The KTM 390 Adventure - easily one of the most-awaited, highly-anticipated motorcycles for some time now, and it intends to change adventure motorcycling as we know of it. Adventure bikes, one of the most popular type of motorcycles these days, not just in India, but around the world, have largely become big, bulky and heavy motorcycles. With more performance and electronic gizmos, but more pertinently, with added heft and bulk, today's adventure bikes have become just that - big, bulky touring machines, and can be a handful to handle when the going gets rough. That is exactly what the KTM 390 Adventure tries to address. It promises to be accessible and un-intimidating, even for riders with less off-road experience, and yet be a potent enough off-road weapon in the right hands.
Watch: KTM 390 Adventure First Ride Review
Design and Features
As the name suggests, the KTM 390 Adventure is based on the KTM 390 Duke, but it's designed primarily for touring, and taking on rough terrain. It has the same engine, with the same state of tune, but it gets some adventure-ready hardware. There's long travel suspension from WP, a non-adjustable upside down front fork, but with 170 mm of travel, it seems tailor-made for rough work. At the rear too, the suspension has 10-step preload adjustability, with 177 mm of travel.
The wide handlebar offers a comfortable riding position and the taut steel trellis frame inspired by KTM's Dakar 450 Rally bike offers solid stability. The sub-frame is all new though and is bolted on to the main chassis. There's 200 mm of ground clearance, with an engine bash plate, as well as off-road ready, serrated footpegs. The alloy wheels are bigger, with a 19-inch front wheel, and 17-inch rear wheel combination, and get tubeless tyres, built for both road, and off-road usage, by Metzeler Tourance. The 14.5-litre fuel tank is said to offer 400 km of range, with a claimed 27.5 kmpl.
It also gets a long list of electronic rider aids - ride-by-wire throttle, switchable lean sensitive traction control, cornering ABS, with the option to switch ABS on the rear wheel, as well as a standard quickshifter. And there's also the KTM MyRide smartphone connectivity system as well, all managed through the full-colour TFT instrument console, with slightly different colours than the Duke. The wheelbase is longer than the Duke, so it looks slightly longer, and different than the 390 Duke.
Performance, Ride & Handling
On a rocky mountain trail, it's immediately apparent that the 390 Adventure has all the off-road genes KTM is known for. It seems to shrug off all kinds of uneven terrain with nonchalant disdain. The engine is the same as the 390 Duke, so the 373 cc, single-cylinder engine puts out 43 bhp at 9,000 rpm, and 37 Nm at 7,000 rpm. There's no low-end grunt and you do need to keep the engine spinning, particularly when climbing an uphill rocky section. But there's more than enough power to keep things interesting, and entertaining.
The alloy wheels work just fine, and together with the taut chassis and suspension set-up, it becomes apparent that the 390 Adventure sports all of KTM's off-road lineage and expertise. If there's one area where the 390 Adventure absolutely shines, it's the way it seems to tackle off-road terrain. It feels solid, built to last, and has more than enough power to take on different gradients and terrain. Although our first ride was brief, and was primarily off-road, it was enough to understand that the 390 Adventure has the right balance of stability and suspension to tackle most kinds of off-road trails any adventure lover would like to explore.
So, the KTM 390 Adventure does not come with wire-spoke wheels. But the alloys are more than capable to handle any kind of terrain any of its owners would likely show it, unless of course, you intend to handle very, very gnarly terrain. And those tubeless tyres also will be easy to fix, while facing a flat on a two-wheeled adventure. The long-travel suspension is built to handle all kinds of terrain, and the motor is punchy enough to keep even experienced riders entertained.
Our first ride was just for a couple of hours, mostly over off-road terrain, so we'll reserve our judgement till after we get the bike for a longer time, and for a more comprehensive review. For now though, it's more than enough to make an impression. At ₹ 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom), the KTM 390 Adventure may seem a little pricey, but if you consider the superb off-road capability, coupled with the features and electronics package, there's no doubt that there's nothing quite like it yet, at that price point. And the fact that it won't be expensive to maintain, just makes the 390 Adventure that much more appealing.
Photography: Pawan Dagia