Five Great Bikes That Are Made In India

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KTM 390 Duke

The 2014 Harley-Davidson Street 750 and 500 appear to be made in India and assembled in America. So what? The Subcontinent knows how to make a fantastic motorcycle. Here’s five great bikes that are made in India.

2014 KTM RC390
2014 KTM RC390

2014 KTM RC390
There is seriously not one other bike coming for 2014 that I am personally more excited about or more likely to buy. With the possible exception of the last bike on this list… The RC390 pairs a very low weight with a high performance motor, a race-bred chassis and purposeful design. And, because it’s made in India, all that is likely going to be available for between $6,000 and $7,000.

KTM 390 Duke
KTM 390 Duke

2014 KTM 390 Duke
Prefer an upright naked? It’ll probably make more sense in the city. Very similar to the RC390, the Duke should be a little lower-spec, but likely a little cheaper too. Again, a uniquely appealing bike, especially considering it’s likely $5,000 to $6000 price.

Royal Enfield Continental GT
Royal Enfield Continental GT

Royal Enfield Continental GT
You’re not going to find a more faithful recreation of the original cafe racer theme than you will in this new Royal Enfield. The 535cc, single-cylinder will go on-sale in the U.S. next year for an expected price close to $6,000.

Royal Enfield C5 Desert Storm
Royal Enfield C5 Desert Storm

Royal Enfield Bullet C5 Desert Storm
Dubbed “Desert Storm” for its matte khaki paint, there’s a ton of visual appeal in this classic bike. And we do mean “classic,” Royal Enfield has been knocking these out in India since the 1950s, updating them with electric start, unit engines and good reliability along the way.

KTM 390 Dual Sport
KTM 390 Dual Sport

KTM’s Future Dual Sport
“…we’re also developing a so-called dual-purpose or dual-sport version of [the Duke],” stated KTM boss Stefan Pierer in April. “I would say it’s a mix between supermoto and enduro. These will appear next, all made at the Bajaj factory in Chakan [India].” Expect similar specs to the 390 Duke and RC390 — 324 lbs (wet), 44 bhp, solid reliability and low maintenance requirements.

What other great Indian-made bikes can you think of in recent history?

Related Links:
MOar RC390: 2014 KTM RC390 High-Res Photos and Action Video
What It’s Like To Ride One: Royal Enfield 500 Review
Discussing Design: How The Royal Enfield Continental GT Changed From Concept To Production

  • http://www.motopraxis.com/ Aakash

    Wes Siler has now endeared himself to the entire Indian subcontinent and its 1.2 billion people.

    Well-played sir, well-played.

  • Jack McLovin

    Seems like a puff piece sponsored by Hardley to assuage any fears of Indian built products.

    • wbizzle

      From Wes?

    • Micah Christie

      Wes Siler, for all his foibles, is not a corporate shill.

      • Jack McLovin

        They’re all shills, it’s just that this generation has gotten really good at concealing it.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Piss off.

          • Jack McLovin

            Eloquent.

        • Micah Christie

          You’re ridiculous.

    • JT

      I had pasta for dinner and a salad.

      • Jack McLovin

        My favorite kind of ship is censorship.

    • Rameses the 2nd

      You must be new on this site.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      No, it sounds like a piece meant to convey that India makes great motorcycles and the whole “Harley’s are built in India” piece was about how Harley’s new product lost it’s last leg to stand on (built in the USA) instead of being misconstrued that the new Harleys were bad BECAUSE they was made in India.

      • Jack McLovin

        Have you at the very least swung a leg over any of those KTM’s?
        I guess I just can’t read hipster.

  • Jeremy

    I want to see that so called 390 Dual Sport.

    • Darrick Anderson

      390 dual sport…yawn, I want a 690 adventure.

    • Dan Vendt

      http://bharathautos.com/dual-sport-versions-of-the-duke-125-200-and-390-on-ktms-pipeline.html

      There ya go. I have not been a big fan of KTM in the past but in the last couple years I’ve bought 2. I’d be in line to by the 390 too. KTM wouldn’t build a “so called” dualsport and call it a dualsport. They call it that because it is that.

      • Jeremy

        It is very Dakar inspired. I’m hoping ktm keeps the weight down like it normally does.

      • Darrick Anderson

        It’s too early to tell, but I’d wager that it will be a competitor of the CB500X, not a dirt bike with lights.

        • Stuki

          From KTM??

  • ThinkingInImages

    Great choices. I don’t have a problem with a motorcycle made in India. I saw the Royal Enfields up close at a motorcycle show, and spoke with their reps at length. They’re beautiful motorcycles and the reps were genuinely proud of what they were showing. They do have some incredible artisans in India.

    As for KTM, I’m always fascinated by anything KTM makes. They’re unique, intense and they don’t compromise. Again, India is not a problem. The integrity of the design holds up no matter where it’s made.

    In a similar sense, my Honda is made in Thailand. I’ll admit I was curious, but not concerned, about that. It’s a Honda in every sense of the word.

    In the end it’s the quality that matters.

    • E Brown

      Yep, in my experience it’s not the build location, it’s the quality control. If the brand is serious about QC, you can get quality products from anywhere in the world just by managing the expectations of your people. The Hondas and Toyotas built here in the US lose nothing to those built overseas, for instance.

  • Dolphin Henry Overton IV

    3 of these bikes no one in the US has ever ridden, yet they are “great”. I am really excited about the RC390 and 390 Duke as well, but the fact is they could be absolute turds. Hows about we hold off until someone throws a leg over one?

    On a side note, I couldn’t care less where something is made unless they are able to make things cheaper because they throw environmental regulations and labor laws that the developed world adheres to out the window.(I don’t know if India falls in this category or not) The quality might be great, but it’s still cheating.

    • motorock

      India has environmental regulations better than the US- on par with Europe. Also, all the fuel has to be 91+ RON legally. FYI, US is one of the few countries which refuses to sign the Kyoto protocol to actively reduce carbon emissions. So, just being developed doesn’t mean that the US is doing things better. Things in India are not cheaper because they don’t follow regulations- resources- raw materials and labor- are cheaper and managed better.
      I owned and rode the Duke 200 for a few months before moving to the states- I can tell you, its way more fun (and practical/comfortable) than the Ninja 250s or CBR 250s and the quality is KTM excellent.

      • Dolphin Henry Overton IV

        That is good to hear about India, I really had no idea. China on the other hand…

        And I’m sure they are going to be good bikes, but I think I would have gone with a different title.

        • motorock

          On the flip side, it all does come to individual things and companies. For instance, the Royal Enfields have the worst quality I have seen in any mainstream motorcycle company- but there are hardcore followers for the brand. Reminds you of Harley riders now, doesn’t it’? Things have gotten better but the bike is the same it was more than 50 years ago- and build levels are sub-par without a doubt. Hopefully, the continental GT will change all that- but I won’t be betting on that.

      • LS650

        “India has environmental regulations better than the US- on par with Europe.”

        I’ve travelled through India. They might have the laws on the books, but there’s no way those laws are enforced – absolutely not.

        • motorock

          I was referring more to the emission control all automobile manufacturers have to adhere to. I live in NYC now- not all laws are enforced here either! And I think its a bigger problem when the country’s government decides to not even try enforce regulations to protect their industry, it is being insensitive on a global scale.

    • haha

      I dont see anyone raising any complaints about labour laws and environmental problems, while buying their fancy phones and other gadgets.

  • geezus

    You can always tell when your looking at an Indian market bike (like the Enfield C5 above) by the guard on the back wheel to stop the girlfriends/wifes sari getting sucked into the back wheel and the step to make riding side saddle more comfortable.

    • Stuki

      Side saddle on a KTM………

  • Malandro

    The Indian made KTM 125s are all over the place where I live(Barcelona). They look decent (for what they are)but are frequently missing from the car park as their owners are forced to take public transport. They are plagued with problems.

  • Eric Titus

    Err.. being from this part of the world, maybe we have different definitions of “good reliability along the way”. The Royal Enfields suffer from falling silencers to rust even on a pre-delivery machine. No thank you.

    • Brett Lewis

      Even the author has referred to them as “janky”, going back a few months. I don’t understand why they are suddenly “great”.

  • Chris Cope

    As pertains to Harley-Davidson, for me the issue is not that the bike is made in India. Bikes of good quality are made in all sorts of places. My problem is that Harley so ridiculously wraps itself in the American flag and does all it can to make you think its products are 100-percent American (cue blaring guitars and fireworks).

    If it’s a good bike, then sell it on the fact that it’s a good bike. Don’t dance so ridiculously around the issue of where it’s actually made, and the definition of “made,” and then fire up the all-American rhetoric.

    Also, can Royal Enfields really be described as “great?” Great looking, perhaps, but despite those videos of people riding them in the Himalayas I’ve never heard particularly great things about their performance or reliability.

  • Syed Ghazanfer

    Also worth mention is the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 and also Triumph is gonna start manufacturing its Daytona 250 and Speed Triple 250 from India within the next 2 years

  • Reid

    That Royal Enfield Continental GT….mmm so nice so nice. Now, if somebody could make a bike look like that (in a more modernish sort of way, if that’s possible – I don’t want to risk falling into the hipster douchebag trap), keep the weight down and get the power up.

    • dead_elvis

      Ride what you like, and don’t worry about what others think of you.

  • Rameses the 2nd

    India is such a diverse and beautiful country. I wish I could take a trip like this in my lifetime.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwV-Im0kGqg

    • motorock

      You can, you should. Not sure if the Enfield is the right tool though- personally, the Dukes and the Indian made Bajaj (part-KTM) Pulsars or even the Hondas are funner, more reliable options.

    • Jack McLovin
      • Rameses the 2nd

        Caution: The link above is NSFW and NSFL.

        This is the most filthy crap I have seen in my life. Based on your previous posts on this site, you are either mentally sick or severly depressed or both. That being said, India recognizes Ganges river pollution as an issue. India is a third world country and Hinuds believe that a bathe in Ganges will purify them from sins. Combine that with illiteracy and proverty and you get what you see in the post above.

        • Jack McLovin

          Are you a kid in elementary school that likes motorcycles? That’s real life. That is how people live.
          I’m not sick or depressed, and despite knowing where supermarket meat comes from I’m not a vegetarian either.
          India is so diverse and beautiful LOLOLOLOLOL

          • Stig Sarangi

            Dude. Its time you junk that idiot box, and reports flashed by the so called “media agencies”, open your eyes and explore the world. What will strike you most about India, as a country is the happiness that people have, even if they don’t have roof on their head.

            I don’t have to elaborate what prowess does India have, or not. Bottom line we get to ride across some of the best places that mother nature can give, in some of the best bikes suited to this country.

            Google up – Saach pass, Spiti, Hundar, Marsik.. and you will get what i am trying to say..

        • Stig Sarangi

          nvm

  • LS650

    Ummm… If you go over and look at some of the European web sites such as visordown you’ll see an unusually high number of complaints about the small KTMs built in India. Shoddy workmanship, poor welding, many warranty repairs, etc.

    And as for the Royal Enfield. I owned one for a few years. It was actually a fun bike, but I never went anywhere, even across town, without making sure I had tools in the saddlebags.

  • Dan Vendt

    I’ve realized over the last 35 years of adventure travel when in the beginning it was an 81 XJ650 outfitted with ammo cans and dufflebags in trashbags, that there is no perfect bike for everything out there. I’ve found that making what I have now work the best it can for what I do. It would be nice to have one bike in the garage but like you I have many to maximize the fun on the day.

  • DerekB

    No cbr250r? Cbr500r/x/f?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Those are made in Thailand.

  • Dan Kearney

    I’ve owned an RE Bullet C5 Desert Storm since the middle of August of this year. I’ve got about 2,500 miles on it so far. I did one “longish” multi-day trip of about 750 miles. I am pleasantly surprised at the build quality of the bike. I’ve had zero mechanical problems with it so far. And it gets nearly as many positive comments from the public as my Ural hack. Gotta love that. Cheers.

  • ThinkingInImages

    “Great” means different things to different people. If we’re focusing only on reliability and build quality, we’ve all run into models that were less than brilliant from all the brands, made anywhere.

    Here we have two brands that are making unique motorcycles. In a way, that makes them great, since there’s really nothing like them. In a field of look-alike in profile and purpose motorcycles that are almost appliance-like, these are great.

    A Royal Enfield is not about speed or handling. There’s something about the relaxed nature of a big single that’s special. Add the classic styling that’s real, not retro real. It’s “legit”.

    KTM swings the other way. That’s iconic style with top shelf parts. I look at the KTM’s as the motorcycle I’d like my motorcycle to be, but isn’t. By the time I spec out my motorcycle to be KTM-like it would cost more and be less reliable. I’d rather buy an RC390 and have the factory warranty.

  • chad west

    If ktm makes a 390 supermoto and its fuel injected it will force suzuki to finally update the drz :-D

  • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

    you mean the story debunking the “made in the US” thing they’re trying so dearly to hold on to?

  • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

    KTM 390 Motard?

    *throws wallet at screen*

  • Joel Leggett

    Royal Enfield has increased the quality of their motorcycles as well as the quantity of motorcycles. 3Q2013 showed 60% growth in number of motorcycles sold versus 3Q2012. So Royal Enfield has to be doing something right. Their new plant, methods and controls are already showing a better fit and finish. Also, others in the Indian market are not showing gains like Royal Enfield is. Royal Enfield will be studied in business schools in 10 years. To go from nearly folding and selling 15,000 to 20,000 motorcycles a year to selling 250,000 in less than a decade. Thats really impressive.

    Motorcycles are huge in India. Honda, Hero, Bajaj, TVS, KTM, now Harley Davidson, they all want in this market.

    Hunt around for reviews on the Continental GT. They are positive with some mixed reviews. Yes, its still just a 535cc motorcycle. True it won’t do the ton. But almost all the reviews mention that its a fun motorcycle.

    I own a 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet G5 which elsewhere in the world is the Bullet EFI. Its a total blast to ride and gets lots of attention. Its not the perfect motorcycle for everyone. For me, I love it. Yes, its my first motorcycle. True I just ride around town. But I have had it going 75 miles per hour and it did it fine. I do prefer cruising at 60-65 on it.

    Will it be the only motorcycle I own. No. Will I move up to something bigger, sure. But I know this, I could have spent 3 times as much and not have 3 times as much fun.

  • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

    amen.