KTM 125 Duke: Why It Doesn’t Make Sense For India

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  • Oct 25, 2018
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KTM is bringing the 125 Duke to India. And along with the usual excitement of a new bike launch, we’ve got some questions as well

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KTM 125 Duke: Why It Doesn’t Make Sense For India

What started off as a wild rumour might just turn into a reality now. KTM might soon be launching the youngest member of the Duke family, the 125 Duke, in India soon. Although we wholeheartedly welcome KTM’s decision to launch a premium 125cc motorcycle in the country, we can’t help but have some reservations of our own. Here are our reasons:

First, Some Background

KTM already sells the 125 Duke in various European markets for riders who fall under the A1 license. An A1 license lets anyone aged 17 or above ride a motorcycle upto 125cc and rack up the required miles to jump onto a more powerful motorcycle.

Since motorcycling is usually viewed as a leisure activity in Europe, bike manufacturers often equip small bikes with sophisticated powertrains and underpinnings to give customers the same experience as big bikes. Another advantage of this is that it has the same features as larger bikes. Not to mention, it also keeps the rider’s interest within the brand itself so his/her next purchase would be the company’s higher-capacity engine motorcycle. Considering a healthy chunk of profit comes from this bike segment, it makes a lot of sense for bikemakers to have these small bikes as part of their portfolio in international markets.

Not Built For Our Market

No, we’re not talking about its ride quality on our roads. The KTM 125 Duke is quite literally not built for our market. As mentioned above, it is positioned as a premium 125cc motorcycle. Which means it borrows LED headlamps, fully digital instrument cluster, ABS, cartridge forks and the whole deal from the bigger KTM 390 Duke. In comparison, 125cc motorcycles here are mostly viewed as only a step above commuter motorcycles and are largely barebones. Hence, pricing is still the driving concern here. Which brings us to our next point…

It Might End Up Being More Expensive Than The 200 Duke

There’s a possibility that KTM might bring a stripped-down version of the 125 Duke, with its 124.7cc single-cylinder engine housed in the lndia-spec 200 Duke’s body. However, if the company brings it in its current form, without any compromises, the 125 Duke may end up costing more than the current-gen 200 Duke, which retails for Rs 1.51 lakh (ex-Delhi). Considering how Indian buyers often associate pricing with displacement, the 125 Duke might only find buyers among hardcore enthusiasts.

Doesn’t Really Have An Edge Over Its Competition

KTM 125 Duke: Why It Doesn’t Make Sense For India


The current-gen 125 Duke packs a 124.7cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine which churns out 15PS of power and 12Nm of torque. These power figures are very close to bikes in the 160cc segment -- the Suzuki Gixxer, for example. It only produces 0.2PS less power than the 125 Duke and makes more torque at 14Nm. Not to mention, the Gixxer’s air-cooled engine is less complicated and easier to maintain. All this comes at a price of Rs 87,871 (ex-showroom Delhi), which is considerably cheaper than the 125 Duke’s estimated pricing.

So Why Is KTM Bringing The 125 Duke To India?

KTM 125 Duke: Why It Doesn’t Make Sense For India

Well, we can only speculate but the big reason behind this move can be the newly introduced 5-year insurance mandate. This new ruling has pushed the on-road prices of new motorcycles by quite a bit. For example, the 200 Duke now touches the Rs 2 lakh (on-road) mark in many cities. However, KTM has been largely successful in the Rs 1 lakh-1.5 lakh zone. This is where the 125 Duke might ideally be positioned in. In addition to this, KTM says there is a number of customers who find the 200 Duke too aggressive and wouldn’t mind jumping onto a 125cc instead.

It’s Not All Bad

KTM 125 Duke: Why It Doesn’t Make Sense For India

KTM motorcycles are known for their value-for-money placement. We don’t think the company would like to change that image for a motorcycle. Hence, with the help of local assembly, the 125 Duke may end up costing around Rs 1.20 lakh (ex-showroom). However, that still may seem a high price to pay for a 125cc motorcycle. It’ll be interesting to see how the market reacts to it. Until then, we’re just keeping our fingers crossed.



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