KTM 390 Duke: Bike of the Year

For the performance starved market that we are, we’ve hit something of a lottery in the last couple of years. Today, it is easy to walk into a dealership and ride out in a 1,000cc sports bike or 1,200cc cruiser. Unimaginable just five years ago.

The only hitch is, most of these superbikes are out of the average buyer’s reach. What we need is an affordable performance bike, with a maintenance bill that wouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket. Enter KTM, the Austrian bike maker that has brought performance biking to the masses in India. Last year, the 200 Duke won our Bike of the Year for its sharp handling, perky performance and bargain price tag. This year, the 390 Duke takes that mantra a few notches up.

Sure, it wasn’t easy convincing the jury that this is actually a new bike, not just an engine upgrade, but opinions changed quickly once everyone took the 390 out for a spin. As with the lesser Duke, the 390’s design is also minimalist. Sure, KTM could have had some small design changes to differentiate the 390, but like true petrol-heads, these guys chose to focus on the mechanicals, instead. Thanks to this trade-off, the 390 is priced aggressively while not compromising on safety or performance.