Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 vs BMW G310R vs KTM 390 Duke

Looks are subjective, that’s true. But there comes a time when a motorcycle is liked by all for its no-frills styling and design. The Interceptor is one such bike. It’s inspired from the past but has been couched in modern elements. The round headlamp, curved fuel tank, and a single long seat look neat. The exposed frame and sub-frame place it squarely in the genre of modern-classics. The toppings to this visual feast are spoke wheels and generous use of chrome. 

The G310R from BMW, on the other hand, gets a very balanced design. It’s not too loud, nor very sober. The Germans have managed to arrive upon a design that is liked by all age groups. In fact, the G310R’s styling has been inspired by the R 1250R. The sharp headlamp and tank design, neatly done radiator covers and the five-spoke alloys make the bike look good. The gold fork tubes are a nice touch. The 390 Duke is a very aggressive looking motorcycle, and suggestive of the company’s racing heritage. From the headlamp and all the way to the tail section, the design language looks combative. The exposed trellis frame and its multi-color touch add to its attitude. 

The Interceptor scores the most points here, thanks to great riding ergonomics. Its wide seating triangle makes the Interceptor a near-ideal companion for long rides. The raised handlebar is nice to hold on to. Even though there isn’t space for the knee to rest, the combination of accessible seat height and slightly rear-set footpegs generates a good experience. It’s the same story with the G310R. The neutral riding position, coupled with a great seat makes riding for long hours easy and comfortable. The only downside with this bike is that the rider’s seat doesn’t offer much space to move around. But the curved seat design does help the tail bone. The 390 Duke, on the other hand, gets a bit of an aggressive stance. The ergonomics is a tad sporty, and the rider sits quite close to the instrument cluster.  

Royal Enfield went a bit lazy when shopping for Interceptor’s features. It doesn’t get LED headlamps or turn indicators, nor does it get a modern instrument cluster. It lacks tubeless tyres – a feature that is seen in most entry-level motorcycles these days. The BMW G310R is better equipped than the Interceptor. It gets a decently designed digital instrument cluster, upside-down forks, tubeless tyres, and liquid-cooling. The KTM 390 Duke is the most equipped bike among the three with a class leading instrument cluster, ABS modes, ride-by-wire, USD forks, LED headlamps, turn indicators and backlight switchgear. 

Before heading out to some smoothly paved highways, we spent a lot of time with these bikes in the city. The Interceptor with its 650cc parallel twin motor that is known for having plenty of torque, moved easily past the ever growing traffic. The slick gearbox, and the light clutch worked like a breeze. On the highways too, the air-cooled motor didn’t sweat. In fact, it didn’t show any signs of stress nor was its refinement affected in anyway. Thanks to the tonnes of torque, the bike can stay at 120kmph for hours. 

The G310R, with its 310cc single-cylinder engine, is a modern one in every way. The refinement, the character and the performance all add up to nice riding experience. It’s the least powerful bike in this game with just 33bhp and 28Nm of peak torque, but even with this figure, the G310R does its job quite willingly. The mid-range is strong, and that sorts one’s life in the city as well as on the highways. But post 5500rpm, the vibes can be felt easily on the tank and the pegs. 

The 390 Duke churns out 43bhp in a linear manner. The throttle response is crisp, thanks to the presence of ride-by-wire. The motor is refined but sounds a bit crude at higher revs. Due to the nature of the bike, the bike doesn’t feel happy below 4000rpm, and that is slightly bothersome while riding in the city. Post 5000rpm, the 390 Duke is very quick and has the capability to reach triple-digit speeds in no time. Here again, there are vibes, yes, but limited only to the pegs.  

The Interceptor offers a relaxed and calm ride throughout the day. The soft suspension, wide handlebar and nicely cushioned seat on the Interceptor mean business. Be it bad roads, rumblers or uneven roads, the Interceptor glides over it With the G310R, BMW has managed to find a perfect balance between a comfortable ride and good handling. Over broken roads and undulations, the 310R doesn’t lose its equanimity. It manages to stay composed and offers a great experience to the rider. On the corners too, it’s fun. The bike is flickable and the added benefit of good grip from the Michelins only makes the G310R all the more enthralling.  The 390 Duke is built on the stiffer side and that means, getting through Indian roads is a bit of pain. Over prolonged periods, the back hurts. But take this machine to a nice winding road and the 390 Duke outshines everything other bike in its segment. 

The Interceptor is decently fuel efficient for its size. It gives a 26kmpl. So with a fuel tank capacity of almost 14-litres, the Interceptor could be ridden for close to 350kms before heading to a fuel pump. The BMW G310R returned 35kmpl, whereas the KTM 390 Duke gave 32kmpl.  Both these bikes have the same kind of riding range. The Interceptor 650 Custom retails at Rs around 6 to 10 lakhs, whereas the KTM 390 Duke costs Rs 7.50 lakhs. The BMW G310R is the most expensive of the lot at Rs 10.00 lakhs. 

There’s a clear winner here and that’s the Royal Enfield Interceptor. It’s just not because of the pricing, but what it offers in that. The bike is extremely comfortable, easy to handle and even with a minimalistic styling, it looks stunning. Plus, the brand recall of Royal Enfield is the best in the industry. The KTM 390 Duke takes the second spot. While it excels in performance, tech, and styling, the overall usability and practicality leave much room for improvement. The BMW G310R is a great product and desirable too, but expecting someone to pay close to Rs 10 lakhs for a 310cc motorcycle is difficult to justify. 


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