After Fowlers pre-registered a load of Duke 390’s, I think just about everyone rushed out to go and get one..
Long term review..
I was no different to everyone else in this sense, I called, got my deposit down, and picked it up 2 weeks later- 10th January 2018
I don’t know what prompted me to buy this bike.. I guess I was just drawn to a good deal, as there was nothing wrong with my Hornet 600, but after owning it for 3 months, 5k miles and a track day I feel like I got my monies worth before flogging it on for the 790, but that’s another story.
First of all, I got a screen protector onto the new TFT screen, something I should really learn to do with my phone screens!
Then added some crash protection in the form of engine bars from Triple D Motorsports, then eventually added some Hand Guards and an R&G Tail tidy
The engine bars seemed pretty straight forward, they bolt on, so what can go wrong?
Let me tell you..
The thread was full of paint that had to be stripped out, and I’ve never encountered such a tight fit on after market parts, the install was easy, the fitment was less than ideal, once the paint was stripped from the thread, with the help of my dad (I know, I’m lazy) they went on easily. However, they were worthwhile, and made the bike appear so much bigger and chunkier than it actually was, not to mention the protection they provide the engine with.
The hand guards however, easy peasy, remove bar ends, stick ’em in, and bolt onto the bars. Jobs done.
Again, fair play to R&G, it was quite easily the most straight forward tail tidy install that I’ve done, remove HUGE plastic rear, bolt on new, stick on indicators, can’t fault it.
Picking it up; the ride home was interesting, Bristol to Cardiff, pissing down rain, ice cold, every road was either salted or muddy and I couldn’t reach the floor, in hind sight maybe I should have at least sat on one before I bought one.
One slight issue became apparent quite quickly, despite it being more like 3°C the bike began over heating very quickly, a quick look around the bike showed me that the radiator hose had a kink in it, and was very easily put straight.
However, because of this they kindly gave me a free first service, so another trip back to Bristol in the rain 2 weeks later once the bike was all run in
First service over and done with, it seemed like a good time to book my first track day.. Why not? But I’ll save you the pain of reading all day, and make another post on that.. (Maybe)
So being that I bought it in January, the weather was horrendous, so this little bike really was tested through the elements, rain, hail, and even snow and some minor flooding
I also have a bad habit of not actually cleaning my bikes, so it got more than a little grubby in the 5,000 miles I put it through- I can’t really comment on the build quality due to the fact I did neglect it, however it only had some slight surface rust here and that easily cleaned off by the time I came to sell it on.
The handling of this bike is unreal, it’s confidence inspiring, easy to lean and maneuver, and the brakes have such a good feel to them, you just instantly feel like you know the bike, it’s familiar and it’s comfortable, like it’s an old friend.
The Metzeler Sportec tyres it comes with make it feel fast and sporty, providing more than enough grip all round for the 44BHP machine. They also did exceptionally well, getting me through my first track day.
However, in the torrential rain, I needed something a bit more suited for the UK winters (I always go for Michelin Pilot Roads) as when riding through floods, it felt like with to much power, it could wash out from under me. I wouldn’t expect them not to, after all, how often do you ride through floods and ice?
With a seat height of 830mm it’s one that I need to tip toe to reach the ground- as usual..
The seating position is a little on the aggressive side, with the pegs being a little higher and further back than they look at first glance, making it really easy to throw around yet still surprisingly comfortable
The bars are upright enough to make you feel like you can ride it all day, without any aches and pains, but the seat is thin enough to make your bum go numb after an hour on the road
Although, at motorway speeds (and above) there is a slight vibration through your hands and feet, but I will admit that adding the hand guards to mine, did reduce this quite a lot and helped with the bikes lack of wind protection.
The ride by wire throttle is great, it’s smooth and gives good feel, making it a lot easier for newer riders and less confident riders, knowing you’re not going to give it an accidental handful and wheelie up the road.
The light up switch gear is just an extra touch of fanciness that really sets it apart from the majority of bikes in it’s category. It doesn’t look like a low budget bike or a low tech bike, and that’s because it isn’t.
The sharp angular LED headlight really gives it the styling of the 1290, as well as the typical trellised frame. The 390 also features adjustable levers which is always a nice feature, it can help get everything the way you like it, or just help make the bike fit you that little bit better.
The 5 inch TFT screen is great, I love a bit of tech, and having some buttons to press- even if I don’t know what they do!
The menu is simple and straight forward, allowing you to alter what you see on your dash as you go, only needing to roll off the throttle to change into Supermoto Mode, disabling the rear ABS, or to turn the ABS off completely .
The relatively short wheel base gives the bike so much agility and really makes the bike feel flickable, again, typical of the KTM stereotype, you really do feel like you can ride round and unleash your inner hooligan.
Commuting on the 390 was great, I have a relatively short commute of maybe 10 miles to work and 10 miles back, I work in the middle of Cardiff and have the option to ride through lanes to get there, or on main roads so I can change it up so it’s more interesting day to day.
The Duke just glides its way through the tight bends in the lanes, its comfortable avoiding the pot holes and gravel as well as the being easy to flick out of the way of any oncoming traffic or low hanging branches.
Again, the Bybre (an abbreviated version of Brembo brakes “By Brembo” dedicated to smaller capacity bikes and scooters) front brake is great in this scenario, where you’re riding through a single track lane, and have to suddenly stop or end up on the path of the car speeding round the bend.
Commuting into the city is a breeze, it’s small, light and agile, I think it can just about fit through any gap, it feels like it’s got great road presence and the LED light makes you feel like cars might take notice of you in their mirror (I wish!) the whole bike just inspires confidence in any situation, and it’s great on fuel which always helps when commuting!
I think the 390 has huge potential and can quite easily tap into a variety of markets, it can quite easily be a track day toy, commuter, stunt bike, or first big bike, and anything in between
There are luggage kits, comfort seats, heated grips, and billet power parts, with so many accessories available as well as graphics kits you can very easily make it into a total one off bike that stands out from the mass produced machine it was born as.
But all good things must come to an end, and so did my time with the 390..
When I put my deposit down on the Duke 790, I put the 390 up on Ebay, with a bit of a cheeky price considering it was just about due a second service, a little more than I paid for it..
It was snapped up almost straight away, proving what great value for money the little machines are.
It was a sad goodbye, as the little bike did so well at everything it did, and being one that struggles to let go of their bikes, if I had space, it would still be here right now- I’ve still got my old 125!
From here it was time to move onto the soon arriving Duke 790 AKA The Scalpel.
Feel free to let me know what you think in the comment box below..