Home Cover Story Technology that makes the KTM Duke 390

Technology that makes the KTM Duke 390

Made in India by Bajaj Auto, the KTM Duke 390 makes extensive use of alloys and technology to deliver a power packed bike that puts India firmly on the world map for two wheelers

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The KTM Duke 390 feels surprisingly light. It is built at Bajaj Auto’s plant at Chakan near Pune. Holding a minority stake in the Austrian two wheeler manufacturer, Bajaj Auto builds the Duke 390 along with the Duke 200. Both motorcycles share the shop with other two wheelers produced by Bajaj Auto, like the Pulsar and Kawasaki Ninja. Bajaj Auto also has a longstanding association with Kawasaki of Japan. Presenting the Chakan plant the status of turning out global products, the Duke 390 highlights not only the abilities of the Pune-based company to assemble world-class bikes, but also that of its suppliers and logistics partners. Not only is the Duke 390 sold in Europe, manufacturing the bike in India has made it viable for KTM to price it competitively.

On the move, the Duke 390 can be mistaken for the Duke 200. The graphics and the stickering however separate the two. Both motorcycles share a fair deal of parts, hinting perhaps, at a strategy to keep costs down. Both the motorcycles flaunt high standards of fit and finish. Both are structured on a tubular Trellis steel frame made of chrome molybdenum steel. Both are reasonably simple bikes. So, apart from the graphics and stickering, the difference between the Duke 200 and Duke 390 is subtle yet significant. A big distinction is brought about by the bright orange aluminium alloy wheels. The light yet stiff frame (also powder coated in bright orange colour) along with the alloy wheels ensures substantial weight reduction. They also contribute towards the bike’s sharp and edgy stance – its somewhat stubby and angular appearance. Presenting a fairly upright riding position with the footrests placed higher, and rearwards, the Duke 390 employs many other components that are made of alloys, which contribute towards a strong yet light weight motorcycle. A look at the foot rests, and they are the cast aluminium type. The rear swing arm is of the cast aluminium variety. The tapered handlebar too is made of aluminium alloy.

duke2.jpgIf the Duke 390 weighs a low 139 kg, at 800 mm, the seat of the Duke 390 is not exactly low. It is firm and thin, and long enough to accommodate a pillion rider. Grab handles for the pillion rider double as bungee points for mounting a bag on long journeys. They too look like they are cast alloy units. Powder coated in black.

The 42bhp, 374cc single cylinder motor employs Nikasil-coated cylinder with forged pistons. The double overhead cam, four-valves per cylinder single is fuel injected. Transmission is a six-speed close ratio unit with smooth operations. In other words, the shifts take place in positive and precise manner. Quick and eager in terms of response, the Duke 390’s eagerly revving motor is suspended from the frame, and weighs a mere 36 kg. Water cooled, with a small heat exchanger placed ahead of the engine, on the frame, the engine employs the latest materials and production technologies.


The compact design of the engine was made possible by resorting to forced oil lubrication. The performance-boosting casing evacuation has the suction pump not only transferring oil, but also transferring pressure from the crankcase, thereby reducing the operating resistance of the crank drive. The cam levers that operate the valves in the cylinder-head are ultra-hard carbon coated. The compact, three-chamber silencer is positioned close to the bike’s overall centre of gravity, and aids in the centralisation of masses. The regulated catalytic converter effectively reduces emissions. Compared to the Duke 200’s engine, that of the Duke 300 is different. Not just in terms of displacement, but in terms of design, technology and construction.

Instead of MRF tyres, KTM chose to fit the Duke 390 with Metzeler Sportec M5 tyres (on 17-inch wheels). These German-made tyres are of the same size as the tyres that are found on the Duke 200. Similar to that of the Duke 200, the front suspension of the Duke 390 includes WP upside down forks. Rear set-up includes a WP monoshock unit. Both the front, and the rear have radially mounted callipers. The rotors sizes are 300mm dia. front and 230mm dia. Rear. The brakes are Bybre (a Brembo brand). A standard fitment, ABS is a current generation Bosch design. Priced at Rs 2.08 lakh approximately, the Duke 390 is a classy bike that is reflective of how two wheeler manufacturers are devising strategies to keep costs low with sacrificing on quality or efficiency. Reasonably simple yet technologically advanced, the motorcycle makes intelligent use of alloys to ensure less emissions, better power to weight ratio and fuel efficiency. Most of all, the Duke 390 highlights the abilities of the Indian auto industry – the manufacturers, suppliers and all those involved.

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