Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com was invited to test-drive the Duke 125 on KTM's Chakan test track, near Talegaon, Maharashtra.
Here's what he has to say about the latest addition to the KTM stable.
Photographs, video: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com
KTM, which has a huge fan base in India, recently introduced a new entry-level sports motorcycle, the Duke 125.
The company is hoping to consolidate its market share in the sports bike segment and, currently, there is no direct competition to the Duke 125 in the 125cc segment.
At first glance, it reminds us of the Duke 200. Both bikes are built on the same platform.
Both look identical; even the colour combination is similar.
The big difference is that the 125 has a smaller engine. To keep the cost down, the mechanical and design parts are also borrowed from the Duke 200.
The Duke 125 comes in three colours -- orange, white and black, with a common orange alloy that looks good and matches well with the black steel trellis frame.
Its sharp design lends it a commanding road presence. Like its siblings, it grabs your attention.
The front end is dominated by the LED headlight, a meaty 43mm upside down fork and raised handlebars. The upside down suspension offers a stiffer and more planted ride.
The side profile offers the KTM branding on the tank, an exposed steel trellis frame, orange alloys and the underbelly exhaust.
The rear profile includes LED tail lights, monoshock and the beefy rear tyre.
The digital instrumental panel offers a lot of information, including the gear position indicator, gear shift light, engine temperature, fuel gauge, odometer, twin trip meters, distance-to-empty and a clock.
It does, however, have a couple of drawbacks. One, the visibility of the instrumental panel is hampered in daylight. Two, it is similar to the Duke 200, making it look dated.
The Duke 125, which is the most powerful motorcycle in the 125cc segment in India, has a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 124.7 cc single cylinder engine that generates 14.3bhp of power @9250rpm and 12Nm of torque @8000rpm.
Power is transmitted to the rear wheel via a 6-speed gear box, making the Duke 125 one of the first 125cc motorcycles in India to have a sixth gear.
The gearshifts are crisp and the clutch is light, making it easy to manoeuvre.
However, riding in city traffic will be demanding as the engine is a bit lazy under 2500rpm; but throttle past it and all hell will break loose.
The Duke 125 is a performance-oriented bike and loves being pushed to the red line. Its engine meat lies between 3,000rpm to 8,500rpm.
The company claims a top speed of 115km/h. With a long stretch, we managed to pull it to 111km/h.
The engine redlines at 10,000rpm and gets a good, crisp throttle response in the mid- and high- range.
The NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels are much better than its siblings and it has a solid exhaust note.
Its tall sixth gear ensures better mileage and effortless cruising.
The seat height, at 818 mm, is 8 mm higher than Duke 200.
The seats, though better cushioned than its sibling, are still on the stiffer side. Pillion comfort isn't great either, as the rear seat is small and uncomfortable.
The Duke 125 gets an upright riding posture and the foot pegs are pushed a bit backwards, which could make long commutes uncomfortable.
The handlebar is long and wide and the switches are of good quality.
To enhance its performance, the Duke 125 gets 300 mm disc brakes at the front and 230 mm brakes at the rear, which offer impressive braking power.
It consists of single-channel ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), a first in this segment.
The Duke 125 is equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, with a 110/70 section tyre upfront and a 150/60 tyre at the rear.
Ground clearance, at 175 mm, will get you through big speed bumps and large potholes. However, the fuel tank capacity is just 10.2 litres.
There is no official mileage figure from KTM, but we expect it to give around 42km/l.
With its light weight -- 148 kg at kerb -- and razor-sharp handling, the Duke 125 is a fun ride.
The bike offers more performance, more power and is more aggressive around the corner than any other 125cc bike. Its riding dynamics are top notch.
With its specs and features, it offers direct competition to the sporty commuter motorcycles in the 150cc segment.
KTM has the best performance motorcycles and the new Duke 125 is no different.
However, at Rs 1.18 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it seems expensive. But when you look at the quality of the hardware and performance of the bike, the price is justified.
Also, it is currently the most affordable product in KTM's India line-up.
The Duke 125 is the best entry-level sports motorcycle in Indian market. If you can accept the economy and premium price, it's the ride for you.
Watch the video below to see how the bike performs!