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The 2024 KTM 390 Duke is just one of three new models launched by the Austrian manufacturer to celebrate 30 years since the very first Duke was launched.

Wattie recently headed to Spain to ride the 2024 KTM 390 Duke, along with the new 990 Duke and 1390 Super Duke R, all as part of celebrations for the Duke’s 30th anniversary. Here’s his test of the tiddler of the Duke lineup…

30 Years

Corner rocket… and at $8695 ride away the latest 390 Duke is a helluva value proposition

The first ever KTM Duke was a 1994 620cc single. So it’s only right to continue the tradition with a punchy single-cylinder offering, the new Duke 390, lovingly dubbed ‘the corner rocket’ by its creators. It is important to note that the 390 Duke is the largest capacity Duke in some international markets (there’s a 125 and 250 too, neither of which are available in Oz), so this time around KTM made a significant effort to make the 390 look and feel like the top-spec Dukes. When you see a new 390 Duke parked, unless you know what you’re looking for, it’s not immediately discernible from the 990 or even 1390.

So what’s new? The official number quoted by KTM is 90 percent new parts. See what I mean? This is a serious update. Starting with the new frame, KTM stiffened it up to improve high-speed stability, but also mounted the rear shock off to the side of the chassis rather than in the centre to both put it on show and free up some space under the seat. As a result, the swingarm and chassis needed some beefing up to keep everything balanced. The swingarm is still the open-lattice diecast style, but strengthened to handle the side-mounted shock. The alloy rear subframe is new and helps drop the standard seat height to 820mm (there’s a lower 800mm option in KTM’s Powerparts catalogue).

The engine has been totally redesigned to save weight, deliver better performance and meet latest Euro emission rules

The 399cc single-cylinder engine has also had a full makeover to make it lighter, more compact and reliable while meeting Euro5+ emissions requirements. Through some black magic, or just simply changing alloy chemistry and fuel injection programs, the engine has been designed to warm up faster but also run cooler once warm to help reduce wear which, in turn, means service intervals have increased to 10,000km for a minor service with valve clearances checked at every 20,000km – good for the back pocket of owners.

The airbox has been optimised thanks to a bit more volume and the air intake is now up the front under the tank which means it’s breathing fresher air and resulting in some extra aural pleasure, too. At the other end, the exhaust now features an underslung muffler, which helps keep the mass central on the bike and looks super tidy at the same time.

Power output is respectable for a LAMS-approved bike at 34kW (45hp), with 39Nm of torque at its peak. This is a boost of 1hp and 2Nm over the previous model, which sounds like nothing, but when you take into consideration the new beastie is now a considerable 6kg lighter, the gains are significant. Suspension is new WP Apex. The front fork is a 43mm open-cartridge unit with tool-free rebound and compression adjustment. To keep adjustments simple, there is just five clicks of each, but each click is designed to make a noticeable difference in feel, which is going to increase people’s confidence to make adjustments.

Front brake has been switched to the other side of the fork

At the rear the new side-mounted shock is easy to access and features rebound and preload adjustments, but you will need a screwdriver and a C-spanner to do so. The ByBre brakes remain unchanged except for changing the single discs each end from the left-hand side to the right. It seems like an odd change, but it is purely for looks. Parked on the side stand the Duke now looks much better from its ‘good side’ with both the rear shock and front brake on display, adding to the 390’s big-bike image. Yes, KTM has thought of everything.

One of the major weight-saving features is the new wheels. They save a massive 4.3kg over the old ones. This reduction in unsprung weight makes a huge difference to performance and handling reflected in its character in the twisties. Electronics are aplenty, although not quite as high-tech as the stuff found on the big bikes. There is a beautiful five-inch colour dash that shows all the ins and outs. There are two modes, Street and Rain, which adjust throttle response and the cornering traction control sensitivity.

The traction control can be switched off completely, while the ABS can be switched off at the rear by enabling Supermoto mode for some sick skids. All these settings can be changed on the fly, which is a bonus. The switchgear is exactly the same as the 990 Duke and is backlit for night riding – impressive for an entry-level LAMS machine.

30 Years

Screen display can be modified for track work

Navigation, phone calls and music can all be controlled and displayed through the dash via an app on your phone. However the (flawless) two-way quickshifter is an option that is unlocked by a software update at the dealer. The track screen mode, however, is standard and changes the dash to prioritise the rev counter, gear-position indicator and lap timer instead of the speedo. While in this track mode, you will also be able to engage launch control, which holds the revs at 7000rpm for rapid take-offs – pretty nifty for a LAMS offering. The build quality appears top spec, with LED lighting, painted-over stickers, premium matt finishes and fairings that mimic the Super Duke’s styling. The orange seat is a one-off for the 30th anniversary and looks trick.

So, what does all this mean for the ride? I expected it to feel tiny, but it felt instantly familiar and comfortable. The riding position is commanding but upright and the wide ’bar makes it feel quite roomy – I didn’t feel like I was riding a small bike except for the weight. The 390 is super zippy as I got my bearings riding on the wrong side of the road. You can lift the front wheel for fun in first or second gear down low in the rev range thanks to the torque. This also means pulling away from a standstill is silky smooth.

The 390 Duke is made for carving corners like this

The engine feels smooth and sounds beefy with no annoying vibrations. It feels more like a parallel twin than a single. Ample power is available throughout the rev range and it managed to propel my 100kg to an indicated 173km/h. That kind of speed is nothing to be sneezed at for a learner bike. As we rapidly approached the mountains, the Duke began to show its hand as to why KTM has nicknamed it ‘the corner rocket’. The lightweight 390 is a dream zooming from corner to corner on tight roads. It changes direction easily and settles into the corners well.

The Michelin Power 6 tyres complement the Duke with oodles of grip and confidence. Being generally aimed at novice riders, I found the suspension a little soft in the rear end on standard settings (I’m probably heavier than most novice riders, to be fair). I added a couple of clicks of rebound damping to the rear, which helped it stay settled in the corners, but it still needed a bit of preload cranked on for my weight.

As expected, wind protection is a non-event. KTM will tell you the Duke is unashamedly naked, so don’t look here if you want to hide behind fairings and a windscreen. The seat, however, is good enough to enjoy the ride without wondering how funny your walk is going to be afterwards.

30 Years

There is preload and rebound adjustment on the rear WP shock

The single front disc brake does its job with ease and is perfectly matched to the weight and intended purpose of the 390 Duke. Supermoto mode lets you hang the rear end out on the brakes for generally hoon riding. After you’re done hooning it can shift into a traffic-slaying commuter and still get over 400km out of a fuel tank. That’s a lot of fun crammed into one tank.

The little Duke is light, flickable and every bit the pint-sized and capable fun machine that almost anyone can access. Its low seat height and adjustable levers will suit smaller riders, while larger riders won’t feel like they are riding a toy.

PROS: Looks like a big bike, has a smooth, punchy engine and boasts quality components.
CONS: Making the owner pay to unlock the included quick shifter on such a well-appointed bike.

820mm seat height and can be made 20mm lower with an optional seat. Span-adjustable levers
to help suit different-sized riders.

New wheels save a whopping 4.3kg of unsprung weight. Michelin Power 6 tyres bring plenty of grip and confidence for riders of all skill levels.

New, larger 15L fuel tank will get you around 400km of riding if you play your cards right. Side fairings are styled off the Super Duke R for extra street cred.

New engine is lighter, warms up faster and runs cooler. It’s Euro 5+ compliant and is remarkably smooth for a single-cylinder.

Tool-less adjustable compression and rebound up front. Down at the rear you will need a C-spanner for preload adjustment and a screwdriver for rebound.



Capacity 398.7cc
Type Single cylinder, DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Bore & stroke 89mm x 64mm
Compression ratio Not given
Cooling Liquid
Fueling EFI, RBW
Transmission Six-speed
Clutch Wet, multi-plate, slipper type
Final drive Chain

Power 33.5kW (45hp) @ 8500rpm (claimed)
Torque 39Nm @ 7000rpm (claimed)
Top speed 173km/h (tested)
Fuel consumption 3.4L/100km (claimed)

Type Bosch EMS
Rider aids Cornering ABS, cornering traction control, launch control
Rider modes Rain and Street

Frame material Tubular steel
Frame type Trellis
Rake Not given
Trail Not given
Wheelbase 1375mm

Type WP Apex
Front: 43mm upside-down fork, compression and rebound adjustable, 150mm travel
Rear: Monoshock, rebound and preload adjustable, 150mm travel

Wheels Alloy
Front: 17 x 3.0 Rear: 17 x 4.0
Tyres Michelin Power 6
Front: 110/70R17 (54W)
Rear: 150/60R17 (66W)
Brakes ByBre, Bosch ABS
Front: Single 320mm disc, four-piston radial caliper
Rear: Single 240mm disc, twin-piston floating caliper

Weight 165kg (wet, claimed)
Seat height 820mm
Width Not given
Height Not given
Length Not given
Ground clearance 190mm
Fuel capacity 15L

Servicing First: 1000km
Minor: 10,000km
Major: 20,000km
Warranty Two years, unlimited kilometres

$8965 (ride away)
Colour options Electric Orange or Atlantic Blue