The Moment I saw the Ktm Duke 200, I wanted it. It just seemed like the most perfect bike for me. It looked great, was light, made the same power as the CBR250, was only 200cc so that meant decent mileage (important for students like me), had great brakes (which was a big upgrade for me as I was using a 94 Bullet 350 which had the equivalent braking effect of a gentle breeze flowing against you), had the Ktm brand which is renowned worldwide for their off road bikes so that meant good build and reliability and was actually great value for money. So after a lot of effort, I finally got my little orange monster on June 1st 2012 for a price of Rs.1,41,000.
In my opinion the looks of the Duke are really good. The styling is very angular and sharp. The exposed trellis frame looks great and goes well with the grey engine and transmission. The front headlight looks pretty good although a bit insecty and the inverted front forks really help in making the bike look really large when viewed from the front. But the view from the side is the best where we can see the Orange and Black combination going really well with each other. I never thought I would own a vehicle that is painted orange but here I am.
The rear is fitted with a fat 150 section Radial tyre with a 230 mm disc that really compliments the bike. The LED indicators and Brake lamp also give it a touch of class. The white mono-shock looks quite good on the bike though it tends to get quite dirty. The aluminium swing arm is a work of art and you can just spend time looking it at unlike most other bikes which have a swing arm which is just a rectangular bar. The centralized exhaust looks ok. The one feature I did not like was the number plate holder which is quite flimsy and tends to rattle a lot. I wish they had done a better job on it.
The Duke is a naked bike with a bikini fairing. The tank is quite well sculpted to your knees and it feels quite good to hug the tank while cornering. The rear view mirrors look fine although I feel that the view from them is inadequate. The front features a 110 section tyre that is slowed by a 300mm radially mounted front disc. The front scoop right below the radiator looks well integrated with the rest of the bike.
The seats look quite good although a bit tiny. The design of the tank actually influences the main look of the motorcycle. It looks really large from the front and goes well with the rest of the body. The alloys provided with the bike also look nice. The digital instrumentation console is quite informative and is lit a nice orange. The switchgear is nothing remarkable but gets the job done.
Design Rating: 4/5
The part which I like the most, The Performance. The Duke features a 200cc over square liquid cooled engine that is extremely rev happy. The bike doesn’t mind going about on the city below 5000 rpm, but it feels happy and really comes to life once you cross 7500 rpm. The acceleration from the bike is amazing and is more than enough for overtaking at Indian speeds. The exhaust note sounds hollow at idle but changes into a roar once you push it. The only time it feels out of breath is while riding on expressways where its speedo indicated top speed of 138kmph doesn’t seem enough.
The 6 speed box shifts quite smoothly and the short gearing keeps the fun going although it can make the bike sound quite strained at triple digits. The torque provided is adequate to pull hard even with a pillion making travelling in the city and overtaking an absolute breeze although sometimes you would get a bit lazy with shifting because there are just so many gears that you need to keep changing. The engine although not super smooth just wants you to keep it on the boil and that power can get quite addictive. As long as you are in the power zone, you’ll never feel like the power is inadequate.
Performance Rating: 5/5
The suspension is geared more towards performance than comfort. Hence the ride is quite hard and stiff and on really bad roads, your back will really suffer. Although if you are travelling on smooth road, you might forgive the suspension because that’s when the bike comes alive. The handling is remarkable and leaning even on bumpy roads does not upset the bike much.
The suspension of the KTM Duke 200 combined with the stiff trellis frame really gives you confidence to lean and make quick direction changes. I finally know what it’s like to lean on a bike that doesn’t fell wobbly when cornering. The bike is very flickable and quite easy to manoeuvre even with a pillion. It can however fell a bit unstable at high speeds. The seats provided are quite hard and quite a pain in the butt over long distances. The rear seat is tiny which means if your pillion is a person who is large, well then you’ll have to bear his constant complaining as you ride since the suspension becomes even stiffer with the pillion on.
The rear set foot pegs take a while to get used to. The handle bars feel high set and so you sit in an erect position which is useful in city traffic as your head is quite high so it’s easy to see the gaps. The front brakes are really good and have quite a sharp bite. The rear brake feels a bit spongy and during panic braking or wet conditions tends to lock up quite easily. This bike really needs an ABS system. The tyres are quite grippy for regular use although they tend to slide a bit on muddy roads.
Handling Rating: 4.5/5
Mileage and Maintenance
The mileage of KTM Duke 200 given is around 35-45kmpl depending on conditions although if you thrash it hard, it can reach the 20s, and if you ride really gently you’ll get almost 50kmpl. The basic spares like disc pads, mirrors, foot pegs etc. for some reason are quite cheap although if you damage the major parts, it can get quite costly.
The front forks cost almost 12k, and the swing arm about 4k. But overall maintenance isn’t really an issue as the bike is quite reliable and servicing costs are reasonable. The chain should be cleaned regularly and lubricated every 500 kms as this will go a long way in increasing the life of the chain and sprocket.
Mileage and Maintenance Rating: 4/5
My personal experience with the KTM Duke 200 has been great. I’ve absolutely enjoyed riding this bike. It’s a joy to have in the city and in the twisties. I would say it’s built quite well and is very reliable. I’ve done a 2500km tour of South India on it and it has completed the trip with not even a single problem. As long as you take good care of the bike, it will continue to run well. A word of caution that I would like to include is that because of its rev-happy nature and short gearing, it is easy to get carried away and go faster and faster and this can be quite dangerous. My advice would be to go slow and get used to the bike before you fully explore its potential.
Some issues i have with the bike are the Chain which keeps getting loose, the rear sprocket which wears out quite fast and the absolutely useless side guards that the manufacturer for some reason saw fit to put on this bike. Even on the smallest impact they break off the bike and so the side of the bike tends to hit the road. Other issues are moisture accumulating in the indicators and the instrumentation console. The rear mudguard also feels a bit useless especially after a short ride in the rain. The bike covers itself EVERYWHERE in mud including the rear seat. This can be quite irritating especially after you just spent an hour cleaning it.
Inspire of all the little quirks of KTM Duke 200, I absolutely love this bike. Its great fun riding it anywhere, be it the city, highway or the twisties. There are other bikes which are cheaper or more comfortable, but for sheer fun this bike is the bike to get. I would recommend it to any person be it a commuter, a stunter, a track day junkie and even a tourer (like me).Aside from some minor issues, this bike feels perfect for me. I would happily give this bike a 4.5/5
- Sudeep Tharien