KTM 390 Adventure ready to roost rivals

A proper adventure bike from the House of Orange, for under R100 000? Yes, it seems to be possible. Get the price and the facts about the new KTM 390 Adventure right here.

We all know adventure tourers have become expensive and a bit obese, and that’s not winning them many friends.

Luckily the big bike companies aren’t asleep at the (handle)bars. That’s why we’ve seen activity in the mid-weight class, with the long-awaited Yamaha 700 Ténéré as a prime example.

Though lighter and nimbler than the Teutonic aircraft carriers, the mid-weights are still on the wrong side of R150 000. Could someone chop that price in half, please?

A front-3-quarter view of the KTM 390 Adventure

Well, this seems to be what KTM did: Offering an adventure bike with long-distance riding capability for R86 000. That’s less than 50 percent of the R182 000 the KTM 790 Adventure (standard) would set you back. Let’s see what you get for the price of a Disney World vacation.

Engine, exhaust and fuel

The 390 Adventure’s liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke 373 cc engine (with wet sump) develops 32 kW (43 hp) at 9 500 rpm and 37 Nm at 7 000 rpm. It’s the 390 Duke’s engine, with twin overhead camshafts, a balancer shaft, four valves, electronic fuel injection and a ride-by-wire throttle. The six-speed gearbox is connected to a slipper clutch.

The KTM 390 Adventure features a lightweight exhaust system, comprising of a stainless steel header pipe and pre-muffler that flow into a slim silencer. It is said that the silencer is positioned close to the bike to improve balance and handling. Two catalytic converters are integrated in the header pipe and pre-muffler to meet Euro 4 emission standards. Top speed should be around 160 km/h, but definitely not 170 km/h.

The fuel tank holds 14.5 litres, which is generous for a light, small-engined bike. Owners can expect a range of 400 km per tank. Not bad for R240 in fuel or 60c per km (excluding all other expenses).

Left profile of the KTM 390 Adventure

Frame, subframe and swingarm

The steel trellis subframe is fixed to the main frame with four screws. It was developed to be compact and lightweight, but strong enough to carry a passenger and luggage, while negotiating tough conditions, KTM says.

The die-cast, open-lattice swingarm is a “signature element of the KTM Adventure range” and provides enough space for any suitable off-road tire, we are told.

Suspension, brakes and wheels

The WP APEX 43 mm upside-down fork on the 390 Adventure was developed for enduro riding and will most likely be peerless in this class, if we exclude the Honda CRF 250 Rally. It features a spring on both sides, but each fork leg has a separate function: compression damping is on the left, while rebound is on the right. This means the forks can easily be adjusted with the twist of a dial on the top of the forks, KTM says. Suspension travel is a fairly modest 170 mm.

At the rear the WP APEX damper provides 177 mm of travel and is ideal for travelling long distances in tough conditions, according to the Austrian company. Thanks to an adjustable spring preload and rebound damping, a rider can tune it for different conditions, balancing good performance with all-day riding comfort.

The ByBre brakes (part of the Brembo group) feature a 320 mm front disk and a 230 mm rear disk, with a 4-piston front calliper and a single-piston floating rear calliper. In addition, a twin-channel ABS system from Bosch allows effective braking on gravel and in corners. KTM’s MTC (Motorcycle Traction Control) is part of the package.

KTM says the 390 Adventure has extra robust cast wheels: 19-inch front and 17-inch rear. They wear tubeless Continental TKC 70 tires “for a blend of street performance and off-road grip”. They will certainly get flak for not giving it spoked wheels.

KTM 390 Adventure leaving a trail of dust

Handlebar, seat and foot-pegs

As on the bigger-displacement KTM Adventure bikes, the 390 Adventure has a “high-end”, tapered aluminium handlebar. Owners can change the height of the handlebar with different mounts, available from KTM.

Near the clutch lever you’ll find menu buttons for the TFT display and for the selection of different modes and connectivity features.

The two-part seat is positioned at a reasonably accessible height of 855 mm. It’s narrower in the front, making it easier for the rider to reach the ground.

Good news is that the wide and robust-looking foot-pegs are the same as those fitted to the KTM off-road models.

KTM 390 Adventure with luggage riding towards the viewer

Windshield, lights and TFT display

The windscreen seems short, but as we’ve seen on the BMW F850GS and KTM 790 Adventure R, these shorties can be surprisingly effective. It’s not just a cost-saving exercise. The small size allows the rider to move around the bike freely, providing an unobstructed view of what is in front of the bike, “even when covered in dirt,” KTM says.

The screen can be mounted in a lower or higher position to the rider’s preference. He or she can also order after-market screens of different lengths from the KTM PowerParts catalogue. To see what luggage you can order for the KTM 390 Adventure, visit this page on the KTM site.

The 390 Adventure riding - in profile

Heaven be praised that LED headlights are becoming prolific on motorcycles, the KTM 390 Adventure included. Hopefully the LED headlight will be more effective than that of the 790 Adventure R. The tail light and indicators are LEDs too.

The full-colour 5” TFT display, likely to be the same as the 790’s, automatically adapts to variations in ambient light. It should be easy to read and interpret, if not quite as clear as the screen and graphics on the new BMW info screens.

Instruments of the KTM 390 Adventure R

Comparing it to the BMW 310 GS and Kawa Versys-X 300

KTM has a bullet each for the Baby G and buzzy 300 Versys, and matches them on price almost to a rand. It has much more torque and power than the Japanese and German, and a much better fuel range. But it loses to the Kawasaki in the wheels game. How much torture will the KTM’s cast wheels and the rider’s spine endure? We’ll have to ride it to tell you and then compare it to the Kawasaki from a hands-on perspective. Stay tuned.

The 390 Adventure on tar