The Indian two wheeler market has come a long way from being a commuter only market to a playground for sportsbikes and superbikes. For young enthusiasts, there was a time when they had the only viable options to choose from at most 150cc ‘sport commuters’ like the Pulsar 150 and Hero Honda CBZ to quench their thirst of speed and riding thrills, moving beyond the tags of fuel efficiency and resale value.

But now, the average young Indian enthusiast wants more – he wants more speed, more performance and more precision from his two wheeled machine, which is why he is eyeing beyond the range of 150cc commuters and looking for a bigger and more powerful motorcycle. For such riders, the segment of quarter liter/250cc sportbikes are proving to be a viable upgrade, which though are positioned much above the 150cc commuters in terms of price, but offer much more performance and sharp riding dynamics, making them feel more mature rider.

In the last couple of years, the segment of 250cc motorcycles has become a very potential playground for the majority of manufacturers, ever since the KTM Duke 200 broke the ice and created a new trend. Almost every other manufacturer is now trying to make the full use of this segment – while some of them are launching fully faired motorcycles in this segment, a majority of them are launching naked roadsters, and with almost all of them coming from international brands, these quarter liter naked roadsters are actually giving the riders an opportunity to introduce them to their global standards.

The year 2015 happened to be a remarkable one for this particular segment of 200-250cc roadsters, given the fact that two of the most significant launches, Mahindra Mojo and Benelli TNT 25 took place in this very year. Meanwhile, Kawasaki has also indicated that it will soon be bringing in its smaller capacity entry level sportsbike, the Z250 SL, to Indian shores very soon. Too much to handle? In this feature story, we will be comparing the four most significant motorcycles in this segment – KTM Duke 200, Mahindra Mojo, Benelli TNT 25 and Kawasaki Z250 SL in almost each and every parameter, to find out which one emerges out to be the best. Here we go.

STYLING

2016 Kawasaki Ninja 250 SL High Quality
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2014 Benelli TNT 25 High Quality
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2015 Mahindra Mojo High Quality
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2012 KTM Duke 200
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Let’s start with the motorcycle which started it all, the KTM Duke 200. The smallest KTM broke the covers back in 2012, and has remained totally unchanged when it comes to visual appeal, but the motorcycle still manages to turn a lot of heads, as if it was launched only yesterday. The super aggressive design, the highlights of which are the very distinctive front face, extremely comprehensive instrument console, sharply styled body panels, exposed trellis frame and a long list of features make the KTM Duke 200 a very desirable motorcycle. However, some might find the motorcycle to be too aggressive for their liking, but the fact is that this very design language is what keeps the Duke 200 apart from all of its rivals.

The Benelli TNT 25 tries to take a lot of inspiration from the Duke 200 in terms of overall styling, as far as the first impression says. The front face, exposed trellis frame, fuel tank, body panels and some mechanical components like the suspension and handlebar look a lot similar to those of the Duke 200. However, the instrument console of the TNT 25 is a bit dated and not too comprehensive as that of the fully digital unit of the Duke 200. Also, the styling, though on the lines of the Duke 200, misses out a bit on the aggression factor of the latter. The rear view mirrors look good, but they aren’t too good in terms of functionality. Still, the TNT 25, like all the other Benellis is surely an eye-catching masterpiece on two wheels.

Mahindra had been teasing the Mojo since 2009, and it was the year 2015, when we finally were to see and experience the Mojo in flesh. In the six long years of its development, the Mojo has come a long way from being an ugly prototype to an eye pleasing design, though the design is not as striking as that of the Benelli or the KTM. However, the motorcycles scores pluses when it comes to visual appeal, as the boy panels and fuel tank look bulky and give the Mojo a feel of a proper entry level sportbike. However, there are some quirky styling bits, like the front face with dual circular headlamps and two golden ribs below the fuel tank, which may not be liked by everyone. Though, they do lend a distinctive appeal to the Mojo. The instrument console is a aprt digital unit and is a comprehensive unit, if not as comprehensive as that of the Duke 200.

The Kawasaki Z250 SL is a true-blue Kawasaki by every means – it looks sharp and is purely Japanese. Though it is not as aggressive as the Z800-inspired Z250, it still manages to look upmarket with rakish front face, big fuel tank with wide fuel tank extensions and exposed tubular frame. Like on the Duke 200, the instrument console is a fully digital unit and packs in a suitable list of data on the go. The overall design is surely updated, but it misses out on the aggression of the Europeans in this comparison.

In terms of design and features, the KTM Duke 200 scores full marks, for the motorcycle has a very distinctive and extrovert design. Adding to it, the motorcycle is stuffed with features, which gives it an edge over the other three motorcycles. The Mojo is the quirkiest looking motorcycle of the lot, but does command attention owing to a couple of its distinctive design cues.

Feature KTM Duke 200 Benelli TNT 25 Mahindra Mojo Kawasaki Z250 SL
Front pilot lamp(s) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fully digital instrument console Yes No No Yes
Upside down front forks Yes Yes No No
Clip-on handlebars No No No No
Split seats Yes Yes No Yes
Monoshock Yes Yes Yes No
Split pillion grab rails Yes Yes Yes Yes
LED tail lamp Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tubeless tyres Yes Yes Yes Yes
Petal disc brakes No Yes Yes Yes

POWERTRAIN

2015 Mahindra Mojo High Quality
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2012 KTM Duke 200
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2014 Benelli TNT 25
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Initiating the segment, the KTM Duke 200 sources its power from a four stroke, single cylinder, liquid cooled, 199.5cc engine, which pumps out 25 PS of power and 19 Nm of torque. Like the overall styling, the engine too is very aggressive and loves to be revved – all the time. This makes it an enjoyable motorcycle to be ridden within the city peripherals, but it doesn’t love to be cruised on the highways. The engine of this streetfighter is not as refined as the Japanese motorcycles, but in terms of performance, this engine brings the widest smile on one’s face. Though in this particular segment, it is now the smallest engine, whose performance numbers too are the smallest as well.

Same goes for the Benelli TNT 25. The Italian streetfighter comes bolstered with a four stroke, single cylinder, liquid cooled, 249cc engine. Having an advantage of 50cc over the Duke 200, this engine develops 28.4 PS of power and 21.6 Nm of torque, making it a bit more powerful than the Duke 200. Adding to it, the TNT 25’s engine is almost as aggressive as that of the Duke 200 in character, which makes it enjoyable to ride in city streets, however on the highways, it is a bit more rideable over the Duke 200.

On a totally opposite note, the engine of the Mahindra Mojo is entirely different in character. The Mojo’s has got the biggest engine in this company – a four stroke, single cylinder, liquid cooled, 295cc engine, which develops 28 PS of power and 30 Nm of torque. Mated to a six speed gearbox, this engine is not at all aggressive as the former two, but the engine has a lot more torque across the entire rev range, which makes it more of a tourer than a streetfighter. In terms of roll-on acceleration figures, the Mojo however trails behind the other three even after having the biggest engine.

The Kawasaki Z250 SL has been fitted with a four stroke, single cylinder, liquid cooled, 249cc engine, which pumps out 28 PS of power and 22 Nm of torque. In terms of refinement and smoothness, there is no other motorcycle which comes close to this Japanese bike. In a typical Kawasaki manner, the engine is stress free across the entire rev range, and doesn’t feel short of power anywhere. The engine is at home on both streets as well as long runs, making it the most practical engine to live with.

As far as powertrain is concerned, the Z250 SL emerges out to be the best of both the worlds. While the Duke 200 and TNT 25 are good for quick sprints and fast acceleration figures, they are not much enjoyable to ride on long runs, a trait which is exactly the opposite to that for Mahindra Mojo.

Figures KTM Duke 200 Benelli TNT 25 Mahindra Mojo Kawasaki Z250 SL
Power 25 PS 28.3 PS 28 PS 28 PS
Torque 19 Nm 21.6 Nm 30 Nm 22.6 Nm
Fuel injection Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gearbox 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed

RIDE AND HANDLING

2015 Mahindra Mojo High Quality
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When it comes to riding dynamics, no other motorcycle offers the agility and precision to tackle corners as that of the Duke 200. The motorcycle’s lightest kerb weight and excellent power to weight ratio give it an advantage over others, making the motorcycle the most fun to ride motorcycle in this comparison. However, the 41mm upside down telescopic forks at front and the hydraulic monoshock at the rear are tuned for a stiffer ride, which makes it a pain for longer rides. Also, the Duke 200 is the only motorcycle in this comparison to not come with petal disc brakes at both the ends, though the bite provided by the standard disc brakes here is good.

The Benelli TNT 25 is also endowed with almost the same suspension setup as that of the KTM Duke 200. The 41mm upside down front forks and hydraulic rear monoshock are tuned for a slightly stiffer side, if not as stiff as those of the Duke 200, which implies a good ride and handling balance. However, the heavy kerb weight results in a loss of agility factor over the Duke 200, which reduces the precision of tackling corners a bit.

On the flipside, the Mahindra Mojo too comes equipped with upside down telescopic forks at the front and a gas charged monoshock at the rear, but here they are tuned on a slightly softer side to make the rider feel more comfortable on longer runs. The petal disc brakes at both the ends provide a sharp bite, but here again, the overall motorcycle is the heaviest of the lot, which take a toll on its riding dynamics. The ergonomics of the Mojo are the most friendly and comfortable, with mildly rear set foot pegs on offer. However, for the cornering junkies, the Mojo might turn out to be a bit of disappointment.

Here again, the Kawasaki Z250 SL tried to reward the rider the best of both the worlds. The Z250 SL is the only motorcycle here which comes with the old school telescopic front forks and not upside down front forks, while a hydraulic monshock does the duty at the rear. Still, the suspension manages out to be the best of both the worlds – aggressive riding and comfortable touring. The chassis is the most well-balanced of the lot, while the petal disc brakes too prove out to be the sharpest in this comparison.

In terms of ride and handling too, the situation is very much clear. While the Duke 200 and TNT 25 offer excellent handling traits and stiff ride, the Mojo offers a plush ride but loses out on some points in terms of overall riding dynamics. The Z250 SL, however, comes out to be in the middle of them, making it the most enjoyable motorcycle in almost every condition.

Figures KTM Duke 200 Benelli TNT 25 Mahindra Mojo Kawasaki Z250 SL
Front suspension 41mm upside down telescopic 41mm upside down telescopic 41mm upside down telescopic 37mm telescopic
Rear suspension Hydraulic monoshock Hydraulic monoshock Gas charged hydraulic monoshock Hydraulic monoshock
Front tyre 110/70 x 17 110/70 x 17 110/70 x 17 100/80 x 17
Rear tyre 150/60 x 17 150/60 x 17 150/60 x 17 130/70 x 17
Front brake 300mm disc 300mm disc 320mm disc 290mm disc
Rear brake 220mm disc 220mm disc 240mm disc 220mm disc

CONCLUSION

2014 Benelli TNT 25
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2012 KTM Duke 200
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2015 Mahindra Mojo High Quality
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All the four motorcycles have their own special traits and are very difficult to compare – all are brilliant in some or the other aspect. On nitpicking, the Mojo ends up on being the last position. The motorcycle is the most comfortable to ride on long highways, and is the pick if you are a sort of person who loves to ride more on highways rather than streets. But it does lack the premium appeal of the others, is bulky and looks a bit quirky.

At the third position comes the Benelli TNT 25. The motorcycle takes a lot of inspiration from the Duke 200, in terms of both design as well as mechanicals. However, it is not as precise as the Z250 SL and the Duke 200, and misses out on some crucial areas such as heavy kerb weight and dated instrument console, which brings it to the third position, only by a small margin.

The second position is bagged by the KTM Duke 200. The motorcycle which started it all, the Duke 200 is packed with features, looks the most distinctive, handles like a gem and the engine loves is the most rev loving of the lot. However, it is this very rev-loving nature of the engine which curbs its abilities on long highway runs. Also, the power and torque figures are the lowest of the lot, indicating that the motorcycle now needs an upgrade in performance, citing the competition.

This brings us to the Kawasaki Z250 SL, a motorcycle which emerges as the perfect all rounder. The motorcycle looks contemporary - it’s neither too aggressive as the Duke 200 nor as quirky as the Mojo. The engine feels refined and most practical to live with, while the same can be said about its ride and handling balance as well. Yes, it’s a bit on the pricier side, but the Z250 SL surely is the most well rounded package of the lot, making it the winner of this comparison.

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