KTM Put Big-Bike Features In A Small-Bike Package

KTM builds on the success of its 790 Adventure with the new 2020 390 Adventure model. The 390 Adventure borrows elements from its larger-displacement siblings for much of its design DNA. It’s built with a definite off-road bias, but with the promise of good road manners. A torquey thumper provides the power with the bare minimum in the way of safety or ride-quality features to deliver an essential riding experience.

  • 2020 KTM 390 Adventure
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    373 cc
  • Top Speed:
    93 mph
  • Price:
    6199
  • Price:

2020 KTM 390 Adventure Design

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
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2020 KTM 390 Adventure
- image 872895
In a break from what has become the norm for adventuresome models, the 3.8-gallon fuel tank keeps a fairly low profile.

The factory took a 390 Duke as a starting point for this platform and took pointers from the 450 Rally bike to turn out the 390 Adventure model. Inverted front forks need protection down low so the factory was obliged to cover the swept area of the inner fork tubes with tall uprights. The uprights double as supports for the close-fit front fender leaving the Adventure looking more like a sportbike and less like a dirtbike. That design thread continues into the minimal headlight housing that also mounts the front turn signals and tops it all off with a short, clear, rally-style, adjustable windscreen, all in a neat little package.

Short-rise handlebars place your hands in a comfortable, neutral position, and the rest of the rider’s triangle is such that you can sit with an erect back or operate the bike from a standing position for rough terrain and technical work. The lines of the headlight housing mirror those of the angular dangles that sweep forward to form a very KTM-esque cowling doing more to visually tie the fuel tank to the front end than anything else. They meet the side galleries of the radiator to screen the profile of the actual heat exchanger in a bid to make it as unobtrusive as possible. I gotta’ say, it does just kinda’ disappear into the black hole behind the similarly blacked-out forks and fender.

In a break from what has become the norm for adventuresome models, the 3.8-gallon fuel tank keeps a fairly low profile. The seat extends forward over the tank to enable some fore-and-aft weight shifts and to protect the tank finish from friction with your britches. A slight shoulder segregates pilot from pillion – just enough of an offset to keep your butt in place – with large J.C. handles and fold-up footpegs to form up the other points of contact for your riding partner. The handles and flattish pillion pad make a good spot for some open-air storage, but as always with KTM products, the upholstery falls under the “firm” category, so if you’ve been taking them no-ass-at-all pills like me, the stock seat is gonna’ tax your butt something fierce.

LED taillights and turn signals ensure you stay visible to following traffic, no matter how bright the ambient light conditions might be. Back up at the handlebar, the entirety of the instrumentation is all concentrated on the configurable, five-inch color TFT display, and the Adventure comes with an infotainment feature that lets the system network with your smartphone for phone and music functions.

2020 KTM 390 Adventure Chassis

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
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2020 KTM 390 Adventure
- image 872905
2020 KTM 390 Adventure
- image 872903
The 450 Rally's influence shows up again in the design of the steel Trellis frame, keeping overall weight low by using the engine as a stressed unit to complete the structure.

The 450 Rally’s influence shows up again in the design of the steel Trellis frame on the 390 Adventure keeping overall weight low by using the engine as a stressed unit to complete the structure. Clearly tuned for off-road work, the steering head establishes a rake angle of 26.5 degrees over a 56.3 inch wheelbase to put the Adventure firmly in the agile category.

A steel Trellis subframe finishes the tubing with a cast swingarm to finish up the standing structure. The cast wheels represent a departure from the norm for an off-road oriented machine, since steel-laced, steel, or aluminum rims are the usual choice for such activities.

All-around WP Apex suspension components deliver a fully-adjustable ride in both the 43 mm inverted front forks and the coil-over monoshock that supports the rear end and tames the swingarm. Byre supplies the stopping power with a four-pot caliper that bites a single, 320 mm front disc and a twin-piston anchor that binds a 230 mm rear disc.

A two-channel Bosch ABS feature comes with a street mode, off-road mode, and “Off” so you can dial in for your desired intervention levels, plus it rocks an IMU so the ABS delivers lean-sensitive intervention. The stock hoops come with generous street flats, but are clearly set up for traction on soft surfaces as evidenced by the tread pattern.

Frame: Steel trellis frame, powder coated
Suspension Travel, Front/ Rear: 6.7 inches (170 mm)/ 7.0 inches (177 mm)
Steering Head Angle: 63.5 °
Front Brake: 320 mm disc, Four-piston radial fixed caliper
Rear Brake: 230 mm disc, Single-piston floating caliper
ABS: Bosch 9M+ Two-channel ABS (incl. offroad mode, disengageable)
Chain: 520 X-Ring

2020 KTM 390 Adventure Drivetrain

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
- image 872891
2020 KTM 390 Adventure
- image 872905
2020 KTM 390 Adventure
- image 872894
Throttle control is purely ride-by-wire, so you can expect smooth transitions across the range.

The 390 Adventure is a small-displacement KTM, so of course it rolls with a thumper for power delivery. An 89 mm bore and 60 mm stroke gives it a 373.2 cc displacement and 12.6-to-1 compression ratio, plus it has dual over-head cams to time the four-valve head and keep reciprocating mass at a minimum.

Throttle control is purely ride-by-wire, and this gives the Engine Management Unit a chance to automatically reconcile the difference between rider demand and what the engine can smoothly deliver for smooth transitions across the range. KTM borrowed the electronics suite from the 790 Adventure to give the smallest Adventure the same, corner-sensitive traction control enjoyed by the mid-size sibling. The piston comes with a diamond-like carbon coating to help prevent wear, and there’s an oil jet that hits the bottom side of the crown to draw some heat away from that hottest of spots.

Power numbers are similar to the 390 Duke at 43 horsepower and power delivery is similar as well. That power flows through an anti-hopping clutch allowing for a certain amount of slip that bleeds off the excessive backtorque so you don’t lose traction or over-rev the engine on hard downshifts and engine braking.

A six-speed transmission lets you keep the mill in its powerband, and it comes with a chain final drive with an overall gearing that turns in a 93 mph top speed at the redline in top gear.

Engine: single cylinder, 4-stroke engine
Displacement: 373.2 cc
Bore x Stroke: 89 mm x 60 mm
Power: 43 hp
Torque: 27.3 lb-ft (37 Nm)
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Wet sump
Transmission: 6-speed
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: PASC™ antihopping clutch, mechanically operated
EMS: Bosch EMS with RBW

2020 KTM 390 Adventure Pricing

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
- image 872907
2020 KTM 390 Adventure
- image 872896
2020 KTM 390 Adventure
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MSRP should be $6.2k when it lands on our shores, and colorways are varying amounts of black, orange, and white with graphics.

MSRP on the 2020 KTM 390 Adventure should come in at $6,199 when it lands on our side of the pond. As far as paint goes, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that there are two paint packages, both of which have varying amounts of black, orange, and white components and graphics.

Color: White, Orange
Price: $6,199

2020 KTM 390 Adventure Competitors

2020 KTM 390 Adventure
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2015 - 2020 Honda XR650L
- image 864704
KTM follows up with better electronics and an all-around more street-friendly personality.

Proper adventure bikes are hard to come by at the bottom of the useful displacement range to leave the 390 Adventure looking like the exception that proves the rule. I went hunting for a bike built with a similar use, power, and price point, and turned up a model from a brand with plenty of off-road experience; the XR650L from Honda.

Right out of the gate, it’s obvious that Honda means for the XR650L to spend most of its time on off-road adventures in the high-mount front fender and sparse body appointments. In fact, you could almost call the Honda XR650L a dirtbike with turn signals and not be too far from the mark. More evidence of its suitability for rough terrain can be found in the air-adjustable front forks that turn in 11.6 inches of travel – almost double the travel as what KTM brings to the table – but what it has in travel it gives up in a few of the finer ride-quality adjustments.

Honda continues to fall off with nothing in the way of higher electronics. In fact, the Red Riders don’t even bother with fuel injection, but instead induction control falls to a good old constant-velocity carburetor for the 644 cc, air-cooled thumper. Sure, it has more cubes, but KTM follows up with better electronics and an all-around more street-friendly personality. The fact that Honda hawks its 2020 XR650L for $6,999 doesn’t help its case in the face of the $6,199 tag on the 390 Adventure.

He Said

“Is it a cool bike? Sure. Is it necessary? That’s debatable. On the one hand, it should make a dandy trainer for would-be globetrotters, but how small does a trainer have to be before it stops being more suitable than, say, a dirtbike with stealth knobbies? Since this bike is scheduled for a MY20 release, I reckon the American buyer base is going to answer that question, and that right soon.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “When I first starting looking at the 390 Adventure, I said, ’Yeah adventure-lite maybe.’ But you know, I’m eating my words. In this displacement range, it is nice to have fully adjustable suspension. Did you get that? Front and rear, fully adjustable. It’s a nice engine, it’s the same 390 as in the 390 Duke and RC 390, just remapped for its intended purpose. The bike is nimble and agile but retains ample straight-line stability, and do I understand correctly that it has lean-sensitive ABS and traction control? That’s a really nice electronics package in this displacement range. It’s the same electronics package as the 790, so yeah, really nice suite at this displacement. I’m sold. It’s small enough to be unintimidating, but packed with big-bike features and wizardry. You can call it entry-level, but it still has that fun-factor for everyone.”

2020 KTM 390 Adventure Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: single cylinder, 4-stroke engine
Displacement: 373.2 cc
Bore x Stroke: 89 mm x 60 mm
Power: 43 hp
Torque: 27.3 lb-ft (37 Nm)
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Wet sump
Transmission: 6-speed
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: PASC™ antihopping clutch, mechanically operated
EMS: Bosch EMS with RBW
Chassis:
Frame: Steel trellis frame, powder coated
Suspension Travel, Front/ Rear: 6.7 inches (170 mm)/ 7.0 inches (177 mm)
Steering Head Angle: 63.5 °
Front Brake: 320 mm disc, Four-piston radial fixed caliper
Rear Brake: 230 mm disc, Single-piston floating caliper
ABS: Bosch 9M+ Two-channel ABS (incl. offroad mode, disengageable)
Chain: 520 X-Ring
Dimensions & Capacities:
Ground Clearance: 7.9 inches (200 mm)
Seat Height: 33.7 inches (855 mm)
Tank Capacity (Approx.): 3.8 gals (14.5 l)
Dry Weight: 348.3 lbs (158 kg)
Top Speed: 93 mph
Details:
Color: White, Orange
Price: $6,199

Further Reading

Honda XR650L

Allyn - Extraneous images
- image 795493

See our review of the Honda XR650L.

KTM 790 Adventure / 790 Adventure R

2019 KTM 790 Adventure / 790 Adventure R
- image 811797

See our review of the KTM 790 Adventure / 790 Adventure R.

KTM 390 Duke

2017 - 2018 KTM 390 Duke
- image 779294

See our review of the KTM 390 Duke.

KTM 450 Rally Replica

2019 KTM 450 Rally Replica
- image 855723

See our review of the KTM 450 Rally Replica.

KTM RC 390

2017 - 2019 KTM RC 390
- image 855721

See our review of the KTM RC 390.

KTM

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
- image 799936

Read more KTM news.|

TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: honda.com, ktm.com, photographer credits: R. Schedl, KISKA, F. Lackner

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