Living With KTM Duke 390 BS-IV (2017)


Thread Starter #1
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Duke 390 was a dream bike for me from its launch. I had to wait for 5 years to achieve my dream of owning one and I finally got one in 2017.

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It's been 5 years and some 20000 km so far. Almost all of that 20000 km was done in the first 2 years since I had to leave the country for work.
It has been eventful ownership even in the 2 years I used the bike.
I would like to add a quote from something I wrote a few years back.
An open letter to all bikers in India. Never buy a KTM in India.
It's with utmost disappointment I'm writing this.
KTM is undoubtedly one of the best European motorcycle brands and Duke 390 is truly a piece of art. But their service provided in India courtesy of Bajaj is among the worst out there. Buying a bike is only half the story, ease of maintenance is a major factor in its ownership.
Throughout my 9 month experience of owning a KTM Duke 390, I experienced how badly KTM service centers can screw things mainly because they don't even know how to work on it. I have seen horrible things in KTM service centers, and how unprofessional they work. To give a taste of it, I have seen a service center in Bangalore tilting the brake fluid reservoir to empty it and filling it with new fluid, and screwing the cap back on. No pumping whatsoever! I have seen another service center claiming to adjust the accelerator cable in my ride-by-wire bike which doesn't have a cable. Whenever they fix something, they make room for new faults. My particular bike has visited 6 KTM service centers across south India more than 20 times in just 9 months / 15000 km of ownership! After they did some work on the clutch, the whole clutch assembly got loose and got disconnected from the gearbox shaft inside while running because it was not properly torqued. It happened twice and put my life in danger. Think of a powerful bike like 390 without a clutch in congested Indian roads! By God's grace, I was able to stop the bike in a controlled manner as I was going slow, which is not always the same case.
I am right now in the process of shortlisting good mechanics outside KTM to take my bike next time. There are plenty in Bangalore who works on superbikes and are happy to work on KTM bikes. It's a great bike and if works are done as per the KTM service manual these bikes are highly reliable. But how pathetic, I have to find a good mechanic to work as per KTM standards which I can't find in their own authorized service centers in India.
KTM India needs to learn a lesson or two from Honda 2 Wheelers India. Honda has a separately qualified technician to work on CBR 250R in every main Honda service center! And no one will touch a CBR 250 except this guy.
KTM India support doesn't even reply to the emails if they figure out the mistake is on their side. Moreover, they try to finish off the matter at the service center level and there is no such thing as an escalation.
After countless calls and emails, the ASM(Area Service Manager) contacted me and was saying, "Sir, ride our bike and see for any issues and bring back if anything persists"!
With experience from my life as well as with my close friends, I suggest anyone who is planning to buy a KTM in India to drop the plan, spend more, get a Japanese bike, and have peace of mind! Even the new Apache is a better choice as they claim to have technicians specifically trained to work on it. But still, it's better to wait to get long-term reports.
Or if you're someone who likes to work on your own bike or if you know a good mechanic who can work on KTM, just go for it. It's the best! Just don't rely on KTM-authorized service centers. They spoil perfectly running bikes.
KTM authorized service centers I've been to,
  1. KTM Banashankari, Bangalore
  2. KTM Bennarghetta, Bangalore
  3. KTM BTM Layout, Bangalore
  4. KTM HRBR, Bangalore
  5. KTM Mangalore
  6. KTM Kollam, Kerala
Update 1:
Owing to the wide protests from Duke 390 owners across the country, all 2017 Duke 390 owners were given an extended year of warranty. Hope all issues are fixed in this period.

Update 2:
Found out that the petrol tank was full of rust and the service center even though at first tried to make it look like normal, ended up agreeing to replace it under warranty.
Lo and behold, there is rust in their unopened new petrol tanks in stock.

After this incident, I sent a few emails to KTM, and then the KTM Area Head (Head of the State, contacted me over the phone and shouted at me for complaining to KTM and Bajaj!"
I had the full call recording of this incident and I could have made the life hell for that guy if I wanted. But I decided to move and and never ever visit a KTM service center again in my life.
Fast forward to today, 4 years later, I am writing this ownership review to let everyone know that there are no improvements in the service quality at all.
I recently found out that my front wheel was bent. I replaced the front wheel along with the disc by claiming the insurance. One of the fork seals was also leaking, so I replaced both fork seals and fork oil as well.
Invoices
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After I received the bike, I noticed that there was a weird periodic sound of a disc rubbing with the pad. I removed and reinstalled the caliper to see if there was any change. But the disc was getting continuously rubbed when a certain portion of the disc reaches the break pad.
Video - Testing whether the disc is bent. If you listen carefully, you can hear the disc rubbing with the brake pad, and soon after that the bent portion of the disc hitting the iron rod in my hand.
On close examination, I found out that the new disc is bent at one point causing it to rub with the pad. The bend is minor and it doesn't do any pulsations while braking, but then it's there and you can always hear it.
Upon contacting the service center, they gave the usually expected answer that it's normal since it is a new disc.
I would have never ever gone back to the service center to do any work if it was not to claim the insurance!
 
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Thread Starter #3
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The engine oil level of the 390 is somewhat confusing to monitor. The last oil change was Motul 7100 10W50 6 months ago and the bike has only run 450 km after that.
Yet, the oil level was less than the minimum, so I topped it up the remaining oil I had after the last oil fill. So, basically, I have poured 2L of oil into the bike from the last oil change, whereas the recommended quantity is 1.7L.
And still, it is barely above the max mark. So, there was certainly some consumption or evaporation.
After warming up the bike, the oil level was above the maximum line. But a strange phenomenon I observed is that the oil level keeps going down in the glass window once the bike cools down. If it's warmed up, the level goes high again. Strange!
@deville_56 has reported a similar issue in his 390 and cleaning both oil pumps resolved the issue.

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There are no oil leaks, and neither is it burning any oil, at least to the degree of smoking. The black soot inside the exhaust tip is also not so much. The oil level goes up after warming up the bike again.

The KTM Duke 390 service manual instructions for checking the engine oil level.
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If this is to be followed, the engine should be at operating temperature while checking the oil level.

The spark plug. (replaced 400 km ago)
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Assumptions on Motul 7100 disappearance.
A popular engine oil reviewer from youtube 'The Sportztourer', on his review of Motul 7100 states that he too faced a drop in oil level, and many of his subscribers also raised their voices on similar experiences of oil level drop with Motul 7100 in a variety of bikes. One person who is using it for the past 4 years has also noted that he started noticing this from his past 3 oil changes.

I personally contacted a few of my friends who use Motul 7100 and they were also facing similar issues on Duke 200 and RC390. An important fact is that they have been using Motul 7100 for several years now and it's only in the last one year or two, they started facing the oil level drop.
It is safe to assume that a particular batch or a few batches of Motul 7100 in the recent past has something wrong with the formulation.
It's also to be noted that a few years ago, Motul 7100 was imported from France and packed in India. But in the past few years, they are manufactured in India. The Motul 300V is still imported from France.

A few others have also told me that their engine oil disappearing issue was resolved after switching to another oil.
So far, I have been really satisfied with the performance of the Motul 7100 except for this oil consumption (or evaporation?). Therefore, I am seriously thinking of switching to something else.
Possible choices.
  1. Castrol Power1 Ultimate 4T 15W50
  2. Liqui Moly 15W50 4T Street
  3. Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE 10W50 Superbike
  4. Shell Advance Ultra 4T 15W-50
 
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deville_56

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Usually needed 100-150 ml top-ups every 1000-200 km. In between, 7100 was imported from Vietnam. Usage reduced drastically and always changes in 2-3k km intervals, so no clue of the quality of Vietnam and Indian versions of 7100. Very well know the quality of the bike, lack of quality of service centre and how shitty the moron who liaised with KTM.

My horror part with them >> PowerPig! KTM Duke 390 - October 2014
 
Thread Starter #5
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*Update on the bent disc*
I took the bike to the same KTM service center to show them the bend on the new disc they installed.
As usual, they kept saying this is normal and there was no bend. I took a screwdriver and kept it close to the disc and spun the wheel.
Once, everyone there heard the screwdriver rubbing on the disc intermittently, they were speechless.
Then, the main guy said I had to replace the front brake pads as well, to which I replied that I had put on sintered brake pads 2 weeks ago and the bike has run less than 100 km with the new brake pads.
I had also taken out the new brake pad after they changed the disc and sanded them down to make sure it is flat. Once they heard this, they were again speechless.

I told them, it could be also an issue with how the disc is bolted down to the wheel. Even less than an mm of difference in one of the 6 bolts can make the disc protrude outside on one point.
It is ideally not recommended to reuse the disc bolts during a disc change. They were negative about this and told it could never happen. These are factory-trained people we are dealing with and what right do people like us have to comment on something technical, right?

Finally, I told them, I am ready to pay for the new disc if that's what matters. I just wanted the bike to work well.
At this point, I guess they got really embarrassed and said they will try with a new disc. Apparently, they did not have a disc in stock and it had to be brought from some other service center, so I returned the next day once they got the part.

The new disc was installed free of cost. I insisted they use new bolts (because these bolts can stretch), which I paid for. I noticed that they were incorrectly tightening the brake caliper without applying the front brake. This will not align the caliper correctly and is not the right way, but I did not bother to correct them as all of their attitudes were as if I am making them do a job that is not necessary. I just wanted to get it done and get out of the place! They took the bent disc and put it on the same cover as the new disc. There is a 99.99% chance that this will be fitted in someone else's bike who comes for a disc replacement.
The new disc had a constant rubbing noise with the brake pad, unlike the old one which was inconsistent.
The right way to tighten a caliper. By Dave Moss Tuning.

As soon as I reached home, I put the bike on the stands and removed the caliper, sanded the brake pads once more, pushed the caliper pistons backward (surprisingly easy), and installed everything back the right way as shown in the above Dave Moss video.
I was surprised to see how much smoother it was after that. Here is a video of the new disc and a video of the old disc for comparison.
The brake pad contact area on the new disc is also consistent all over. See the photos below.

The new disc left side.
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The new disc right side.
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Bent disc left side.
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Bent disc right side.
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I have to bleed the whole system now, just to make sure there are no air bubbles. Waiting for a Bosch DOT4 brake fluid which was ordered from boodmo.
 
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Thread Starter #7
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Yes, they will pass it on to someone else. Actually, if anyone with a KTM wants to keep their bike for a long time, never take it to a KTM service. I took it there this time only because of the insurance claim.

Since the bike was already there, I also asked them to change both fork seals and oil. The cone is over tightened now!

They also washed the bike and cleaned the chain for some ₹530. Car ASCs charge lesser for washing cars. They sprayed some sort of polish thing all over the bike including both tyres, discs and break pads. (This is apparently a standard procedure there). "They casually told me upon delivery that the vehicle won't have breaks because of the polish and also the tyre can slip, so go slow". [roll]
It was another 30 minutes job for me to clean all this after I reached home thankfully without an accident.

Only DOT 4 available nearby is the Bajaj DOT4 oil which is just 100 mL. Some shops have DOT4, but only in 500mL which is useless for me. Also, I really wanted Bosch DOT 4, since the ABS in this bike is made by Bosch and hopefully there is something in their brake fluid which will help it to last longer. Im really worried about the ABS pump failure after yours failed.
Boodmo is celebrating their anniversary with free delivery on all orders.

Don't mistrust them with the 0.01% doubt. 101% they will pass it off to some unsuspecting guy.

Ain't DOT4 available easily locally?
 
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deville_56

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Also, I really wanted Bosch DOT 4, since the ABS in this bike is made by Bosch and hopefully there is something in their brake fluid which will help it to last longer.
Nothing to do with fluid brand and ABS. It is just a valve to control/restrict the flow of fluid. Timely change helps prevent clogging/gel formation. Bosch fluid is KBX. Never felt anything special over other brands. 100 x 2 would suffice for both brakes, plus another bottle for worst case scenario, if need be.

They also washed the bike and cleaned the chain for some ₹530.
Washing with chain lubing is the biggest scam now. KTM/Bajaj mentions using 90 grade gear oil on chain and never seen them using them. I specifically ask them to clean the chain if washed outside and not to lube. Had used the OKS lube used by KTM/Bajaj, which was like 285/can wholesale price and could be used 7-8 times and they charge 120 for lubing (2009-2014 pricing), which hardly lasts 500 km or a rain. On the other hand, using gear oil, it withstands the rain and surpasses the 500 km easily, the thicker the oil, the more it goes. While servicing at KTM, the bikes goes straight to wash after entering the service form and sprays diesel and water direct on to red-hot engine, never seen such stupid people. At Yamaha, they would wash only after complete service and seen them pushing the bike instead of warming them up and chain lube only at time of delivery.
 
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Thread Starter #9
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I changed both tires of the bike to Ceat Zoom Rad X1,
Ceat Zoom Rad X1F 110/70R17 54H - Rs. 3153.
Ceat Zoom Rad X1 150/60 R17 66H - Rs. 4200.

The stock Metzler front tire lasted about 20000 km and it was getting cracks as it was 5 years old.
The rear was running of Pirelli Diablo Rosso II which lasted around 10000 km, and that too got cracks after about 4 years.
Metzlers are Pirellis costs 2X of what they used to cost before. Apollo Alpha H1 W is the go-to tire for all 390 owners these days.
The majority of my rides are on straight roads and highways, so it's always the center part of the tire which wears out earlier. So, I was looking for an H-rated tire that will last for some time. It was then I came across the Ceat Zoom Rad X1. Ceat is not a preferred tire brand when it comes to cars. So, I was hesitant at first to consider it. But, a lot of reviews on youtube (mostly sponsored I guess) from some sensible riders made me rethink. The price was also a factor as it was around 30% cheaper than Apollo.
TBH, I was never satisfied with the grip of Pirelli Diablo Rossi II 150/60/R17H. It used to skid in corners if I was really not careful on the throttle.
An instance of me losing the rear end on a corner exit while on Pirelli Diablo Rosso II.

So, I decided to go with the Ceat and see how it is.
It's certainly not as grippy as the W-rated Metzer or Apollo, but on par with other H-rated tires.
I tried being aggressive on throttle on a few good patches of tarmac while cornering and it never lost traction so far. I am really satisfied with what I paid for. It's a good strike between the price and performance scale. The rear tire valve also needed replacement and I got a brass one from the tire changing shop for Rs. 250.
It also has some sort of Unconditional Warranty up to 50% wear & for 2 yrs. from the date of manufacture.
A lot of people I met, including the people of the KTM service center were asking me why I went for a Ceat tire for 390 as if it is an inferior product. We Indians as a whole have to change the attitude that Indian things are all crappy and only foreign brands are of good quality.

The rear tire.
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Bled the whole system using Bosch DOT 4 brake fluid. It is clear in color but the Bajaj DOT 4 fluid was yellowish.
The fluid in the rear reservoir degrades so fast since it is very close to the exhaust, while the fluid in front was still good.
It took some time for the new fluid to cycle through the ABS pump and reach the front caliper.
There was a considerable amount of air bubbles in the system.
I had to replace the front bleeding screw as well since it was rusted and slipping from the spanner. Had to use a vise grip plier to get it out.
A new bleeding screw was purchased from Bajaj Spare Parts for Rs.18. (Same as Dominar)
It took more than 200 mL of brake fluid to bleed both front and rear brakes.
With a new set of tires, a new front disc, new sintered pads, and bleeding the system, the brakes, especially the front brake is performing like how it was from the factory.
It scares someone who is not used to such brakes. In fact, at the time I got the 390, whenever any of my friends used to take it for a ride, I never warned them about the power, but the front brake.

I really apologize for the lack of photos. It's very difficult to get these things done and take good photos in between because I always forget to take photos.

Next on the list is removing the broken crash guard bolt off the chassis.
 
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Thread Starter #10
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The original clutch of the bike gave in at around 9500 KM. During this time most 2017 Duke 390s had the infamous coolant leak issue. All bikes KTM worked on for this, ended up with a worn-out clutch.
But KTM never acknowledged the premature wear of clutch plates and blamed it on owners not knowing how to ride the bike.
I was also blaming it on the Bangalore traffic for this premature wear of the clutch, although my FZ is 10 years old and 60000 KM and still on the original clutch.
The bike has now crossed 20000 KM and the second set of clutch plates is already slipping.
I mostly don't use the clutch and it is always clutchless up and downshifts. The bike was mostly only used for long rides after the second set of clutch plates. Yet, it is worn out in roughly 10000 KM.
There are others with 2017 Duke 390 who got 16000 to 50000 KM clutch life!
Last time, I had only changed pressure plates. Thinking to change the whole assembly this time if it helps!
Recap: After KTM changed my first set of clutch plates, the whole clutch assembly came out from the drive shaft twice while I was riding and the bike lost clutch. They had to do some black magic to make it not come out! I suspect something with that had to do with the second premature clutch wear.

Anyhow, not touching KTM service centers again with a 10-foot pole considering how incapable they are. Hoping to get this fixed at some third-party garage or maybe even do it myself if I am able to find a way to get it done without the required special tools. It also needs to be tightened at 120 Nm.
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Wow, so much trouble you have gone through. I changed my clutch at 60k odd kms, but it was good enough to go for a few thousands more. Never had so much issues in my 6 years of ownership. Just minor niggles which happens with every bike. Hope you find a good mechanic and have a better ownership experience henceforth.
 
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even do it myself if I am able to find a way to get it done without the required special tools. It also needs to be tightened at 120 Nm.
Changing the clutch on a motorcycle is easy, just time it around an oil change.

Things to keep in mind;
1. What type of nut the clutch basket nut is, some motorcycles have castle nut's, if you have those then you would need to buy an appropriate socket, if it is a regular hex nut then life is easy.
2. Thread direction, in the interest of safety the clutch basket nut might be reverse threaded, so do confirm this first.

Special tools you need;
1. Plastic scraper to scrape off gasket material from mating surfaces.
2. Clutch basket holder, you need this to undo the lock nut, At times can be done without it by using the rear brake, but why not just do it properly.
3. Torque wrench, since its 120nm as per you, you would be able to manage with a beam type torque wrench, they are the cheapest kind. Again you can manage without one but that is up to you.

Tips;
1. Before installing the new gasket make sure to grease it, would make changing he next time a lot easier.
2. Make sure to install the judder springs in correct order;
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3. If interested you can swap out all the clutch cover bolts to SS Allenkey ones, makes life a lot easier in the future, plus its highly unlikely that you'd over torque an allenkey.
4. Use this opportunity to inspect the shifter and oil pump, change if necessary.

That's about it, would take you about 30 mins to 1 hour tops.

Ride Safe,
A.P.
 
Thread Starter #13
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Changing the clutch on a motorcycle is easy, just time it around an oil change.
Thank you for explaining. As it runs out, it is so much easier to replace the friction plates alone on this bike. I am double-minded on whether to just do that or to replace the entire clutch assy.
If it is the whole assembly replacement, I am more leaned to find a skillful shop and get it done there rather than making it into a DIY. I believe, hands-on experience matters for some jobs even if it looks so easy.
 
Thread Starter #14
Thread Starter #15
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Adding to this thread because BS4 RC390 is more or less the same bike with different riding dynamics.
My friend whom I know from my school time onwards and I both started off on Yamaha FZs and later upgraded to 390s. (We both still have our FZ, both once modified to 180CC, engine blown, and reverted to stock [cry]).
My friend's RC390 was overheating a lot even on short runs. The bike is 4 years/ 20000 KM old and the coolant has never been changed before.
Motonerdz TVM quoted Rs.1000 for the labor, which I felt was a rip-off since a coolant change is an easier job than an oil change. so I planned to get it done on a Sunday.
Lo and behold, I forgot about the fairing part of the bike and it was a pain to remove it and put it back together. I understood why they were quoting a premium for this bike.
It made me appreciate the simplicity of working on naked bikes like my FZ and Duke 390.
Motul Motocool Expert coolant was used.

WhatsApp Image 2022-09-26 at 23.20.49.jpeg

The cooling system was flushed with distilled water.
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This log is from a ride after the coolant change, the temperature was hovering under 90.
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The ABS of this RC390 is not working. The meter console shows ABS Failure as soon as the key is turned on.
I believe it to be either a faulty speed sensor or a blown fuse. I scanned the bike with an OBD for faults but there were no errors. Typically KTMs will show error codes when a speed sensor is not working.
The brake fluid has also not ever been changed in it. Planning to do that the next weekend along with the ABS diagnosis.
 
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