KTM has set off and brings a small adventure bike according to the style of the house. This is not about engine power beyond 150 hp, but the great freedom for all A2 licence holders. Does this work in practice?
At first glance, everything seems clear: unmistakable KTM, because design, unmistakable A2, because small. But with this we are already approaching the first riddle of this machine, which is not exactly poor in mysteries. Price question: Why are A2 bikes usually smaller than motorcycles with a larger engine? It can't be because of the optics, but very little about the technology - if at all: The single cylinder that our KTM 390 carries in the frame could be drilled to 800 cubic meters. Sure, everything would then be a little more stable and generously designed, but not as much as the bike is now smaller. The last possibility would be that human holders of the A2 driving licence are smaller than the rest of the population. Even if there are no meaningful studies on this, this is rather unlikely.
Puzzle number two is easier to solve: Can a motorcycle with only 44 hp as an adventure bike, therefore as a veritable travel machine go through? Answer: yes. Of course, why not? Is travelling with less than 100 hp suddenly forbidden or boring? No. Our ancestors are blessed with their Yamaha XT 500 and shake 27 hp to the end of the known world and sailed even further.
Puzzle number three will accompany us throughout the test. What kind of bike is this, where do we sort it in a meaningful way? At first glance, everything is clear: high, rather upright sitting position, stolly stud pneus brand "Adventure can come" and suitcase holder. What more do you want? A complete safety equipment, for example? With ABS (also off-road), traction control and so on? Please, everything is on board.
This is great, as A2 bikes are often driven by beginners who are most pleased about the dense safety net.
But let's go now.
Even when ascending, an essential character of this machine becomes apparent. Tester Markus, not exactly overweight, swings himself on the bike with his own vigour – and almost flips to the side along with the car. The KTM weighs only 172 kilos, feels even less. The lightness of being is one of the essential features of this 390 adventure.
Apart from that, the seat height is 855 millimeters, it is a sitting at a high level, along with far in front. This has several effects: from 1.85 meters of body length it slowly becomes uncomfortable on the small bike. The pilot is also not sitting in the machine, but on it. For the sitting position far in front, the testers found the handlebars to be mounted too low. On the other hand, we have never had such a small bike, which allows the passenger such a good sitting. That's great.
A word about mixed tyres, which can be combined with the low weight this time. The author of these lines is not on mixed tyres, which should work as well on the road as in the terrain. In practice, this all too often means that in both cases it is a compromise that easily becomes lazy. With the KTM 390 Adventure, this is different in that the machine's low weight allows even beginners off the roads more than just first attempts at walking. Among the adventure bikes we tested, the KTM is far ahead in this respect.
The only 172 kilos give the biker the feeling of having the vehicle under control at all times. It is extremely manoeuvrable at all times due to its 1.43 metre short wheelbase, without ever appearing tilting or unstable. The extensive safety package such as the slant-dependent traction control or the ABS, which can be adjusted on off-road, play their part. How the equipment is outstanding: Whether LED lighting or the coloured cockpit, which adjusts its brightness to the ambient light: In terms of equipment, the KTM 390 Adventure plays two, but at least one class above average. With one exception, because the brakes (front single disc) get only the note enough from us.
In the long run, by the way, the bench is more of the hard variety. Is this a sinner's bench that points to the upcoming road traffic violations? As mentioned above, this would definitely be possible with cornering, the chassis is – unusually for this class – fully adjustable. The engine, a single-cylinder engine, has to be rotated for its 44 hp, which is rather detrimental to a cruiser driving style. But it's a good move, no question about it. The gearbox is typical KTM: precise and with short switching paths, the right gear is found.
The driving comfort is good, except for the windscreen – it is just a small sign. This can be adjusted in height with tools, which firstly does not make it bigger and also does not stop the wind noise.
What about the third puzzle mentioned at the beginning? What kind of bike is this? Then we get the gaaaaanz big club out. The world would be better if we all ate less meat, practiced safer sex and not just drove as an A2 driver's license holder KTM 390 Adventure. The safety equipment is convincing. Alone, the world is not like that. The problem with the KTM is that it is so wonderfully equipped that it is as safe as possible, but therefore cannot be cheap at all. Is it not, at EUR 6,195, what makes the answer to the question of classification even more complicated.
For a good 6,000 you get a good bike with the KTM, which has no development possibilities. It will always have 44 hp, that's the end of the flagpole. This is either enough for you in the long run – or you put a few hundred euros on it and move in the area of the Kawasaki Z 650 or Yamaha MT-07, which are throttled A2 compliant and later after the penitenting period with 75 hp are extremely enjoyable fun bringers.
The KTM 390 Adventure is too expensive to be used as a pure beginner bike. On the other hand, 44 hp is not enough for most motorcyclists in the long run. So a great bike is finally found between all the chairs.
The test bike was provided to us by Motorrad Ruser in Haseldorf near Hamburg