KTM Duke 390 vs Bajaj Dominar 400 Comparison.
Design-wise, these two bikes are very different. Where the Dominar uses bulges and size to grab attention, the Duke 390 is chiselled and in your face. Even in terms of chassis, these two bikes are very different. The Dominar 400 uses a perimeter type frame, made from steel tubes which also forms the basis for most of Bajaj’s line-up of performance bikes. The Duke, on the other hand, uses the signature KTM steel trellis frame and now, they have added an additional subframe at the rear which is coloured in contrasting white. You also get modern upside-down front forks on the Duke as compared to the conventional ones on the Dominar. The Dominar not only looks beefy, but its girth also shows on the weighing scale too. The Bajaj is a massive 20 kg heavier than the KTM.
Both these bikes are well loaded with LED headlamps, ABS and slipper clutch on offer. But the Duke 390 takes it a notch further by including a TFT instrumentation display, sticky Metzeller rubber and ride-by-wire throttle body as well. The instrument display on the Dominar is nice, giving lots of data in a clean layout. The Duke’s colour display though is something you expect on a bike priced above Rs 10 lakhs. This is a high res colour display that offers an even longer list of information without looking cluttered. You can program the dash to bring the info you want to see upfront and hide the readouts you don’t wish to see. You also get Bluetooth connectivity, from which you can control phone calls and music through the control buttons on the left side of the handlebar. Unlike in the Dominar, you can also choose between three ABS modes in the Duke - “Road” with ABS fully engaged, “SuperMoto” which disables ABS at the rear wheel and “Off” which completely disables ABS.
Both these bikes are powered by the same 373cc single cylinder motor, but that’s where the similarities end. Where the Duke 390 makes 43bhp, the Dominar makes 35bhp, while the difference between torque figures is a lesser 2Nm. The reason for this difference is not only the internals but also the fact that Bajaj positions the Dominar as a cruiser that is tuned for more bottom and mid than outright power. As a result, the Dominar’s motor makes its power and torque at lower engine speeds. To keep costs down, Bajaj’s 373cc motor also uses just a single camshaft but it does have the patented three spark plug tech.
The Dominar 400 feels sprightly from the word go and the motor has enough torque from as low as 2500rpm. This makes it a great city commuter and the slick 6-speed gearbox just adds to the convenience. Past 4000rpm, the strong midrange is this motor’s real highlight, where it has the flexibility and the grunt to justify it being a power cruiser. Overtaking is just a twist of the right wrist away and it can cruise at around 120kph with more grunt to spare. But where this motor lacks is primarily refinement. There are considerable vibrations past 4000rpm and what makes it worse is the fact that you can feel them through the handlebar, foot pegs, the seat and the tank! The motor isn't revved happily either, as it feels laboured past 6000rpm.
It is clear that the KTM Duke 390, as a product, is much better than the Bajaj Dominar 400. The thing is, in terms of kit, the KTM offers a lot more which positions it much higher than the Dominar. Besides, there are the drawbacks in the Bajaj, things that we don’t expect from a premium motorcycle like the Dominar. The engine refinement is mediocre, the ride is harsh and the fun factor is not really that high. When we thought of this comparison we were rooting for the underdog Dominar to give the Duke 390 a hard time. Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t the case and the Dominar is just not good enough to trouble the might of the Duke 390 despite being cheaper and sharing the same engine.