WE'VE looked at the stats and here are your top 5 favourite bike battles of all time! First up...
5. Yamaha MT-03 vs KTM 390
To kick us of the two most exciting sub-500cc nakeds on the market go head-to-head!
What's Europe ever done for us? Well, it’s arguably the reason we have these two bikes, or at least the licence rules that create a place for them in the UK market.
That’s right – those meddling Eurocrats are indirectly responsible for probably the two most exciting sub-500cc naked bikes we’ve seen in decades.
I wrote once about the KTM RC390 that it was the closest thing we have today to two-strokes of the ‘80s and ‘90s, and some readers reacted like I’d defiled the memory of their first love.
I stand by it, and think the same is true of the 390 Duke, the original naked version of the RC390 using the same engine and chassis. Of course it’s very different – it’s a four-stroke single – but it makes 43.5hp and weighs 139kg dry, putting it near enough in RD350LC territory (47hp and 143kg according to RD350LC.net).
In fact even that can’t quite match the impishness of the KTM. The Yamaha seems tiny until you get back on it after trying the tinier Duke, which makes it feel like a middleweight.
The seat of the MT-03 is lower and the bars further away, so that you feel more that you’re sitting in it than on it. It’s like getting off a toy and onto a proper bike.
By any standard other than the KTM’s, the MT-03 is still very small, and slices through city traffic like a Hattori Hanzō sword, but with more poise and balance.
But again, it’s an impression which is put into a new perspective by the KTM, which is like the same blade heated by fire and used to part butter. If a bicycle can squeeze through a space, so can the Duke, usually. It will turn sharply enough to cut 90° angles across unmoving queues and fire itself through closing gaps with a twitch of throttle, and it’s controllable enough to do it all without taking a foot off a peg.
Both machines are precision tools for commuting, rivalled in the city perhaps only by each other, but there’s a lot more to them than that.
You can read the full review here.