Perfect start Duke 125 is fast learner
New rider Maria gets to grips with KTM’S racy new-for-2017 125 Duke. Will it have enough zip to keep her amused?
ew to the #Mcnfleet17 is the KTM 125 Duke, and although it’s the smallest bike on the long-term squad this year, it’s far from insignificant. The 2017 update has given KTM’S smallest Duke a fair few additions to help it punch well above its weight. Firstly, it’s been given a full makeover, which basically means it looks incredibly similar to the hyper-naked 1290 Super Duke R. And secondly, when you switch the ABS off a yellow warning light flashes ‘not legal’ – so stoppies, wheelies, and stunts here I come!
OK, let me take it down a peg, or 10. I’m in no position to do tricks (yet) but having the option is brilliant. Aside from the fact I’m still running the bike in and haven’t experienced the bike’s 75mph top speed, it’s quite clear that this is a huge upgrade from the original 2011 model.
We’ve got engine tweaks, a fullcolour dash, updated bodywork, new chassis and bolt-on subframe, WP suspension, new exhaust, a newly designed LED headlight and a new larger 13.4-litre steel tank.
However, as techy as this KTM sounds, after spending a week with BMW Rider Training on a 75bhp F700GS last month, the little demons in my head keep yelling “you need more power”. You can’t help but ride a 125 and ask yourself ‘what is next? A Daytona 675? An MT-07?’ But with all the knowledge I’m yet to obtain, I’m trying not to jump the gun and I’m hoping that the little KTM will help me tap down a couple of gears and allow me to build a solid riding base.
Back to the small-scale fun
The best part so far is that the little Duke is the first in its class to have a full-colour TFT dash; it takes me back to my Playstation days. Instead of using combos to kill the bad guys or to score my hattrick against Spurs on FIFA, I’m using the ‘up’ and ‘down’ keys to navigate through the menu selection, with the right button selecting items and the left button serving a step backwards. Saving the best ‘til last – the onboard functions allow you to take incoming calls and change audio tracks as you can pair your mobile to the bike via Bluetooth. As if technology wasn’t corrupting our brains enough, right?
It’s a bit of a wide boy
The wide, straight handlebar is getting on my nerves. Only because it doesn’t fit through my gate as nicely as my Yamaha MT-125. When riding, however, the upright position is great, especially when filtering on my 60-mile commute. If I’m being pernickety, the stand sits the bike almost upright, which makes me feel like it’s not stable. I always jig it about a bit before leaving it.
So far this light, 137kg, singlecylinder, A1 licence-friendly machine is a blast and a breath of fresh air to chuck around on country lanes. Despite the switchgear not feeling as well-made as those on my Yamaha, it’s definitely a looker. I’m planning a trip to my KTM dealer to browse some Powerparts and I’m already eyeing up an Akrapovic slip-on. I’m also planning a trip to Wales in August for Camp VC (a weekend of biking with some awesome London girls) so let’s see if the 124.7cc KTM comes with me… for now I’m just about done scrubbing in my fat new Metzeler Sportec M5s.