7 Common Problems with the KTM 390 Adventure (Explained)

The KTM 390 Adventure is popular among motorcycle enthusiasts seeking thrilling off-road adventures combined with everyday commuting capabilities.

It features no shortage of electronic aids, smartphone connectivity, a comfortable riding position, and an agile response both on and off-road.

However, like any machine, the KTM 390 Adventure has its flaws.

In this article, we will discuss the common problems with the KTM 390 Adventure, complete with pros and cons, alternative models, and reviews.

1. Vibration Issues on the KTM 390 Adventure

Some KTM 390 Adventure riders have reported experiencing excessive vibrations, particularly at higher speeds. These vibrations can be felt through the handlebars, foot pegs, and seat, causing discomfort and affecting the overall riding experience.

Some riders claim they feel the vibration by the foot pegs.  One owner claimed that the vibration shook his mirrors while riding, whether riding slow or fast.

While the KTM 390 Adventure packs a powerful, high-revving engine, it impacts the rider’s hands and feet by causing discomfort, the bike’s fuel efficiency and the effectiveness of the mirror’s visibility.

To minimize vibration issues on the KTM 390 Adventure, riders can consider the following steps:

  1. Check and balance the wheels to ensure proper alignment.
  2. Inspect and tighten any loose or worn-out components, including handlebars, foot pegs, and seat fasteners.
  3. Install vibration-dampening grips or handlebar weights for reduced vibration transmission.
  4. Consider aftermarket accessories, such as engine guards or rubber mounts, that can help absorb vibrations.

2. Clunky Gearbox

Some KTM 390 Adventure riders have reported a clunky gearbox and difficulties while shifting gears. The clunky gearbox problem is characterized by an inconsistent and rough gear engagement, leading to a less enjoyable riding experience.

One rider reported that their KTM 390 Adventure makes loud, clunky noises when shifting gears, particularly in the lower gearbox range.

Other riders frequently report missed shifts or getting stuck in neutral.

Some experienced 390 adventure riders complain that a slight catch or delay in the gearbox can be jarring. These riders have developed muscle memory and expect an instant clutch engagement, only to be surprised by a delayed one.

It’s important to note that not all KTM 390 adventure owners take issue with the gearbox and that neglecting routine oil maintenance can make the gearbox clunky on any bike.

To address clunky gearbox issues on the KTM 390 Adventure, riders can consider the following steps:

  1. Ensure proper clutch adjustment and functionality.
  2. Perform regular maintenance, including oil changes, to keep the gearbox lubricated.
  3. Practice smooth and deliberate shifting techniques, avoiding rushed or half-clutch shifts.
  4. If the problem persists, consult a qualified technician to inspect and potentially adjust the gearbox components.

3. Lack of Low-end Torque

Some riders of the KTM 390 Adventure have reported a lack of low-end torque, which can result in sluggish acceleration and difficulty maneuvering at lower speeds. This issue can impact the bike’s off-road capabilities and overall performance in various riding conditions.

A lack of low-end engine torque means the rider and engine must work harder when riding this KTM off-road.

This is because off-road riding often occurs in low gears at slow speeds.

If the low-end torque is inadequate, riders must rely heavily on clutch work in a higher gear or by staying one gear below where they should be, spiking their RPMs to access the powerband.

The KTM short-stroke 390cc engine generates peak torque way up at 7000rpm, performing best between 7,000 and 10,000 RPMs.

The KTM 390 adventure’s engine has a short piston cycle, with a power band that benefits from constant revving high in the RPM range.

So, while riding in low gears can boost your RPMs on an open road or trail, riding in traffic or up steep hills is difficult when you’re starting in first gear at the bottom of the RPM range.

Again, this is a matter of opinion.

Plenty of riders get used to the RPM range of the 390 Adventure and learn to love it.

If you’re not one of them, here are some ways to work around it:

  1. Optimize the bike’s fuel and ignition mapping through ECU tuning or aftermarket fuel management systems to improve low-end power delivery.
  2. Install a performance exhaust system or air filter to enhance airflow and increase torque.
  3. Adjust the bike’s sprocket ratio to improve low-end acceleration.
  4. Practice proper riding techniques, such as effectively maintaining momentum and utilizing the bike’s mid-range power band.

4. Weak Alloy Wheels

Owners of the KTM 390 Adventure motorcycles have encountered problems with weak alloy wheels, which can lead to bending, cracking, or other structural damage. These issues can occur during off-road riding, even though the 390 Adventure is a dual sport intended for use on and off-road.

Riders also report damage to the alloy wheels after encountering potholes, obstacles, or even under normal usage, compromising the wheel’s integrity and potentially causing safety concerns.

The alloys are shod with tubeless Metzeler Tourance/MRF dual-sport rubber. However, riders complain that the stock alloy wheels aren’t as strong as the wire-spoke wheels KTM offers as an upgrade.

The stock alloy wheels are lightweight, but can get damaged or bent if you hit a big pothole. If you’re here because you’re on a stock wheelset and are afraid you’ll damage your wheels, here are some quick tips:

  1. Avoid harsh impacts and excessive loads on the wheels, especially during off-road riding.
  2. Inspect the wheels regularly for any signs of damage, such as cracks or bends, and promptly address them.
  3. Consider upgrading to stronger, spoked wheels designed for increased durability and off-road performance.
  4. Use proper tire pressure and ensure proper wheel alignment to minimize stress on the wheels during rides.

5. KTM 390 Adventure Motorcycle Stalls/Won’t Turn Over

Some KTM 390 Adventure owners have reported that their bike stalls or won’t turn over. This problem can occur during startup or while riding, leading to an unexpected loss of power and potentially leaving riders stranded.

Frequent stalling is by no means the norm for all 390 Adventure owners.

That said, some riders report that their bike sometimes stalls when the throttle is open, when the clutch is not used correctly, when the gears are shifted quickly, or when the speed is low.

The stalling may occur randomly or predictably.

We could not find a flaw or common root cause, as the stalling has been related to the fuel system, the throttle, and the software.

If you’re here because of the annoying, dangerous, and embarrassing issue of a KTM 390 Adventure that stalls or won’t turn over, here are some tricks to try:

  1. Ensure the battery is in good condition and fully charged.
  2. Check the fuel system for clogs or blockages and ensure a steady fuel supply.
  3. Maintain regular servicing, including spark plug inspection and replacement if necessary.
  4. If the issue persists, consult a qualified technician to diagnose and address any underlying electrical or mechanical problems.

6. Oil Level Issues

Some KTM 390 Adventure riders have encountered problems related to oil levels.

These issues include

  • low oil levels
  • Incorrect dash display readings of oil levels
  • Oil leaks

Improper oil levels can affect engine lubrication, potentially leading to engine damage and decreased performance.

Reportedly, the 390 Adventure’s oil level indicator on the TFT dash is not consistently accurate and shows false readings occasionally.

Some owners check the oil level manually before they ride for peace of mind.

Some owners claim their “Oil Pressure Low’ warning light comes on, but when they manually inspect the oil level, it’s fine.

If their oil pressure sensor, display gauge, or software is to blame, the warning light won’t go away even if the oil level and pressure are perfect.

Other riders complain about leaks from the crankcase and head gasket.

If you notice your oil level is below the minimum and you discover a leak, top up the oil immediately and take the bike to the KTM dealership for inspection.

  1. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for oil change intervals and use the recommended oil type and viscosity.
  2. Regularly check the oil level using both the dipstick and oil level gauge, comparing the readings for accuracy.
  3. Inspect the engine and oil lines for leaks and promptly address them to prevent loss.
  4. If encountering persistent oil level issues, consult a qualified technician to diagnose and resolve any underlying problems.

7. Stock Suspension Not Ideal for Off-Road Riding

While the KTM 390 Adventure comes with adjustable WP Apex front and rear suspension, which is impressive for its price range, many riders find it unsatisfactory for various reasons.

Some riders report that the suspension needs to be more relaxed for off-road riding, especially on rough or bumpy terrain.

They note that the bike fails to absorb the shocks and transmits the force to the rider, causing discomfort and fatigue.

Others say the suspension is too soft for fast and aggressive riding, especially on the road or under hard braking or acceleration. They say the bike tends to dive or bounce too much instead of providing ample stability.

Another frequent complaint about the 390 Adventure’s suspension is its lack of adjustability for the rear preload.

The rear shock only has rebound damping adjustment, which means that riders cannot change the sag or ride height of the bike according to their weight or luggage. This hurts the bike’s handling, comfort, ground clearance, and seat height.

Finally, some owners report that the suspension is unsuited for taller or heavier riders, who may need more suspension travel or damping to cope with the varying terrain.

The bike has a relatively low seat height of 855 mm (33.6 inches), which may need to be higher for some riders.

The suspension also has limited travel of 170 mm (6.7 inches) at the front and 177 mm (7 inches) at the rear, which may need more for some off-road situations.

Again, these opinions vary with the builds and preferences of different riders.

Aftermarket upgrades are available for the KTM 390 Adventure allowing riders to optimize the suspension specs to their liking.

What Are the Pros and Cons of the KTM 390 Adventure?

Pros

  • Agile and responsive off-road
  • Comfortable and relaxed on-road
  • Switchable electronic aids
  • Full-color TFT console
  • Smartphone connectivity
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • Vibrations at high rpms
  • Noisy and imprecise gearbox
  • Low torque at low RPMs
  • Alloy wheels not suitable for rough terrain

What Do the Reviews Say?

The KTM 390 Adventure has received positive reviews from various sources. Here are a few highlights:

“I can say that KTM 390 Adventure is also an excellent first adventure bike, but you can also get it as your first highway-legal bike. It’s got more than enough power and unique styling, and it’s made by a world-renowned brand like KTM. As long as you can handle the bike, the 390 Adventure is definitely worth your money.” –Go Flat Out PH

“With the introduction of the 390 Adventure in 2020, KTM established a new benchmark for the small-capacity adventure category. While many of the 390’s competitors spring for budget-conscious componentry, the House of Mattighofen equipped the ADV to dominate the trail and the tarmac.” –Rider Magazine

“In our review of the 2020 model, our reviewer said the KTM 390 Adventure was “a lot of bikes for the money, with an impressive list of standard features that make it a serious threat to value-oriented Japanese competitors like the Honda CB500X and Kawasaki Versys-X 300, as well as BMW’s G 310 GS.” — Rider Magazine

“One of my favorite features of this motorcycle is its suspension. It’s not too soft or too hard, it’s just right. It absorbs bumps and potholes very well, both on and off-road, and it doesn’t bottom out easily. The bike feels stable and planted at all speeds, and it handles corners with confidence.” –Adventure Rider.

What Are Some Alternatives to the KTM 390 Adventure bike?

Make/Model MSRP MPG
KTM 390 Adventure $6,799 64
BMW G 310 GS $6,195 71
Benelli TRK 251 $4,199 85
Honda CB500X $7,299 65
Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 $6,749 55

Related: 8 Common Honda CB500X Problems (Explained)

What is the Resale Value of the KTM 390 Adventure Bike?

Year Mileage Used Listing Price
2020 415 mi $4,991
2020 510 mi $4,991
2021 577 mi $5,671
2021 1,008 mi $6,898
2021 2,356 mi $5,499
2021 5,147 mi $5,499
2022 698 mi $6,499
2022 779 mi $6,499

 Sources:

2021 KTM 390 Adventure Review – Go Flat Out PH

2022 KTM 390 Adventure | First Look Review | Rider Magazine

2023 KTM 390 Adventure | First Look Review | Rider Magazine

Review / KTM 390 Adventure hands-on review – Adventure Rider

Used Ktm 390 ADVENTURE Motorcycles for Sale – Cycle Trader

Author:

  • Michael Ta Nous

    I've been weaving words into stories since my early scribbling days, and my journey in the world of motorcycles and their communities spans almost two decades. Living with a talented motorcycle mechanic as a roommate, our garage transformed into a vibrant workshop where I absorbed the intricacies of...

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