2019 KTM Duke 125
Hello Baby...let's get acquainted with KTM's Baby Bike!
Published on 13 Jan 2022
(JULY 2019) On the 8th of May this year, KTM’s Duke 125 was introduced to Sri Lankan motorcycle lovers. Even before the Duke 125 landed on our shores, the KTM Sri Lanka order books had seen much activity, we are told by the KTM people, and since the official launch many more riders have happily fallen for the thrills of the Orange Fever.
The ‘Baby’ Duke is the spitting image of its elder sibling the Duke 200, and the family line is taken deep into its very being, sharing most of the same underpinnings as on the bigger Duke. Sorry, not bigger, just older, for even in dimensions the two Dukes are similar. Brakes, tyres, suspension front and rear, most of the body work, fuel tank (with different graphics), curb weight (148kg), wheelbase (1366mm), ground clearance (175mm) and seat height (810mm) are common to both Dukes. The Duke 125 rider takes his position on the bike higher up than on most other 125s and this is reflected in the road presence of the bike and rider, too.
In a smart move both KTM and local Sole Distributor David Pieris Motor Company (DPMC) followed on the success of the larger KTM models to introduce the littlest of Dukes to our riders with strategic timing. This instantly opens out the KTM line-up available to the local two-wheeler fans, while from a sales and marketing point of view the Baby Duke could be an important tool in the KTM stable, successfully enlarging the footprint of the brand. By this timely step, KTM and DPMC offer the riders of 100cc and less-advantaged 125cc, and even 150cc, bikes an instant step-up towards the premium segment. This would normally have been 150cc and 160cc and higher, but the KTM, only a ‘little’ 125 though it is, faces up squarely to these larger capacity bikes both on the road and in the hearts of the riders.
KTM is an inspirational and aspirational brand and the arrival of the Baby Duke, with its price tag reachable by a good many, gives the rider a great opportunity to buy and ride European, especially so the renowned Austrian brand to boot. Manuranga Nayanajith of DPMC Group Corporate Communications says “This is the first time we (DPMC) have launched a 125 which has ABS and EFI.” And, of course, KTMs have Double Overhead Cams driving 4 valves in the cylinder head, and are liquid-cooled too. Also motorcycle fans know well that all KTM bikes come into this world race-ready and kicking and raring to go. How juicy is all this!
On the road the Baby Duke behaves itself well. The linear torque provides for friendly acceleration when the throttle is gently twisted open (as in everyday riding), the close ratio gearbox is easy to use and the engine characteristics allow the bike to be in a high gear through urban traffic, the commanding riding position helps in slicing through traffic blocks, the powerful disc brakes front and rear so encouraging and reassuring, the wide tyres (especially the rear 150/60 x 17) with such enthusiastic grip through corners, the WP rally/grand prix-bred suspension (designed and built by KTM for KTM) front and rear (with 43mm USD fork up ahead), and the ABS feature which also marks this littlest of Dukes. All of these motorcycling pluses combine to provide the rider with the unique-to-KTM ride experience.
On a bike, especially one that professes a sport type DNA, ergonomics is a critical part of its construction. On the Duke 125, however, I felt that the foot pegs were positioned slightly off of ideal. For my taste, at least. The rest of the bike build I found just nice - the saddle height and position, fuel tank size shape and location, handlebar grips and brake levers, handlebar mounted switches, rear view mirrors, all seemed to be just right.
Given that the Duke comes from a long line of competition and highly successful off-road machinery I tried changing my riding style partway through our ride. Initially where I had ridden with a more conventional (sport type) elbow position used for road riding, I later stuck my elbows out somewhat to a cross between road and dirt riding. I used the leverage thus gained to haul the Baby Duke around by the handlebars, as distinct from the more conventional body-weight-shift for maneuvering. Both styles, I found gave me nice, about equal control of the bike movements and both provided huge amounts of fun. The Duke was well poised all the way through our time together, a characteristic that would no doubt appeal to the entry-level rider, and a step or two higher, too.
Building and offering a series of engine capacities on a common platform could be helpful to manufacturer and rider. From the manufacturer point of view this would help keep down costs of design, production, inventory, advertising/publicity, and attendant stuff, and more cost-effective model upgrades. From the rider point of view it could mean lower price to pay for purchase, simpler and quicker spare parts availability, reduced overall running costs, and more stable value proposition down the years. So, while in a number of ways - physically and psychologically - we are aboard a KTM Duke 200, we are in fact seated above a ‘little’ 125cc powerplant. The dual advantage, then of size and frugality; a figure of around 2.7 liters per 100 km has been spoken about (from international owner figures), translating to over 350 km of joyful motorcycling on the 10.2 litre fuel reservoir. For a bike that is so full of advanced features and one that is so well put together, and offers the prestigious KTM brand name without actually breaking the bank (in certain instances), this is not half bad.
Mass centralization is practiced on the Duke 125, too, and obviously contributes to the dynamic balance of the Baby. The exhaust tail pipe peeks out from its under-belly location and the fact that the silencer unit is too shy to show itself much, makes for cleaner styling lines, too. The ABS (Antilock Braking System) feature on the Duke 125 applies on the 300mm 4-pot front disc brake, and the sensor at the rear end keeps in constant electronic touch with the front to avoid a sudden, involuntary ‘stoppie’ (KTM’s Rear wheel Lift Protection feature) thereby keeping the KTM rider firmly in the saddle even in an emergency braking situation. Brembo and Bosch work together with the braking hardware and ABS componentry on this bike; you could squeeze your front brake lever hard in full confidence of this world renowned combo. The meter console of the Duke 125 is comprehensive and I would recommend all riders play by the signs and warnings displayed by this information centre. The Auto Headlight On (AHO) feature helps in increasing the visibility of the bike in daily traffic conditions, the tall rider stance from the high framework of the bike and the bright orange wheels adding much to this safety aspect.
The KTM Duke is mainly targeted at the 18-30yrs age group rider who loves a sporty type of motorcycle and appreciates the special brand that is KTM. Of the market response, Nayanajith says, “Happy with the premium features and the performance of the KTM Duke 125, most riders are eager to upgrade from their earlier bikes to the Duke,” stressing that “there are considerable numbers of riders who have sold off their existing 150cc bikes and upgraded to the KTM 125. They consider this as value addition to themselves”. Bringing our readers the right pictures of any motorcycle under review is a hot, time-consuming and focused task and I thank DPMC’s Manuranga Nayanajith and Aravinda Pathirana who participated in the photoshoot of this bike, and the KTM Showroom team Akila Elabodage, Nipuna Kapugeekiyana, and the Divisional Manager Lakmal De Silva for their KTM-quality assistance. How is the KTM Duke 125? Let’s just say the Orange Beast lives in its Baby - sport DNA, advanced features, unique brand … and fun on two-wheels.