Hello! Hope you all are staying safe and healthy in these unprecedented times.
It was the year 2012, in the middle of the chilling Indian winter, an Austrian Motorcycle manufacturer decided to enter the Indian subcontinent. I could bet my life’s earnings on it, the Austrians never dreamt that the Orange army would create a storm in the nation with the most number of motorcycles in the World. This isn’t an easy task by no means, you were competing with the likes of Bajaj, TVS, Hero motorcycles who have been a part of this lucrative, challenging and the most dynamic automotive market on this Planet since decades.
But, what would it take to set the cash registers ringing for Kraftfahrzeuge Trunkenpolz Mattighofen ?
A bike that the nation wants. This was answered in the form of the KTM Duke 200 and a more powerful 390 cc version of it was introduced later. For the track enthusiasts, KTM fulfilled their wishes in the form of its RC variant.
B. U. T !!
The Indian sub-continent lacked a capable yet affordable adventure tourer since a long time. We have the RE Himalayan which is priced at 2 lakhs and we have the Triumph tiger costing 7 times more, and this orange lad is here to fill this most anticipated gap! The XPulse 200 fi is shipped as an amazingly VFM product. But, is this the best affordable adventure tourer we have been waiting for? Let’s find out.
Look straight into the eyes of the adventure and you would be spellbound by the brilliantly crafted LED headlight with DRLs surrounding it very neatly with the KTM badging. The LED indicators go very well with the sleek and stylish language of this bike. The windshield is adjustable and apart from looking super cool, it does wonders in reducing the wind noise at high speed.
The front wheels are 19 inch unlike the 17 inch of the Duke 390, the suspension travel in the front is increased to 170 mm in the front and 177 mm in the rear, of course to make you much more comfortable when you are bouncing on the rocks. The radiator is curved, apart from this being aesthetically nice, it does a really good job of preventing hot air reaching the riders legs and prevents the accumulation of dust in the engine bay.
Moving to the side of the orange lad, you are greeted by a superb design of the fuel tank that narrows down towards you making it ergonomic for congested manoeuvring in off-road situations. At 14.5 L, this is the biggest fuel tank on any KTM in India. There is a super slim exhaust that looks kind of nice. In case you forget which motorcycle you are riding, the adventure branding is here to remind you. The treatment on the foot pegs is changed to giving it a claw like design and the rubber can be removed to offer better grip which is very critical in offloading. What’s interesting is the gear lever has a spring action to minimise the damage if the bike falls. The engine guard is made of plastic, KTM went overboard and offered the engine guard and saree right from the showroom. The grab rails are definitely one of the best I have seen in recent times. Just like the headlight, the tail lamps are LED too. The only incompetency in the design of this adventure tourer seems to be the massive seat height of 855mm which will disappoint a good number of prospective buyers walking into the showroom.
The wide handle bar makes the 390 adventure a very comfortable motorcycle, however tall riders would prefer a taller hand bar which would make it easier to stand and ride during off-roading. The quality of stacks are topnotch and they are backlit. The centre of attraction seems to be the 5 inch touchscreen infotainment system that displays information like the status of ABS, TC, Trip details etc. However, the best part of it is the ‘my ride app’ that lets you connect your smartphone to the bike and make/receive calls, play music etc. That’s super cool.
Technically, KTM did a heart transplant to the 390 adventure from the duke 390, the engine is borrowed pumping out the same 43 bhp & 37 nm of torque. But the small yet significant changes like a longer swing arm has increased the wheelbase by a massive 73mm making the seats much larger and a lengthier bike. Although, a significant number of other parts like the side panels, windscreen, display, seating, and GPS mount are a close match to the 790, just in a miniature package.
How does this KTM ride?
Turn on the key and you are greeted by the ready to race message. Start the bike and the engine note is a typical KTM. The only major issue I have about the 390 adventure is the absence of wow factor in the lower rpms. Its only during the mid range that the engine comes to full life and just pushes you back, thanks to intertia.
What’s important to note that you can shift the gears without a clutch, thanks to the quick shifter. The shift from first to second is a slight struggle but going forward things are much easier.
Once you hit the sweet spot of 6000 rpm the bike feels extremely lively and as you increase the speed its well balanced and you would fall in love with its riding dynamics, thanks to the adjustable windscreen, the wind noise is fairly controlled. Beyond 9000 rpm is when the party comes to a halt as slight vibrations are felt between the petrol tank and the seat.
The ride quality is phenomenal. The 390 adventure ate Bangalore’s potholes and craters for breakfast. There was not a single moment where I felt the ride quality should have been better.
But, ain’t it supposed to be an off-roader?
A massive ground clearance of 200 mm ensures that the underbelly never kisses the ground during off-roading, no matter what. The ABS and TC can be turned off to help the wheels spin in tricky off-road situations. Having said that, this is not the best off-road bike your money could buy mainly due to the absence of low end grunt which is very important when you aren’t on a smoother tarmac. For your reference, a diesel 4×4 outperforms its petrol counterpart in offloading due to the additional torque available in lower range. The inconsistent power drops by the traction control is not very encouraging, even when you turn it off. We strongly recommend that you lower the tyre pressure when you are off-roading, especially with these tyres. However, an absence of optional spoke wheels and a massive seat heigh dilute the spirits of the rider.
I wouldn’t shy away from calling it Absolutely phenomenal. The 320 mm disc brakes in the front and 230 mm at the rear do a great job in bringing this orange lad weighing 177 kg from 100 kmph to a stand still. Apart from the discs, the ABS does a fantastic job of controlling the bike in severe braking conditions. However, we strongly recommend you to turn-off the ABS while you venture out off-roading as wheel spin becomes all the necessary.
The claw-like foot-peg detaches the rubber optionally:
One of the main reasons why I would spend my three-and-a-half big ones on this Austrian motorcycle maker is due too the brilliant ergonomics on offer barring the seat height. The switches are easily accessible, the foot-pegs are detachable, the handle bar is now wider, the fuel tank is slimmer towards the rider, the coolant is moved backwards, the windshield is adjustable and more importantly the 5-inch TFT is very very easy to use unlike the complex infotainment systems of some of the expensive counterparts.
Kitna Deti hai?
While this universal question might not be your priority when you enter the nearest dealership to book this orange lad, money saved is money earned. The KTM 390 Adv returned a fuel efficiency of 24 kmpl which included riding in city traffic, mild off-roading and cruising on the expensive toll roads.
Should You Buy One?
Should you spend your 3.8 lakhs on a KTM or head to the nearest RE showroom? Honestly, this is an easy decision. If you plan to take your motorcycle off-roading often, the Himalayan is the best bet because of its low end grunt. But, If you want an adventure tourer with top notch quality to cruise all day long happily, then, Orange is the new black. This bike ticks most of the boxes right, in-fact essential and critical boxes. Having said that, some minor fixes in the electronics like the traction control stability, slightly lower seat height and an option of spoke wheels can definitely spike the number of copies sold by at-least a substantial quarter.
Take care and Ride safe.