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KTM Duke 125 Review

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Text: Chandan B Mallik; Photographs: Nabeel Ferzan

KTM Duke 125 Review

Bike tested: 2011 KTM Duke 125

Price: €3695

The KTM Duke 125 might not make it to India any time soon but the next generation Bajaj Pulsar will definitely borrow heavily from the Duke 125. Bajaj Auto might even use the 125cc motor from the Duke 125 on the Pulsar 125 and Pulsar 150 (using the same block). KTM is famous for making off-road racing and street bikes, but does the Duke 125 live up to the KTM name? It’s time for a road test to find out how the KTM Duke 125 fares and whether the next generation Pulsar borrowing KTM parts is any good news.

KTM Duke 125 Tank

Styling – Motorcycles are being downsized nowadays but its quite the opposite with the Duke 125. The bike looks larger than it actually is. The bold stickers, corporate orange colours, striking alloys sporting particularly wide tyres are the highlights of the KTM Duke 125. But KTM engineers have not spared anything and there is some bling too with LED indicators, tail lamp and license plate.

There’s a bit of bling tailored in to the package such as LED indicators and tail lamp and licence plate. The mid mounted, under belly stainless steel exhaust is note worthy and is placed right between the swingarm and the engine. KTM has even patented this unique exhaust system, which has a unique three chamber with a catalytic converter. The bike weighs just 118 kgs (unladen) but looks much heavier thanks to the beefy looks..

KTM Duke 125 Speedo

Instrument Cluster and Switch Gear – Knowing your talking about a KTM bike, there can be nothing wrong with the switch gear quality and the Duke 125 lives upto that statement. The instrument cluster is one of the best in terms of functions and information. The fully digital unit showcases a plethora of details including speed, tachometer, time, two trip meters, fuel gaude, fuel efficiency, journey time, total kilometers travelled, distance to empty and service interval time. The display falls right in view of the rider but can be little difficult to read on the move.

2011 KTM 125 First Ride

Performance and Gearbox – The Duke 125 is powered by a 125cc, 4-valve, liquid-cooled engine with two overhead cams. A balancer shaft along with Bosch fuel injection are part of this small motor, helping it to produce 15 HP of peak power at 10500 RPM and 12 Nm of peak torque at 8000 RPM. The final drive is chain and the reason for the small engine is due to strict EU norms for beginners. One needs to revv the engine hard and keep it above 7000 RPM to get the best out of it. The bike starts feeling breathless at 90 kmph and reaches a top speed of 110 kmph before the engine runs out of steam. One can’t really blame the engine but the small displacement for this sort of performance.

KTM Duke 125 Engine

The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox, which is a joy to operate. The gearbox is extremely smooth both ways and there are no false engagements at all. Clutch modulation is smooth and very light to operate. This is an extremely good thing as one needs to constantly move through the gears to make decent progress. Yes, the Duke 125 is slow but as the old saying goes, there is no replacement for displacement. As a commuter bike though, the Duke 125 is smooth and decently powered but tends to get noisy at speed.

KTM Duke 125 Road Test

Ride, Handling and Braking – Sit on the Duke 125 and you don’t feel your sitting on a small entry level bike. This motorcycle produces a large bike feel and unless you are riding it, you feel your on a much bigger machine. The flat seats and deeply sculpted tank ensure a comfortable riding seat, while the 750 mm wide handlebars ensure an upright position which is good for long rides. The Trellis and forged oval steel tube chassis is very light, yet extremely strong. The inverted cartridge used for the front suspension is very rate for a 125cc bike. The overall design suggests mass concentration and the short wheel base just confirms the same. KTM has designed the Duke 125 for beginners and ride stability is evidently a priority. Disc brakes are from Bybre to achieve cost reduction.

KTM Duke 125 Test Ride

The KTM 125 feels extremely well balanced and feels surefooted. Handling is simply outstanding and the bike responds very well to the rider’s weight shifting. The brakes use 280 mm discs at the front and 230 mm discs at the rar and are very good. The wide 110 section tyres at the front and 150 section tyres at the rear offer plenty of grip and help in quickly stopping the Duke. Overall, if there is anything which really stands out on the KTM 125 is its excellent handling and braking.

KTM Duke 125 Seat

Conclusion – With great power comes great responsibility but just because the KTM 125 lacks in the former doesn’t mean it has any less of the latter. The Duke 125 might be an entry level bike but looks and rides like a much bigger machine. Built entirely at Chakan and exported globally, the Duke 125 is well worth the premium it commands in global markets. Even though you don’t feel any faster than any other commuter bike, it is the big bike feel that the KTM Duke 125 offers, which makes it such a worthy machine. The next generation Pulsar does not need the Duke 125’s engine but its chassis!

KTM Duke 125 Water Splash

Whats Cool

* Stunning looks
* Handling
* Multi-info display
* Brakes

Whats Not So Cool

* Mediocre engine performance
* Instrument cluster difficult to read on the move

KTM 125 Review

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • aks

    Excellent review and pictures. The Duke looks really charming and Bajaj did the right thing to give Indians a more powerful version of this mean machine.

  • P g

    Eagerly waiting to c it in flesh.personally i feel that the pulsar brand shouldn’t go below the 135ls. The pulsar brand seems to b going back instead of forward in its displacement 135 to now news of a 125 pulsar n 220 pulsar to now news of a p200. Common get us a parallel twin p350 cause we want to go up in our displacement….

  • Pulsarboy

    short wheelbase? are you kidding, please try to measure it, you will be surprised to know that it equals or may be slightly longer than P220.

    • Faisal

      Pulsarboy, I think Chandan is comparing it with other bikes in the segment where the KTM 125 is available.

  • Ysak


    v found itz xhaust.. :-D

    • Faisal

      Ysak, technically the Duke 200 should have a bigger exhaust.

  • Aryan

    @ Chandan…. you wrote “Disc brakes are from Bybre to achieve cost reduction.” Bybre is the name given to Indian branch of BREMBO. its the costliest disk brake & high quality not for cost reduction.

    • Faisal

      Aryan, no its not the Indian branch but a low cost version of Brembo. Either ways Bajaj manufacturers the Duke 125 and its available in Europe with Bybre brakes.

  • abhisek

    Great bike. This video shows baby duke 125 reaching 43km/h in just 1jst gear. This thing only a Duke can do.

    • Faisal

      Abhisek, that is impressive but tall gearing won’t help in quicker acceleration.

    • abhisek

      Yes Fas thats correct. Also short gearing makes a bike very peppy and the engine tone feels smooth unlike tall gearing.

    • abhisek

      but in the video the bike accelerates quite well. dont u think so?

    • Faisal

      Abhisek, yes it does, but still it could be better.

  • aryan

    @ Fas …. check this website. ByBre is not a low cost version.its group brand of brembo. Brembo can’t sell its part name as “BREMBO” in INDIA.

    ByBre – an abbreviation of “By Brembo” – is a brand dedicated entirely to braking systems for small-to-mid engine size (up to 600 cc) scooters and motorcycles for the BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other countries in South East Asia (ASEAN).​

  • aryan

    @ Fas…. the company in Pune where ByBre Brakes are manufactured is named as

    • Faisal

      Aryan, so technically they are for low cost bikes?

  • kaushik

    In what price range do u think this bike will be place? 65k max? or more than that?

    • Faisal

      Kaushik, yes around 65k max, but it won’t be a KTM.

    • kaushik

      65k for this? and that too no KTM badging? :0 i prefer the pulsar 135LS more! anyways, tnx for the reply and the info!

    • Karan

      65k are you kidding me…it will be priced between 90k-1lakh. Everything in this bike is same as that of duke KTM 200 except displacement(125 in this case).It can easily beat any 150 cc bike.
      P.S. sorry for the disappointment

  • ramdasrathode

    when it will be available in market ……………… hyderabad
    iam waiting waiting for it
    plzzz tell me what its cost on road

  • ziad

    Does anyone know the location and contact information of the company that manufactures the KTM Duke in india ( i think bajaj). I need to ask about importing a bulk to Egypt

    • Allwyn Castelino

      @ziad : yes baja manufactures KYM in India, manufacturing plnat is in Chakan , Pune.

  • Allwyn Castelino

    Guys even im waiting for this Beast to launch in India….. its available in the showroom……but not launched officially….I want it to b my First owned bike

  • Pinal bhandari…

    Kub lunch hogi ktm duke 125abs…??

  • rahul

    hii… I don’t know why they are not launching KTM 125cc… but I want to let you know many are waiting to buy KTM 125cc as it has same features as KTM 200
    but it is less than KTM 200… as I read KTM 200 is about 150k as many can’t offered it but KTM 125 is around 100k and it’s pretty affordable and I’m to buy it…i really wish that KTM should launch 125cc duke and i bet it will sell like hot cakes!!

  • asd

    Any launching plans?

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