What good is a pizza without cheese? Or a tree without leaves? Or a conversation about racing without the KTM 390 Duke? This is a bike that can scratch your every itch. It’s stylish, powerful, and a blast to drive, but it didn’t become the sensation it is overnight. The KTM 390 Duke has a long, interesting history that goes back nearly 70 years.
The KTM 390 Duke’s history begins in 1934 when an Australian Engineer Johann Trunkenpolz started a car repair shop in the town of Mattighofen, Austria. After a few years of repairing motors, he expanded his shop and began selling DKW motorcycles and Opel cars. When World War II hit, he found himself on some unstable ground. Business leveled off – and then began to drop. Soon, he was surviving on nothing more than repairs again.
Birth of the Elite KTM Motorbikes
After World War II ended, the demand for motor repairs fell off a cliff and Johann had to shut down his workshop. He didn’t stop thinking about how he might make a comeback. He dreamed of creating his own motorbikes, and after several years of designing, redesigning, and tinkering, he finally created the prototype of the very first KTM bike: the R100.
Production started in 1953 with just 20 employees and three bikes were built per day. At the start, most of the parts were built in his home (with the exception of the engine). The R100 grew in popularity, largely because it was a powerful monster of a bike. That popularity was further boosted when the company won its first racing title in 1954 at the Australian National 125cc Championship. This put KTM on the map – and led to the creation of the KTM 390 Duke.
Hard Work Pays Off… and the KTM 390 Duke is Born
The initial success of KTM’s R100 model paved the way for its future expansion. Johann took advantage of his newfound success by launching new models, such as the Grand Tourist and the R125. Soon, he was eating up more and more of the motorbike market. When Egan Dornaeur won a gold medal at the International Six Days Trial riding a KTM bike, they gained even more prestige.
Over the next several decades, KTM would release dozens of different models. Nothing would turn heads quite like 2012’s, KTM 390 series. Developed by engineers from KTM Bajaj (an Indian automotive company), the KTM 390 Duke took advantage of the experience of both companies. It was a small, fast, inexpensive motorcycle that was perfect for young and old riders alike.
The KTM 390 Duke’s Features
There are several features that set the KTM 390 Duke apart from the competition. For one thing, KTM’s engineers take advantage of the latest advances in material design and construction to create one of the lightest bikes on the market. Since it’s lightweight, it offers unmatched acceleration and fuel economy – especially for the engine size. To put it in perspective, it weighs less than 150kg when the fuel tank is filled to the brim.
The KTM 390 Duke doesn’t just shine when it comes to acceleration and mpg. It’s an incredibly agile machine that’s easy to ride. Whether someone is looking for a fun ride they can take around town or a reliable commuter bike, the KTM 390 Duke is a great option.
Its low price (less than $6,000 USD) makes it one of the most affordable choices out there.
The Evolution of the KTM 390 Duke
In 2017, KTM released a new 390 Duke with a number of valuable modifications. For one thing, they increased the front brake disc from 300mm to 320 mm. They also changed the throttle to a wire system and increased the size of the gas tank by half of a gallon. However they didn’t stop with internal changes. They also added a color display to the bike’s electrical system and introduced the ability to pair a phone to it. In other words, they added the kind of modern conveniences and updates needed to keep the KTM 390 at the top of its class.
So, what does the future hold for the KTM 390 Duke? Only time will tell. You can be sure that it will continue to be a major contender in the lightweight, affordable bike market – both in the US and abroad.