The day when I set a speed record for myself, by chance! Read on. The KTM bikes have always drawn my attention for their intense acceleration, the way I see them going around the city and the incredible reviews it gets on the YouTube. It is a fact that despite a diehard fan that I am of the Royal Enfields, I had still considered the KTM Duke 390 even with a test drive before I concluded on buying my cafe racer, Continental GT. Nevertheless, the KTM continued attracting me. So having found a possibility of renting it for a day, which I always believed is the minimum duration I have to spend to understand a bike well, I rented it. It costed me ₹ 1,600 plus petrol of course.
My good friend, Sastry and I took a two-some ride to Wargal, Saraswathi devi temple some 60 kms away. Needless to say, the early morning ride was as wonderful as it could be. I did a slight improvement on my bike speed record and rode up to 132 kmph. I think I had done 116 kmph or so on my CGT earlier. I don’t make an effort or desire strongly to reach record speeds. But when the road is clean and I feel comfortable to ride higher speeds without risking myself, I do. And I don’t hesitate. It’s fun even if it was for a few meters only.
The bike has extreme amounts of acceleration. My son said the acceleration scares by what it could do. And he said he likes it that way. But for an initial phase when I was checking it out, I did not find the power overwhelming. Yes, it was good. And is better than my CGT. But it doesn’t scare me. I think I can handle more. The bike has a character of being very easy to ride. Despite the low flung handle and a racing posture, more markedly than my CGT which is a cafe racer itself, it is very easy to ride and very nimble to maneuver. I am sure the steep rake (the angle of front axle to the horizontal in rudimentary terms) was playing a role here. May be the center of gravity was also low. Whatever! The fact that of the matter is it is very easy to ride.
I also noticed the engine braking is excellent. So even though its braking is not on par with what I am used to on my CGT, it was able to brake pretty quickly. And it was quick enough to not ask for more. Horn was silly 😋 on this bike. It puts me to embarrassment to use it.
After observing one aspect that reviewers usually complain of Royal Enfields, I now feel like slapping anyone who says these bikes have lot of vibration. As someone who grew up on these bikes, I almost did not know what vibration was and whatever was there, took it as part of a ‘manly’ motorcycle experience. It was never an issue for me. Those who complain the Bullet motorcycles should test ride the KTM 390. They generate unbelievable amounts of vibration. It virtually jars the hands, shoulders and neck. That is of course until we hit the ton (100 kmph). The bike engine settles down after that. At higher RPMs the bike feels better. Perhaps that is the reason that all KTM riders always race on the road. It does not let you settle down until you hit a ton plus,when it feels better. But these are not the speeds that one can manage on city roads. This design of a bike that gives smooth ride over 100 kmph and huge vibration before that is not acceptable to me. I wouldn’t think it makes sense to anyone unless his sole intention is to ‘race’. No wonder, it is designed for and called in fact, a racing machine.
So Sastry and I did this wonderful Sunday morning ride. During our return, we had a decent breakfast. And then, we settle down by an adjacent concrete steps for the real talk. What is friendship if you don’t sit down for a while and talk to each other opening up hearts? We discussed of his future long bike rides. We discussed of our careers and what potential they may have in store. We discussed of life and its philosophy for a while. And then came back to the materialistic world of Sunday bike ride and the ride back to our homes.
I wasn’t going to stop my fun here, so soon. I did not pay ₹ 1600 just for the morning ride. J decided I will have lunch at home and do a ride to Yadagirigutta temple. So on reaching home i ask my son, Sreemukh if he wanted to join me and share the fun. He was more than happy to join so he could ride the new (by the way, the rented bike did only 62 km of run since it was sold when I hired it). So without wasting much ado on lunch, I skipped it and we both rode to Yadagirigutta which was some 75 kms away from my home. On the onward journey, my son rode the KTM while I rode my CGT. During the return we exchanged and I rode the KTM while he rode our CGT.
The sun was hot. I was focused on the fun from ride and let go of thirst and hunger. But the heat did get its better side of me, and I wasn’t careful enough to not let the bike go down as I was trying to take it off from the off-road rocks. Did not damage the bike, but did have to get the support of my son to lift it up. The bike isn’t any lighter than my CGT. Both weighing at about 165 kg, they are nearly oc same weight. But during a ride the KTM feels much lighter end rides easy. When you have to pick up a dropped vehicle it isn’t any easier.
The Warangal highway did not provide any opportunity to hit the 132 kmph J did in the morning. Nor was I in a mood to push it either. Talking of which by the way, although I did a speed record for myself in the morning, and did find the acceleration to be excellent, I observed with no hesitation that after 120 kmph, it takes time to pick up higher speeds. I could see it does not exhibit that rush to reach higher speeds once you cross 120 kmph. My guess is if I pulled it harder, it would’ve reached 140 kmph and a wee little more. Not that I am asking for more. Just an observation.
By the time we reached home at about 5 pm, we realized it was time to return the bike to vendor at Gachibowli. Our 24 hrs rent was coming to an end. So we went further immediately and returned it. Had spent about ₹ 600 on petrol. For an oversll ₹ 2,200 cost, it was not a bad deal for some good Sunday fun!
But back home, my son and I were equally exhausted. Our shoulders and necks were aching. I could still feel the vibrations jarring my whole body. I couldn’t help observe, even on a previous 550 km ride on a single day, the Royal Enfield Continental GT was not half tiring as this was. And that was also on a hot day last year. The CGT in particular with all its very expensive components for a very very reasonable price and Royal Enfields in general, deserve lot more appreciation than they get from reviewers, even so from the foreign ones. Yes, my CGT does not have the power or acceleration like the KTM 390. But it gives me a lot of fun. It is a lot more practical bike. At an average of 40 kmpl vs the 29 kmpl of KTM 390, as also a bigger tank, it allows me to stretch my long rides longer. And best on the planet of a ‘Production bike’ in beauty! 😁
Disclaimer: readers may note by no means this is a complete review of the KTM RC390 nor am I saying it is a bad bike. Just did not find it practical for most riders. My two cents 🙏