Have you ever swung a leg over a motorcycle, fired it up, and with a twist of the throttle were immediately inspired by where it might take you? Whether it’s carving single-track in search of bunkers in the Pacific Northwest; a road trip from California to Key West opting for tent camping over room service and Egyptian cotton; or a multi-month sabbatical the slow way through South America. . . wherever your inner explorer craves, the fresh-faced KTM 390 Adventure seems to be a skeleton key to unlock these doors and more.
KTM’s 390 Adventure has all the best characteristics of a traditional “ADV” motorcycle and with that all the necessary sex appeal. It’s not your average entry-level ride, if it could even be classified as “entry” at all. Approachable, affordable, giving us a bit of everything without sacrificing an ounce of quality… KTM’s latest is making quite an entrance.
I’m 5'2 with a 27-inch inseam, and weigh a mere 116 lb. To say my high-performance, on-/off-road options are limited is an understatement. What I can wrap my mitts around usually comes equipped, thanks in part to the American mindset, with an ego-cutting title of “Beginner,” “Baby” or “Girlfriend.” What’s big to me usually won’t be big enough for an ordinary man or many women. For too long there’s been a void in the small-displacement adventure sector, and the manufacturers who have answered the humble demand seemed to have come up a tad “short.” When OEMs build products just to fill a space in the market, they often seem to be an afterthought: piecing together leftover parts, slathering them in colorful decals, and presenting them as innovation. That is, until quite recently.
The first promising piece of machinery was Kawasaki’s mean green Versys-X 300, powered by the same engine used in their tried and true Ninja 300. It was well-balanced and functional at pounding pavement as well as disappearing down some types of dusty roads. And it boasts a very reasonable price point at $5,500 without ABS or $5,800 with. But many complained about the soft suspension, minimal ground clearance, and callus inducing seat. Plus, it “felt like a toy.” Back to the drawing board. Other brands have been (re)releasing bantam bikes of their own, like BMW’s G310GS, Honda’s CRF 250 Rally and CB500X— among others—none of which checks every box. All the while,
KTM had been brewing their long-awaited 390 Adventure at an anxiety-inducing pace. But it seems patience paid off because this tangerine dream is breaking down barriers. KTM’s little beast comes well-equipped all for the extremely reasonable MSRP of $6,199. Throw in some extra coin and you can ride into the sunset with some additional farkles, such as an AKRAPOVIÄŒ exhaust, luggage, color-coordinated handguards, and headlight guard.
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