Test Ride: KTM 250 Duke & 390 Duke - Single & very available

How can you not fall for the new generation of KTM’s naked ones – the 250 Duke and 390 Duke

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As they were, KTM’s Duke range of small capacity naked bikes (200, 250 and 390) had all the right traits to attract fans in droves. Not only affordable, they were also stylish, had the performance to match, and stood as the sole and proper European choice in a largely Japanese-dominated market segment.

Now, a new generation of Dukes has finally arrived here, just last month. We sampled them during a full day’s ride up to Bukit Tinggi and back and, suffice to say, these locally assembled orange Austrian singles haven’t lost any of their predecessors’ magic.

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The new 390 Duke, for one, benefits from a new chassis architecture that boasts a sportier riding position through its raised 830mm seat height. Much can be said about its new design, and we know many will admire its distinct new face, which has a full LED headlight as its centrepiece, and the snazzy race graphics that complement the sharp lines of the bike.

Like its predecessor, you still get a thumping liquid cooled DOHC 373.2cc single-cylinder that’s at the mercy of your right wrist. Euro 4-compliance does mean it has a quieter exhaust note, but the 44bhp and 37Nm it churns out, plus the 12,000rpm red line, make this a very perky package indeed. There’s also that slick 6-speed transmission, primed with a slipper clutch, which adds to this naked one’s riding fun, especially for the avid weekend warrior.

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On the twisty Karak highway and Bukit Tinggi route, this lightweight begs you to have fun tackling both the fast, sweeping bends and the slower, tighter ones, mostly with one knee down. What helps tremendously here is the full suite of WP Suspension and BYBRE braking hardware, not forgetting those sticky Metzeller tyres front and aft.

In other words, the new 390 Duke delivers KTM’s “Ready To Race” ethos as brilliantly as its predecessors did, albeit in a quieter manner – a slip-on exhaust kit will undoubtedly remedy the sound factor for those who prefer to draw more attention. What’s also novel yet useful is the bike’s new 5-inch TFT instrument display screen with Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, something which ups the ante against many of its rivals here.

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Let’s not forget, however, this is still an ideal daily ride, what with its adequately large 14.3-litre fuel tank and the Bosch dual channel ABS suite that comes as a standard feature and makes it one of the safest rides around. With all that it offers, its RM28,800 sticker price (without insurance and registration) shouldn’t be a deal breaker at all.

Should it be a tad too rich for you, or if you’re limited to the B2 licence of 250cc, then the more affordable 250 Duke is worthy of consideration. And there’s still plenty to love about this quarter-litre option, although, aesthetically, some differences can be found. For instance, the slightly different race graphics. And absent from the 250 are the 390 Duke’s high tech TFT instrument display and full LED headlight.

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To power it, the previous generation 250 Duke’s rev-happy 248.8cc single-cylinder is carried over and revised with a new exhaust system, churning out healthy headlining figures of 35bhp and 24Nm. It ensures the 250 Duke is as thrilling to ride as its larger sibling – no doubt because it also has the same chassis, suspension and brakes, not forgetting the Bosch dual channel ABS suite too.

The obvious difference in power aside, you can still have fun with the 250 Duke, especially on a downhill run through Bukit Tinggi, as we did. Depending on your skills and judgement, keeping up with a 390 Duke is a cinch astride the 250 Duke. If anything, this is the perfect bike with which one can launch a lifetime of riding fun.

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Best of all, the 250 Duke proves that fun need not cost too much given its relatively affordable asking price of RM21,730 excluding insurance and registration.

No matter which you choose, one thing is guaranteed: you will have fun. The only question that remains is how much more will you spend on the tempting and vast range of accessories available in the KTM PowerParts catalogue. Are you “Ready To Race”? These two certainly are.


KTM 390 Duke


373.2cc, DOHC liquid cooled single-cylinder, 44bhp, 37Nm, 6-speed manual with slipper clutch


149kg (dry)




KTM 250 Duke


248.8cc DOHC liquid cooled single-cylinder, 30bhp, 24Nm, 6-speed manual with slipper clutch


149kg (dry)




Pictures: Thoriq Azmi & KTM Malaysia

Thoriq Azmi
Author: Thoriq Azmi
Former DJ. Driver, rider & word-stringer @ Top Gear MY. Geek. Leftie. #fuelledbythoriq