• KTM Duke 390 vs Benelli TNT 300

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find out two of the most exciting bikes under 2 lakhs and who stands where

If you are a nineties kid or a youngster from the nineties, remember the times when we used to dream about our first bike? Though, our wishes and hearts allowed only the most premium and sporty motorcycle available in the market to go for. There was a time in the early beginning of the 21st century, when the particular segment of 150cc motorcycles used to be the most perennial one, as those were the motorcycles which used to trigger the strings of the hearts for being the most ‘powerful’ motorcycles available in the market to satisfy our hunger for performance.

However, the tables have turned and with the progress which the Indian two wheeler industry has been witnessing in terms of maturity, customer awareness and inflow of money, different manufacturers have started experimenting with different kinds of segments. One such experiment was conducted by KTM back in 2013, when it introduced the Duke 390 in India. With the Duke 390, KTM initiated the segment of 200-400cc entry level performance motorcycling, with which it created new records, owing to the fantastic price to package ratio which the Duke 390 offered. It was the Duke 390 which offered the thrills of riding a big bike without being too intimidating.

Witnessing the success of the Duke 390, many new manufacturers started their onslaughts in the middleweight segment of motorcycles. One such name is Benelli, a relatively new and unknown name for the Indian market. This bike maker from Italy started its Indian operations with its entire lineup, ranging from the TNT 300 to the range topping TNT 1190 R. Though in today’s time, the single cylinder TNT 25 is the most affordable motorcycle from Benelli, it was the TNT 300 which used to hold the tag before the advent of the former.

Both the Duke 390 as well as TNT 300 seem to be similar in size, but then there are some differences which set them apart. On paper, the single cylinder Duke 390 is more powerful from the twin cylinder TNT 300. With so much similarity in size and proximity in price range, currently the Duke 390 and TNT 300 are the only two viable competitors in the 200-400cc performance segment. The question arises that which one of the two offers itself as a better package over the other. Here’s our comprehensive comparison review to find out:-

STYLING DIFFERENCE

Starting from the initial impression of the design itself, both these two motorcycles offer drastically different approaches towards different styles. The Duke 390 has always had a sort of sharpness and aggressiveness in its design philosophy, and with the new facelift, it only becomes more focused towards that approach. On the other hand, the TNT 300 is a bit more conservative in comparison, with its more mature but beefy design.

Starting off with theDuke 390, the new bike looks much sharper and pointy, and seems to be totally inspired by the flagship motorcycle of KTM, the 1290 Superduke. The front face with an all new full LED setup for the main headlamps as well as sickle-shaped daytime running LEDs give the new Duke 390 a totally different and refreshing change over the outgoing version. Also, with a larger fuel tank with pointy fuel tank extensions, fully exposed trellis frame due to absence of side body panels and the broader and chunkier than before tail section with a new bigger LED tail lamp and sleeker rear fender have accentuated the aggression of the motorcycle even more. The only conventional move which KTM has carried out for the new Duke 390 is switching back to side mounted exhaust from the outgoing version’s underbelly exhaust.

In terms of kit, the Duke 390 was already a winner, and with this facelift, it has raised the benchmarks even higher. The new bike comes with ride-by-wire technology as well as slipper clutch, which makes riding the motorcycle even easier than before. Also, the front forks are wider and open-cartridge type, which is easier to maintain and gives a lot more agility. The instrument console is all new and has a larger rectangular TFT display this time, with the unit having digital readouts of all the information as before. This time, the instrument console also packs in ‘KTM My Ride’ feature, which allows you to connect your smartphone to the instrument console, and have a full control over incoming calls, incoming message readouts and music streaming, with an audio player. And not to forget that it continues to come fitted with dual channel ABS this time as well. The switchgear is backlit as before, but has an all new layout with new buttons for selecting and scrolling over the menu of the new instrument console.

On the other hand, the Benelli [TNT 300->article is not at all as sharp and aggressive as the Duke 390, but has a sense of bulkiness and maturity in its overall design which will be loved by more mature riders. The TNT 300 is not that outrageous as compared to the bigger capacity TNTs. Nevertheless, it still manages to appear as a handsome looking motorcycle with its sizeable dimensions and nicely styled body panels.

At the front, the TNT 300 has a long and sharp face with a sleek looking headlamp, which somehow bears a close resemblance to the outgoing Dukes currently on sale in India. On moving sideways, the bulbous and curvaceous fuel tank manages to draw your attention, which has a bigger capacity than the Duke 390. The tail section of the bike has an unfussy sense to it with a simple design, which ends up in a small tail lamp.

The instrument console, though highly informative, looks quite dated in design when compared to that of the Duke 390. This part digital unit from TNT 300 has a basic flair in its design, and provides almost half the information of the Duke 390’s fully digital unit. The TNT 300 does misses out on the new gizmos present on the Duke 390, such as fully digital meters, ride by wire, ABS, slipper clutch, smartphone connectivity and backlit switchgear. It comes with dual petal disc brakes at the front as the only advantage over the Duke 390 in terms of equipment.

So, it is almost clear that both the Duke 390 as well as TNT 300 are targeted to different audiences. While the Duke 390 is for those who want to create a first impression with its killer looks complemented by sharp character lines, the design of the TNT 300 is something which grows on you with time, and requires a mature heart to be loved, as it has a more old school curvaceous profile in comparison. However, in terms of kit and features on offer, the new generation Duke 390 simply pips out the old school TNT 300, which now has begun to show its age.

Feature KTM Duke 390 Benelli TNT 300
LED headlamps Yes No
Daytime running LEDs Yes No
Upside down front forks Yes Yes
Front small visor No Yes
Petal disc brakes No Yes
ABS Yes No
Split seats Yes No
LED tail lamp Yes Yes
Fully digital instrument console Yes No
Smartphone connectivity Yes No
Slipper clutch Yes No
Rear monoshock Yes Yes

POWERTRAIN

It is not only the ways they look in which both the motorcycles have drastically different approach, even in the front of performance, both the bikes behave very differently.

KTM has decided to retain the four stroke, single cylinder, liquid cooled, fuel injected, 373cc motor of the previous generation Duke 390, for the new version as well. Though, with a couple of changes such as a new balancer shaft and a new cylinder head, there is a minor bump in numbers, which now peak out at 44 PS of maximum power and 37 Nm of maximum torque. As before, this is a mill which loves to be revved, with a meaty mid-range and top-end grunt.

On the other hand, the TNT 300 comes with a four stroke, liquid cooled, inline twin, fuel injected, 300cc motor, which pumps out 37 PS of maximum power and 27 Nm of maximum torque. Now these figures seem to be a bit lesser than those of the Duke 390, and the heavy-weighted nature of the TNT 300 reduces its power-to-weight much lesser than that of the Duke 390, but with a taller gearing and meatier bottom end grunt as compared to the Duke 390, it is more of a relaxed naked motorcycle, which is more enjoyable when cruised on a relaxed speed, rather than revving most of the times. And when it comes to exhaust note, the TNT 300 has more potential to sweep you off your feet with its addictive exhaust note.

So, both the motorcycles have pretty different characters – while the Duke 390 is for those who love to rev most of the times with its better top end power, the TNT 300 has a more relaxed nature with a better bottom end and mid range grunt in comparison, and is more refined in comparison, thanks to the extra cylinder in its engine layout.

Performance KTM Duke 390 Benelli TNT 300
Engine 4-stroke, single cylinder, liquid cooled, 373cc 4-stroke, inline twin, liquid cooled, 300cc
Maximum power 44 PS 37 PS
Maximum torque 37 Nm 27 Nm
Gearbox 6-speed 6-speed

RIDE AND HANDLING

After the department of looks and performance, the differences between the Duke 390 and TNT 300 become wider and more apparent, once you start riding them for long. Here too, in terms of riding dynamics, both the motorcycles offer different approaches.

Under the all new skin of the new Duke 390, there is a new trellis frame as well as rear subframe, which is sturdier than before. At the front, the new Duke 390 employs an all new 48mm front open-cartridge type telescopic forks, while the monoshock unit of the previous generation Duke 390 is the same as before on the new bike as well. The ride quality, like before, is still on a stiffer side, but then, the Duke 390 is still razor-sharp on the front of riding dynamics and is a sharp handler. On the other hand, Benelli too has equipped the TNT 300 with a good hardware, which includes trellis frame, under-belly exhaust, inverted hydraulic telescopic forks at front and side-mounted monoshock at rear and fat Pirelli tyres on both ends, which make the bike one sweet machine to ride on both straight stretches as well as intimidating corners. However, considering the fact that the TNT 300 is almost 38 kgs heavier than the Duke 390, the latter is more agile to ride around corners, which is again complemented with fatter front forks.

In terms of stopping power, the new Duke 390 comes with a larger 320mm front disc brake (20mm larger than before), while the 230mm rear disc brake is same as before, both of which get the assistance of the ABS system as standard. Whereas, the TNT 300, in comparison, is adorned with dual disc brakes at front, while a single disc brake finds its presence at rear. Though, sadly, there is no ABS to inspire confidence on towering speeds, especially around corners.

So, in terms of ride quality, the TNT 300 feels more plush and sure footed on long stretches, making it a good tool for tourers. Though, if you are looking to improve your cornering skills, the Duke 390 is the bike to go for, with bigger brakes, fatter front forks, stiffer suspension setup, slipper clutch and ABS in its kitty.

Feature KTM Duke 390 Benelli TNT 300
Frame Tubular trellis type Tubular trellis type
Front suspension 48mm upside down hydraulic telescopic forks 43mm upside down hydraulic telescopic forks
Rear suspension Monoshock Offset Monoshock
Front brake 320mm disc 2 x 300mm discs
Rear brake 230mm disc 230mm disc

CONCLUSION

Whatever aspect you talk about here, both the motorcycles are totally world apart from each other, despite being the only two major players in the 200-400cc category of performance oriented naked motorcycles.

Starting off with the older motorcycle of the two, the Benelli TNT 300 looks beefier in comparison, with larger and curvier body panels, larger single piece seat and bigger tyres, thus managing to impress those who demand sheer size in this space. The performance out of the inline twin 300cc engine is not as exhilarating as that of the Duke 390, but with a more relaxed and linear power delivery, it feels more torquey in mid range and loves to be ridden sedately. The suspension is tuned on a softer side in comparison, which makes it a better choice to opt for if touring long distances is your thing. However, in comparison to the new Duke 390, it feels as if it belongs to one generation before (which it actually is) and the lack of many modern features and ABS which the new Duke 390 is blessed with will make you feel as if the extra lakh rupees it commands over the Duke 390 is not that worth.

In comparison, the new Duke 390’s sharper and more aggressive design language is totally love at first sight, and turns out to be an instant pick, if you love changes and modernity in your two wheeled machine, which is complemented with the much longer list of features which the Duke 390 comes with. The performance out of the single cylinder engine is very different in feel, with the rev hungry mill having most of the meat in the top end of the rev range. And thanks to its much lower kerb weight, sturdier chassis, fatter front forks and slipper clutch, it feels more confident to ride in whatever the situation is. With all these features and the massive price advantage of almost a lakh, the Duke 390 feels a much sweeter deal against the TNT 300, thus making it our undisputed winner of this comparison.

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