KTM Duke 125 vs Yamaha MT-15 – Spec Comparison
We have pinned together the smallest capacity motorcycle from KTM and Yamaha to check which fares better between the two.
With the growing interest in fast-moving sub 150cc street motorcycles, KTM had launched the Duke 125 back in 2018. However, back then, the Duke 125 failed to gain notable success largely because of its old and outdated design. Learning from their previous mistake, KTM is here with the 2021 Duke 125 in new clothes and a BS6 compatible motor. In the meantime, Yamaha launched the hot-blooded MT-15 in 2019. The Duke 125 has some clever This spec comparison is very interesting. At one end we have a bike that has better equipment but less power. While the other one produces more power with traditional equipment.
With the 2021 update, the Duke looks much angular now and fits in with its elder siblings. While it looks exactly similar to the Duke 200, it misses out on a proper exhaust system and gets an underbelly unit. From the front, the halogen headlamp looks sharp and the split boomerang-shaped LED DRLs look pretty funky. The tank shrouds with the Duke 125 provide a sporty look to the bike. As seen on all KTM Duke models, the exposed trellis frame is present here too and is finished in KTM’s signature Electronic Orange colour. Sadly, the KTM is only available in a single colour option which is a big turn-off if you do not like orange. Overall, the KTM looks dashing and muscular.
Coming to the MT-15, it sets a very bold front impression upon its arrival and looks something out of a Transformers movie. From the sides, it looks rather stuffed in because of its shorter wheelbase. The face of the motorcycle has a split eyebrow design for the DRLs and a round LED projector. A quick look towards the indicators will disappoint you as the bike gets halogen-based units which ruin the futuristic appeal. The panels and stickering on the MT-15 is rather humble, especially when compared to the duke. The shape and recess of the tank blend in with the nature of the bike. Where the MT impressed us is the choice of colour options. The MT-15 is available in black, blue, and Ice Fluo-Vermillion which looks quite fancy. There’s also a Monster edition available in the black colour variant.
The Duke 125 is very well equipped for a 125cc street bike. Starting with the suspension, it gets 43 mm USD forks by WP at the front which is a step ahead of its competition. Next up are the brakes, the Duke 125 gets a 300 mm disc upfront and a 230 mm disc at the back, which provides enough stopping power for a 125cc bike. However, it only gets a single-channel ABS system which is a bit absurd. What’s also absurd is the absence of a LED headlamp especially when it demands a premium of more than Rs. 10,000/- over the MT-15. KTM has still not retired the old LCD cluster, it does duty on the Duke 125. Although this unit appears to be quite old, it displays a lot of information such as fuel efficiency, distance to empty, service interval time, average speed, etc.
Feature-wise, the MT is nearly as good as the Duke 125. It also gets a mono-shock at the rear, like the Duke. But it retains the old-school telescopic suspension setup, as opposed to USD forks on the Duke. A 282 mm disc at the front and a 220 mm disc at the rear handle the braking duties combined with single-channel ABS. Unlike the Duke, it gets an LED projector headlamp but misses out on LED indicators. The MT also gets a radial tyre at the back. The instrument cluster features a negative LCD with a blue backlight, which provides significantly better readability than the Duke but lacks the data. Moreover, the MT receives a slipper clutch for better and smoother gear shifts, which the Duke does not get.
Both bikes have an engaging and upright riding triangle. The slightly rear-set footpegs and lean in posture towards the handlebar enable a controlled and involving riding experience. The Duke’s seat cushion feels to be a lot harder than the MT-15. However, the split seat on the Duke has a reasonable size for keeping the rider as well as the pillion comfortable. Also, the seat height at 822 mm on the Duke will be a bit challenging for shorter riders, compared to the MT’s seat height of 810 mm. Compared to the MT, the mirrors on the Duke provide a better view of the rear due to its longer stem stretching out wide. In a nutshell, both motorcycles have a similar seating posture, but the Duke feels a little more sporty, whereas the MT-15 is a better option for comfort seekers.
As we all know, the KTM engines have always been punchy and rev-happy motorcycles, and this one is has similar characteristics. Powering the KTM is a 124.7cc, liquid-cooled engine producing 14.30 BHP at 9250 RPM and 12 Nm of torque at 8000 RPM. The 6-speed gearbox on this provides you with smoother shifts. Although the engine feels sluggish at lower RPMs, it performs best in the mid-range and top-end. Considering the fact that it is a 125cc machine, the exhaust note is pretty satisfactory. Besides, it returns you with a brilliant fuel economy of 40 km/l. That paired with a fuel carrying capacity of 13.5-litres can take you on and on for 540 km.
Powering the MT is a 155cc, liquid-cooled motor producing 18.5 BHP at 10,000 RPM and 13.9 Nm of torque at 8500 RPM. Clearly, this is the hot-blooded engine here! These figures leave the Duke behind by 4.2 BHP and 1.9 Nm of torque. Speaking about the gearbox, it also gets a 6-speed unit with a slip and assist clutch for better and smooth gear shifts. While riding hard, the power difference on the MT is quite noticeable, as it feels faster than the Duke. Also, the exhaust note produced by the MT is more grunty and likeable to hear. Just like the Duke, the MT offers similar fuel efficiency figures around 40 km/l. But the downside here is that the MT gets a smaller fuel tank with 10-litres of capacity. With the MT-15, you can ride on for 400 km.
Both motorcycles are sharp handlers. But the Duke is the one that gets premium equipment on offer. The 43 mm front USD forks by WP, the Duke feels just a bit more stable and sharp than the MT. Also, the tried and tested trellis frame makes for a very communicative riding experience. With this chassis and suspension paired to the MRF Rev Zapper tyres, cornering is a breeze on the Duke. Also, the shorter wheelbase of 1357 mm makes it apt to zip through city traffic. The braking performance on the Duke is also slightly better and feedback-rich as it gets a 300 mm disc up front and 230 mm discs at the back backed by Brembo callipers. However, all of these good things cost the Duke 21 kg of extra weight, bringing the total weight to 159 kg.
Surely, the Yamaha is the lightest of the two, weighing in at 138 kg. However, the equipment offered is not as premium as on the Duke. The MT gets conventional telescopic forks in the front and mono-shock at the rear. We have seen the deltabox frame on the old-gen R-15 and it is pretty feedback-rich and feels very rigid. On the MT, you get a 140-section rear tyre as opposed to the 150-section unit on the Duke. You should also note that the MT gets a radial tyre only at the rear while the Duke gets it at the front as well. Braking duties are managed by a 282 mm disc at the front and a 220 mm unit at the rear, backed by Nissin callipers.
KTM being the smaller capacity motorcycle between the two, is surprisingly the most pricey. With a price of Rs. 1,87,897/- (on-road, Mumbai), it is nearly Rs. 15,000/-more expensive than the Yamaha, which is available for Rs. 1,73,500/- (on-road, Mumbai). What you get for paying the extra premium on the Duke are the top-notch equipment and an agile handling machine. The MT here offers a little less in terms of equipment than the Duke, but what you get is a tough and long-lasting Japanese machine. The MT is better suited to riders looking for a fun yet comfortable experience. While the Duke on the other hand, consistently provides an engaging riding experience and satisfies your corner cravings like nothing else.