Good roads, bad roads or no roads, the KTM 390 Adventure is up to the task.
Story: Anosh Khumbatta
Photography: Sanjay Raikar
It’s about time. With over two years of spy shots and teasers behind us, it’s safe to say that this long-legged KTM has been a long time coming. But is it enough to satiate your thirst for adventure? With 200 mm of ground clearance, 170 mm of suspension travel up front and 177 mm at the rear, the 390 Adventure slid, bounced and flew over gravel trails, large boulders, rocky paths and deep ruts as I attempted to answer this pertinent question. The WP units are firmly-sprung to absorb sudden hits and hard landings without bottoming out and transferring impacts through to the rider, while the alloy wheels, a cause for some concern amongst aspiring off-roaders, proved that they are rugged enough to take a beating without losing their integrity.
The ergonomics are perfectly suited to standing up and riding ADV-style, while the bike’s manageable 162-kg (dry) weight means that it is easy to keep upright as you scramble over everything in your path. The 855-mm seat height will take some getting used to for shorter riders, but this obstacle this can be overcome with a bit of planning and foresight over the rough stuff. And when you do suffer a tip over down the trail, the sturdy crash bars ensure that the orange bodywork stays blemish-free.
The KTM 390 Adventure is powered by the familiar 373-cc liquid-cooled single from its road-going cousin the Duke. However, it is now suspended from an all-new steel trellis frame that had been designed with off-road duty in mind. The 43.5 hp and 37 Nm of torque on tap are more than enough to send the rear tyre sideways or launch spectacularly off a crest, while the lean-sensitive traction control system regulates power if you get too greedy with the throttle. The inclusion of cornering ABS with an optional Supermoto mode rounds off the electronics package, which is far ahead of anything else in this price range. The rider interface is a colour TFT quite similar to the one on the 390 Duke, and below it is a handy 12V socket to power your phone or GPS device, while the switchgear too seems to be shared with the Duke. Unfortunately I wasn’t too impressed with the fuelling at low revs, and minor adjustments to the ride-by-wire throttle at crawling speeds bore inconsistent results, leading to unexpected stalls on occasion. I hope KTM can smooth on-off transitions with a software update.
The fuelling issues disappeared as pace increased once we hit the tarmac, and the KTM 390 Adventure proved to be a comfortable and practical road bike, capable of munching miles at speed with ease. The relaxed riding position combined with the spacious seat translate to all-day comfort, and I would much rather tour on this bike than on its sportier cousin. The bike dispatched a set of twisty roads with ease, its handling seemingly unhampered by the tall suspension and large front tyre, and this versatile nature makes it the most practical KTM around in my book.
The KTM 390 Adventure packs enough of a punch to wheelie and slide on command, cruise at triple-digit speeds for extended periods of time and glide over the worst roads in our country. It seems like the ideal bike to master our varying conditions and can take you far off the tarmac any time you feel the need to get away from civilisation.
Priced at Rs 2.99 lakh (ex-showroom), and with enough performance on tap to keep most riders entertained, the KTM 390 Adventure can take on many roles. Daily commuter, highway star, and trail rocket — this motorcycle does it all, and seems like the perfect tool for an off-road enthusiast to learn the ropes before moving on to something bigger, while still serving as a daily ride through the week. Ready for an adventure? We think so!