Let’s take a look at where the bike really excels and where it could have done better
KTM forayed into the 125cc segment with its smallest Duke priced at Rs 1.24 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). Ever since its launch back in November 2018, it has managed to outsell its siblings, which speaks volumes about its capabilities and the growing performance two-wheeler segment in India. That said, no bike is perfect and the KTM 125 Duke has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Here’s where the bike really excels and where it could have done better.
Most affordable KTM:
The increase in road tax and insurance costs pushed the price of the KTM 200 Duke to Rs 1.61 lakh, which meant that the KTM brand didn’t have any affordable bike in its portfolio. Considering the rate at which the performance-oriented two-wheeler segment has been growing in India, KTM felt it was the right time to introduce a small capacity motorcycle into the Duke family. Hence, the 125 Duke priced at Rs 1.18 lakh (introductory) was christened as the new entry-level bike in the company’s portfolio in India. Interestingly, the initial price tag of the baby Duke was the same as the 200 Duke when it was first launched back in 2012. However, thanks to the manufacturer’s recent price revision, the bike is now priced at Rs 1.24 lakh (both prices, ex-showroom Delhi).
Aside from the engine and a few cosmetic changes, the 125 Duke is identical to its elder sibling - the 200 Duke. A lightweight trellis frame paired with upside forks and a monoshock gives it exceptional handling capabilities, while its MRF RevZ radial tyres and large disc brakes help it grip better and brake more effectively when compared to other 125-150cc bikes. Besides this, you also have the safety net of a single-channel ABS, which is offered as standard.
Most powerful 125cc bike:
Its 124.7cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine puts out 14.5PS and 12Nm of torque. To put things into perspective, its closest competition - the Bajaj Discover 125, Honda CB Shine SP and the Hero Glamour - have power outputs hovering around the 10-11PS mark. Furthermore, the KTM gets a 6-speed gearbox, which gives it a slight edge out on the highway over its rivals with 5-speed transmissions.
Not The Best Value-for-money Proposition:
At a price of Rs 1.24 lakh, it’s also the most expensive 125cc bike in India. In fact, it’s positioned even above its 150cc rivals - the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V (Rs 98,785), Suzuki Gixxer (Rs 88,941), Honda CB Hornet 160R (Rs 94,500) and Yamaha FZ-FI (Rs 95,680). And if we were to look at the 125cc segment, its closest competition in terms of price would be the Honda CB Shine SP, which retails at Rs 68,333 (all prices, ex-Delhi).
Don’t get us wrong, the KTM 125 Duke is a brilliant package overall. However, it’s a proper learners bike. In essence, it doesn’t pack the furious power delivery like its siblings and makes do with a narrow powerband instead. You’d have to keep wringing the throttle to get the most out of the engine, which will leave you craving for more power. Consequently, even beginner riders will outgrow the bike pretty soon in the lookout for something a bit more powerful. Maybe the Yamaha MT-15?
Not A Great Tourer:
Another downside to the smaller engine is its highway touring capabilities. The Duke’s 124.7cc engine makes most of its power up top and tends to run out of steam post 90kmph. Aside from this, the petite and stiff seat means it isn’t a touring friendly bike.
Should you buy one?
The KTM 125 Duke offers good looks, premium underpinnings and un-intimidating performance that make it a beginner-friendly bike. Plus it’s the easiest and most affordable way to hop onto the orange bandwagon. However, you will outgrow the bike’s performance pretty soon, which is where performance-oriented bikes like the Yamaha MT-15 and the R15 V3 come in, especially if you’re willing to lighten your wallet a bit more.