The Challenge: 1000km – 1 Day – 500cc or Less

When we decided to do the Knuckle Challenge, the KTM Duke 390 came out in the top choices to try. With almost 400cc and an excellent reputation, we wanted to see if it would be nice to ride on a very long distance. 

It was with a colder morning than hoping that the day started. The bike was almost new (less than 200km on the odometer) and full was done in advance. First thing I noticed is the driving position, reminiscent of a motocross with the legs a little backwards. The arms are positioned in a natural way without forcing the posture. The seat seems particularly firm, but only time will confirm or not its comfort.

Very light and handy, we quickly want to test the beast and skip the sidewalk or even try to jump everywhere I could! In the city, it is clear that we must change gears very often, which could be seen as both negative and positive … I realize that 6 speeds will not be too much and I even ask myself the question about whether 6 will be enough for the highway … I will soon find out!

Speaking of highway, wind deflectors make an excellent job to protect the legs. As for the acceleration, no problem on the horizon either. The gears get in easily and at no time I feel like I run out of power to get to a normal cruising speed. The top speed, according to the manufacturer is 160km / h, and it is very easy to drive between 120 and 130km / h without the engine feeling like it wanted to self-destruct …

It is certain that riding on the highway, the engine RPM is higher than one would like and a 7th gear would be more pleasant, but we get used to it. When I cross the largest highway section, from the Quebec Bridge to La Pocatière, I feel at home and I do not feel like I’m on a machine smaller than another.

Already, after several hours on the Duke 390 and I can say that the seat is much more comfortable than I could have hoped. The fuel consumption is more than good (3.5L / 100km). The dashboard is clearly visible, day and night. There is a gearshift light that can be adjusted to different RPM, which is really appreciated as a gadget.

During my 1000km, I took a few detours when I crossed gravel and dirt roads. Despite the original tires designed for the road, I found that the KTM reacted very well off-road and that the only desire I had was to change the tires to be able to try it thoroughly. I said to myself; it is certain that KTM could make it a mini adventure … (Announcement that KTM did soon after…) I imagine that I am not the only one to have seen the potential of the Duke .

The challenge Knuckle took me more time than I thought, but not because of the bike but many unplanned stops to take the bike off-roading a little and to make small videos because I have from the first few hours, had some difficulty with my microphone in my helmet recording my feedback while riding.It will be said that the Duke may not be the perfect bike to go around the world, but for the value for the money and with the fun to drive, I was conquered!

It does not matter! The KTM Duke 390 was more than up to the challenge and I felt less tired on my return than in other shorter trips on much larger cylinders. After the Challenge, I can honestly say that the position of the legs pleasantly surprised me, I did not have any tired knees or legs, which I would have thought at the beginning of the Challenge.

Even with a passenger, it is very easy to drive and even back! Those who will talk only about the strength of the engine will of course be right that it is not a bomb! But, with that price tag, you can buy yourself a Duke and a RC 390 for the price of a sport bike or a bigger bike !

Do not underestimate the potential of small cc motorcycles and especially not that of KTM. A beautiful base for a custom build without breaking the bank!

Although often considered as a city bike, I can assure you that there is no problem taking off for the weekend or going long distances with this little gem.It’s up to you to try it now!

Watch the Knuckle Challenge Video on our YouTube channel: Here

Jean-Sebastien Mackay
Knuckle HQ






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