KTM 390 Duke vs RD 350: The hooligans

The bike is clad in metal from top to bottom. The only plastics used are on the instrument gauge, brake light and indicators. Even the turn indicators rest on metal tubes. The fuel tank and battery cover are the only two bits of body work you can see. The rest of the bike is pretty much just an exposed chassis, a big parallel-twin engine and two chrome exhausts. The headlight, speedo and tail lights all have a simple circular theme. The bike’s broad design philosophy is minimal but elegant.

Speaking of parallel twins, the RD has the distinction of being the first and only Made in India parallel twin motorcycle. The 347cc engine makes 30.5bhp and 32Nm of torque. Channeling all that power to the rear wheels is a six-speed transmission. The spec sheet claims a top speed of 130kph. This might not sound like much today, when we have bikes like the 390 Duke, easily capable of 150kph. But compared to the slow pace of the ’80s – think Bajaj Chetak and Ideal Jawa 250 – the RD was supersonic.