DUKE OF LITTLE HEARTS
The KTM family ladder just got extended and grew a rung at the bottom, making the door to KTM easier than it was. Behold, the 125 Duke
Thus far, the 200 Duke has been the access point to the KTM brand in the country. But now there’s something smaller, easier that won’t ask you to push at all times
T`1.59 LAKH, EX-SHOWROOM, the KTM 200 Duke has thus far been the entry point into the coveted Austrian brand. All that changed a few weeks ago, when the company made entry into the family even easier with the launch of the 125 Duke at `1.18 lakh. That’s forty-one grand easier, which isn’t a paltry sum. So you get all the goodness of a KTM in a more manageable and certainly more affordable package. But there’s a chink in that orange armour, because the 125 Duke weighs exactly the same as the 200 Duke – 141kg dry and 148kg kerb, but has less power. So what’s it like to ride?
The bike that has been launched isn’t exactly new and had been on sale in Europe till the new generation was launched there. The 125cc liquid-cooled single is actually the base on which the 200 was created by boring this one out. The 125 is pretty high strung too with a compression ratio of 12.8:1. The
peak 14.3bhp is made at 9250rpm while the max torque of 12Nm kicks in at 8000rpm. The rest of the specs are identical to the 200 Duke.
Out on the lovely test track at Bajaj’s plant in Chakan, the Duke feels light and nimble. Flicking it from left to right and back again is a breeze and while it still displays the age old KTM characteristic of being slightly twitchy, the 125 Duke isn’t unstable. What’s missing is the drive out of corners. The fact that the engine’s power band is narrow and at the top doesn’t help either. On the tricky parabola that leads on to the long long straight, the bike just doesn’t have the grunt to get up to speed. The fact that the chassis is super capable only helps in exaggerating the problem.
But it isn’t all bad either. It does, like KTM says, let you experience the Austrian brand’s core DNA without intimidating you. And even though you’ll have to work through the gears to ensure progress at slow speeds on account of the lack of a good bottom or mid, it feels manageable and noob-friendly. Which I believe is the principal aim of this motorcycle in the first place, that it should serve as a good stepping stone. On that latter count the KTM 125 Duke does the job and will lure those who have always wanted to own something orange in their garage but have shied away from the intimidating output of the larger KTMs. But if you’re not too brand conscious then there are others that offer as much, or even more, at an even more accessible point. ⌧
THE KTM 125 DUKE DOES THE JOB AND WILL LURE THOSE WHO HAVE WANTED SOMETHING ORANGE IN THEIR GARAGE
Left top to bottom: Familiar stuff there; can barely read the rpm but you’ll always know your speed; first 125 in India to get rear disc and ABS; 125cc engine is actually the base for the 200; do you really need that large a radiator for a 125?