Best Lightweight / Entry-Level Motorcycle of 2020

John Burns
by John Burns

Best Lightweight/ Entry Level Motorcycle of 2020: KTM 390 Adventure

The Duke 390 has almost owned this class since its 2015 introduction, with a brief interruption by the new Ninja 400 Kawasaki two years ago. So it was nice of KTM to make it easy for us to mix things up a bit this year, by giving birth to the KTM 390 Adventure. It, of course, makes use of that same amazingly ingratiating little 373 cc Single-cylinder as the Duke but places it in an all-new ADV-style housing, adventuring being all the rage lately.

2020 KTM 390 Adventure Review – First Ride

Meanwhile in our Adventure category, KTM’s 790 Adventure R was last year’s winner, so you can just about see the good DNA flowing through the little 390. It doesn’t get the more expensive, heavier-duty components of the 790R, but the little 390 does very well with its Apex 43mm fork and shock (with 6.7 and 7.0 inches of travel). Plus,while it’s tall enough to overcome most trail obstacles, its 33.6-inch seat height isn’t too tall for most riders. And its 386-or so pounds wet weight is around 80 pounds less than the 790 Adventure’s.

Even more to the point would be the Bottom Line: KTM wants $13,699 for a 790 Adventure R, but just $6,199 for the 390. If you’re rip-roaring across the burning sands, the 790’s worth every penny. If you’re just getting started ADVing, or if you’re winding down and looking to downsize – to putter more than rip-roar – then the 390 begins to look extremely attractive.

Best Lightweight / Entry-Level Motorcycle of 2020 Runner-Up: Honda Rebel 500 ABS

For 2020, Honda souped up the Rebel 500 with a slip/assist clutch, a revised and stiffened fork, nitrogen-filled shocks with stiffer springs, a swell new seat, LED lighting, and a new LCD clock. Strangely enough, all those minor changes, combined with one of our favorite little motors in all of motorcycling – Honda’s smooth-running gas-sipping 471 cc parallel Twin – were enough to catapult the Rebel into the Runner-Up spot this year.

2020 Honda Rebel 500 ABS First Ride Review

Let us trot out the line about things sometimes being greater than the sum of their parts. This little bike’s got spunk. Though it may be trying to look vaguely like a Harley Sportster to attract the tough-guy crowd, the way in which the Rebel operates is 100% Honda. Which is to say, every one of its controls operates with light precision, and that allows the motorcycle to go, stop, steer and stop with the best of them. Well, with the best of them that make 40 horsepower, weigh just 414 pounds, and only cost $6,499, anyway. Furthermore, the seat’s only 27.2 inches from the pavement, which means just about anyone with legs can hop on this one and ride boldly wherever they never could before.

It’s not just an easy bike to ride, it’s also a fun bike for scurrying around town, thanks to the lowness of the thing and the ease with which everything works. You could commute on it if you needed to; its top speed approaches 100 mph without too much sweat; all that and 60+ miles per gallon too. Best of 2020 Categories

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John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 27 comments
  • Craig Hoffman Craig Hoffman on Dec 10, 2020

    Perhaps Honda will bring it's 300 Rally to the US. That should be a good entry bike. The KTM 390 is worthy and it is nice, but the Honda Rally simply looks thrashable. Thashable is a good quality in an entry bike.

  • BajajNepal BajajNepal on Dec 15, 2020

    373 cc class bikes are not considered light weight bikes where i'm from.