How reliable is the KTM Duke 390?
Overall, the KTM Duke 390 is a really reliable bike. It can last up to 100,000 miles with adequate maintenance. But, this doesn’t mean you should try overtaxing the drivetrain and engine. It’s a well-known fact that this bike is prone to suffering from particular issues, such as engine failure from overheating. Though these problems are minor and can be fixed readily, you should still try to avoid them and address issues before they become too serious.
If you take care of your bike, you can expect to keep the most crucial components in decent condition. Besides overheating, you might only have to worry about the bike's clock. Apparently, the digital display can lose its time and would have to be reset. Some users have reported resetting this clock multiple times because it would keep displaying the wrong time.
In addition, these bikes also have a prevalent rusting problem. Despite their upkeep, owners report that the motorcycle always experiences corrosion on the lower fork tubes, front disc, and other components. This is most prominent with owners living within coastal regions.
Besides that, you shouldn’t expect any other problems besides those mentioned above. The mechanical components, such as the handlebars, chain, instrumental display, airbox, tires, graphics, decals, digital odometer, and even paint, would remain the same as the day you brought the bike.
What is the KTM Duke 390 great for?
You wouldn't have any trouble utilizing your bike for a mixture of gravel riding, commuting, and mini-touring. It's ideal for traversing various terrains while having fun with your bike.
Forums have only reported some issues, such as condensation in the dash, the engine suddenly dying (possible fuel injector mapping problems), and a general lack of consistency. The gearbox is also pretty subpar, struggling to shift sometimes. You might have challenges reaching a stop from first gear. Then, the bike might even just randomly change from first to neutral to a complete stop.
So, if you invest in a KTM Duke 390 and find this happening to you during varied terrains, I recommend trying out the factory pro shift kit. Most users suggest that this resolves all of these issues for you. Not to mention, the two-year warranty you get with each bike should cover it anyway.
How does KTM Duke 390 compare with its competitors?
Though the KTM Duke 390 is a well-designed bike, competitors would always try to match or improve the quality of these bikes. So, if we’re considering bikes of similar sizes, you might want to think about Kawasaki Ninja 300.
However, you should know that the 300 is less common for diverse riding. With the KTM Duke 390, you have the freedom to let loose and ride whenever and however you’d want. But, you don’t get this freedom with the Kawasaki. Their bikes tend to be more reliable, but this comes at the cost of pleasure.
Likewise, other owners may claim that brands such as Yamaha or Honda are expected to last longer. This is due to their ability to be more durable to rust, generally requiring less maintenance. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t get many years of quality riding with the Duke 390. You just need to make sure you safeguard its susceptibilities.
Two of its most sizable vulnerabilities that I mentioned include corrosion from lower parts of the suspension and overheating caused by blown fuses. You should simply be wary of these problems, undergoing adequate maintenance and repair before they become more significant.
The 2017 Duke 390 Benefits, Flaws, and Common Issues
The KTM Duke 390 has had multiple updates. So, I recommend staying wary of what version you pick because the 2017 model had a couple of issues that were later addressed in 2018.
These include Odo rests, intermittent power losses during high RPM, TFT leaks, and numerous similar issues. Many owners ended up selling the bike due to this unreliability, and it was generally frowned upon among local bike enthusiasts. Besides that, you should know that the KTM service would demand a valve check for $500+ for the first 1,000 km.
That said, the 2017 model is not all bad. It comes with new efficient non-adjustable WP forks and four-piston radial clips. When dealing with awkward angles, this engine is pretty impressive at long-revving. And it does this while being able to remain silent in traffic, only making loud noises at higher RPM.
This version would also have user-friend ergonomics for new rides. These make the bike easily capable of surpassing 100 mph. It encourages tricks such as wheelies; you would only need to switch the motorcycle from ABS to Supermoto mode.
How about the 2018 KTM Duke 390?
When considered with its previous models, the 2018 model is renowned for its maneuverability. Having a short wheelbase of only 53.4 inches, you can have a lot of fun drifting around corners. And, with its CW-measured 362 pounds, you can make extremely tight turns while blasting through slow maneuvers with ease.
Unlike older models, the owner is usually more confident in this bike’s ability to start when it needs to. Its 12-volt lead-acid battery doesn’t ever corrode or discharge. And its terminals would buzz to life regardless of weather conditions.
As with most KTM models, however, nothing is perfect. Once again, the reoccurring issues of engine overheating, broken clock displays, and corrosion are still prevalent in this bike.
How Do We Fix Recurring Issues?
Many owners would even notice the engine issue as quickly as the first 500 miles. It happens due to the 10A fuse blowing out, leaving the radiator fan off-duty. Although lucky for you, this problem can be addressed readily. You can fix it by investing in a $6 multipack of 10A fuses, keeping yourself ready for a replacement.
Meanwhile, when it comes to the bike's full-color TFT dash display, it tends to have issues with time settings. You might see your display somehow going back in time, needing to be reset every so often. Though this is a minor inconvenience, it can still be frustrating. In addition, its menus are tiring to navigate through, taking the user multiple tries to get the correct screen settings.
Unfortunately, there’s no direct fix for this. You would probably just need to contact your local mechanic or dealer and get them to take a look at the display.
If you live near the ocean, there's a high chance that most of your hardware might corrode. In this regard, the KTM 390 Duke's reliability can decrease if you don't address this rusting problem immediately.
I recommend using some Scotch-Brite or WD-40 at about a quarter of its current mileage. This would probably remove the grittiness. Beware that rust can also occur on the lower end of the fork tubes and the fasteners in various areas, so do not miss those areas during your maintenance check.
What Model Is The Best Year To Buy A KTM 390 Duke?
The KTM Duke 390’s reliability shines best during 2018 or 2019. Though you may think buying a newer version is the safest option, you should remember that an older model would entail lower prices. Most of the updated features came out in the 2018 model anyway.
For instance, in the 2018 model, KTM added a daytime running light, a deflector plate on the left side of the chassis, and new installments to meet EURO IV emission regulations.
Meanwhile, if you want an even cheaper bike, you may want to look further back. In particular, older Duke 390 models like the 2013 to 2015 models would be your safest bet. You should note that depreciation patterns indicate that prices flatten about 10 years after. As a result, models from 2013 to 2015 would ensure the cheapest post-purchase depreciation cost for you.
About THE AUTHOR
Russ currently owns a Yamaha FZ6N and KTM RC 390. When it comes to vintage bikes, his favorite motorcycle is the feisty BMW R32. He also holds a particular interest in the LAMS segment and triple cylinders. Himself a riding enthusiast, Russ has had experience with racetracks from around the world including Willow Springs Raceway in California and the Imola Circuit in Italy.Read More About Russ Crowley