The top ten things you need to know about KTM and the Duke 200.
1) Price and availability
Bajaj will launch the KTM Duke 200 at the Auto Expo, although the official company lines also suggests that the Bajaj small car and commercial vehicles will be the focus of the company, and not motorcycles. The Probiking line of Bajaj showrooms will turn fully orange as the company introduces the KTM brand in India with the Duke 200. The pricing of the Duke isn't final yet, but Bajaj is considering price points between Rs 1.1 lakh (directly opposite the Yamaha R15) and Rs 1.3 lakhs (solidly halfway between the R15 and the Honda CBR250R). We expect the motorcycle to receive a national roll-out shortly after the Auto Expo. Our comprehensive first ride is coming in the January issue of OVERDRIVE, out December 20, 2011.
2) Who is KTM?
KTM is a small Austrian manufacturer of motorcycles, and more recently, the stunning X-Bow (pronounced crossbow) track car. They became famous for making race winning dirt bikes, first in the US and later on, on the world stage. They recently ventured into the streetbike arena and today, apart from dirt bikes ranging from small kiddie-crossers to the 990 Adventure, they also have the Duke 125, the Duke 690 (see the exclusive first ride in the February issue of OVERDRIVE) and the Super Duke. KTM is also known to have been working on a 450cc single cylinder sportsbike. KTM's street flagship in the V-Twin RC8 superbike is a dramatic design which is already racing in European series' but is yet to make its debut in the World Superbikes.
KTM's tagline is Ready To Race and their colours are orange and black. The brand sticks proudly close to its tagline, making sharp, uncompromising machines across their entire range. KTM's racing presence in the off-road series' is well-known, and KTM have also been a top contender in the 125cc (and now Moto3) series in MotoGP apart from a successful 250cc class team until the Moto2 rules interrupted proceedings.
3) The engine
The KTM engine is all-new, featuring light aluminium construction, double overhead camshafts with finger followers, four valves, fuel injection and liquid cooling. The engine is heavily oversquare, allowing a big, short light piston to work a short stroke to provide quick-revving power. A light forged crankshaft, similarly promotes the quick revving power delivery, sort of how dirtbike engines are designed today - brand perfect since KTM is traditionally known for dirt bikes.
In feel, the engine feels good. It revs easily to its 11,000rpm redline, making 25PS at 10,000 at its power peak and 19Nm at 8,000rpm peak torque. The sound is a flat blat which sounds right for the bike but I suspect a little more intake noise or more bass in the exhaust (I hear there is an aftermarket kit coming) would make the bike sound more, erm, special.
The exhaust itself is an interesting design that routes the header pipe across the top left of the engine and down into a box-shaped exhaust with a nearly hidden exhaust tip more or less under the swingarm pivot. Bajaj says the mass centralisation achieved is one of the reasons the motorcycle will have awesome dynamics.
The gearbox is a six-speed close-ratio job which triggers a centrally mounted red-coloured shift light at the top of the tiny, all-digital dash. Shifts are effortless and quick and the rider has to work the gearbox hard to keep up as the engine charges up the rev band without any sort of intertia or lag.
The one word to describe the engine? Immediate
4) The chassis
KTM is famous for its trellis frames the Duke 200 has one as well, finished in a matte-ish black - the orange frames are usually reserved for hotter states of tune. The frame mounts a beefy upside down fork at the front and a trademark white spring-ed rear monoshock that mounts on the swingarm (just like the Honda Unicorn, for instance, mounts its rear monoshock). The swingarm is a all-aluminum job with the bracing visible as a series of crosses on the outside. It's a good looking unit that works very well with the industrial, angry look of the overall motorcycle.
5) On the move
We only got a short ride at Bajaj's Chakan track and the KTM's stellar quality is its handling combined with how quickly the engine revs. Not having ridden a proper close-ratio gearbox in a while, most of us took a few laps of the track to get used to shifting in quick succession as the motorcycle bashes past 100kmph in under 9 seconds (claimed) on to a top speed of 135kmph. On the straight, we all saw 140kmph very quickly before the rev limiter cut fuel harshly dropping the speedo to 135/136kmph. The engine sounds angry and sounds a bit thrashy up on top, which again isn't out of character for the brand. But the control over vibration is tight and the grips remain vibration free even when flat out.
In the corners, the KTM is brilliant. It's weightless, accurate and still stable. Changes of direction are executed with almost no effort and dropping the motorcycle to full lean requires little more than a thought. Unlike, the CBR250R, for instance, the KTM feels light on its feet, eager to please and you'd almost think it was getting angry if you weren't riding hard. Brakes similarly - a radially mounted calliper job on a 280mm disc (made by Bybre on the test bikes) - are sharp and powerful, though not intimidating.
Further bolstering for the dynamic package comes from the MRF Revz branded tubeless radial tyres the KTM uses. The front tyre is a 110/70-17 while the rear tyre is a 150/60-17.
6) What kind of motorcycle is it?
In nature, KTMs are frantic and busy and the Duke 200 is no exception. It feels eager from the time you dump the clutch to the going flat out with the redline approaching. In the note from the engine, it feels like a motorcycle that is happiest being thrashed to within an inch of its life. This kind of intensity is something we haven't seen on an Indian motorcycle in quite a while. While I haven't ridden it outside the Chakan track, I think the KTM will be an interesting motorcycle on the street in daily use where the engine and frame will combine well with the sporty, nearly upright riding position with wide-set handlebars. The longer travel suspension and the composure of the chassis should allow you to ride roughshod over bad roads without a care and in that, this will be quite the India tool if the promises bear out - and I think they will. On the highway, it should be decent though a short pillion pad means two-up touring is probably not going to be easy. In size, its shocking small and light which is one of the reasons the motorcycle feels so effortless.
In finish terms, there is scope for improvement but you cannot accuse the KTM's build or finish levels being anywhere close to adequate even - it is way better than that. The plastics feel hard-wearing though the international KTM range gets better plastics still, at greater prices, it goes without saying. That said, the use of what look like Pulsar levers for clutch and brake levers, a weird brown coloured engine kill switch, the space between the tank front and the headstock etc are small elements that take a little something away from your perception of how premium a motorcycle the KTM is.
7) Versus the R15?
The R15 is dead in the water when it comes to the KTM in straight line performance. That much is obvious from the claimed performance numbers as well as the seat of the pants. However, at the race track, the KTM will probably feel a lot more urgent and will probably work better in more experienced hands, while the R15 is more friendly to new riders as well as supporting of much harder riding. On the street, the KTM will probably be the more comfortable motorcycle to ride in traffic by some distance, especially since the new R15 cants its seat further forward and adopts a more racetrack friendly ergonomics package. As usual, we're straining at the leash to get both of these to a racetrack and have a no-holds barred showdown.
8) Versus the CBR?
The KTM makes the CBR feel heavy, slow to turn though in engine performance the KTM feels likes it accelerating slower than the CBR. But its an illusion, there's little chance of the CBR catching the KTM in a straight line, or around the bends - at the very least, the KTM is roughly 20kg lighter than the CBR. The KTM also has the CBR on the brakes in power and feel, will turn in quicker and more accurately especially at high speeds, hold a tighter line and exit more rapidly. The CBR will probably ride better in the street than the highly strung KTM - though I wouldn't be surprised if the Duke proves to have a firm but supple ride (Bajaj are past masters of this kind of suspension tuning) and will probably feel more at home than the KTM out on the highway, where its calmer nature, bigger stature and softer suspension will mean less effort for the rider (and possibly pillion) at higher speeds over longer distances. Of course, we will verify these impressions at the first possible opportunity to pit the KTM against the Honda.
9) What will follow the KTM Duke 200 into the market?
Bajaj will launch their all-new Pulsar shortly after the Auto Expo. The platform is all-new and the first motorcycle will probably be the Pulsar 200. This platform will feature a lot of learnings from the development of the KTM and will share some bits as well. We also understand that the bottom of the engine is shared between the Pulsar and the KTM, but the Pulsar will get an aircooled DOHC 4-valve engine, probably with twin park plugs. Similarly, on the chassis front, the Pulsar will use more traditional elements to keep the price low. We are expecting Bajaj to announce the Pulsar 200 prices in the Rs 90,000 range. As to KTM, Stefan Pierer had announced in Europe earlier that a KTM Duke 350 was due end-2012 or 2013. This motorcycle will probably be the second KTM to come to the country. It's too early to talk prices, but Rs 1.8 lakh is where we would peg the price for that motorcycle.
KTM intend to build their brand from the bottom up and as the name and fame establish themselves in India, we should received assembled middle-displacement motorcycles like the KTM Duke 690 as well as the CBUs, the RC8 and the SuperDuke. The dirtbikes are always on the cards with KTM, but Bajaj isn't pushing the dirtbike cause just yet though given KTM's history and core competences, we would be very surprised if the dirt bikes didn't come to India at some point. We expect KTM CBUs to arrive in three years or so, though officially, Bajaj says its too early to be looking that far into the future.
10) Is there more?
Yes, KTM are already working out a range of aftermarket bits for the bike and its rider. KTM are recognized as having one of the widest and cleverest aftermarket catalogue in the business ranging from performance and race parts to cheeky things like their famous toaster, accelerate and brake slippers and yes, a full line of leashes, sweaters and what have you for your pets. Bajaj showed us sticker kits for the suspension, chassis and the tank extensions at the launch, along with knuckle guards and like we've already said, an exhaust kit also likely - it will release a little more bass, turning the KTM into a more powerful sounding machine.
200 DUKE: A POWERFUL INITIATION
200 Duke: Lightness rediscovered. Maximum riding fun, powerful propulsion and optimum user value thanks to thoroughbred motorcycle technology. Featherweight chassis with high-quality components and first-class brakes. And dynamic cornering fun guaranteed with the surprisingly full-bodied and lively power of the cultivated, new four-stroke single-cylinder with injection, six-speed transmission and low fuel consumption. Precisely what you'd expect from a genuine KTM.
Single-cylinder, 4-stroke, spark-ignition engine, liquid-cooled
6-speed, claw shifted
Forced oil lubrication with 1 rotor pump
Primary gear ratio
Secondary gear ratio
Liquid cooling system, continuous circulation of cooling liquid with water pump
Clutch in oil bath / mechanically operated
Contactless, controlled, fully electronic ignition system with digital ignition timing adjustment
Tubular space frame made from steel tubes, powder-coated
WP Suspension 4357
WP Suspension 4618 EM
Suspension travel Front
Suspension travel Rear
Brake system Front
Disc brake with two-pot brake caliper
Brake system Rear
Disc brake with one-pot brake caliper, floating brake discs
Brake discs - diameter front
Brake discs - diameter rear
5/8 x 1/4” (520) O‑Ring
Steering head angle
Ground clearance (unloaded)
Seat height (unloaded)
Total fuel tank capacity approx.
Unleaded premium fuel (95 RON)
Weight without fuel approx.
Today is the official launch date of KTM DUKE-200 India
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