There are numerous obstacles to streetbike ownership for young adults, including how fewer children are even riding bicycles these days, never mind motorcycles, as I discussed in my latest Duke’s Den editorial. So, for an entry-level bike to overcome the hurdle into motorcycling, it has to be cool enough to push the desirability scale past the point of trepidation.

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After two days riding KTM’s 390 Duke around Thailand, including many laps burned at a local racetrack, I’ve been seduced by its combination of style, performance and value. There are plenty of faster bikes, and there are several cheaper bikes. But, to my mind, the 390 Duke hits a wonderful balance in the coolness-per-dollar ratio.

Read our KTM 390 Duke First Ride Review

A single-cylinder engine seems a bit modest when some of its competitors use Twins, but its 373cc displacement is bigger. Its engine internals are fairly high spec, so it’s by no means slow – an 80-mph cruise is easy. Plus, it can hit triple digits given enough prodding. More importantly, the 390 Duke looks like something special rather than a typical entry-level sportbike that can’t hide its penny-squeezing build sheet.

Ringing in at a very palatable $4,999, the lightweight 390 Duke makes a good case for honors in the Value category of our 2015 MOBO awards. Take a look at the video to see if you agree, and let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

KTM 390 Duke Honda CB300F Honda CB500F Kawasaki Ninja 300 Suzuki DRZ400SM
MSRP $4,999 $4,399 $5,799 $4,999 $7,189
Engine Capacity 373.3cc 286cc 471cc 296cc 398cc
Engine Type Liquid-cooled, DOHC, single-cylinder, four-stroke, 4 valves per cylinder Liquid-cooled, DOHC, single-cylinder, four-stroke, 4 valves per cylinder Liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel-Twin, four-stroke, 4 valves per cylinder Liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel-Twin, four-stroke, 4 valves per cylinder Liquid-cooled, DOHC, single-cylinder, four-stroke, 4 valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke 89.0mm x 60.0mm 76.0mm x 63.0mm 67.0mm x 66.8mm 62.0mm x 49.0mm 90.0mm x 62.6mm
Compression Ratio 12.5:1 10.7:1 10.7:1 10.6:1 11.3:1
Horsepower 43 (claimed) 26 (est) 43 34 34.7
Torque 25.8 (claimed) 17.8 (est) 29 18 25.9
Fuel System Electronic Fuel Injection PGM-Fi, 38mm throttle body PGM-FI, two 34mm throttle bodies Electronic Fuel Injection Single Mikuni BSR36 carburettor
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 5-speed
Final Drive Chain Chain Chain Chain Chain
Frame Steel trellis Steel Steel Steel Steel
Front Suspension WP 43mm inverted fork. 5.9 in travel 37mm conventional fork. 4.65 in. travel 41mm fork; 4.3 in. travel 37mm conventional fork. 4.7 in travel Showa inverted fork. Adjustable for rebound and compression
Rear Suspension WP shock. Preload adjustable. 5.9 in travel Pro-link single shock, preload adjustable, 4.07 in travel Pro-Link single shock. Preload adjustable. 4.7 in travel Single shock. Preload adjustable. 5.2 in travel Showa monoshock. Fully adjustable with high- and low-speed compression adjustment
Front Brakes Single 300mm disc. 4-piston, radial-mount caliper Single 296mm disc. Twin-piston caliper Single 320mm wave disc. Two-piston caliper Single 290mm wave disc. Two-piston caliper Single 300mm disc. Two-piston caliper
Rear Brakes Single 230mm disc. Single-piston caliper Single 220mm disc. Single-piston caliper Single 240mm wave disc. Single-piston caliper Single 220mm wave disc. Two-piston caliper Single 245mm disc. Single-piston caliper
ABS Standard N/A +$500 +$100 N/A
Front Tire 110/70-17 110/70-17 120/70-17 110/70-17 120/70-17 tube
Rear Tire 150/60-17 140/70-17 160/60-17 140/70-17 140/70-17 tube
Seat Height 31.5 in 30.7 in 30.9 in 30.9 in 35.0 in
Wheelbase 53.8 in 54.3 in 55.5 in 55.3 in 57.5 in
Rake/Trail 25.0 deg/3.9 in 25.3 deg/3.9 in 25.5 deg/4.1 in 27.0 deg/3.7 in NA
Curb Weight 345 (claimed) 351 (claimed) 418 (claimed) 379.3 (claimed) 321 (claimed)
Fuel Capacity 2.9 gal 3.4 gal 4.1 gal 4.5 gal 2.6 gal

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  • dbwindhorst

    Roads in the area where I live now — and therefore do most of my riding — comprise almost entirely winding, tight, often bumpy rural two-lane (if that) up in the Blue Ridge foothills. The only time my ZRX1100 sees fifth gear anymore is on the occasional I26 jaunt to Asheville.

    I’ve been riding for 45 years, and am seriously considering the 390 Duke. It looks plenty capable of scooting my skinny old 125-lb. frame around in entertaining fashion. The only cautions I’ve seen so far regard build quality on some early world-market examples, esp. the wheels. Any comment?

    • Kevin Duke

      I believe any problems the lil’ Dukes had have been worked out by now, so I’d be confident getting a fresh one on our shores.

  • Rocket Punch

    Can’t wait for the 300’ish shootout.

    So Kev, how bad is the vibration from the rearsets? I heard they did a revision on the bike to address the issue; Did the rearsets still disassemble themselves or they finally found out what locktite is?

    • Kevin Duke

      I had no issue with excess vibration transmitting itself via the footpegs. I had heard about early single-cylinder Dukes shedding parts from vibes, but my bike stayed tight even after some significant thrashing.

  • SRMark

    Poor DRZ

  • JMDonald

    I love this bike. I hope they sell a boatload of these things here. Well done KTM.

  • Goose

    Seems like a great bike but 2.9 gallons of fuel? Unless it gets gets great milage that isn’t going to get you very far.

    • Carlo Capelli

      I have this bike from 6 months now. I score >90 mpg (33km/l) driving ‘speedy’ with a passenger ! Twice than my previous Hornet !

      • Goose

        Wow, if it gets 90 miles per US gallon 2.9 gallons in the tank will work for me. That is great, a fun bike that is good on gas. I’ll assume it is also easy on tires. That and a low purchase price should up to a really cheap ride with a high fun factor . WOW, KTM may be on a bigger roll than Yamaha.

  • krishan adhikari

    i bough one of the first bikes sold in India in 2013. Its a nice bike or what you call a pocket rocket. Fast enough to give your thrills but not enough to bite you. It flicks real easy. As for the issues of rims/alloys the same was fixed with the Oct 2014 model. I have done 14K Km and I have yet to face any problems with the wheels. The only thing it burns real fast are the tyres they last around 10K km. It one of the most Value for money bikes.

    V@ rocket punch : Vibes are there but nothing that I can’t live with.I did a 2K Km ride in Feb over 3 days and didn’t really feel bothered. I have not yet lost one part due to vibrations

    @ dbwindhorst : I would wholeheartedly recommend buying one :)

  • overloadinco

    I’d add the Yamaha YZF-R3 to the Value catagory. I think it’s a good match to the Duke 390.

  • fastfreddie

    An archaic question:How does it stock up against the VFR 400/FZR 400?

    • Kevin Duke

      Those 400s are a couple of holes in my moto resume, so I can’t really say. But I’ll bet the Duke has more grunt at lower and middle revs. I imagine the Duke/RC390 chassis is also superior. Please bring over an NC30 so I can test them back to back!

      • fastfreddie

        I’ll prepare the jump over the pond from norway;)

        Just curious in case you had tested them.Thanks for reply:)

  • Simon Latham

    no mention of slipper clutch which was added to 2015 version

    • Kevin Duke

      Click the link after the second paragraph for the full review of the bike which includes that info.