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ADV BikesWatch: KTM 390 Adventure Long-Term Test

Watch: KTM 390 Adventure Long-Term Test

After two years of testing, this is what we think of the small-bore adventurer.

Published on 04.18.2022

When KTM brought their first entry-level adventure bike to market in 2020, it garnered quite a lot of interest. With the 390 Adventure, KTM set out to build something approachable and versatile at a price point that would make it easier for newer ADV riders to get started on an orange bike. At the same time, they wanted it to have enough performance that more seasoned riders could still enjoy it… Did they hit the mark?

Starting off with a 373cc single-cylinder motor borrowed from the 390 Duke, the powerplant pumps out 43 horsepower and 27.3 ft-lbs of torque. Plus it comes packed with premium components you typically don’t get standard in this category like a 5” color-TFT display with Bluetooth integration, tapered aluminum handlebars, ByBre brakes (Indian Brembo), along with  a sophisticated array of rider aids and touring amenities. 

Thanks to ex-Baja Champ Quinn Cody who helped develop suspension settings, the 390 Adventure also has good spring rates, adequate suspension travel and a range of damping settings so you aren’t stuck with whatever comes from the factory. All that with a reasonable 33.6″ seat height, wet weight of 379 pounds, and introductory price of $6,200.


After our initial test on the 390, KTM’s small-bore ADV offering exceeded our expectations, but we did find a few things that didn’t quite hit the mark. However, sacrifices are to be expected on any bike built for a lower price point. With help from the KTM PowerParts catalog and the aftermarket, we set out to address many of these shortcomings.

Over the last few years we have explored the full range of the 390 Adventure’s capabilities,  covering thousands of miles and nearly every type of terrain. In this video, we give a rundown of its performance on dirt, sand, twisties, and more. Plus we put in some highway miles to explore the long-haul comfort and fuel range of the machine. We also cover how it matches up with other small-displacement ADVs in the market and how key mods can make major improvements in its adventure readiness.

Is the 390 Adventure a legitimate adventure travel bike for longer distances? Does it have enough dirt capability for more aggressive rides? We have answers to all your burning questions and more in the review.

Thanks for checking out the video and leave us your thoughts and questions in the comments below. For those of you who prefer to read, you can check out our first ride review article of the KTM 390 Adventure here.

Photos by Ely Woody and Rob Dabney.

Author: ADV Pulse Staff

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April 18, 2022 7:38 pm

I took the bait and bought this bike. I had a few ADV bikes before, NX650, KLR, Tiger 800, Multistrada (1200 & 950), F800GS, and a few others (including a line of sport bikes). Although it lacks punch, and “cred” – I have ended up really really liking this bike. I still do.

It is my go-to bike for day rides, and I’d even do an overnighter on it. Would I do a week long trip, or a string of 400+ mile days – probably not. But I don’t think that is its purpose. Could it be done? For sure.

What I like about this bike is exactly what they point out here. It gets the basics right. It has good technology on it – that works. It has been reliable. It jams in the canyons, it works on fire roads and trails, and it is tolerable at 80mph on the freeway. It is fun to get on it and whip it, and if I flog it and still gets 70+mpg. I love its size and weight – and being 100lbs less than pretty much any other ADV bike, it is surprisingly nimble and responsive. I don’t fear it crushing my leg if it falls over -nor do I fear letting it fall over like a $20k 600lb bike.

I did a lot of the same updates – mirrors, exhaust (that 12lb tea-kettle is dead weight waiting to be left behind), heated grips, brush guards, aux lights, saddle, bar risers, spoked, wheels, etc. All in all pretty inexpensive upgrades to really make this bike a lot more comfortable and capable. Every bike needs a little setup and tinkering. Overall, I think KTM really hit it out of the park with this bike, especially for the price.

Would I like a little more power, more travel, better brakes, etc? Sure! Does it need it? I don’t think so. I think there need to be more small bikes like the 390ADV – so many people ride these big giant bikes, but aside from riding like a lounger – it doesn’t seem like they are getting much more out of them – and I think this bike would go places a GSA wouldn’t. I can keep up with most people on bigger bikes most of the time – I may have to shift a little more, but coming off 600cc sport bikes, I’m used to dancing on the shifter to get the most out of them. I think it makes it more fun to ride – and the quick-shifter on this thing is brilliant. I kind of like giving the other guys a handicap anyway – it makes for good sport.

I’ll be first in line to buy a 490 Adventure if they make one – that seems like a real unicorn to me. 60hp+ on a similarly light platform would be an absolute hoot! Until then, this thing is going to be in the A slot in my garage.

Joe John
Joe John
April 19, 2022 7:53 am

I have to admit, when I saw your build it definitely got my interest. In stock form it doesn’t quite get there but with the high seat, bash plate, spoked wheels, exhaust, and knobbies it feels like a completely different bike. By the time I sank all that cash though I could probably have bought a used 690 or 701 enduro with a few thousand miles on it and been much happier. That’s pretty much my plan at this point because I’ll be long dead before one of the big 4 comes out with a modern, lightweight and powerful thumper in the vein of the 690.

April 19, 2022 11:28 am

What a nice, extensive, candid review. Great motorcycle journalism. Thanks so much for it.


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