Road Test

Back-to-back test: Yamaha MT-03 vs KTM Duke 390 review

The two most exciting sub-500cc nakeds on the market go head-to-head

Comments

BubbaDaytona's picture

I like the torque and simplicity of a single, but KTM has a way to go before they can get serious cred from the road bike world on reliability and design issues.

Steve - I agree with a lot of what you've mentioned. I enjoy your reviews. Even if I don't agree with everything you say - I appreciate your directness and honesty - you don't hold anything back. It seems these are becoming rarer traits in motorcycle journalists. And kudos for stating how small the 390 Duke is. One of my bikes is a 2011 CBR125R and it feels so much more spacious and comfortable compared to the 390. Ironically, it just feels so much more like a larger motorcycle. Yet, I've rarely read any review that discusses how cramped the 390 Duke feels (I'm 5'8" with a 30" inseam). This made it virtually unrideable for me. I was happy to get off it. I also felt that at lower rpms in taller gears, it tended to chug more than I had expected for a 373cc single. It also felt less refined than I had expected. It did have lots of power though. But it also sounded like a KTM dirtbike to me - I really didn't like the exhaust sound. Now this is coming from a die-hard single cylinder fanatic. I expected to completely fall in love the with little Duke. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.

The R3 on the other hand, was much smoother, especially at lower rpms in higher gears, seemed much more refined overall, was noticeably more spacious, and was much more fun (to me) to rev - with its much higher redline. They both handled very well. But the 390 Duke was much less comfortable in the twisties.

It seems quite stupid to not have compared the Kawasaki Z300 in a test with these two.

I've had a test of a 390 Duke and it came across as the equivalent of a motorised BMX bike. Compact, not fast, but shockingly agile. It makes a scooter seem pondorous and I'm imagine they are devastating in town.

BubbaDaytona's picture

the Duke 390 is intended for south Asian markets predominantly, these are smaller people.

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