KTM surprised almost everyone with the unveil of the 250cc single-cylinder engined twins in Tokyo last week but where do these motorcycles slot in the company’s Indian lineup?
KTM has been on a product roll-out offensive, bringing new models out every now and then. Remember last year, KTM CEO mentioned that in 2015, they will launch a 250cc motorcycle and we all were left scratching our heads as to what it would be. With the 200 and 390 already there, a 250 seemed like a bad idea and we gave the company the benefit of doubt by hoping it would be a twin-cylinder engine in the 250cc bike. However, KTM has gone ahead and unveiled the Duke 250 and RC 250 which are powered by a 248.8cc, single-cylinder motor that produces 31.3 PS and 24 Nm.
In essence, this engine is a watered down version of the 373.2cc unit that powers the Duke and RC 390s. This means, the engine has top hardware and components and finds the sweet spot between the madness of the 200 and the lack of city ride-ability on the 390. We had mentioned in our Duke 390 review that KTM has done too short gearing on the 200 while the 390 has been too tall-geared, looks like the 250 has the best balance of both. The bike runs on Pirelli Diabolo Rosso 2 but all small capacity KTMs use the Italian tyres while in India we get Metzelers.
So why the Duke 250 and RC 250 when you already have the 200 and 390 twins. Simple, in some markets, 250cc bikes are very popular and that’s where the 250cc siblings will become the talk of the town. In fact, in some markets like Indonesia and Japan, 250cc bikes are so popular that Kawasaki and Honda continue to sell the Ninja 250 and CBR250R respectively in that country. No wonder KTM decided to debut the 250cc Duke and RC at the Tokyo Motor Show. But where does that leave these bikes as far as the Indian market goes. Here are all the possibilities –
1) It makes no sense to keep both the 200 and 250 on sale in India as KTM won’t be able to price them properly (the price gap between the RC 200 and Duke 390 is very less anyways), thus having all 6 bikes (RC and Duke versions of the 200, 250 and 390) on sale seems close to impossible.
2) The KTM Duke 390 and RC 390 will be untouched, thus whatever has to happen is between the 200 and 250. KTM could continue the lineup as it is and not launch the 250cc twins in India.
3) KTM could replace the RC 200 with the RC 250, while not bringing the Duke 250 and keeping the Duke 200 as its entry-level offering in India. Only problem being price gap between the RC 250 and Duke 390 would narrow down too much. Positive point is, the RC 250 would directly rival the new Honda CBR250R/CBR300R.
4) KTM can’t discontinue the Duke 200 and launch the Duke 250 while keeping the RC 200 on sale as it is, it will become difficult to justify the positioning, thus this option can be ruled out.
5) This leaves us with one option and that option seems the best bet. The company should replace the KTM 200 twins with the 250 models. Thus the entry-level KTM in India becomes the Duke 250 while the RC 200 is replaced by the RC 250. There are a few advantages to this, as this will help KTM differentiate itself from Bajaj since the Pulsar is offered in 200 guise. Also, since the 250 gets slipper clutch and ABS, the same can be offered on the Indian models to properly align the brand with premium positioning.
Anyways what ever happens, the fact is, the 250cc KTM bikes are made in India and sold the world over and Bajaj exported the motorcycle to KTM’s headquarter in Austria way back in October 2014. India sure is making the world ‘Ready To Race’.