KTM 125 Duke Track Ride Review

02 January 2019, 11:34 AM Janak Sorap

Introduction

It’s finally here. Ever since KTM entered the Indian market with the 200 Duke, it got accepted quickly by motorcyclists on the lookout for a swift, nimble and potent machine that was ready to offer a rush of adrenaline when desired. The 200 Duke did well and it still does by making for a major chunk of the sales by KTM India. The Indian arm of the Austrian brand had been already manufacturing the 125 Duke alongside the 200 Duke. But, back then it was limited to only exports. You might think, why introduce it here now? Well, KTM feels now is the right time to do so.

The 200 Duke, KTM’s smallest offering until sometime ago, is sold today with a sticker price that sits in the 1.5 lakhs bracket, making it quite an expensive machine as someone’s first motorcycle. And then, there’s the kind of performance available at the twist of the throttle which can take you by surprise if not careful. KTM wants its motorcycles to be more accessible and approachable which is where the 125 Duke comes in.

What is it?

 

The 125 Duke is entirely identical to the 200 Duke in terms of design. There is absolutely no difference between them except for the new decals bearing the 125 lettering. It has the same trellis frame, WP upside down forks up front and an adjustable monoshock at the back. It also has the same instrument console as seen on the 200 Duke along with the same switchgear, headlamp unit and handlebar. What’s different here, however, is the motor. It’s the same unit shared by other Duke models but with a smaller bore.

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 1,17,331

 

Apart from that, the 125 Duke gets single-channel ABS as per the upcoming mandate. The rear wheel also comes with an ABS plate with a sensor, but its purpose is to prevent the rear wheel from lifting under harsh braking.

How does it ride?

If you have ridden a Duke before and have appreciated its riding stance, you’ll feel right at home with the 125 Duke. It has the same aggressive yet upright posture with rear-set footpegs and wide handlebar. All these attributes make the 125 Duke an extremely agile motorcycle. Bajaj’s test track in Chakan offers a good mix of tight and long-sweeping corners which the 125 Duke cleared without any fuss. No matter how hard you push it, with best-in-class suspension and sticky MRF Revz tyres, there is ample grip available.

Engineered to displace 124.7cc, the motor produces 14.3bhp of power and 12Nm of torque. Besides that, this motor has 4-valves with DOHC and is liquid-cooled, which is quite a lot on offer for a 125cc motorcycle. However, for the amount of power it generates, the same doesn’t get transmitted into reality. The curve is gradual while the power band kicks in only from 6000 rpm all the way until you hit the rev limiter. The initial jolt of acceleration present in the 200 Duke is absent here, robbing it of its hooligan character. Top speed on the straights with the throttle wide open stands at 108kmph which is decent for a 125cc offering.

Anything else I should know?

Absolutely. The 300mm disc with radial caliper up front and a 230mm disc with floating caliper at the back are the best in the segment. The progression and feedback from the brakes are so good that one can modulate the force applied even while cornering. And since the front brake is equipped with ABS, slamming the brakes does not cause the front to lock up.

Moving on, one of the factors that we noticed while riding the 125 Duke was the lack of vibrations. Even at high rpm, which is prone to cause vibes in other variations of the Duke, the 125 Duke had close to none. On reaching the 100kph mark, there were no vibrations felt at the footpegs or on the handlebar that caused any inconvenience.

Should I buy one?

If you are new to the world of motorcycles and want to develop your riding skills rather than simply going fast, the 125 Duke is the ideal bike for you. For its price, the kind of equipment you gain access to is available only in the 150cc segment and above. On the flip side, compared to other 125cc motorcycles, the 125 Duke is definitely an expensive motorcycle. Then again, very soon, all motorcycles in the segment are due for an ABS and fuel injection upgrade in the coming years which is bound to reflect on the price front. The 125 Duke is already offering all that along with equipment that is unlikely to be offered on other bikes anytime soon. This makes it a good proposition to consider.

Where does it fit in?

In terms of segment rivalry, the 125 Duke has none as its specs and performance matches with 150cc motorcycles. In this segment, the 125 Duke competes with the Bajaj Pulsar NS200, Suzuki Gixxer FI and the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V. And in terms of pricing, the 125 Duke lines up with Yamaha’s F25.

Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi

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