2015 KTM Duke 200 - Road Test
In the automobile industry of India, there are manufacturers who wake up from the slumber when a response to their rivals is needed to be given, as and when required. And then, there’s KTM – a motorcycle major from Austria which has been shattering all the myths and establishing new benchmarks in the entry level performance oriented segments of the Indian two wheeler market.
In a commuter obsessed nation like that of ours, KTM has emerged as a brilliant motorcycle maker which has studied and understood the needs and requirements of the motorcycling enthusiasts like no other manufacturer has been able to. With its stupendous price to packaging ratio, the motorcycles from KTM have set new standards when it comes to the aspect of value for money.
This brings us to the core that how KTM emerged as one of the fastest growing motorcycle companies in India. The story of inception hails back to 2012, when this Austrian manufacturer entered into the Indian market with the collaboration of its Indian partner Bajaj Auto. The bike in question was the Duke 200, which marked as the ticket by KTM for the vast playground which the Indian two wheeler market is.
In a very short span of time, the KTM Duke 200 went on setting new sales records and did started a new trend of performance oriented motorcycles. The key factors to its success was the premium big bike feel of the motorcycle at a price slightly premium to that of a premium 150cc offering, say Yamaha YZF R15 or Honda CBR 150R.
Though KTM now has a wide range of four options which are equally tempting, it is the Duke 200 which happens to be the most affordable model in the lineup of KTM for India. We, at Topspeed, got an opportunity to test the latest iteration of the smallest pocket rocket of KTM, the Duke 200, which comes with a number of slight changes which the motorcycle has received.
Click past jump to read the full test review
LOOKS AND DESIGN
In a nation which favors the fully faired sportbikes over naked streetfighters, the Duke 200 carved a segment and fan following for itself with its extremely extrovert design. The design is so impressive, that even after almost four years of its existence in the Indian market with no major changes to its visual appeal, the Duke 200 still manages to turn a lot of heads towards it.
For the starters, the Duke 200 is purely an international design, which each and every component having an air of premium-ness which is yet hard to notice in an entry level performance oriented machine. There are several bits and design cues in its entire design which give an edge to it over its other counterparts.
Starting from the front, the Duke 200 comes with a very distinctive looking headlamp, which gives it a wild face. The headlamp also comes with a tiny pilot lamp situated below it. A tiny visor is placed at the top of the headlamp unit which covers the very comprehensive instrument console from the front. This visor, though, is not at all effective in deflecting wind at higher speeds, however, KTM does provides an option of a slightly larger flyscreen for the purpose. The front mudguard is small yet purposeful. However, the quality of the mudguard is questionable, as it is a bit flimsy when compared to that of the other motorcycles in this segment.
The bike which we got here on the test was equipped with the handlebar, palm grips, crash guards and bar end weights from the Duke 390, the last two of which are not available with Duke 200 as standard equipment. However, with these retro fittings, the Duke 200 does get a menacing stance when viewed from the front, while at the same time, the crash guards and bar end weights do serve purposefully at a time of a frontal crash or fall. The front forks in this latest iteration of the motorcycle come with small guards behind them to protect the forks from mud and stone spillages.
Talking about the side profile of the Duke 200, the two most eye catching design aspects of the motorcycle have to be the fuel tank and the exposed trellis frame. The fuel tank is entirely made up of plastic resin, which has enabled KTM do give it a very aggressive and razor-sharp shape. However, at 11 liters, the fuel tank isn’t too capacious and fails to provide a long tank range. The trellis frame manages to enhance the nakedness of the Duke 200, and unlike the orange colored frame of other KTMs on sale in India, the Duke 200’s trellis frame is finished in black, and so are the multi-spoke alloy wheels as well.
KTM has worked a lot on mass centralization on the Duke 200, which is quite evident from the positioning of engine, rear monoshock and the underbelly exhaust. This has helped KTM to achieve a much lower center of gravity, which makes this motorcycle a light weighted beast. Like the front forks, the rear monoshock too comes with a small protector behind it. The motorcycle comes with split pillion grab rails and split seats as standard, and while the pillion perch is roomy, it is positioned much higher, which makes the pillion seat a not so comfortable place to be on. So was the main rider’s seat as well earlier, but KTM has worked on customer feedback and made the foam of the seat a bit softer to make it a much better place to be on.
The rear profile of the motorcycle is designed with a minimalist approach, with a high raised tail section which ends up in a small yet attractive LED tail lamp. The LED tail lamp is then flanked with sleek looking LED turn indicators too. The Duke 200 comes with a very large rear fender, and the gap between it and the rear wheel is a bit large, which sometimes makes it awkward to look at. KTM does provide a rear tyre hugger for the Duke 200 as well, though we would recommend to remove it, as it is nothing but ugly looking unit. The aluminium swingarm at the rear too is a nicely designed unit, and with the fat rear tyre, the motorcycle looks like a proper middleweight motorcycle when viewed from the rear.
But the part of the Duke 200 which can sweep your feet right off has to be its instrument console. With the LCD screen shaped in a squared manner, the fully digital unit provides you a plethora of information which no other bike in its class provides you. The complete list of information on the board includes speedometer, tachometer, odometer, two trip meters, reserve range, fuel gauge, engine temperature gauge, clock, distance to empty, instantaneous fuel economy, average speed, gear indicator, distance remaining for the next service, fuel required for riding 100 kms and so on. The tell tale indicators are positioned at the top and right side of the screen, while the left side is dominated by two buttons for reset and switching modes. The Duke 200 also comes with backlit switchgear which has been shared with the Pulsar 220F. The rear view mirrors, though nicely styled, lacks on the visibility front a bit.
Overall, the Duke 200 scores full marks when it comes to design and visual appeal, which is very close to that of a middleweight sporstbike. Keeping minor niggles aside, the motorcycle clearly emerges out as a winner in terms of aesthetic appeal and is loaded with a lot of equipment as well.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
It’s not only the visual appeal of the Duke 200 that has the substance, there is much more surprise and thrill hidden in its heart as well. The Duke 200 sources its power from a four stroke, liquid cooled, single cylinder, 199.5cc engine, which manages to churn out a maximum power output of 25 PS and a minimum torque output of 19 Nm.
If you ask us, for a 200cc unit, the Duke 200’s engine is a stonker. The mill has a lot of punch in its entire rev range, with the majority of the torque available at lower and middle revs. The motorcycle is a joy to ride beyond 3000 rpm, post which the motorcycle pulls of nicely like no other motorcycle in its segment does. The majority of credits for this impressive performance of the Duke 200 has to be given to the gearbox as well, which has extremely short ratios for squeezing out the fun factor of the engine.
The engine is a rev happy unit, which loves to be throttled all the time, and that’s what the only issue too is. The engine is a treat to exploit within the city peripherals, but the same cannot be said when the motorcycle is ridden on long stretches. Let us remind you, this engine is not so suitable for cruising at higher speeds, as the top end of the rev range lacks the torque a bit. You need to work on the ratios a lot as well, which gives it a pure streetfighter credibility.
One more thing which needs to be taken care of is the refinement. The engine, at times, sounds gruff, unlike that of the engines of Honda or Yamaha which most of us are used to in this segment. The exhaust note too is something which is a ‘love it or loathe it’ kind of stuff, however, at higher revs, the engine sounds like a proper big bike should do. Another issue related to the engine, though very minor, is its cooling at lower speeds, with the engine having the tendency of heating up regularly when ridden in lower gears for more than say 10 minutes. Though, the cooling system is quite effective. Though fuel efficiency is not a forte for performance motorcycles, but an overall efficiency of 36 kpl is what the Duke 200 manages to return – again, pretty impressive for a 200cc engine.
Overall, for all the enthusiasts who require a rev-hungry mill to quench their thirst of performance, the Duke 200 has the prowess of being right at the top of their priority list. The niggles mentioned above are very minor which can be kept aside if outright performance is all what you want.
Continuing the brilliance in its engineering, the KTM Duke 200 manages to impress you even more when it comes to the area of ride and handling. The bike is armed with the best of hardware an entry level performance oriented motorcycle can get, with the bike getting mechanical components similar to that of a middleweight sportsbike.
Under the super aggressive body work, the Duke 200 sits upon the tubular trellis frame, which has been inspired from its bigger sibling, the Duke 690. The frame is lightweight, and with the mass centralization process which KTM has carried out for the motorcycle, the motorcycle tips the weighing scales at just 138 kg, which is very impressive, considering the fact that many 150cc motorcycles have the same weight figure.
In terms of suspension too, the Duke 200 sets very high standards, as it is equipped with 43mm upside down telescopic front forks and adjustable hydraulic monoshock at the rear, both of which are sourced from the renowned WP. With this, the Duke 200 becomes the most affordable motorcycle to be equipped with WP suspension, which is usually found in high end motorcycles.
The suspension, coupled up with the capable aluminium swingarm, has been tuned for a stiffer ride, which may not make the Duke 200 a motorcycle to hop on for say more than 200 kms in a single run, but then, this very suspension setup imparts it a dynamically rich character. The motorcycle handles excellently, with the meatier MRF tyres complementing with equal brilliance as well. However, the more brilliant Metzeler rubbers from the Duke 390 can be fitted on this bike as well, given the fact that the tyre specifications are exactly the same.
Talking about the stopping power, the Duke 200 comes fitted with 300mm front disc brake and 230mm rear disc brake, both of which are sourced from Bybre and provide great feedback. Though, unlike the Duke 390, it misses out on ABS even as an option.
The Duke 200 has been on sale in the Indian market since 2012, and even today, the motorcycle is available in the same color options with the ones they were launched. KTM is continuing to offer the Duke 200 in three different color options – Orange, White and Black. Color choices are purely subjective to personal taste, though, if you ask us, the Duke 200 looks ravishing the most in the orange livery.
In today’s date, the Duke 200 can be availed at the ex-showroom price of Rs. 1,46,200, which translates to an on-road price of Rs. 1,62,500, which includes zero depreciation insurance and warranty package. At this price point, the Duke 200 in indeed an incredible value for money, considering the package it offers.
It was the Duke 200 which made the KTM what it is today, and keeping this mere fact in mind, we have to say that the Duke 200 is a very well rounded product. Its aggressive styling may not be to everyone’s taste, but the fact that it still looks fresh and eye-catching even after four years if its existence is the testimony to its standout design. The engine is a bomb, and will surely bring a huge smile on your face if you value outright performance over everything else. And same can be said about its riding dynamics, which do give an opportunity for amateur riders for stepping up into the world of big bikes.
However, like all the excellent products, the Duke 200 too has its own share of minor niggles. The rear view mirrors lack in the front of visibility, the engine tends to heat up in lower gears/speeds and lacks refinement in lower revs and it lacks ABS even as an option – the last one is indeed a big miss, given the huge performance on tap. But keeping this avoidable minor issues aside, the Duke 200 is one of those very few bikes which will make you feel that you have spent a lot less for the amount of thrills you get on two wheeler motoring.
- * Outrageous looks
- * features
- * rev-hungry engine
- * Handling
- * Engine refinement at lower speeds
- * No ABS
- * lack of visibility in rear view mirrors