KTM Duke 200 Road Test
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KTM Duke 200 Review

Bike tested: 2012 KTM Duke 200

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1,32,385/-

Till a few months ago, Indian bikers had very few options if they wanted to engage in performance motorcycling. In 2008, Yamaha launched the R15, which did create a segment of sorts. In the same year Bajaj Auto launched the Kawasaki Ninja 250R, a very capable machine, but at a price. In 2011, Honda shocked everyone with the launch of the 250R and in 2012 this only gets better with the arrival of the KTM Duke 200. The Duke 200 is manufactured by Bajaj Auto, which holds 47% stake in the Austrian motorcycle maker. Everybody has been high praises for the Duke 200, with most finding absolutely no fault with the baby Duke. We ride it to find out what is all this hype really about?

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Styling – The KTM Duke 200 takes heavy design inspiration from other Dukes (namely the Duke 690 and the Duke 990). The way this motorcycle has been styled, gives it alot of street presence. The appearance is unmistakeably KTM and the Duke is dressed in the company’s corporate colors – orange with a mix of white and black. The design has been carried out so well that the Duke looks much bigger than it actually is. Everything on the Duke screams premium, right from the 10-spoke alloy wheel design to the exposed trellis steel frame and the under seat exhaust.

The design of the KTM Duke 200 is pure naked street-fighter, with bare essentials being used. You would be hard pressed to know the Duke 200 weighs just 136 kgs as the looks are extremely beefy. The attention to detail is simply marvelous and the quality is top notch. The tank has been contoured in a manner which helps you to tuck your thighs behind it. The seats are comfortable and the LED indicators look smashing. There is absolutely nothing one can say could be done better with the Duke’s styling. If I had to nitpick though, I would get rid of the saree guard and hugger and put orange racing strips on those wide 150 section tyres.

You simply can’t help notice a KTM Duke on the road and soon there are going to be too many of them. But fret not as Bajaj-KTM know their customers very well. Thus you can differentiate your Duke 200 by opting for KTM PowerParts, which include tank pads, seat cowl, sticker kit to illumination set, handle guard and alarm system. These parts don’t come cheap by any means of imagination but one can still differentiate their Duke with the use of good art work.

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Instrument Cluster and Switch Gear – Turn on the ignition key and you are greeted by a question – Ready To Race? This question is the pillar of all KTM machines, signifying what this brand is all about – performance.  The switch gear is crisp to use and are back-lit. The instrument cluster carries an insane amount of information right from the bare essentials like speedometer, tachometer, odometer to twin trip meters. While other information is shown too on this cluster, including side stand warning, low fuel level, distance to empty, distance to service, digital watch, shift light, average fuel consumption, average speed, engine temperature, etc. The display is light dependent and as it becomes darker, it goes more orange. The read-outs are slightly small though and in broad daylight, it becomes difficult to read at times.

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Performance and Gearbox – The KTM Duke 200 is powered by a 199.5 cc single-cylinder, 4-stroke engine which is liquid-cooled. The engine is short stroke in nature with a bore x stroke of 72 x 49 mm. What this motor produces is 25 hp of juicy raw horse power at a rather high 10,000 RPM and 19.2 Nm of peak torque at 8000 RPM. Well that is what the KTM Duke 200 produces on paper. Out on the road, the experience of riding the Duke 200 is very different, because simply put the Duke 200 is nothing short of a 16-year old on steroids. The way the power is delivered is absolutely insane. The Duke 200 just doesn’t stay put and wants to prowl ahead with every slight twist of the throttle.

The Duke 200 has a power to weight ratio of 184 PS / ton. It reaches 60 km/h in 3.4 seconds and 100 km/h in just 9.4 seconds. INSANE. Truly insane.

Start the KTM Duke 200 and it starts with a throaty roar. The exhaust is loud and the performance of the Duke is very reminiscent of a 2-stroke motor. There is no hesitance from the motor, which is eager and ready to race at every given moment. The real fun begins at 4500 RPM, when the Duke comes in its own. Past 7000 RPM, all hell breaks loose and the Duke rushes to the redline with utmost emergency. But the party spoils with the revv limiter kicking in abruptly at 10,500 RPM. The cut off is sudden and abrupt, specially when you consider the Duke is very quick revving. This sudden cut-off is felt in the first three gears, while it is a little gentle in the last three gears.

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The KTM Duke 200 will reach 45 km/h in first gear (relatively tall geared), 62 km/h in second gear, 82 km/h in third gear, 103 km/h in fourth gear, 122 km/h in fifth gear and 138 km/h in sixth gear (all speeds are speedometer recorded and will be 4-6 km/h too optimistic).  The short gearing helps the Duke 200 to revv to its redline very quickly but results in compromise of top speed. When the revv limiter kicks in at 138 km/h you feel that there is alot of juice still left in the Racing KTM engine. Bajaj Auto has clearly limited the engine for the sake of reliability.

When you ride the KTM Duke 200 spiritedly (you would be crazy not to!), the exhaust note is intoxicating. The Duke is loud and can be heard from far away. The way the Duke screams is totally uncivilized, going in-line with the overall theme of the bike. But mind you, the Duke is not a good cruiser. It just doesn’t feel right when ridden in a relaxed manner and hits 100 km/h in 6th gear at 7000 RPM. It can’t be tamed, it just wants to break loose and run at full steam all the time. The torque is very well spread out and you can simply get into sixth gear at speeds as low at 30 km/h. The roll on times are very good and one of the best I have seen on an Indian motorcycle. You simply twist the throttle and soon that 30 would be 130 in the speedometer, without a single cog change. Talking about the cogs, the Duke’s 6-speed gearbox uses claw shifting mechanism, which works smoothly with precision. So is the clutch, which is light and easy to operate. The Duke 200 returned a mileage of 30 km/l during our test, which is respectable for such a powerhouse.

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Ride, Handling and Braking – What riding dynamics do you expect from a bike which weighs just 136 kgs, has a tubular steel trellis frame, 43 mm upside-down forks at the front and linkage-free monoshock suspension at the rear, made by suspension experts WP. The Duke 200 is sharp, extremely poised and ready to be flicked around corners all day long. One can simply point and shoot the Duke and it obeys without any fuss whatsoever. The grippy and wide MRF tyres only help matters and the Duke is a very good handler (second only to the Yamaha R15 V2.0).

The Duke 200 features a tube type wide handlebar, which gives the rider ample feedback.  The riders seat is very comfortable and the riding position is sporty yet comfortable, thanks to the rearset position of the foot-pegs. The Duke feels extremely stable at speed but once you whiz past 120 km/h, it does not offer the same level of stability of the Honda CBR250R.  The bike features 300 mm discs at the front and 230 mm rear disc brakes, made by Brembo subsidiary Bybre. The brakes are extremely powerful and offer a terrific bite. Deceleration power is quite in sync with the accelerating prowess of the Duke 200. KTM should have offered ABS though, at least as an option. The suspension has 150 mm of travel and the Duke is sprung on the stiffer side. Thus bad roads really unsettle the bike although the ride is pliant on good roads.

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Conclusion – The KTM Duke 200 has come and re-written all the laws of performance motorcycling in India. It looks gorgeous, performs very well and has excellent dynamics. Everything about the Duke makes you believe that it is a bike of a higher class, but without burning a hole in your pockets. Undoubtedly then, KTM engineers have done a fantastic job on the Duke 200 but more so I would like to credit Bajaj Auto for the quality and pricing of this mean machine. The Duke stands for a pure KTM street motorcycle and the Duke 200 lives up to it. Now if you excuse me, I am going to paint the town orange, the Duke is indeed an irresistible machine and easily the best 200 cc motorcycle in the world.

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Whats Cool

* Muscular looks
* Performance
* Multi-information display
* Value for money

Whats Not So Cool

* Abrupt revv limiter cut-off
* Instrument cluster difficult to read in day light

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KTM Duke 200 Specifications

* Engine: 199.5 cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, spark-ignition engine
* Power: 25 PS @ 10000 RPM
* Torque: 19.2 Nm @ 8000 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed manual
* Top Speed: 138 km/h
* 0-100kmph: 9.30 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 30-35 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: Telescopic Upside Down Forks (Front), Monoshock, Alloy Swingarm (Rear)
* Tires: 110/70/17 (front), 150/60/17 (rear)
* Brakes: 300 mm Disc (Front), 230 mm Disc (Rear)

KTM Duke 200 Dimensions

* Length x Width x Height: 2002 mm x 873 mm x 1274 mm
* Wheelbase: 1367 mm
* Ground clearance: 165 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 10.5 liters
* Kerb Weight: 136 kgs