KTM 200 Duke : Road Test
It is a razor thin line between boldness and vulgarity and most motorcycle companies steer clear of taking the radical approach when designing a new product – but not KTM. The Austrian bike-maker has been notoriously experimental with its motorcycles right since the inception of the Duke in 1994. Crafted by the experienced hands of Gerald Kiska of Kiska Design, the KTM Duke brand has always enjoyed a huge following amongst motorcyclists from all over the world and almost two decades later too the firm is still on top of the game when it comes to giving the world unconventional and funky motorcycles that have enough oomph to charm even the most fastidious folks out there. Incase you don’t agree to what’s been said here, I suggest you take a good look again at the motorcycle on this page, the KTM 200 Duke.
Brute of a machine and soul of an imp, the 200 Duke’s entry into the ZigWheels office was absolutely flamboyant with all the staffers lining up in the garage to greet the tangerine monster. Weaving through the traffic-clogged streets of Pune, there were plenty of glances thrown every now and then while at every traffic junction the 200 Duke commanded attention equivalent to the sinfully expensive superbikes. And why not, with its ultra-rad styling and incredible street presence lashing out in the bright shade of orange amidst the buzzing desi cityscape, the KTM certainly added to the prevailing chaos, but in a nicer form – much like the streets after India won the 2011 World Cup. But there is method to this madness and while the conservative breed might have its apprehensions about the Duke’s outrageous and brash appearance, it is only a matter of getting onto the saddle of the 200 Duke to change their opinions. But more on that later.
This head turner is definitely the best looking motorcycle in the current Indian motorcycle scenario and there is nothing that can come close to it when we talk about unconventional styling. Edgy and sharp in its lines, the large floating panels adorning the wide fuel tank flaunt the ‘Duke 200’ moniker like a bodybuilder strutting his muscles. A street-fighter to the bone, the low-slung headlight complimented by wide handlebars translates into a combination that appears belligerent much like a bull raring to charge. The lightweight exposed trellis frame plays an important role in the 200 Duke’s aesthetic appeal doing away with the need for big and fancy centre panels. The jagged tail panels too are short and stubby as a result of which, the visual attention is drawn onto the gorgeous LED taillight and indicators along with the snazzy raised rear mudguard hovering over the chunky rear tyre completing the 200 Duke’s gripping stance.
But the most striking bit is the absence of the exhaust canister on either side of the 200 Duke. Once again, breaking convention and placing it under the belly of the motorcycle has presented the Duke with more benefits than just adding to the motorcycle’s exterior makeup. The under-belly exhaust has helped the company centralize the mass on the 200 Duke – the gains of which are visibly evident in the manner the motorcycle handles and feels to ride. Sit on the bike and the ergonomics reward the rider with an empowering feel which is hard to find on any other motorcycle in its class. The wide handlebars make for easy maneuverability and provide precise feel from the front end, devoid of any vibrations or harsh experience. The flat and wide saddle is a bit hard over long distances and while the tourers will certainly complain about this bit, the supermoto-retards and the weekend corner-carvers will totally love the sporty contours of the saddle ideal for moving around on the bike and weight shifting! The 200 Duke’s upright stance, perfectly positioned footpegs and flat saddle make for superb ergonomics that are comfortable for everyday city commutes but are just apt to ride hard when you wish to exploit the dark side of the baby Duke.
While a large part of the KTM 200 Duke’s ruffian attitude comes from its well drawn ergonomics, it is further aided by the bike’s energetic 199cc 4-valve single cylinder liquid-cooled DOHC motor fed by an extremely accurate fuel injection unit. Churning out 25PS of power at 10,000rpm and 19Nm of torque let loose at 8,000rpm, the company has done an exceedingly good job of extracting and configuring the power and torque output where it’s most required to give the jollies. Quick off the line, with a staggeringly quick 0-100km/h time of just 9.01 seconds and a top whack of about 136km/h, there is a lot more to the KTM 200 Duke than just straight-line performance. Channeling the 25 horses in a manner that they are most enjoyable at all times, the 200 Duke’s power delivery is enormously rev-happy. The motorcycle loves to be revved hard while the rpm on the tachometer hits the rev-limiter quicker than the blink of an eye. This lively nature of the engine and the brisk power delivery is what further heighten the 200 Duke’s charm and poise.