A barefaced brawler, the KTM 200 Duke is unlike any other motorcycle that has ever graced the Indian roads and it has burst onto the scene at an enormously opportune moment raising the bar for the Indian performance motorcycle league and we might just get to see a repeat of what the frisky fast 2-strokers managed in the nineties
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.
While the motor sounds angry and ready to brawl, ironically the handling dynamics of the 200 Duke are just as friendly and forthcoming. It has just right mix of street and race genes to appeal to every kind of biker out there. More importantly, it is the grace with which it brings out the beast in you without sounding any alarms at any given time, credit for which must be given to the brilliant lightweight trellis frame and the gorgeously carved aluminium cast swingarm which takes the responsibility for the rock solid stability and neutral handling on the 200 Duke. Further aiding the handling are the inverted telescopic front forks which boast excellent damping abilities and hugely help in providing solid feedback from the front-end. The single monoshock on the rear finished in white too has been excellently setup to suit Indian roads providing fabulous balance between ride and handing to the 200 Duke.
Apart from the high-end suspension bits, the other equipment level on the KTM 200 Duke too is top-notch, for instance, the rather tiny digital console upfront that displays truckloads of information that is not found on any other motorcycle in its class. Apart from showing the usual speed, rpm and fuel quantity details, the multifunction unit boasts a gear indicator, clock, fuel consumption figure and remaining tank range. Turn on the ignition and the bright orange backlit display comes to life with the KTM motto, ‘Ready to Race’ proudly flashing there while a swift engine check runs in the background. Thumb the starter and the motor comes to life with the under-belly exhaust giving out a mind-blowing growl that is unknown and unheard of in the Indian sphere till date. The trademark KTM sound hinting at the maker’s expertise at single cylinder engines serving its illustrious off-road range of motorcycles and super-motards, the exhaust note supplements the 200 Duke’s rowdy character.
What these tech-bits mean for the road and the end-user is excellent handling prowess that is suited for our roads to have fun on. The 200 Duke tips into corners with absolute surety and composure presenting the rider with a rewarding experience that is synonymous to the KTM brand. It is indeed a delight to be straddling the KTM 200 Duke and is certainly money well spent with all the world class equipment that it is loaded with. To top it all, the impressive fuel consumption figure of 33kmpl under mixed riding conditions in the city as well as the highway means the KTM 200 Duke is ready to replace whatever motorcycle you are currently riding without having to really worry about escalating fuel bills. And thanks to Bajaj Auto’s efforts and foresight to localize the 200 Duke instead of adopting the CBU route as done by several other bike makers in the country, this has helped in achieving an extremely competitive price tag of Rs 1.17 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for the 200 Duke.
There is certainly no other bike like the KTM 200 Duke that has graced the Indian roads till date but there are more reasons why the general biking junta has been so enamoured with this particular motorcycle. It is the charm with which the 200 Duke takes over your heart and head in a splitting moment. Sitting pretty in trademark KTM orange, the Duke brand has been a dream machine across the globe and for such a product to make to India at a fitting time when the Indian motorcycle industry is readying to explode as the fastest growing two-wheeler market in the world means the benefits will be plenty as it will stir up the competition which has, quite frankly speaking, left in dust by the 200 Duke, on road and on paper. And not the one to rest on its laurels and knowing the greed for horsepower and speed is insatiable, Bajaj Auto is already hard at work on developing a 350 Duke which will make its international debut soon and will hit the Indian roads by 2013. With such gusto and zest amongst bike makers, the scene for performance motorcycling in India is soon going to hit its all-time high and the KTM 200 Duke has already set the ball rolling. Cheer on bikers!