KTM 250 Duke vs Benelli TNT 25

18 April 2017, 07:52 PMCharles Pennefather

Introduction

Evolution is a constant, but it isn’t an obvious one. It happens silently, in the shadows, at (quite literally) a glacial pace. That’s not the case with the new-age motorcycle, however; change is rapid and significant, and the 250 Duke is a prime example of this. How does it stack up against the older guard? We pit it against the Benelli TNT 25 to find out.

Looks

The Benelli TNT 25 was shown to the world in 2014. It understandably borrowed a few styling cues from the 200 Duke, like the headlamp and angular tank. It has retained a lot of its own heritage, however – the little rhombus at the front of the seat is something that has been taken from the TNT 899. There are some absolutely lovely bits on the TNT – for example, I want to remove the foot pegs from this motorcycle and mount them as showpieces in my house. The seat cover has the company name embossed on the pillion seat. The brake discs also look like they’re from a segment above, too. That’s because they really are. They’re from the TNT 300. There are an equal number of disappointing aspects in the TNT – the brake levers look great from a distance, but edge closer and they look cheap. The front number plate mounting is an eyesore, the instrumentation while legible, is from a bygone era and the mirrors aren’t usable. The rider foot pegs don’t even get springs to keep them open. The exhaust muffler is a plain-Jane unit, in contrast to the rest of the motorcycle. There are a lot of accessories available for the TNT, and some are must-have items, like the swingarm spools,for example. 

The Duke looks like the love child of Wolverine and the Super Duke. And right now, there are few things which we find more attractive aboutthis little boy. The headlamp is a mix of the 390 and 200 Duke, so it gets running lamps with light guides on the sides that seem inspired by Salman Khan hairdo in ‘Tere Naam’ anda regular tungsten filament bulb and reflector for the headlamp. The indicator mounting has moved to a spot just below the instrument cluster, quite like Shrek’s ears. The headlamp mounting is such that it appears to have no neck – the tank extensions form hulking ‘shoulders’ that almost cover the front forks. Even the belly pan has sharp points to its leading edge. The bodywork has become so minimal, it’d make a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model blush. What little frame isn’t exposed is hidden by the tank and the plastic bits under the pillion seat. The frame is a new one – the (orange) sub frame is now bolted onto the (black) chassis. The ‘inside-out’ swing arm remains, but KTM has strangely gone regressivewith itsquality of foot pegs and their hangers. The quality of the gear shift lever on the KTM is a lot better than the Italian’s, though. We’re not too sure about that exhaust end can – while it is a necessity for the new emission norms in Europe, the old underslung muffler would have been a much better fit for this design. One thing that makes Ranjan very happy and annoys me to no end about the 250 Duke is the stickers. KTM has put stickers on the rims, tank extensions, radiator guard, and even on the underside of the plastic bits under the pillion seat. While the TNT design is aggressive, you get the feeling that it will age quite well. The Duke probably won’t.

Here and now, the Duke inches ahead on looks, since it attracts far more people.

Instrumentation, Riding Position

The TNT’s instrumentation is traditional, with an analog rev counter and a digital speedo. Basic information is all you’ll get, with a gear indicator, coolant temperature gauge, fuel gauge, clock and a trip meter, other than the obvious. The KTM offers a full trip computer, with two trip meters logging trip time, average consumption, distance to empty, instantaneous consumption, and service reminders in addition to what the Benelli offers. 

Overall, the Duke feels more premium. The fit and finish are of higher quality than the Benelli, but the latter’s paint is of higher quality. Points go to KTM for the new metal tank, and to the Benelli for the red accents all over the bike. The Duke’s seat is softer than before, but that only makes it a little softer than the wooden plank it used to be. 

It’s the same with the riding position – the Benelli feels strange, with a long reach over the tank to the ‘bars, and the KTM is far more comfortable in city traffic, with an upright seating position. Find a corner, though, and the TNT’s seating position allows you to hang off just so, where the KTM’s handlebar feels too high. 

The KTM sneaks ahead, but not by as large a margin as we expected. 

Performance

Both run 249cc liquid-cooled single cylinder engines. Both have trellis frames. Both have six speed gearboxes. Both have similar kerb weights. However, the Duke wins the horsepower battle with 30bhp and 24Nm to the TNT’s 28bhp and 21.6Nm. The performance that each of them delivers is also quite different – the KTM prefers to be aggressive, with a lot of power up top. The Benelli prefers to make torque down low. The Italian also is shorter geared, and coupled with its torque curve, it feels comfortable in second gear at walking speeds. This means no downshifting all the way to first for speed breakers, or much gear shifting at all in traffic. This doesn’t reflect badly on the KTM; it just prefers to take a different riding style to the same destination.

Your ride on the KTM will be full of quick shifts, hard braking and vibrations from the handlebar and ‘pegs through the rev range. The extra 50cc over the 200 Duke is achieved with a longer stroke, and this helps – the torque and power arrive lower down in the rev range than the 200 Duke, and torque builds quicker as well. The Benelli will make you ride calmly, if only because of the weak front brake that doesn’t seem adequate at all for its performance and weight. The difference is greater than just the mounting points; the KTM has a radial-mounted calliper and opposing pistons, while the Benelli has a more conventional setup. Again, both run trellis frames and identical suspension – upside-down forks and the front and a monoshock unit at the rear. However, the KTM feels more connected to the road overall. The Benelli tips over much better, but once leaned over, it goes mute. The KTM keeps talking to you about what is going on, and rider confidence is boosted. 

The new seat and seating posture go a long way in making the Duke comfortable, but this is the one area where the TNT has it down pat. Touring is a fifty-fifty choice between the two. The Benelli’s better torque spread, fewer vibes, larger tank (by three litres) and more comfy seating position give it the upper hand, but the KTM dealer and service network and the fun factor also make a very strong case for the Duke. 

Verdict

 

The Benelli was a worthy contender to the KTM 200 Duke when it launched, but the tax structure inour country has ensured that it is priced quite high. However, now the KTM 250 Duke has entered the fray and offers better overall quality and performance, even though it lacks in some areas like seating comfort and details like the footpeg hangers. Besides that, there’s also the strong KTM dealer and service network and the peace of mind that comes with easy availability of good spares (and pricing).Add to this the bike’s new-age styling and decent resale value, and we see an unequivocal winner emerging out of this comparison. 

KTM 250 Duke: Rs 2.01 lakh, 2 years/30,000km warranty

Benelli TNT 25: Rs 2.24 lakh, 4 years/unlimited mileage warranty

Photography by Kapil Angane

Final Scores

 

Parameters

Max Points

KTM 250 Duke

Benelli TNT25

Rank

 

1

2

Looks & styling

10

 7.5

7

Ergonomics & Quality

10

 8

6.5

Features & Tech

10

7

4

Engine & Gearbox

10

6.5

6

Performance

10

8

5

Ride Quality

10

6

7

Handling & Braking

10

7

4

Fuel Efficiency

10

4

4.5

Price & Warranty

10

4

5

Desirability

10

5

7

Total

100

63

56

 
 

Ex-showroom, Mumbai

 1,74,586

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