Is the smallest capacity KTM Duke as much fun as the rest of the range? We ride it to find the answer
I remember the time I bought my first motorcycle like it was yesterday. I had a hard time convincing my folks to buy me anything that displaces more than 125cc. In their minds, 125cc offerings were ideal to learn on. They were efficient and didn’t pack so much power that it would get me injured or worse. Being 18 and in college, I had a completely different opinion and refused to be seen anywhere close to the 'regular' 125s in the market then, leave alone taking it to college. This is possibly a debate that almost every 18-year old would have had with the folks - a debate that has never been resolved even-handedly. Thankfully, there is a solution to this age-old problem now. Girls and boys, say hello to the KTM 125 Duke.
Before we get on with what the KTM 125 Duke feels like, let’s understand where it fits in first. KTM first entered the Indian market in 2012 with the 200 Duke and it has been the entry point into the Austrian brand. While they had the 125 Duke on sale in the European market, they never launched it here in India. So why now, you ask? Over the years, the price of the 200 Duke has risen and it is now a bit too premium to be an entry point for the brand. This automatically made space for the 125 Duke.
Moving to the motorcycle itself, the KTM 125 Duke looks exactly identical to the 200 Duke that has been on sale all these years. From the headlight and fuel tank to the alloy wheels and instrument cluster - everything is the same as the 200 Duke. The only possible way to spot the difference between the two is the decals on the fuel tank.
All the KTMs that we have ridden at the Bajaj’s Chakan Test Track before have been hyperactive. I went in expecting the 125 Duke to be a similar in nature – a lower-displacement pocket rocket. Although I did not find what I was expecting, the 125 Duke offers a different perspective – and one that is equally good. The 124.7cc motor is smooth and vibe-free for the most part – it is only when the digital tacho starts flirting with the red line that it sends out a hint of vibration on the pegs, handlebar and the seat. The 125 does, however, have the Duke character in the way it accelerates. Given that it just makes 14.5bhp and 12Nm, it isn’t manic, but there is swiftness in the way it accelerates. Throttle response is crisp and the bike is quick to reach the 80-85km/h mark. In the top-end, the 125 Duke gets a lot less dramatic but we did see 110km/h on the speedo. The 6-speed gearbox shifts smoothly, but the last cog is essentially overdrive - extract good efficiency figures.
KTM has always ensured that all their motorcycles remain true to their DNA. And that possibly is one of the primary reasons why the 125 Duke, like its elder siblings, is based on a trellis frame. The 125 Duke is an absolute joy around corners. In fact, on the first few laps, I was almost deceived into believing that it is lighter than the 200 Duke. It switches direction with great confidence and is supported well by the MRF Revz rubber that it comes fitted with – also the same profile as the 200 Duke.
At Rs 1.18 lakh the 125 Duke may seem like an expensive affair but it actually isn’t – a quick look at the spec sheet and you will know exactly why. The 125 Duke comes with all the features that are on the bigger 200 Duke – right from the WP upside down forks, adjustable rear monoshock, single-channel ABS and of course the trellis frame.
The 125 Duke may not have the energy of a Jack Russell Terrier but it does wear the KTM decal with pride. Even on their lowest capacity offering, there is fun to be had and ample of it too. But I have my reservations about how long-lasting it might be. It won’t take long even for new riders to extract the full potential of the motorcycle given the power and torque it makes. That being said, it is without a doubt the best settlement you can come to with your folks when buying your first motorcycle.
- KTM 125 Duke
Engine: 124.7cc / single-cylinder / liquid-cooled / 4 valve
Power: 14.5bhp @ 9,250rpm
Torque: 12Nm @ 8,000rpm
Price: ₹1.18 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)
X-Factor: A great bike for learners who are passionate about motorcycling.