 2.65-Rs 2.8 lakh ex-showroom. If you think that's a cause for worry for the incoming BMW G 310 GS - rumoured to be heading for a Rs 4 lakh ex-showroom pricetag - you might want to read this.
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