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Living with KTM Duke 390 | Bike Tests | Latest Tests

When AMCN took delivery of KTM’s Duke 390 long-termer, we wondered how quickly we’d grow tired of riding a bike aimed at newbies. Two months later, KTM is now chasing Editor Dobie for the keys

I walked into the garage the other day to ride the KTM Duke 390 to work, when I realised it had been at least two weeks since I’d started any of the other bikes sitting in Gassit HQ.

The little KTM has been able to deliver so much riding pleasure, I just didn’t feel the need to jump on anything bigger. That’s not to say I prefer smaller-capacity bikes, during that period I’ve attended a couple of launches for machines that will add a couple of inches to an arm length, but as far as day-to-day urban use goes, LAMS bikes offer a fantastic amount of value – and versatility – for money.

As I was again filtering though Sydney’s heavy CBD traffic, I asked myself if there was a situation (other than maybe a drag race) that would highlight the shortfalls of a LAMS bike compared to a full-blooded, full-fat roadbike… of course! A pillion ride!

A sunny Sunday morning meant it was time to take Mrs D for a two-up spin along the coast road for a coffee. I knew this would be a laugh; two tall grown-ups wobbling along while a little 390cc single-cylinder learner’s bike is heaving and hoing beneath us – but, again, the joke was on me.

Not only did the little KTM handle pillion duties with ease, Mrs D said despite its appearance, the pillion seat was as comfortable as anything she had recently tested.

Other than the suspension being a little too soft for our combined 150kg weight (I’m not saying who weighs what), the little orange beastie took it all in its stride.

Yet another explanation as to why I see so many of them getting about without L- or P-plates affixed, its ability to transition from learner bike to urban commuter is done so easily that some (a lot!) may never need anything more.

My time with the little 390 is coming to an end, and KTM is keen to move me up to the other end of its performance scale for the next round of Living With. But before that happens, I’m going to set the little 390 one last challenge: to get me from my house to Gassit HQ in a new personal best time amid the thick of Sydney’s congested worst. I am going to cheat a little and remove the bar-end weights that look great but take up precious millimetres of space.

The Duke’s agility and manoeuvrability have already proven to be winners, we just need a good run with the lights and a few gaps to be left. Wish me luck!

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Over the past eight weeks, I have been adopted into the international KTM 390 Duke owners community, and what a passionate bunch they are. A special mention to Joel Rodriguez from India who received a certificate from the Iron Butt Association for riding 1711km in a 24-hour period. A quick read of Youngy’s guest column from the last issue will reveal just how outstanding that achievement is. Also, a double thumbs-up for some of the awesome custom jobs, including this black and blue effort by Kakhoda Utama from Malaysia.