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?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

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.

Liq­uid-cooled sin­gle has enough power to get the bike up to 75mph (or it will once the run­ning-in pe­riod is over) It’s easy to pair the bike with your mo­bile (youth of to­day, eh)

Maria runs MCN’S web­site so the KTM’S clever TFT dash holds no mys­ter­ies

Could this be the best -look­ing 125 of the year? Maria reck­ons so

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