Best Lightweight/Entry-Level Motorcycle of the Year Winner: KTM 390 Duke
It’s easy for moto enthusiasts to fall in lust with pricey motorbikes, but it’s much more difficult to feel ardor for inexpensive machines – plastic and steel just isn’t as intoxicating as billet and carbon fiber. But that’s why KTM’s 390 Duke is such a special motorcycle.
First off, it’s a rather striking-looking conveyance for something that retails for just $5,299, with its chro-moly trellis frame and sharp bodywork looking far more exotic than any bike retailing for less than 7 or 8 grand. Then add in niceties surprising for its class like a radial-mount brake caliper, LED headlight, inverted fork, slipper clutch, aluminum swingarm and standard ABS – making everything else in its price class look decidedly cut-rate.
Now, that wouldn’t amount to anything if not for a riding experience that is sure to put a grin on any rider’s face. Its 373cc single-cylinder motor out-muscles everything in the sub-400cc market – even Ninja 300s and R3s – and its counterbalancer subdues vibration enough to make the little Duke a passable sporty tourer. It would be difficult to imagine a superior bike to cut up city traffic, and its cornering abilities allow its rider to demoralize pilots of more powerful machines. It’s even fairly quick on a racetrack!
The 390 Duke has staked ownership of this MOBO category since we introduced it in 2015, and now with a host of updates for 2017, including TFT instrumentation, a comfier seat, adjustable levers, a ride-by-wire throttle and slightly more power, it’s more desirable than ever, no matter if you’re 16 or 66.
Honorable Mention: Kawasaki Versys-X 300
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