Bajaj Pulsar NS400Z vs Dominar 400 vs KTM 390 Duke vs Triumph Speed 400 comparison review

Rohit Paradkar Updated: May 28, 2024, 02:03 PM IST

The entry-level middleweight space is positively thrilling right now! Not too long ago, we treated you to a comparison of the Aprilia RS 457, Kawasaki Ninja 500, and Yamaha YZF-R3. But let's be honest, full-faired machines aren't everyone's cup of tea. If you fancy a sporty naked bike and want to keep it within the realms of single-cylinder money, then chances are you're eyeing something from Bajajâ€"maybe even all four of them!

Enter the Pulsar NS400Z, the biggest Pulsar yet, but don't let that fool youâ€"it borrows its heart from the Dominar 400, also sitting pretty in the same Bajaj showroom. Or perhaps you're drawn to the posher end of the spectrum with the Triumph Speed 400 or the KTM 390 Duke, both proudly made in India by Bajaj. So, which one will it be? Let's dive in and see which of these machines deserves your hard-earned cash!

Design and Aesthetics

Design, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. And in this lineup, each machine makes a rather bold statement.

Pulsar NS400Z:

The Pulsar NS400Z is Bajaj's latest concoction. While it's fresh off the assembly line, it still sports the familial charm. Sporting a single-pot LED headlight akin to the N 250, and those zippy lightning-bolt-shaped DRLs we first glimpsed on the NS 200, it's not just a familiar face. Borrowing the perimeter frame from the Dominar and melding it with the seats and tank from the NS 200, this bike is not shy about its aggressive posturing with sculpted body panels and menacing winglets. Adorned with belly pan graphics and a conspicuously beefy single-fan curved radiator that signals a hefty increase in power, it looks beefy up - all supported by stout 43mm forks. This is quite possibly the most muscled-up naked Pulsar we've ever seen.

And that "Z" suffix? It whispers of future siblingsâ€"maybe a quarter-faired or a full-faired 400, though let's be honest, those body styles haven't exactly flown off the shelves for Bajaj, much like the RS200 or the KTM RC 390. Do you know what would truly tickle my fancy? A modern retro. Imagine an NS400 C with a classic round LED headlamp echoing the original Pulsar 180. Now that would be something!

Triumph Speed 400:

Moving on to the Triumph Speed 400, this machine is for those who crave a sprinkle of neo-retro elegance with their motorcycling. Already a common sight on the streets, it continues to snap necks with its top-tier material quality and flawless constructionâ€"hallmarks of its noble lineage. Sadly for the Pulsar, it just can't hold a candle here; despite sharing production roofs, it's a budget build. And shockingly, the Triumph manages to outclass even the KTM 390 Duke in the posh stakes!

KTM 390 Duke:

Then there's the Duke, constantly reinventing itself. Now featuring a sharper getup, textured panels, and colour-accented seats that lend it an extra pop of style. The version our mate Vikram lent us for this story has a little tweakâ€"he's not a fan of the standard LED DRLs, thinking them a touch garish, and frankly, that's the only contentious point on what is otherwise a razor-sharp KTM. Affectionately dubbed 'The Scalpel', for its precise handling and cutting-edge design, it remains a standout choice for those who fancy a bit of edge on their rides.

Bajaj Dominar 400:

And then, there's the hefty Dominar 400. This motorcycle offers a hint of the 'big bike' experience for those drawn to a more substantial formâ€"exactly why our pal Neel opted for this particular ride. With its grand presence, it's a rolling testament to the notion that size does indeed matter.

Ergonomics and Comfort

Bajaj Dominar:

With its tourer ergonomics, forward-set foot pegs, and a lazy rake angle, it almost comes across as a power cruiser in this lineup. The slightly higher seat height adds to the feeling of bulk, which might not suit everyone, especially shorter or less experienced riders.

Triumph Speed 400:

The Triumph offers a low seat height paired with a nicely sculpted tank and easy footpegs, making it accessible for riders of all sizesâ€"short riders and tall ones like Junaid, who lent us this motorcycle. Its wide, low handlebars ensure a comfortable, upright riding posture, effectively masking its 176kg weight.

Bajaj Pulsar NS400Z:

The Pulsar seat stands tall at 807mm, which might require some riders to tiptoe. While it may feel top-heavy at first, the rear-set yet relaxed footpeg position and familiar NS200 seats offer comfort, especially on longer rides. Its sharper 25.2-degree rake angle adds a hint of sportiness compared to the NS 200 (26°).

KTM 390 Duke:

The Duke has the sportiest posture with high and rear-set footpegs and a forward-leaning stance, perfect for aggressive riding. Its narrow handlebars and slim tank enhance control while sport riding but may be taxing during extended riding sessions. It's also the only bike here with a seat height that's adjustable between 800-820mm.

Features and Technology

Triumph Speed 400:

In stark contrast to other motorcycles in this segment, the Triumph Speed 400 goes for simplicity. Its instrumentation might seem basic at first glance, but it's a deliberate nod to its modern-retro ethosâ€"easy to read and straightforward, ensuring the rider's focus stays firmly on the ride.

Bajaj Pulsar NS400Z and Dominar

The Pulsar NS400Z and Dominar 400 keep things relatively simple as well. But the Pulsar edges ahead. It features a reverse LCD cluster that integrates Bluetooth for telephony and music, along with turn-by-turn navigation. Basic, yes, but smartly connected.

KTM 390 Duke:

The Duke feels like a tech-fest in comparison, featuring a colourful TFT screen with simple, user-friendly graphics. The interface is intuitive, nonetheless.

While displays on all these motorcycles offer clear readability both day and night, the tech-forward approach of the Duke will likely resonate well with the tech-oriented Gen Z crowd. The Duke takes it a step further by including a bi-directional quick-shifter, which is perfect for the track but just as fun on the road.

Engine Performance and Ride Quality

The true test of these machines isn't just on the racetrackâ€"it's on the open road, where their mechanical hearts sing their distinct tunes.

Pulsar NS400Z:

The NS400Z inherits the robust KTM Duke-derived 373cc engine from the Dominar, tweaked for a zestier ride. With a 46-tooth rear sprocket compared to the Dominar's 45, it offers snappier acceleration, but the outright 0-100kmph sprint still falls short of the Dominar despite the 18kg weight advantage.

But the Pulsar has sophisticated electronics to boast of, including ride-by-wire and four riding modesâ€"Road, Rain, Sport, and a unique Off-road mode. Switching through these modes is a bit unintuitive, requiring you to close the throttle to even access the menuâ€"but these modes will adjust throttle maps, torque output, and ABS settings. The Rain mode dials back torque by about 30%, Road mode mellows the torque curve, while Sport mode unleashes full power. Most impressively, each mode delivers 85% of its assigned torque from as low as 3,500 rpm, making it excellent for urban tractability and versatility.

Triumph Speed 400:

The Speed 400 matches the Pulsar in power but simplifies the experience with no riding modes. It excels with a vigorous mid-range punch and quicker acceleration, outpacing the Pulsar. Where the Pulsar needs to be revved beyond 6,000 rpm even in Sport mode to make rapid progress, the Speed delivers a strong powerband from as low as 4,000 rpm. This modern retro won't feel out of place on a racetrack, but while the engine and chassis do their job well, the ergonomics and low-set footpegs will rob some of the fun.

KTM 390 Duke:

Enter the KTM Duke. The Street mode's mellow throttle map has tamed it somewhat, making it a perfect gentleman in the city. But flick it into Track mode, and the inner hooligan leaps out, snarling. The engine's beefed upâ€"more power, more torque, making it an absolute missile to 100 km/h. It will blitz past the competition and it's the ferocity from the saddle that is truly astounding.

While the Triumph strips back to basics for a bit of that rawness, it is the engaging character of the Pulsar and Duke that steals the show. These bikes don't just deliver performance; they offer a visceral, soul-grabbing ride that's utterly irresistible to both city slickers and track junkies alike. If I had to splash my cash, it would be on one of these two, no contest.

Fuel Economy and Practicality

KTM 390 Duke:

The Duke's thrilling performance does nibble at its fuel efficiency, eking out just over 30 km/l on the highway. A small price to pay for such vivacity, methinks.

Triumph Speed 400:

The Speed 400 is a bit of a wizard in fuel economy. It uses its mid-range might to churn out robust performance without guzzling too much petrol.

Pulsar NS400Z:

The NS400Z stands out for its fuel efficiency, edging past the Dominar, making it a sensible choice for both the daily grind and weekend escapades.

Handling and Braking:

Pulsar NS400Z:

With a sprightly chassis and a shorter wheelbase, the NS400Z is a revelation in handling, particularly in tight switchbacks. Its traction control system bolsters rider confidence, making it a sharp and agile contender.

Triumph Speed 400:

The Speed 400, with its wider handlebars and balanced suspension setup, assures confident handling through fast corners, though it might seem a tad leisurely next to the Duke.

KTM 390 Duke:

The Duke sets the gold standard in handling. Its fully adjustable WP suspension system and superior chassis design ensure pinpoint accuracy. Its responsive braking system, complete with sintered pads, provides exceptional control, particularly when you're riding it like you stole it.

Bajaj Dominar 400:

While it doesn't match the agility of its peers, the Dominar's stability and substantial feel deliver confidence on long hauls, appealing to those who value comfort over sprightliness.


Choosing between these mechanical gladiators really boils down to what tickles your fancy and what your priorities are when it comes to riding. The Bajaj Pulsar NS400Z is a stellar bargain, offering a heady mix of performance and features at a price that won't make your wallet wince. Then there's the Triumph Speed 400, which seduces those looking for a concoction of modern and retro charm, paired with efficient performance.

On the other hand, the KTM 390 Duke is the weapon of choice for adrenaline junkies, thanks to its blistering performance and cutting-edge technology. And let's not overlook the Bajaj Dominar 400â€"a cosy, reliable steed for the long haulers out there.

Each bike brings its own flavour to the fore, guaranteeing that whatever your choice, you'll be astride a machine that excels in its league.

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 2,52,928
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)
25.00 Kmpl

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