KTM 390 Adventure motorcycle test


Reverse osmosis

Single cylinder, 373.2 cm3, 43.5 hp and 37 Nm, 172 kg full made, 6,699 euros

For a long time the market was the queen of medium and large engines, tolerating in its ranks a few exceptions of more or less a quarter of a liter. It’s an understatement to say that the latter felt cramped. However, it may well be that this trend is reversed with the emergence of these small machines that are increasingly efficient and equipped..

Since 2011 with its 125 Duke, 200 Duke then 390 Duke and RC, KTM has dynamically invested in the small-displacement road market, while keeping its letters of nobility. Finishes, equipment, small roadsters indeed offer remarkable services. No less than 515,000 of these models were built by its partner Bajaj in India. In 2018, more than 100,000 motorcycles rolled off production lines in Pune, two-thirds of which went to India and Indonesia, two of the world’s three largest markets. The last third was distributed around the world.

KTM 390 Adventure reviewKTM 390 Adventure review

The market for small displacement machines is therefore expanding rapidly. For us, that of A2 licenses is of crucial importance in a trail segment that is also on the rise and very competitive. Faced with the Royal Enfield Himalayan, BMW G310 GS and other Kawasaki Versys-X 300, KTM had to respond.

With its offroad genetics, the Matighoffen firm is delivering for 2020 a high-performance versatile machine, the 390 Adventure. Aesthetically inspired by its big sister 790, the novelty is attractive and is equipped in Austrian style, therefore a high-end version. It is on the island of Tenerife (Spain) that we take the little adventurer over 170 km, during a necessarily mixed test…. at KTM, the passage offroad is mandatory.

Tenerife offers us its routes and tracks to put the Adventure to the testTenerife offers us its routes and tracks to put the Adventure to the test


Providing a small-displacement travel machine that is the most capable of getting off the road is the idea behind the design of the KTM 390 Adventure. Produced in India at Bajaj, but entirely designed by the Mattighofen firm, the novelty immediately evokes the superior model. So much the better, giving our machine an extra presence. However, the 390 is much more compact. Racy, its style is very dynamic, evoking rally, performance and travel.

The 390 Adventure is available in two colorsThe 390 Adventure is available in two colors

If fans will opt for orange and black, I prefer the white and orange shade, which is brighter. Two large triangular lights block the front face, their edges housing the position lights behind translucent elements. A short bubble tops the set, adjustable with tools in two positions. Screens of different lengths can be ordered from the KTM PowerParts catalog. This fork crown is firmly fixed to the frame by steel tubes hidden behind angular deflectors. Plunging and tapered, the large scoops frame a line towards the sides, surrounding a 14.5-liter tank. These front volumes can accommodate an imposing radiator whose fans are responsible for evacuating the calories. A long saddle accommodates the pilot, will already ensure on these volumes an optimal displacement in all terrain or on the road. The thick passenger seat is framed by strong grab handles and the sheathed stern has a stylish light with a soft translucent diffuser.

LED headlight of the KTM 390 AdventureKTM 390 Adventure LED headlight

The small trail is based on the platform of the 390 Duke, but its chassis also matches that of the 450 Rally. The novelty adapts everything for its mixed pretensions. Its reinforced structure rests on a tubular steel trellis frame, the rear buckle of which is bolted. A good point in the event of a fall to avoid changing the entire chassis. It all relies on the 373 cm single cylinder³ (89×60 mm) with four valves actuated, via rockers, by two overhead camshafts. A solution more suited to this displacement, according to KTM, than the single shaft, however more compact, of the larger engines like the LC8 690. Astonishing all the same given the Uni-Cam cylinder heads at Honda … Lower, the cylinder is coated with DLC (Diamond Like Coating) for high durability. Its crown is cooled by the oil spray nozzle and the nikasil coated aluminum segment reduces friction. The mono develops 43.5 hp (32 kW) at 9,000 revolutions and 37 Nm of torque at 7,000 revolutions, its compression is 12.6: 1. From the airbox placed under the seat, the intake channels are straight, optimizing flow to feed a 38mm injection body. It also allows the engine to heat up faster. A balance shaft provides added flexibility and the clutch is anti-dribble. A very useful element on a single-cylinder to avoid locking the rear wheel in the event of a significant downshift. The system also relaxes the clutch handle. In addition, a quickshifter, unfortunately optional, can further optimize the box. Our testing machines are equipped with it. The tonic breath of the Austrian single-cylinder is filtered by a double catalyst which allows the engine to meet the new Euro5 standard. A large plastic and aluminum shoe protects, as standard, the manifold and the lower engine. Finally, a flat satin steel exhaust elegantly adorns the vocalizations of the machine..

The engine of the KTM 390 AdventureThe engine of the KTM 390 Adventure

Incorporating cutting-edge technology, the Austrian frame is under the control of many chips. Its Bosch ECU regulates a ride by wire type system to control the injection. Rotation of the handle activates the throttle via electronic sensors actuating a servomotor. A single on / off-road driving mode is available. This accelerator allows you to link the MTC (Motorcycle Traction Control) and Quickshifter up / down (optional) anti-skating aids. Traction control can be deactivated (essential in offroad) and ABS are under the control of a Bosch 9.1MP control unit which regulates this assistance when cornering. Braking can be switched to Offroad mode if necessary, thus cutting off the intervention of the ABS on the rear, reducing its intensity at the front and no longer taking into account the inclination data..

In series, the trail does not receive a ShifterIn series, the trail does not receive a Shifter

To give good measure to these qualities, the chassis is not left out and is equipped with WP Apex suspensions. Well protected behind the long and solid uprights of the mudguard, the inverted fork of 43 mm debates on 170 mm. It adjusts in compression on the left tube and in rebound on the right side. And as often with KTM, these are small propeller type knobs to make these adjustments without tools. Adjustable for preload and rebound, the shock absorber slides 177 mm. It is mounted without linkage on the aesthetic die-cast box-section aluminum swingarm. Ground clearance is 200 mm.

The WP fork of the KTM 390 AdventureThe WP fork of the KTM 390 Adventure

With a wheelbase of 1,430 mm, a trail of 98 mm and a column angle of 26.5 °, the 390 Adventure combines general maneuverability and agility of the front axle. Offroad spirit requires, the front rim is 19 ", the rear in 17. They fit Continental TKC 70 tires with a versatile profile, but more road in 100/90 and 130/80.

The 390 Adventure is fitted with Continental TKC 70 tiresThe 390 Adventure is fitted with Continental TKC 70 tires

Their rotation is stopped by a single BYBRE front caliper with 4 pistons and radial attachment to the attack of a 320 mm disc. The single piston rear clamp bites a 230mm track. Enough to properly stop the 172 kg of our adventurer ready to travel.

The rear brake of the KTM 390 AdventureThe rear brake of the KTM 390 Adventure

At KTM, the exuberance of color is not in order. The firm largely uses tinted plastic in the mass, both for the fairings and the color of the tank. But all surfaces are neat as well as the crankcases and the integration of cables and other hoses is very correct. Thus, the 390 seems a small replica of the superior model and the (high) end effect plays in full. Enhancing, very well equipped, the Compact Adventure requires a first light overhaul of its engine at 7,500 km and more important maintenance at 15,000 km.

The KTM 390 AdventureThe KTM 390 Adventure

In the saddle

The little Adventure is a big horse. Positioned at a height of 855 mm, the rider saddle seems very high. My meter eighty-four is not too much to put my feet flat on the ground. Blame it on a relatively large crotch arch. A low suspension option removes 25 mm of altitude. The foams seem thick and the ergonomics are very good, with no pressure point. In addition, the seat leaves a lot of ease and an important place for the pilot to position himself on the machine. Forward towards the tank or even further back, there is something for all sizes. Without excess, the flexion of the legs contributes to the comfort, the boots rest on footrests lined with rubber inserts. Appreciable on the road, these elements are removable for more efficiency in any terrain.

The footrests are rubberizedThe footrests are rubberized

Straight bust, the hands come naturally to the wide profiled aluminum handlebars with marked lugs. Ideal in a seated position, the hanger will be less pleasant when standing for older children. The use of higher bridges from the KTM catalog will be very useful. Equipment quality always, the handguards are standard and strong, the levers are adjustable in spacing.

The ergonomics of the KTM 390 AdventureThe ergonomics of the KTM 390 Adventure

It’s not just in style that the 390 Adventure mimics its older sister. Its instrumentation follows the same line. In front of you, a 5-inch color TFT screen brings together all the useful information. And always the most ergonomic there is. Most of the display houses a large right-hand turn counter, including fuel gauge and engine temperature. The level of the various assistances as well as a gear indicator engaged complete this set. The latter is next to, on the left side, a customizable summary of the other information available (odometer, partial with consumption and average speed for each. We will also scroll through all the functions, data and settings available via the multidirectional keypad on the left stalk. that, as usual, KTM equips the 390 Adventure with backlit controls. Perfectly readable and rather educational, the instruments are a real reference in the genre. Finally, a 12V socket conveniently located under the screen (as on the 790 … .) will easily power a GPS.

The color TFT speedometer of the KTM 390 AdventureThe color TFT speedometer of the KTM 390 Adventure

In the city

The dynamic staccato of Austrian mono gently pummels the air. The mechanics quickly got the crew off the ground and quickly showed very good flexibility. The single cylinder accepts without difficulty working at 45 km / h in the fourth gear at 2,500 rpm. However, it is more comfortable with a lower gear and more ready to follow the vagaries of city traffic. With the lever or the quickshifter, the gear changes are smooth and precise. The selection, however, requires a certain firmness, but precisely locks.

The selection is smooth and precise, especially through the optional shifterThe selection is smooth and precise, especially through the optional shifter

We appreciate of course the lightness and compactness of the machine. Natural, the 390 is easy to see and guide itself. And she is obviously a champion of maneuvers, allowing U-turns in a small space. Its pleasant ergonomics are particularly pleasant in town and the 390 easily frees itself from the "Adventure" of everyday life. Docile in the city, the trail has many other good surprises in store.

Motorways and expressways

Starting with tonic revs. Getting into the tariffed bitumen is not a challenge for the Austrian. Its engine pushes the machine with boldness towards the legal motorway, around 7,000 rpm. We are also at maximum torque and at the crossroads with the power curve. Enough to effectively revive the crew.

The 44 hp single-cylinder still reaches 165 km / hThe 44 hp single-cylinder still reaches 165 km / h

Some vibrations are invited on board, especially at the footrests, but nothing unpleasant. A peak at 165 km / h is the sign of its maximum performance. The machine is obviously not very pleasant at this pace and not very comfortable. But the course is flawless as is the stability. In the low position, the bubble deflects the wind on the bust. A higher item is available in the catalog, but the 390 Adventure deserves better than these soothing or unsuitable journeys. And its mechanics will not be the only ones to prefer a more contrasted rhythm.


The more you drive this KTM 390 Adventure, the more its versatile potential appears. In addition to being efficient, the machine does not forget to be fun, the prerogative of Matighoffen’s production. If its vitamin single-cylinder holds a good part of this responsibility, it is also its high-end cycle part that makes the Austrian shine. At all times it flaunts the qualities of its suspensions. On the road, they absorb all the defects of the bitumen with equal indifference. However, the machine admits some movements in bumpy passage on the angle.

The rigidity of its frame, its reduced wheelbase and the hydraulic damping that is too loose at the origin explain these movements. A small adjustment of the knobs on the fork and it goes much better.

373.2cc engine develops 37Nm of torque373.2cc engine develops 37Nm of torque

When the asphalt gets smooth, the 390 all-road becomes a top performing toy. On large curves, its stability is very good and the machine traces its trajectories with ease. Some might then wish to have a larger displacement. Certainly, but when the layout is tight, the trail gives the full measure of its overall performance. We do not feel under motorized in any way. And for good reason, the KTM is the most efficient in the segment. Maintained beyond 6,000 revolutions, its boiler invites arousal, its tremors seem to give it a little more life with each stroke of the piston. Without damaging its envelopes or causing too much strain on the traction control, maximum engine power effectively stimulates when exiting a corner.

The Austrian engine relaunches efficiently when exiting a curveThe Austrian engine relaunches efficiently when exiting a curve

Above all, it is the power that you feel when you maneuver. The horses come out of the stable without lingering in the more strident yodels of the exhaust. This is the Grösse Fest all the way to the top of the rev counter and the frenzied breaker cuts in the shiftlight flashes. In this Austrian rap concert atmosphere, our wading bird takes on local hip-hop. The syncopated cadence of the Iberian mountainous route imposes an enjoyable gymkhana. Agile, lively even, the 390 Adventure makes full use of its compactness, lightness and narrow tires to form a slight tumbler. With no inertia on angle changes, the KTM shifts effortlessly from side to side on its wide handlebars. This also gives it greater ease, comfort and steering precision. The Katoche obeys the gaze and dives in a turn like an Austrian on a glass of beer. At any time, the machine authorizes course corrections. If its mixed envelopes make it slightly understeer, they deliver remarkable grip. Enough to put the angle without ulterior motive by praising the quality of damping and the very good ground clearance.

The 390 Adventure shows only 172 kg in running orderThe 390 Adventure shows only 172 kg in running order

At this rate, we are bound to hit the brakes. The front clamp and its curved ABS deliver efficient and safe decelerations. What, again, to highlight the effectiveness of the suspensions. The mass transfer is not very sensitive and the dive of the fork is immediately regulated at the start of the race. In addition, taking the lever on a curve leaves the machine almost neutral, without freezing or straightening the steering. What to show for larger displacements in the winding, as the speed of passage in curve can be high and maintained. Definitely the KTM 390 Adventure begins to please me. On this road winding through a coniferous forest, I see the beginning of a track pointing towards the peaks of the island…. Let’s go see if our trail is the little sister of the other midsize backpacker.


Before getting the genetics to talk, you have to adjust the electronics to stop. We turn off the MTC (anti-skid) and switch the ABS to a mode that works well on gravel. And zou, our mount is already attacking the landscape without complex. Without being technical or committed, the route requires a little caution in places. Particularly in a little soft turn where the TKC70s show themselves a little tight on the front axle with too much speed. On the other hand, the rear tire provides efficient traction as long as you do not venture into too deep rubble. Standing on the adventurer, I find myself less comfortable than usual on an Austrian machine. In question, a handlebars placed too low under the gloves for the more than one meter eighty on this compact machine. An extension of the trigger guard would be essential to me. One embarrassment that leads to another. My position on the footrests is not optimal and I have to tilt my heels down…. thus pushing in the side stand on the left side. It does not fail to give the alert by cutting the ignition…. ideal for a poorly understood technical climb. The handguards are strong and my machine straightened, I leave immediately. I will feel this concern quite often, forcing me to place my supports in the middle of the boots.

The 390 Adventure has an off-road driving modeThe 390 Adventure has an off-road driving mode

Aside from this somewhat personal point, the Pocket Adventure is impressive in its naturalness and efficiency. Its superlative suspensions on the segment again make the difference. With each bump that takes off the two wheels of my mount, I am amazed by its absorption capacity. Fork and shock absorber flexibly cash Newton’s principle on landings. No jerks and the elements do not follow suit. Only on rough terrain will the 390 Adventure admit its limits, making it harder for the front end. What could be more normal when you are equipped with a spoke rim? And yet these are solid. Only a strong Spanish colleague will jump a little too fast and high, puncturing a tire. Taken with more consideration, the KTM allows you to go on any track with peace of mind.

The KTM 390 Adventure can count on its WP suspensions for off-road tripsThe KTM 390 Adventure can count on its WP suspensions for off-road trips

In the midst of stones, gullies and other sometimes tricky terrain accidents, the 390 Adventure traces its course like a good little horse without batting an eyelid. We also appreciate the availability of the block and the control provided by the millimeter accelerator. Drifts and relaunches are thus managed with precision and the flexibility of the single cylinder is combined with good staging of the first gear ratios. Agile, intuitive, Matighoffen’s light trail leaves a good capacity for improvisation on the handlebars. Another good point is the up and down quick-shifter fitted as an option on our testing machines. Its transparent operation and its precision both upshifting and downshifting is a real plus in offroad maneuvering.


With its high-end suspensions, the KTM 390 Duke almost combines roadster rigor and performance trail capability. Both on the road and on an off-road escapade, its consistency is remarkable. Reduced weight, rigid frame and high performance tires complete this ideal picture to make the katoche a dynamic mount.

The WP Apex rear shock of the KTM 390 AdventureThe WP Apex rear shock of the KTM 390 Adventure


Powerful, the radial front mount caliper delivers a clean attack. The deceleration is then perfectly manageable with the lever and the controlled ABS is on standby. The rear element is just as flexible, providing additional guidance, especially in offroad. However, the pedal did not seem to me very communicative about its level of depression.

The front brake of the KTM 390 AdventureThe front brake of the KTM 390 Adventure

Comfort / Duo

Combining comfort and efficiency, suspensions and seats give the KTM 390 Adventure the pleasure of a small traveler. The passenger is well received and his space on board is very adequate given the compactness of the machine. The KTM can be equipped with textile or plastic suitcases.

The saddle of the KTM 390 AdventureThe saddle of the KTM 390 Adventure


4.2 liters on the on-board computer, or more than 350 km without dragging and in mixed areas…. I drank long before her. You can count 50 km more if you stay wise. Sobriety is also an argument for this single cylinder which, however, does not lack personality.

At a good pace, the Adventure lasts at least 350 km before having to go to the pumpAt a good pace, the Adventure lasts at least 350 km before having to go to the pump

Video test of the KTM 390 Adventure


A true variation of the 790 model, the KTM 390 Adventure is a truly and surprisingly versatile motorcycle. Its ease in moving naturally from road to land is remarkable. Few machines can do it so easily. This is therefore mainly the result of three major qualities. 1 / the balance of its cycle part with relative lightness and very efficient suspensions. 2 / its sparkling engine which ideally energizes the Austrian trail, 3 / the control of high-performance latest generation electronics. All these elements are rare to identify on a low displacement machine. And KTM hits hard by putting as much performance on its novelty. Obviously all this at a price. If the 390 Adventure is the most efficient in the segment, it is also the most expensive: € 6,699. At this price, the quickshifter should be part of the endowment.

Opposite, the BMW G 310 GS “will do the weight” (lighter than 4 kilos), but not the rest. Exceeded in terms of engine, equipment and above all suspensions, the German is a little cheaper: € 5,900. At Kawasaki, we will preferably stay on asphalt on the handlebars of the Versys-X 300, or on very rolling, for 5,799 €. In a completely different style and pretension, the Royal Enfield remains the most authentic and affordable at 4.495 €. It is also the least efficient. But it’s probably cousin Duke who is worried. Easier, more comfortable, more efficient and versatile, the Adventure is likely to give it a lot of shade. The novelty allows a lot of daring to its handlebars and only 700 € between them. If the roadster wins the battle for looks, it loses everything in everyday life ….

Efficient, the KTM 390 Adventure is also the most expensive of its competitors at 6,699 eurosEfficient, the KTM 390 Adventure is also the most expensive of its competitors at 6,699 euros

Far from a race to the bottom of the market, the latter is on the contrary enriched by increasingly efficient productions. And it finds a more natural place, a legitimacy in a world formerly dominated by the law of the big cube. The new KTM 390 Adventure sets new standards here. On board, the essential is enriched with efficiency and high-end equipment revolutionizing the genre. The color of Zen, this expensive little orange is however likely to annoy the competition.

Strong points

  • Successful aesthetic variation
  • Versatility
  • Mixed dynamic efficiency
  • Intuitive cycle part
  • Balance and distribution of masses
  • Quality of suspensions
  • Configurable electronic assistance
  • Inertial unit
  • Ergonomic instrumentation
  • Quality of finishes
  • Overall dynamic efficiency
  • Comfort

Weak points

  • High price
  • Optional quickshifter
  • Side stand in offroad
  • Handlebars too low

The technical sheet of the KTM 390 Adventure

Test conditions

  • Route: winding roads with variable surface, dry. Offroad: dirt, rocks.
  • Weather forecast: sunny, from 13 ° to 25 ° C
  • Mileage: 40 km offroad, 140 km road
  • Problem encountered: ras

Test equipment:

  • Dexter Adron Carbon EVO Helmet
  • DXR Roadtrip Jacket
  • DXR Roadtrip Pants
  • DXR Sierra Boots

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21 thoughts on “KTM 390 Adventure motorcycle test

  1. I have always heard that carbon rims radically change a motorcycle (without ever having been able to test any) suddenly, would a test with the base model be radically different?

  2. It would have been necessary to start with the test of the basic model. At 18000euros it is not the best placed.

  3. Nice sound, and the look of the silencer allows the economy of an adaptable pot !

    On the other hand, I can hardly see a passenger supporting the km on the half saddle…

    And so David, this lighthouse, he is a lighthouse-heart?

  4. If I were a buyer, what would prompt me to choose it? Its general look, maybe because it’s a nice bike. But compared to a CB 500 or SV 650, more expensive by a few hundred euros and almost indestructible? Price gap quickly closed by the frequency of maintenance of this machine. A greater loss in the event of resale.

    Another black point, the network.

    Without hesitation, I would choose a sure value but which will not have the appeal of novelty.

  5. For my part, I find it a major asset compared to the current CB500 and SV650: the look. The first is a design failure, already old-fashioned as for the other, it has had the same head for 20 years (and its entrails hanging down, no thanks).

    My companion cut her teeth on the Brixton BX 125, whose build quality (and level of equipment) has nothing to do with the Mash 125: no problem in 18 months (and 5000 km). In short, this Crossfire 500 appeals to me.

  6. Sure, but when you keep your bikes for 5 years or more, other considerations take precedence such as reliability in addition to being beautiful to look at. At this stage Brixton has not yet proven anything, 5000 kilometers is nothing compared to the old 500 CBs capable of doing 100,000 kilometers. If only 30,000 kilometers with a Brixton, that’s about 2000 euros in maintenance against two interviews for a CB or an SV.

  7. 5000km between 2 oil changes for a 500 of 50CV, they think they are at KTM (except that KTM is mini 70CV) ?

    I rounded the values ​​…

  8. 47hp for a basic 500cc, there is little chance that the engine can get out much more.

  9. Hello,

    On paper, the bike is (almost) perfect. Aesthetically, she is beautiful.

    I wonder about the fact that nowhere can we find indications on consumption. This is still an important point with a tank limited to 12 L.

    Do you have any indications on this? ?

    Thank you

  10. To make such a monstrous and ugly machine and give it the name of a plane almost as mythical as the Spitfire, you have to be a "Trumpophile" to dare something like this ….

  11. Totally agree, this is a machine for BOBOS that will hardly ever run with it. In addition, it does not add anything at the technical level.

  12. If we remove:

    – the notion of price: inevitably making the question very rhetorical)

    – the inept marketing spiel: this thing is a confederate, period, not a curtiss, the name of this brand being moreover unrelated in reality to the guy who wore it in 1900 …

    – the sadness to see stop the production of things except like that to produce electric things

    – the absence of abs making European approval probably impossible (but hey, given point 1 …)

    There is still a bike that would make me very envious, with a tempting engine definition, a look certainly calmed down compared to some old models of the brand but which remains striking, and with which I would ride without reservation to ride in a good sore spot unfortunately not enough silver …

  13. What acts as the fork and the swingarm are wonderful parts.

    That alone would justify a purchase if I had a six or seven figure bank account.

    But all the same, paying so much for a motorcycle with such a ridiculous name …

  14. Sculptural, to the point that next to an Avinton would pass for consensual…

    And in more it drives well, more than to make the break of the century!

  15. Still no test for the 1198?.

    848, 1098 and direct magic pouf la Panigale!.

    Yes N…

  16. I had one in the 90s of 350 Desmo (not SCD obviously …), a treat of a little horse galloping from turn to turn, unalterable goodwill and good humor.

    I always repeat the same bullshit, but when I think that 10 years after the birth of these sparkling little Italian mono, when the 500 XT (29 hp for 500 cm3, problematic start-up, lousy reliability) came out, the motorcycle press gave us water of "Yamaha reinvents the big mono" … I still laugh (yellow!)

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