A motorcycle that didn’t have a direct rival in our market for a long time because it had the power you wanted and a price tag that wouldn’t make you weep. The KTM 390 Duke is still a favourite for many and why wouldn’t it be? It’s lightweight, powerful, nimble, affordable, and also, customisable. So, we’re featuring one custom-built 390 today.
While the designs of custom builds can be infinite, the approach to those designs is diverse as well. So, here’s a builder who uses modern tech like 3D design and printing of prototype parts before having them machined.
The Duke belongs to Akash Das, a graphic designer in the advertising industry, who’s based in Mumbai, India. Akash and his wife, Garima (also a designer) have a multi-disciplinary design side project called Busy People, where they play with ideas that don’t fit into their day jobs. Sometimes, that includes designing custom motorcycles.
Busy People’s method is to design everything in-house, then outsource any tasks that they can’t handle themselves. Akash wanted to turn the 2018-model 390 Duke into a neo-retro scrambler, so he started with the subframe. He designed a new unit that would bolt straight to the OEM mounting points—but with a shorter and flatter layout. “This first change revealed the skeleton of a scrambler,” he says.
The seat foam was shaped in-house, then sent off to be wrapped in synthetic leather. The tail tapers into a custom finned aluminum part that hosts an array of taillight LEDs, with a custom luggage rack above, and a stubby fender below.
Up front is a custom-made headlight nacelle, wrapped around a JW Speaker LED headlight. The cowl, along with the taillight surround, fender mounts, gas cap and front sprocket cover were all 3D-prototyped before being machined from 6061 T6 billet aluminum.
“What you see on the bike is the fourth tank,” he says, “the earlier three were scrapped as I was shaping aluminum sheet for the first time. I kept it flatter and boxy to go with the naked trellis frame, but gave it little curves at the bottom to integrate the side panel, again inspired by the trellis frame. This little detail gave it a bit of the classic tracker vibe.”
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