Finally, the KTM Duke 390 was ready for pick-up yesterday.
I had been …
… since I bought it last Wednesday. New bike day, always a good day! Yet it isn’t for me, my daughter went along with me to the dealer and seemed to like the bike. I had to ride it right away, although it was a cold and moist winter day and I had professional obligations that evening in Weimar. So, to combine business with pleasure, I went there on the KTM. You can look over my left shoulder in the video above. Apologies for the audio comments in German, and apologies again for my Low German accent, I didn’t know I still had it!
The cold wasn’t so bad and the roads were gritted but still a bit slippery. So, no lean angles in that video!
Winter has come and with it, cold fogs.
Today, I faced the weather again for another shakedown ride. I made it to Bad Hersfeld before sanity and cold feet prevailed and I turned tail and rode back home.
So, some experiences and talking points from those two rides:
I love that bike! So light and mobile! The power-to-weight ratio really shines, even my weight can’t squash it.
The display is a prime feature way above the class of this bike. I had the bike synched to my iPhone (Hi there, internet of things!) and that again to a Bluetooth communication set in my helmet. Listening to a navigation app on the phone and also to music, I had full control over the latter with the four-way switch on the left handlebar grip. Fantastic and easy to set up.
The one-cylinder, 44 hp engine needs to be revved for the bike to go. If you keep it above 6000 rpm, it is a lively tool for carving up country roads. Quite a bark, too, when you accelerate. And no problem overtaking cagers.
Throttle pinned in sixth gear and all of me in a bit of a tuck gives 135 kph. That was on the Autobahn, officer …
The rearview mirrors are useless, all I see in them are my elbows. What I don’t see in them is the Transit delivery van tailgating me because I adhere to inner city speed limits, officer. Perhaps the mirrors work for someone much slimmer than me, otherwise we’ll have to think about aftermarket, underslung bar-end ones. They look rad, too.
The rider’s seat is firm and comfy but you are in a bit of a fixed position on this bike. Not so good for long rides. I’m used to standing up on the footrests on my BMW R 1200 GS Adv. to get the old legs going again or to float over a particularly rough patch of road. That won’t work here. Going sideways to hang off wasn’t so smooth, either, but that might have been my Michelin Man clothing.
At the end of today’s ride, there were some dry stretches of road and I could ride some curves the way they were meant to be. The Duke 390 flicks into it at the turning-in easily and then holds the line with minimal rider intervention and no wobbles. It reacts very well to counter steering. Exaggerating only a bit, I could say that you sit over the front wheel, and that helps this planted feel. The footrests are high enough for impressive lean angles, not that I could test that today.
I don’t think it would take a touring load well, especially not high up in a rolltop bag on the pillion seat. We’ll hopefully see about that. It should be fine for hotel-based credit card touring …
So there you are, first impressions, mostly positive!
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