Thoughts On The KTM 390 Adventure

Seems like KTM is using all the tricks in the book to mess with BMW’s G310 GS launch on 18th July. I’m guessing they leaked this “spy pic” to keep the conversation going on about a motorcycle they should have launched years ago. Instead the company spent it’s time and resources revamping the Duke 390, something that nobody asked them to do.

Now that BMW dealers have started accepting bookings for the G310 GS and Hero has started releasing production ready pics of their soon to be launched XPulse, KTM is running around like a headless chicken, trying everything to get people to postpone their buying decisions by another year.

The way I see it, the entry level adventure motorcycle segment in India is extremely small and extremely price conscious. The bulk of the market will be captured by Hero’s XPulse, which is expected to be priced under a lakh. The opposite end of the segment, basically the people who don’t mind paying a premium for brand and quality, will opt for the G310 GS. BMW will continue to be the premium brand in this segment, like it is in the larger capacity adventure motorcycle segments. People will pay for quality and they will get it. The G310 GS has proven itself for a year now in international markets and owners seem to be quite happy with it.

After Hero and BMW have eaten their respective slices of the pie, whatever is left of the segment will be for KTM and the rest to nibble into. How much of a segment will remain, I’m not sure. But I suspect it won’t be big. The market for the Duke 390, a naked street fighter, may be large in India. The entry level adventure segment is pretty small in comparison. So I really don’t see KTM selling boat loads of 390 Adventures in India unless they price it so low that it starts to make prospective XPulse buyers consider it as an option.

Kawasaki has outpriced themselves out of the market with the Versys-X 300. I don’t see them coming back down to Earth any time soon. I suspect they bought the potent stuff they are smoking in bulk and will remain stoned for some time to come. I’m not sure about Suzuki and their V-Strom 250. But from what I have read about it, the brand will most probably struggle to find a place in this crowded segment.

The biggest loser in all of this will be Royal Enfield. In spite of having the first mover advantage with the Himalayan, they blew it. I can’t understand why they opted to put an underpowered engine on an overweight motorcycle leaving it to be a jack of no traits and master of none. I’m not even talking about the quality issues which have become an integral part of the brand and experience.

All this is good for us in India who till recently had no decent option when it came to an entry level adventure motorcycle. When I have to decide which motorcycle to take on an adventure, I have to choose between my light and under powered Impulse and my heavy and overpowered Tiger. There was really nothing in between. Now there is.