A well-rounded Bike

K Shivraj
Saturday, 10 June 2017

KTM Duke 250 is impressive looking but also expensive

KTM’s new Duke 250 is placed between the Duke 200 and the Duke 390. Though its arrival marks an expansion of the KTM range in India, the bike looks a shrunk version of the 1290 Super Duke. Looking fresh with the sharp lines that have made the Duke look distinct and unique, the 250 comes with a single-unit headlamp, unlike the split-units of the 390 and the 1290 Super Duke. 

Sharing the instrument panel with that of the 390 and the RC range, the 250 is equipped with an all-new, 13.5-litre steel tank which is contoured to provide better knee grip. It is on the top of an exposed, black-coloured steel-tube trellis frame. The frame has received slight modifications, and includes a subframe painted bright orange. The frame modifications are claimed to better the weight distribution. With new seats, the seating geometry has been modified to ensure better comfort. The foot pegs have been slightly repositioned, and this results in an upright riding position that is comfortable. 

Sporting a different underbelly pan when compared to that of the 200, the Duke 250 also has the exhaust pipe mounted on the side, unlike the previous model. The pipe moves along the left flank of the bike, dropping down, and into the first-stage chamber. A round-end can marks the silencer, mounted on the side. 

An attractive bike, the Duke 250 measures 2,009mm in length, and is compact. Drawing attention are the two paint schemes, electric orange and white. Borrowing the suspension from the Duke 200 in the form of upside-down 43mm forks and a swingarm-mounted monoshock, the Duke 250 has the front forks tweaked to provide 142mm of travel over 200 Duke’s 150mm. If this points at a firmer setup, the bike is equipped with a 300mm dia disc at front, and a 230mm dia disc at the rear. Tyres are 110/70 R17 at front and 150/60 R17 at the rear. 

Averaging 32kmpl under a mix of city and highway riding (with good use of sixth gear), the Duke 250, at Rs 1.73 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, comes across a well-rounded bike. What makes it a bit tricky are the nominal increments in power and torque over the 200 Duke. Over the 200 Duke, the 250 Duke costs a good Rs 25,000 more. For that amount, the new one offers a comfortable riding position, impressive handling and a machine that seeks a good balance between city and highway riding. 

The bike is refined. Its dynamic ability is impressive. Cornering almost intuitively, the bike is highly manoeuvrable. It easily changes direction. The tyres provide good grip even though there felt a need for the compound to be softer on some surfaces. Displaying good stability at speeds, the 250 Duke provides good ride on the whole. At good speeds, the suspension soaks the irregularities quite well. The front does tend to get a bit light at speeds, it even seems to be a little unsettled on bad surfaces at times. At home on winding roads, the bike has its brakes exerting a good bite. They however call upon an amount of force to operate. The slipper clutch aids performance. The 249cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine, producing 30bhp at 9000rpm, and 24Nm at 7500rpm, produces a strong pull at the mid-range. The compression ratio of the engine, at 12.5:1, plays a role. Most of the power is in the mid-range, and above 4000rpm. There’s little available lower down. Keep the engine moving in the mid-range and the bike will deliver. 

Calling upon the rider to actively swap gears, the six-speed gearbox makes for precise shift. The Duke 250 pulls up to 110kmph with ease. It does travel beyond 112kmph but the progress is rather gradual. There does show an amount of edginess in the way the engine is called upon to deliver; the slipper clutch and precise shifts help. A false neutral did show up a couple of times in between third and fourth, but did not produce enough reason to be bothered about. First cog is short, and helps in city riding. The tall sixth cog helps with highway riding. To overtake quickly, an amount of gear work is necessary. The exhaust note is not exactly exciting, and the heat from the engine while riding in the city can be felt on the left leg.  

Pros: Attractive looks, riding position, handling, refinement
Cons: Feels expensive, no ABS

- K Shivraj

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