• Quality grips and back-lit switchgear; bar-end weights mi...
    Quality grips and back-lit switchgear; bar-end weights missing.
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2019 KTM 125 Duke review, road test

5th Mar 2019 6:30 am

KTM introduces its 125cc sport-naked in India. We test its competency.

  • Make : KTM
  • Model : 125 Duke
We Like
India's first premium 125
Superb dynamics
Authentic KTM experience
We Don't Like
Performance doesn't match price
Brakes could be a little stronger
Weight could be lower

UPDATE: The KTM 125 Duke has received a price hike of Rs 6,835. It now costs Rs 1.25 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

It’s been around two decades since we considered a motorcycle in the 125cc space to be genuinely sporty. These bikes in our market start at around 150cc, but KTM has chosen to take a different approach. Its recently launched 125 Duke is essentially a 200 Duke with a 125cc heart, and is the very same one that KTM developed for the light motorcycle license category (A1) in the United Kingdom. We head out to the streets to see how well the new KTM does its job.

The design of the 125 Duke was first seen on the 200 Duke in India, and it was considered ahead of its time by many. And that proved to be true since it was launched nine years ago and the sharp edges and unique styling cues – inspired from higher-capacity Dukes of that time – have aged well, and the motorcycle stands out even today.

Engine temp gauge lives near maximum in traffic, like other Dukes.

Add to that the bright orange colour scheme the company is known for, and you have something that looks so striking that it may not appeal to those with a more subtle taste. However, that said, the design of the 250 and 390 Dukes would have made it a sweeter package, but the consistently strong sales numbers of the 200 Duke reveal that India is still quite enamoured by the old shape. Also, there’s the problem that the new-gen 125 Duke (sold internationally) would cost more than the 200 Duke here – can’t have that now, can we?

Halogen-powered headlight now showing age, but works well.

KTM’s 124.7cc, single-cylinder engine is modern and uses a fuel-injection, liquid-cooling, four-valve, DOHC setup. It makes 14.5hp and 12Nm, which not only are the highest among 125s but are also on par with most 160s sold in India. Power at low revs is expectedly weak, but the motor does come alive at around 7,000rpm and pulls until just short of the 10,000rpm redline. The bike sounds just like a KTM should too, albeit not quite as deep as its bigger siblings.

Components like the radiator also remain unchanged from other Dukes.

Performance is good for an engine this size, but the Vbox reveals that the 125 Duke is no match for the fastest of the 160s. The baby Duke is nearly 3sec slower from 0-100kph than the TVS Apache RTR 160 4V and even the Suzuki Gixxer can manage the run in 15.54sec.

This engine is paired to a smooth-shifting, precise 6-speed gearbox. And just like on the 200 Duke, the gearbox has very closely packed ratios, which offer an eager performance as well as the flexibility to ride around in higher gears at city speeds. The 125 Duke will touch 120kph on a long straight with the rider fully crouched, but it takes long to get there as the acceleration slows down past 80kph.

What’s nice is that the 125 never feels hot, despite the fact that the engine temperature gauge lights up all the bars in heavy traffic, like on its higher-capacity siblings.

The engine makes all the right noises, just a little lower on the bass.

The trellis frame and the segment-leading, premium WP-branded USD fork and monoshock on the 125 are the same ones as on other Duke models (including the 390) in India. What this means is that the new Duke has a similar firm and sporty ride where comfort takes a back seat to favour dynamics.

As a result, the 125 feels over-engineered for the level of performance that it offers and you almost wish it was specced-down a bit to help reduce the weight, which at 148kg is the same as the 200 Duke. While the bike does feel light and easy, a lower weight figure would have helped performance.

KTM has equipped the 125 with single-channel ABS on the same 300mm and 230mm discs as the 200 Duke. While the brake bite and lever pressure is good, it lacks the force we would have liked under hard braking.

300mm disc at the front has good feel, but needs more stopping power.

This is where the puny powerhouse really shines. Despite being such a high-compression and high-revving motor, the 125 delivered impressive fuel-efficiency figures. The bike gave us 39.1kpl in the city and 46.5kpl on the highway. Both figures are impressive for real-world conditions, but the urban efficiency is truly admirable. The KTM achieved this thanks to the flexibility gained from the short gearing on the bike.

 

Foot peg assembly looks good but offers precious little heel support.

The 125 Duke has identical ergonomics to the current 200 Duke and the previous-generation 390 Duke, both of which have a great reputation of carving corners and acing racetracks. What it means is that you are sat in a sporty riding stance with your feet quite far backwards. However, with the positives of the old design come the negatives, and the 125 Duke does feel cramped for taller riders whose knees come in constant contact with the muscular tank extensions.

Seat offers just about enough room, but larger riders will wish for more.

Rs 1.18 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) now gets you entry into the KTM brand. And you get quite an authentic experience, too, because the 125 Duke feels exactly like its big siblings, except for the fact that it’s pleasantly efficient and the riding experience, in comparison, feels like it’s in slow motion.

 As a first sports bike, the 125 Duke is a great option, especially for someone relatively new to motorcycling. It has the feel-good factor of a sporty motorcycle and offers all the kit you could dream of having on an entry-level machine. But this is not the bike you want if speed is what you are after, and it won’t be a satisfying upgrade for those looking to scale up from their Pulsars, Gixxers and RTRs. If that is where you are coming from, you would be better off buying a more powerful motorcycle for similar money, the choices for which are plenty.

 

PRICE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Ex-showroom - Delhi Rs 1.18 lakh
ENGINE Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
No of Cylinders Single-cylinder
Cubic Capacity (cc) 124.7cc
Cooling System Liquid-cooled
Fuel Delivery System Fuel-injected
Bore/Stroke (mm) 58/47.2mm
Max Power (hp @ rpm) 14.5hp at 9,250rpm
Max Torque (nm @ rpm) 12Nm at 8,000rpm
Power to Weight Ratio (hp/tonne) 97.9hp per tonne
TRANSMISSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
No of Gears 6
Dimensions & Chassis Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Weight (kg) 148kg
Length (mm) 1993mm
Width (mm) 789mm
Height (mm) 1083mm
Wheel base (mm) 1366mm
Ground Clearance (mm) 175mm
Fuel Tank capacity (lts) 10.2 litres
BRAKES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front Brake Type Disc
Front Brake Size (mm) 300mm
Rear Brake Type Disc
Rear Brake Size (mm) 230mm
SUSPENSION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front Suspension USD fork
Rear Suspension Monoshock
WHEELS AND TYRES Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Front wheel (inch) 17
Front Tyre 110/17
Rear wheel (inch) 17
Rear Tyre 150/60
ACCELERATION Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
0 - 10 kph (sec) 0.42
0 - 20 kph (sec) 0.99
0 - 30 kph (sec) 1.90
0 - 40 kph (sec) 2.93
0 - 50 kph (sec) 3.98
0 - 60 kph (sec) 5.29
0 - 70 kph (sec) 6.92
0 - 80 kph (sec) 9.27
0 - 90 kph (sec) 12.25
0 - 100 kph (sec) 16.67
BRAKING Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
60 - 0 kph (mts, sec) 19.2m
EFFICIENCY Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
City (kpl) 39.1kpl
Highway (kpl) 46.5kpl
Overall (kpl) 42.8kpl
Overall Range (kms) 436.5km
Feature Checklist Petrol Petrol AT Diesel Diesel AT
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) SIngle-channel
2019 KTM 125 Duke review, road test
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