When it comes to the compact adventure class, there is no denying that KTM's 390 Adventure is the bike to beat when it comes to both performance and basic specifications. In true KTM "Ready to Race" fashion, the baby of the Austrian brand's adventure lineup is a truly potent package despite its Learner Approved status here in New Zealand and Australia.
But what if you wanted more from your 390 Adventure?
Local KTM dealership Boyd Motorcycles in Hamilton thought just that when it came to fitting out their current demo model, and what better place to demonstrate just what the 390 Adventure has to offer than the annual KTM New Zealand Adventure Rallye.
While the brains behind KTM have opted to refrain from giving us a factory 390 Adventure R model at this stage they have ensured that unlike other brands there is plenty of scope to add official KTM accessories to the bike to improve on its already impressive base spec.
With a brief to prepare a 390 Adventure for the 2020 KTM New Zealand Adventure Rallye, the guys at Boyd’s Motorcycles went ahead and dragged the little adventure bike through the KTM Powerparts catalogue to give us a taste of just what a 390 Adventure R could look like, and we like what we see.
Before we get into what has been done to this particular bike, let's break down pricing, which is probably the main reason KTM doesn't offer an official 390 Adventure R. With the full suite of accessories you see before you, this 390 Adventure ups the price from the base $9,799 to over $15,000-excluding labour to fit the parts. While each part on this bike has its purpose and has great build quality, $15,000 is enough to get your bum onto a middleweight adventure machine from the Japanese competition such as a Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT.
So what is the case for the 390? That's simple really, it's lightweight, has good power from its single-cylinder engine and has adjustable suspension to boot. Better yet, it also guarantees you entry into one of the most active communities in the sport as well as the opportunity to get in on the action at the annual KTM New Zealand Adventure Rallye. And that's just in its base spec. It's no wonder that the little 390 Adventure turned out to be the darling of the KTM Adventure line in 2020. The new kid on the block outsold its larger, more capable stablemates such as the 790 Adventure R to the tune of nearly 5 to 1 as Kiwis jumped on the well equipped entry-level adventure offering from Mattighofen.
So with the base bike hitting the trails at under $10,000 it is fair to say that KTM left plenty of potential untapped to keep the bike in that price point, and that's where the official KTM Powerparts used by the Boyd Motorcycles team come into play.
After securing entry into the sold-out 2020 KTM New Zealand Adventure Rallye, dealer principal Greg Boyd wanted to show off the potential of the 390 Adventure to the KTM faithful while also having an easy to manage bike for the tricky parts of the annual adventure ride.
To start off, Greg and his team bolted onto the 390 a set of 640cc LC4-era mirrors they found lying around the workshop. With a factory hinge allowing the mirrors to fold in when the bike inevitably takes a fall, they also look the part mounted on the factory 390 Adventure handlebars.
The rest of the build-out is completely made up of official KTM Powerparts products available to the public, with the spoked wheels the most recent (and expensive) addition to the official 390 Adventure parts catalogue.
In fact, the set of rims on the Boyd’s 390 were specially shipped to New Zealand ahead of the 2020 KTM Adventure Rallye to help ensure Greg and the 390 could tackle even the toughest breakout along the route.
The new wheels, which are priced at $1919, aren't only more durable, but they also reduce unsprung weight to the tune of 2 kilograms as well. The new wheels are a direct replacement for the standard cast alloy wheels, which means they are still 19-inch and 17-inch sizing. That might come as a disappointment for disappointing those hoping to see a more off-road focussed 21/18 combo but the direct swap means there is no messing around correcting the speedo on the brilliant TFT dash display.
The Boyd's team chose to wrap the new rolling stock in a Bridgestone AX41 front tyre in 100/90-19 sizing and a 120/90-17 Pirelli MT 21 rear which provides more than enough forward thrust.
Continuing on the performance theme, while the 390’s lightweight and 43hp is already top of the compact adventure class, the Boyd’s team knew they could squeeze more speed out of the 390. A stylish Akrapovic exhaust slipped on in place of the factory muffler, dropping weight and adding a throaty burble to give the 373cc single-cylinder more presence in amongst its twin-cylinder siblings.
As we all know, power is nothing without control, and helping keep the 390 in the meat of the powerband is a KTM quickshifter.
To help unlock the off-road potential of the 390 the ergonomics were addressed with the taller KTM’ one-piece rallye seat which makes transitions from sitting to standing easier on the rider while also being surprisingly comfortable.
While the standard handlebar and hand controls remain in place for now, they’re now protected by a set of KTM’s handguards that bolt straight on and perfectly matches the factory orange bodywork.
That’s not the only protection that’s been added into the mix, the Boyd’s crew also grabbed a full set of crash bars and KTM’s beefy aluminium skid plate to ensure the survivability of the engine, while out back the side bag carriers do a similar job for the plastics while they don’t have bags fitted.
A rear rack completes the luggage carrying fit-out while a headlight protector for the LED headlight unit wraps up the protection side of things.
In all, there is a decent chunk of money in upgrades here that push the 390 Adventure well out of its sub-$10,000 price zone. The spoked wheels and Akrapovic exhaust adds $3,000 to the base price alone while the skid plate we reckon would be a must-buy regardless.
So while KTM has left the 390 Adventure as a low-price entry into the world of Adventure Motorcycling, you can tailor the bike to your needs quite easily. While you don't have to go the whole hog to up the spec of the 390 Adventure, a few simple additions can help take the baby KTM to the next level and fill the gap in the KTM lineup between the $9,799 390 Adventure and significantly higher asking price ($23,999) of the new 890 Adventure.
As Greg Boyd proved at the 2020 KTM NZ Adventure Rallye, the smaller 390 Adventure when set up well has no trouble at all keeping up with the bigger bikes and being lighter and more accessible might actually be the better choice.
With an expansive range of additional parts available for the 390 Adventure, the options for personalisation are wide indeed. With the focus on increasing performance and usability for adventure riding, these are the parts the Boyd’s Motorcycles team opted for using on their 390 Adventure build.
Spoked Wheel Set - $1919
Skidplate - $319
Crashbar Kit - $245
High Seat - $328
Akro Slip On - $1189
Handguard Kit - $239
Side Bag Carrier Racks - $356
Rear Rack - $500
Headlight Protection - $178.50
Quickshifter + - $345