Small wonder

K Shivraj
Saturday, 5 January 2019

KTM Duke 125, which is a smaller version of the Duke 200 and the Duke 390, may not be as fast and furious like its bigger siblings but is fun to ride

KTM has launched a smaller, 125cc version of its highly popular Duke series. The bike looks familiar because of its styling similarity to that of the Duke 200 and the Duke 390. Addressing the need to stay in the affordability bracket since the price of each Duke has steadily grown almost with every upgrade, the Duke 125 borrows a good deal of parts like the trellis frame, suspension, body parts, among others, from the bigger Duke 200. Well-loaded with features like ABS (albeit a single-channel mechanism that works only on the front wheel) over the segment norm in India of offering a combined-braking system, the bike, upon mounting it, does not feel any different from the Duke 200 or Duke 390. It feels like a fun bike to ride even before the ignition switch is pressed. Press the switch, and the 14.5bhp 125cc liquid-cooled single cylinder engine comes to life with a note that is not much different from that of the Duke 200 and Duke 300. The Duke DNA simply makes itself felt as the little turn of the throttle gets the tacho needle shooting up. 

If the riding position feels commanding, the bike, weighing the same as Duke 200 at 148 kg, moves with good verve. It, however, does not feel as quick or furious as the Duke 200 or the Duke 390. If the Duke 390 and the Duke 125 is ridden back-to-back, the difference is quite pronounced. Having once understood the power deficit, the Duke 125 is fun to ride. Though diluted, there’s that same rush of acceleration and crisp throttle response. Accelerating past 50kmph and close to 90kmph uninterrupted almost, the Duke 125 feels almost as energetic. If the quick shifts contribute to the fun of riding the bike, it takes an amount of perseverance to get beyond the 100kmph mark, and even closer to 105kmph. Over the top gear, it is the fifth gear that provides good momentum. Providing an impression of a city pocket-rocket like its bigger siblings, the bike is fun to ride on the city streets. 

If the terrific dynamics enable the rider to stretch the bike beyond 105kmph, and up to 110kmph, it is the trellis frame that needs to be given due credit. It makes the bike feel agile and zip through chaotic traffic and lean into corners on a twisty stretch of road. It may not be as fast and furious like its bigger, more powerful siblings, but the Duke 125 does offer a fun ride. That said, at Rs 1.18 lakh, the bike costs more than the TVS Apache RTR 200 4V and Bajaj Pulsar 200NS, and a little more money could get a Yamaha R15, and all three bikes are quicker and faster than this one.

Pros: Typical KTM, fun to ride
Cons: Price

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