KTM 125 Duke – All you need to know
For a lot of youngsters, the KTM 200 Duke has been the first step into motorcycling, for it looked like nothing else on the road, came endowed with a sprightly engine with lots of performance on offer – and its lightweight frame meant it was very nimble, making darting through traffic a breeze. This was a bike that gave way to new kind of sportiness in the Indian motorcycle market. Every since the launch of the first-generation 200 Duke, there have been many Dukes with various engine capacities for various riders, while the RC series catered more to the customer looking for an aggressive motorcycle that also needed skills to ride one. The Duke has been the more popular of the two, however. While the 200 Duke and 390 Duke were bought by those willing to keep up with the capabilities of the bike, KTM found that there were customers looking at a more affordable and rider-friendlier version of the same formula – and that’s what had the brand bring its entry-level 125cc Duke to the Indian market. The 125cc segment in India particularly, has been far from sporty, but with the introduction of the Duke 125, the Austrian motorcycle maker decided to offer cheap thrills. We think it should be a perfect bike for starters, given its smaller engine and manageable performance.
Same look, yet sporty
The KTM 125 Duke looks like the other two previous-generation Duke siblings, meaning it remains the aggressive-looking and naked motorcycle that it has always been. Up-front, it gets a stubby mudguard and the distinctive headlight is bright at night. The body is full of sharp angles and edges and the exposed trellis frame looks good, but we wish it was orange, not black. The orange paint on the wheels and the sculpted tank, make it stand out during the day. However, bright colours aren’t to everyone’s liking. We still think it looks way better than the new-generation 200 Duke and 390 Duke. The deep grooves in the tank make way for good thigh grip, but towering riders might feel it a bit cramped while seated. We also noticed the ankle grip panels, situated behind the footrests are positioned a bit too low. The rider’s seat is well padded; so is the pillion’s. The quality, fit and finish are reasonably good. On the Duke, you sit with your feet pushed backwards. The small digital instrument cluster displays all the necessary information.
Power to play with
The KTM 125 Duke is powered by a 124.7cc, single-cylinder engine that uses fuel-injection, liquid-cooling, four-valve and a DOHC setup. The motor produces 14bhp and 12Nm, making it the most powerful among all 125cc motorcycles in India. At low revs, power is particularly great and at 7,000rpm, you feel the liveliness of the engine. The exhaust note is just like that of the older-generation KTM bikes, but is a little softer on the ears. We were left pretty impressed with the performance from an engine this small but it doesn’t match the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V for acceleration from 0-100kph. Mated to the engine is slick, 6-speed transmission. The bike always feels eager and comes with the flexibility to potter about town in higher gears. The 125 Duke can manage a top speed of 120kph, but it’s going to take a dedicated rider – but more importantly – a patient one to get there because the engine begins to feel strained after 80kph. You don’t feel the heat from the engine and that’s something to appreciate, although you will notice that the engine temperature gauge does light up in traffic.
On the road
The KTM 125 Duke features a trellis frame, a premium WP-branded USD fork up-front and a monoshock at the rear, just like its previous-generation siblings. The ride is firm and sporty, meaning you get a motorcycle that handles better than it rides. We think the bike should’ve been lighter than the old 200 Duke, because for an engine that small, the bike does look a little too extreme, but that’s okay for someone who isn’t bothered about high speeds – and you’d be happy to know that the bike isn’t heavy. KTM Bikes have ensured the 125 Duke receives single-channel ABS with the same 300mm and 230mm discs providing stopping power. The bike scores on the fuel efficiency front, delivering around 40kpl in the city and 45kpl on highways.