KTM 200 Duke review, test ride
4th May 2012 4:17 pm
Indian bike enthusiasts have long clamored for a sporty, thrilling streetbike. Does KTM’s latest, the 200 Duke fit the bill?
There’s no dearth of high tech features on the 200 Duke’s alloy cased, dohc, button-started engine. This is a 199.5cc, four-stroke, fuel-injected powerplant with liquid-cooling, four-valves and a close ratio six-speed gearbox. It’s really smooth everywhere in the powerband. A powerful engine for its class, the 200 Duke makes 25bhp at 10000rpm.
On the go, the KTM 200 Duke exhaust sounds delightful, really sporty and healthy for a single. Although throttle response is crisp higher in the powerband, fueling does feel slightly unsettled in a narrow band between just past idle up to 3000rpm. Once past this hurdle, the 200 Duke engine feels pretty much flawless, power building smoothly anywhere post 4500rpm, and surging strongly with a vibe free nature into the meat of its powerband over 7000rpm in every gear. The clutch feels perfectly weighted, and works with positive action and just enough progression. This is clearly an engine tuned for city riding, the 6-speed box geared short.
It’s a shortstroke engine that begs for high revs before you find serious power. The enthusiastic 200 Duke engine displays a flowing, sweet revving character that adds a lot to riding pleasure. It’s quick for a 200cc bike, taking an impressive 9.52secs to pass 100kph after launch.
The 200 Duke has a sporty riding position, with the rider footrests located far behind. The new KTM uses impressive chassis parts; a steel fabricated trellis frame, with fat upside-down front forks. Behind, you sit on a linkage free monoshock and there’s even an alloy swingarm. The treats don’t end here, with ByBre disc brakes at both ends fed by steel braided hydraulic lines.
Wide handlebars with superior leverage makes maneuvering the Duke through crowded city traffic simple. The 200 Duke comes with firm ride quality that helps keep the bike planted when slicing up corners. It flicks quickly from upright and safe to well beyond dicey lean angles, at which point you start to appreciate its low-profile, MRF radial front and rear tyres. Although the aggressively rounded rear with its limited contact patch did sometimes slip a wee bit when pushing over the limit, overall grip levels felt good.
The 200 Duke loves to corner, while its brilliant chassis encourages you to ride hard. The bike always steers exactly as you want it to. The brakes are supremely powerful front and rear, with the front feeling perfect, but rear often misbehaving with over enthusiasm. You’d do well to take your time getting used to the razor sharp rear brake on the 200 Duke, for it takes no more than a light tap to generate enough brake force to lose grip at the rear. Another complaint we have is the height adjustable brake pedal feeling uncomfortably long, making it tricky and unnatural to operate even for people with feet as big as size 12.
All told, the 200 Duke still gets our vote for honestly trying so hard and being amongst the better handling motorcycles to pick up in India today.
Fast and furious it may be, but the KTM-200 Duke somehow isn't too unfair in the economy stakes either. The Indo-European KTM 200 Duke returned 35.7kpl during its city fuel tests with us riding on crowded Indian roads, this improving to 38.2kpl when out on the highways.