Taking a sip of coffee in the cold winter morning, peeping form my window seeing the ‘sabre’(that’s what I call my 390 duke) all calm and composed which is a strange phenomenon for this orange beast. after clocking 11k on my machine i think its the perfect time to share my experience of owning the sabre
, a wonderful machine indeed. This review would not be based on numbers or stats which I am not proficient at explaining and most of you might have already googled up, but the riding and owning experience of the magical machine.
I would be dividing this review in different sections. firstly the purchase. The purchase and initial expressions.
For quite long I was planning to get a performance machine for myself, searching through the auto magazines, review channels, posts of the fellow team-BHP members I was considering a few options.The first one was duke 200, CBR 250, Royal Enfield classic 500, RC 390 was out of question as I don’t quite like the super sporty ride of the RC. One thing was for sure I did not want to settle with a smaller displacement bike. Graduating from a TVS Apache 180 on which I excelled my riding skills and rode the machine extensively in all possible terrains the transition to sabre was smooth and fast. while going for the new motorcycle my preferences were performance, reliability, safety features like ABS
, street presence, and freeway cruising capability. all the above mentioned options were considered. at the end only one bike fitted my requirements the 390 Duke.The nature of my work does not give me opportunity to ride the sabre everyday but it gives me plenty of time to travel during the holidays whenever I get them. The ABS
, gluey metzeler's, space age instrument console, jaw dropping 44 horses and 35 NM of healthy torque was all that I needed to quench my wander thirst.
Then came Feb the 8th 2016 the moment of truth when after planning for nearly one long year I managed to take a final stride. I visited the KTM showroom in Karnal they had all the range in stock I sat on the RC 390 firstly but the riding position didn't quite appeal me, then i saw in the corner my Sabre parked in all its glory in midnight Black. I saddled on the bike and my heart and mind said this is the bike for me. I chose the black over the white because according to me it blends quite well with the orange and the overall theme of the bike.The experience with KTM Karnal was amazing the manager Mr. Vishal was very helpful in every aspect. Documentation was swiftly managed and after the PDI the bike was delivered to me on the same day. I never wanted to take a TD on the 390 duke because it would have spoilt the fun of the first experience. Then came the time to test the sabre the key was handed to me a picture was clicked and I was getting a strange feeling like oh boy is it for real or what? The key wes twisted the first ignition proceeded and the moment I slotted the sabre into the first gear and gave a little gas I was amazed to feel the power this engine made I was on cloud 9. The engine kept on pulling and pulling as if there is no end to it. The power was nothing that I had ever experienced before. Every time I twisted the throttle my heart skipped a beat such was the experience of my first ride, it was special and surreal. The ownership experience
It’s been a year and on 8th Feb 2017 I celebrated the first birthday of the sabre and the experience has been amazing and satisfying in every manner from service to rides. This bike ticks all the check boxes of my satisfaction and expectations. To sum up I couldn’t had expected more than this. It is a hoot to ride in any condition. Street presence
The moment when you park your bike in a public parking, stop it on a traffic signal, go to gas stations is when you realize that your on a KTM. At first it looks quite strange and awkward when every body around starts to stare at you but after some time it becomes a habit. and you start to feel like a king ha ha ha. there are instances where i found people clicking pictures or posing with my Sabre on a couple of instances. Its not a showoff but it feels nice to ride some thing special on roads. its a street magnet for sure. and be prepared to get glares and glances where ever you go. once a strange incident happened with me when a cop stopped and after inquiring about the cc of my bike offered me a cup of tea. such is the magic of the orange machine. The service and maintenance
The service and maintenance cost are minimal and pocket friendly it’s a performance bike that you can live with every day, you can take this bike to office to the weekend rides, small rides with your girlfriend or wife, you can carry your kids to the school, and even buy groceries on this too. it blends with every situation you want to ride it in. and still clock supersonic speeds on the freeway or track whenever the speed bug bites you.
Now coming to the parts that had to be replaced. I have clocked 11000 km in one year most of which was done on freeways. The Sabre runs on long strides for most of the time so it’s a touring wear and tear that ill be discussing with you guys. The major parts that needed to be replaced were rear metzeler which lasted for 8k and chain set (Rs3000 with labour) which lasted for 10k. The rear Tyre was replaced with the Michelin piolet street 150/60/r17(Rs 5500 with fitting) considering nature of my ride, the grip levels were considerably good and the tread looks promising to serve me at least another 15k the front is still the stock metzeler which is still in its half-life. Personally I think this mix of metzeler in the front and the Michelin in the rear is perfect for all kinds of riders. But if you're someone who wishes to hit a lot of tracks quite often then better stick with the stock tyres. Other small tit bits were the air filter, clutch wire, throttle wire, petrol filter, engine oil etc. which comes in any bike you own. these spares and parts are not too costly.consider shelling around 3 K in regular services. Touring
This is the best part of my owning the sabre. The sabre feels jittery and flimsy at low speeds it prefers the freeway where I could let lose all its 44 horses and let the engine sing in its baritone throughout the day.
People often complain about its small tank that limits its ability to be an able tourer my answer to this is this tank gives a tank range of roughly around 200 km till it shows low fuel level that is pretty good. You do need a tea or pee break after 200 odd km don’t you so I think most people can live with that. After all [I]200 km me ek 10 min break toh banta he hai na boss.( after 200kms you need a 10 min break don’t you?). Problems faced
The first arsenal of dukes in early 2013 had many problems but 2015 on wards all the major faults were rectified. mine is a 2016 so luckily I didn't have to face many problems. Sabre never gave me any major issues. Only two issues I had in my owning the bike for one year and touring on it extensively. Firstly due to bad fuel which was filled by a station in Agra where the ride became a bit jerky and engine shutting off and warning of low oil pressure pooped up as soon as I left from my hotel in Agra to Jaipur, luckily the bike kept going and dying in between on speed breakers but it managed to cover the distance which is around 220 kms form Agra to Jaipur and landed in KTM Jaipur lucky for me nothing major happened only my oil tank was drained, cleaned petrol filter replaced and I was back on track. Secondly was the battery drainage issue when the battery got drained but that was due to my mistake as I left the keys in the bike for a night that was the reason for the bike not starting in the morning I had to push the bike to the service station for getting the battery charged. Lesson learnt ha ha ha… Accessories and modifications done
Sabre comes equipped with the basic hardware that you probably be looking in an able tourer but still certain touch ups had to be done. Firstly I installed a Bolt USB charger with a Zeus handlebar phone mount for my phone for the GPS so that I can never get lost. Secondly was the tank bag and tail bag both from the manufacturer Dirtsack which are a must if you plan to take on travelling far. I am pretty happy with all the products and are serving well till date. I haven’t installed an aftermarket windshield to the sabre because the one which KTM offers as a powerpart is useless as its too tiny for knocking the wind down, the other options like installing a fazer or cbr windshield disrupts the beauty of this naked bike. I might plan to get a good windshield in the near future but not now. Riding gear
Riding gear is something that most of us in India skip on. Initially I had the same impression about the riding gear but after taking to the freeways and seeing some bad incidents with my friends I became determined to get some good riding gear. My search led to the following riding gear which I bought from some of the riding gear shops which I Googled and found in New Delhi and Chandigarh and of course you have the Amazon but buying apparels online is a risky affair .
1. Helmets two HJC CS-R2 and MT incisor both in orange to complement the sabre’s colour which costed me 6500 and 10500 INR respectively.
2. Riding jacket – DSG triton grey and black size m 7000 INR
3. Knee shin pads Alpinestars axor 3000INR
4. Riding boots – Alpinestars SMX R1 non perforated version. 14k
5. Gloves – Zeus full leather gloves 3400INR
6. Balaclava Oxford 700INR
From my experience it is pretty hard to get good riding gear in India but I searched and visited the stores in Chandigarh and New Delhi. The stores are:
1 Chandigarh only one Moto madness sector 10D
2. New Delhi Riderz planet in Karol Bagh and same in club drive, second is performance racing and third is moto madness in West Patel Nagar in Dream Suzuki Showroom. If you are looking for cheaper stuff you can visit shops like Chopra and Mahalakshmi in Karol Bagh where you might get some deal but trust me if you looking for good riding gear go to the first 3 shops only. Final thoughts and Conclusion
The biggest beak through in Indian motorcycling industry was when KTM collaborated with Bajaj in 2008. It changed the market forever and introduced a new segment in Indian two wheeler market. I feel privileged to be a part of this orange cult in India. The machine is perfect but might be a little handful for someone who is coming from 100 or 150 cc segment. The pull is orgasmic and the acceleration is frantic not a good combination if you mix this with inexperience or recklessness. My personal advise to all the new riders who are getting the 390 duke as your first bike is that don’t be in an hurry to clock the highest speed on this bike, don’t show off, wear riding gear or for god sake get a good DOT, SNELL or ECE certified helmet whenever you plan a ride even in a city. I know for most of you it might look uncool but it’s better than getting handicap or dying. Remember with power comes responsibilities. So ride safe invest in good riding gear get acquainted with your machine properly before taking on the ‘kitty mode’ if you know what I mean . Happy riding to all of you ride safe ride hard and I will keep on updating my experience as I clock more numbers on the dash. Thanks for reading the entire experience. attaching some pictures of my Sabre. I hope you like my post, and your encouragement would be appreciated for my future posts.