KTM 250 Duke Road Test Review
- Jan 24, 2018
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There has always been a demand for entry-level performance bikes in India, right from the time when Hero MotoCorp introduced the Karizma and Bajaj brought in the Pulsar. But that was more than a decade ago. In the past three years, there have been more than ten new models that have been launched in this segment, which in itself is testimony of the market’s potential.
More importantly the launch of bikes like the KTM 390 Duke, Kawasaki Ninja 300 and the Royal Enfield Continental GT is testimony of the fact that the segment is moving away from their preset liking for faired motorcycles and starting to appreciate the street and naked motorcycles as much.
With the 390 Duke already on sale, the Suzuki Inazuma launched earlier this year and Kawasaki soon to launch its naked Z250; enthusiasts will have an array of options to choose from. We compare the three to see which one might turn up as the better buy, at least on paper. Also Read: Suzuki Inazuma Review
Price: Rs 3.1 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)
After a long wait, Suzuki Motorcycles has finally entered the performance bike segment with the launch of its first 250cc offering – the Inazuma. Internally called the GW250, its launch was pushed so far ahead that questions about it coming to India were being raised. But these questions were settled early on into 2014 as the Japanese brand brought forth the Inazuma. Also Read: Suzuki Inazuma Review
At the heart of the Inazuma is a 248cc, liquid-cooled parallel-twin motor that churns out 26.3PS of power at 8,500rpm and 24.4Nm of torque at 6,500rpm. Mated to a six-speed ‘box, the Inazuma has been built around a semi-double cradle chassis featuring telescopic forks up front and seven-way adjustable coil springs. The wheelbase for the Inazuma is a relatively long 1430mm. The bike isn’t exactly light either; it weighs 183kg and is the highest of the three motorcycles in question here.
Suzuki has provided disc brakes at both front and rear but has skipped on ABS, which the KTM 390 Duke gets. We don’t expect the Kawasaki Z250 to get ABS either when it makes its Indian debut. The quarter-litre Suzuki wears 17-inch 110/80 footwear at the front and 140/70 section rubber at the back. These are IRC tyres and work well.
For those who love to travel long distances, the 13.3-litre tank might just mean that you have to make an extra stop for fuel especially considering the upright seating position which is sure to provide utmost comfort when you want to ride into the horizon. Thanks to the 165mm of ground clearance one can ride it through the roughest of roads and the tallest of speed bumps without having to worry about the underbelly scraping. Despite the fact that it took longer for Suzuki to bring in a quarter-litre offering than expected, in the Inazuma they seem to have ensured that it not just offers a bigger engine but also practicality and the comfort to use it every day.
Price: Rs 3 lakh (estimate)
Kawasaki discontinued the Ninja 250R last year in India following the launch of the Ninja 300. Fully aware of the potential the naked performance motorcycle segment holds, the Japanese firm couldn’t quite be absent from that space. So at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, they took the wraps off what could be the most affordable Kawasaki offering for the Indian market – the Z250.
Although visually the bike looks like a combination of the Z800 and the Ninja 300, this Kawasaki shares its underpinnings with the now discontinued Ninja 250R. The 249cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine that develops max power of 32PS at 11,000rpm and an equally peak healthy torque rating of 21Nm at 9,000rpm is pretty identical to the baby Ninja. The engine is mated to a six-speed transmission and going by our experience with the Ninja 250R, this gearbox will most certainly have slick and precise shifts.
The duty of absorbing the undulations of the road is handled by 37mm telescopic forks upfront and a monoshock at the rear. The Z250 sports a single 290mm petal disc at the front and 220mm petal disc at rear. Unlike the baby Ninja, the Z250 will have an upright seating position, forward set footpegs and a wider handle bar. The 17-litre tank will ensure that your fueling stops while going long distances are infrequent.
Kawasaki will bring the Z250 to India via the CKD route assembling the bike at Bajaj’s facility in Chakan. The Z250 will most likely cost around Rs 3 lakh and should be an offering worth waiting for.
KTM 390 Duke
Price: Rs 1.80 (ex-showroom Delhi)
While the Inazuma as well as the Z250 are parallel-twins, the KTM 390 Duke is powered by a single cylinder engine. But, its 373.2cc water-cooled engine produces 44PS of horsepower at 9,500rpm and 35Nm of torque at 7,250rpm; figures that are clearly way better than both the parallel twins. And then there’s the weight, or the lack of it. The 390 Duke only weighs 139kg, and this translates into a phenomenal power-to-weight ratio of 316PS/tonne!
The KTM 390 Duke can hit 100kmph from a standstill in about five seconds and do a top speed of a little over 160kmph. It has nice brakes too - 300mm single disc up front and a single 230mm disc brake at the rear. The 390 Duke also gets ABS as standard equipment.
It runs a light trellis frame suspended on USDs upfront and a preload adjustable monoshock at the rear. Like the other two bikes here, the 390 Duke runs 17-inch tyres as well, but the 110/70 front and the 150/60 rear are high performance, sticky rubber. The fuel tank meanwhile can hold 11 litres of petrol which should give the bike a range of a little over 200km.
The KTM 390 Duke has it all, performance, build quality, plenty of equipment and the works. All of that for the price that it comes at makes it an intriguing piece of machinery. The only catch is its size and its riding position which many might find cramped and uncomfortable. It doesn’t ride too well either.
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