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Old 8th October 2013, 09:13   #1
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Default My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

As somebody called me, at 47, I am a "born again biker".

I started riding my Dad's Jawa when I was 12. Rode that bike, a Rajdoot, a Kinetic Honda, an RX-100, a Bullet etc after that. However, for the past 15 years, I have been driving a car primarily. So, the choice of a bike was (a) very much a non-necessity & (b) more to satisfy the kid in me.

The search
After much soul searching, dithering and advise seeking, I narrowed down the choice between the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 and the Duke 390. I had discarded the Harleys as too much a poseur's bike and both the Ninjas as not being enough bang for the buck. Finally settled on a the KTM Duke 390 based on the grin factor for me & my family. (At the end of the day, it also galled me to shell out 2 lakhs for a bike with 60 year old technology with respect to the Bullet)

So, off to BTM KTM it was (closest dealer) on the day the bookings opened. I was told that there is no priority number for people booking on the first day and everybody will get it on the same day. ( A lie, as we all know). I put in a request for the bike to be delivered only on the 5th of September even it is available earlier. (ha ha!)

The buying experience
5th September came and went but no bike in sight. Finally, the dealer called me about 10 days ago saying that my bike has arrived and to pay up the full amount. After a couple more of missed deadlines, I finally picked up the Duke yesterday.

The hand guards were not installed. When I insisted, they said "No screws. Let us do it tomorrow".

Every question, every request was answered with the same answer: "Tommorrow"!

  • Where is the invoice? - Tomorrow
  • What is my registration number? - tomorrow
  • Where is the mudflap? - Sir no mudflap on this bike. But the bikes at KTM Indiranagar have it - Oh, then, tomorrow!


The BTM KTM dealership is so bad, they have not even set the rpm shifter light - the bike revs to 8K with no light showing up anywhere. (This, I think, is a major boo-boo. One could ruin the engine unknowingly. Clearly, the PDI has been done lackadaisically, at best. In fact, I had asked for the PDI report but unfortunately did not insist.

So, children, please choose your dealer wisely & tone down your expectations on the level of service. Otherwise, like me, the entire thrill of buying a new vehicle will be diminished by your being pissed off!

The other thing that I really did not like about the buying experience is that there was no drama in delivering the bike; the dealer basically handed me the key (not even a key fob!) and said bye-bye. No photo, no ribbon, no puja nothing.

I think KTM is missing a trick here by not making the bike buying occasion special.

The bike:

My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective-20131008_073903edited.jpg

I had taken junior along for taking delivery of the bike. (You can never start too early!) If anything, he was more excited than me and absolutely loved it. Kept asking questions to the SA, who, to give him credit, answered them patiently. The kid's excitement was undiminished by my increasing irritation.

Junior, the cool dude:

My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective-20131007_141843-edited.jpg

The Walk around
When Lee Iacocca introduced the original Mustang, they said that it looked like it was ready to leap even when it is standing. This bike quite manage that feat.

What it reminded me of was a scalpel - all gleaming edges and ready for action. Bare. No non-sense. Blaring out "dont mess with me".

Hence the name - Flamberge.

I am yet to find an angle that I don't like the bike in! I even like the locust-headed look of the headlight.

Ergonomics
I originally thought (based on the test ride) the wide set handle bar is going to be a pain. Either the test ride bike was set up differently or my expectations are better adjusted - I felt absolutely at home. The handle width is perfect; the weights balance it just right.

The seat is wide & supportive - almost too wide. (Amateur Tip: After a slightly long ride, I can tell the boys this: wear boxers!)

The famous heat issue was not much of an issue for me. Then again, the weather has been very salubrious from yesterday.

Since I am average height, (5'9"), everything just fell into place - the foot pegs position enables me to grip the tank well.

As I am not used to a digital MID, it takes a while to remember where each specific information is displayed. The problem is when the bike is in motion, you don't have much time (or inclination) to look at anything else. Only things that matter are the road & bike.

The digital MID itself is a novelty for me. Heck, in my days, all we had was a speedometer very optimistically going up to 180 KMPH. We were happy if the speedometer moved when the bike moved. When the RX had tell tales for neutral & turn indicators, it was almost too much information. Coming from that background, this fancy pants KMPL, Lt/100, KM to service kind of information is overwhelming.


The ride:
I have only driven about 15-20 km since yesterday. So, take my impressions with a large pinch of salt & a smile. Like you would about a teenager talking about his eternal love!

(Initially thought I had ridden only 10 km but figured out that it is showing mph when I was parking last night. Fixed it.)

(Amateur tip: download the manual & store it on your phone. You're gonna need it!)

So far, the ride has been brilliant - the power is available on tap & instantly. To give you an example: I was riding in 2nd gear and by mistake I twisted the throttle very sharply when I was taking my hand away from the handle. (I was wearing gloves for the first time; not used to them at all!) The bike reacted like a scalded cat! Luckily, she was as quick to settle down when I took my hand off.

I am seriously looking forward to taking her all-out after the run-in.

First impressions: The engine is very buzzy. While she is quite comfortable at lowish speeds, you know she does not really like it. Want she wants & what you want is to wring that right wrist & damn all to hell. I seriously think that the pick-up should come with an "Addictive" warning.

I have had to consciously take it easy as I am not used to either the pick-up or the power. Need.to.pace.myself! (Methinks that pulling wheelies should be child's play, even for middle aged old fogies like me!)

The answer to the all important "kitni dethi hai" question - I dunno! I filled about 8 lts yesterday to top up the tank. THe MID indicates a kmpl reading of approximately 23.

Niggles
  • The bike wants to be ridden. SO, neutral plays hookey very often.
  • The bike embodies the philosophy of "Dont worry about the past; always look ahead" - the mirrors are useless.
  • Clutch lever seems to be a bit wider than what I feel comfortable with. May be it is just hard.
  • I dont like the rear brake lever being shaped like a gear lever. I personally think it would be difficult to find in an emergency.
  • The SA gave me this big spiel about ensuring that I use the engine-kill switch after I switch off the engine. Apparently there is some trickle current being used which could deplete the battery over days. So, that is something useful to know. Hopefully, I will remember to do it.
  • He then went on to say that there is earthing via the foot stand & hence I have to put it on some rubber / wood to prevent battery drain when I park at night. To me, that sounds like hogwash. If it were true, KTM would have put on a rubber boot at the end of the stand, in my opinion. (Others, please let me know if you know better.)

What I hate
  • Shutting down!
  • Meek horn
  • Headlights look weak
  • Lack of storage for kit/ papers. Not so much lack as in limited storage
  • The pillion or topcase approach. WOuld love to have an extended carrier like this.
    My wife is enamoured of the ride and wants to ride pillion when we next go to Madras. Don't think that is going to happen but I want the choice to be mine! Best alternative may be to get her another 390!


What I love
  • The gear shifting is just spot on. It is so easy & quick
  • I adore the ability to lean, and then lean some more & then lean even more at speed while cornering. Personally, I dont think I have even explored 30% of the grip.
  • The confidence that when you hit the brake, something will happen and soon is very reassuring. This is a great difference from the Bullet and for hard core Bulleteers, this will take a lot of getting used to.

On the fence:

Strangely, for a bike called the Duke, I cannot think of her as a he. Maybe it should have been called the KTM Duchess 390

Riding Gear

Since I am middle aged, it is better to leak money than blood. So, riding gear becomes very important. I have got myself this brilliant SOL SL68s Dragon helmet.

Name:  SOL SL68s Dragon.jpg
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Size:  250.0 KB

I settled for a mesh jacket, instead of leather. AGV Sportz Solare:

Name:  AGV Sport Solare.jpg
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Size:  30.3 KB

The gloves, I went for Rynox Kombat:

They fit very well and are comfortable, on the right hand! On the left, though, the seam comes in front of the finger and is painful. Hopefully, it will either become alright with use or the store will replace it.

Name:  Rynox Kombat Gloves.jpg
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Size:  42.9 KB

Design Details
In the mean time, there are a few design details I loved (Apologies for the poor photo quality. Shot on the phone.)

The fuel tank lid, while borrowed from the Pulsar, is brilliant:

My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective-20131008_073958.jpg

The swing arm is a work of art; love the detailing and texture:

My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective-20131008_074358.jpg

I even like the decals

My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective-20131008_074025.jpg &

My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective-20131008_074012.jpg

(sorry VW2010)!


So, that is the my initial impression of my Flamberge, after the first day.

There is no post purchase dissonance until now; I still love the bike.

More later, as I ride her more. (Gotta go; she calls!)

Yours truly:

My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective-yours-truly.jpg

Last edited by sridhu : 8th October 2013 at 12:41.
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Old 9th October 2013, 16:16   #2
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Motorbikes. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th October 2013, 16:33   #3
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Congratulations for the KTM 390, so finally you decided to head into the KTM instead of the TB 500
Your choice of riding gears are very good except for the AGV Mesh Jacket. They are good for city riding and do not provide much protection on the highways. Suggest you to look in to the cordura jacket. Please avoid AGV Sport Make, they are not worth for it. My jacket has all the bits and pieces falling off after my 20 day ride, the AGV Pant had its sides slit without a single fall. Try other brands the next time.

Congratulations and well covered review
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Old 9th October 2013, 16:36   #4
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Congratulations mate! the bike is smashing...nothing like it on the indian roads! Love the lid as well, could you mention where you picked the jacket for and the price if not a problem?

cheers!
sai
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Old 9th October 2013, 16:53   #5
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Congrats Uncle ! . Appreciate your born again biker thingy .If I have atleast half of your enthu by your age , I would be riding highest possible CC machine that money can buy . Would like to catch up on a ride .Ride safe.

Sad that BTM KTM is down to such a level . When I visited , I too was treated with that cold reception.
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Old 9th October 2013, 17:22   #6
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Thanks guys.

@ku69rd: Yes; could not stomach the money asked for the TBTS & loved the ride much more on the 390. Re the jacket, will wait for this one to fall apart!

@sai_ace: PMed you.

@black12rr: Thanks, bachhe! This is plenty bike for me. Might still end up with a Harley eventually but I think it will be an addition to the stable rather than a replacement.
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Old 9th October 2013, 17:29   #7
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhu View Post
The digital MID itself is a novelty for me. Heck, in my days, all we had was a speedometer very optimistically going up to 180 KMPH. We were happy if the speedometer moved when the bike moved. When the RX had tell tales for neutral & turn indicators, it was almost too much information. Coming from that background, this fancy pants KMPL, Lt/100, KM to service kind of information is overwhelming.


Congrats on the bike man! Glad to see you have more grey hair than I do.
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Old 9th October 2013, 19:34   #8
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Congrats on the bike Sridhu! I totally second your sentiment. I was going through the same phase a while ago.

This is where I penned my predicament What bike at 40? (What bike at 40? What do you call this urge at this age?)

Wish you many many miles on this beast!!
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Old 9th October 2013, 19:52   #9
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Here's to no dissonance between the 390 and you ever, sir !
Congos once again and here's to my Duchess arriving home soon...

Last edited by MavericK46 : 9th October 2013 at 19:53. Reason: Typograficak errours
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Old 9th October 2013, 19:52   #10
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Congrats on a very good bike Just one question, how does the ride quality and grin factor compare to an RD ?
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Old 9th October 2013, 20:04   #11
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhu View Post
[*]The pillion or topcase approach. WOuld love to have an extended carrier like this.
We're in the same boat. There are many accessories available internationally but not here. After pestering dealer(s) here, writing to KTM if they ever plan to introduce them, I finally gave up.

Just pre-booked this. Expecting it in a week or so. Will be back with feedback.

Cheers!
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Old 9th October 2013, 20:23   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARCHANG3L View Post
Congrats on a very good bike Just one question, how does the ride quality and grin factor compare to an RD ?
Boss, I was 24 years old when I used an Rd. Nothing can beat that feeling, not with nostalgia loaded against it!

Even objectively, a multi-cylinder 2 stroke is a completely different beast.

Love the 390 but the Rd is special. The 390 may yet replace the RD but it will take some time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gk01 View Post


Just pre-booked this. Expecting it in a week or so. Will be back with feedback.

Cheers!
That looks cool. How will you mount it? Does it come with a carrier or mount?

Note from Support - Posts merged. Please use the Multi-Quote feature to reply to multiple posts instead of submitting back to back posts. Thanks!

Last edited by n_aditya : 10th October 2013 at 08:33. Reason: Posts merged
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Old 9th October 2013, 20:28   #13
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Congrats sridhu on joining the middle aged riders gang... lolz. I too am a member of the same. So you finally made it! Your gear looks neat. Kindly share the costing details and the source if possible. I am looking for all three of the above especially the helmet in jet black.

What you got is the best bang for your buck (cc wise) presently in India. Though I do not agree with your Harley views and you know why. What the Duke lacked for me was just the soul. So the 'poseur' it was.

I wish you many many years of riding happiness with it but I have an inkling you will outlive it pretty soon...
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Old 9th October 2013, 21:05   #14
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

@sridhu
Great detail in thread. Wait till tomorrow when i post a pic of my bike where the front seat is modified and extra cushion is added. Thr seat may look flat along with rear seat.

Congrats and enjoy the ride as i help you all with whatever nonsense i can do with the bike. If the wires are long enough expect a change in handle bars as well......

Next is stripping the rear mirrors, huggers and some adjustments too brake lever
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Old 9th October 2013, 21:07   #15
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Default Re: My Flamberge (KTM Duke 390) Ownership report - A middle aged man's perspective

Day-2 update

The wife & I went for spin & a movie last night.

Wife: "Impossible to sit on the pillion without falling off"
Me: "Hang on to me tight" <Grin Grin!>

The ride was very pleasant - wasnt pushing the bike but was letting her have her head. Still riding well within the bike's capabilities & my own abilities. So no adventures to report.

A lot of people had said that the suspension is hard; I dont think so. Either they have tuned it for India or I have a built-in iron butt! It is just fine, as far as I am concerned.

One thing that is not well done on the bike is the place where the key is put in. You cant put on any kind of key fob on the key and use it. You have to have the key (with may be just a ring; no dangly bits). Anything else will foul on the handle. Also, it is very difficult to locate the key hole in the dark.

The other crib is that, personally, I feel the headlight is aimed too high.

@Dkaile:
Quote:
Though I do not agree with your Harley views and you know why. What the Duke lacked for me was just the soul. So the 'poseur' it was.
Ah, that came out wrong. What I meant was that I felt like a poseur on the bike.

To all the folks asking about the gear:

All of the kit was purchased at Let's Gear up (HSR Layout, Bangalore)

Cost:
Sol helmet - 6000
AGV Jacket - 6500
Rynox Gloves - ~ 2750

Last edited by sridhu : 9th October 2013 at 21:11.
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