KTM Duke 200 1-year/20000 Kms comprehensive ownership review

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KTM Duke 200 1-year/20000 Kms comprehensive ownership review

“The KTM Duke 200 is perhaps the closest you can get to two-stroke pleasure in this four-stroke dominated motorcycling world.”

My friend Rishabh Katiyar once told me this. Today, when I come to think of it, I realize that his one liner pretty much sums up what I am going to write in the ownership review of my beloved Dukey. I am gonna spare you my usual opening paragraph rant this time and get straight to it.

Before I start, here are some stats of my one year long courtship with Dukey.

  • Odometer reading as I type this – 21257 kms and counting
  • Sat astride Dukey probably 350 days of the year
  • Used it for daily commuting, long distance touring, off roading and the occasional speed rush
  • Highest altitude achieved – 17200 feet above sea level
  • Longest ride in a day – 750 odd kms
  • Mods – None
  • Crashes – 2, minor ones
  • Top speed achieved – 138 kmph
  • Fuel economy – 35-38 kmpl in city, 38-45 kmpl on highways (I usually ride sanely)
  • Major spare parts changed in 20K kms – chain sprocket, brake shoes, footrests, RVM, etc.

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Now let’s get to the dirty details –

Engine – First things first, let’s start with the engine.  The 199.5 cc mill produces maximum power of a whooping 24.6 bhp at 10000 rpm and maximum torque of 19.2Nm at 8000 rpm and yet weighs a mere 128 kgs! It is without a doubt one of the best power to weight ratio motorcycles of our country; if not the best. It has been pure unadulterated pleasure when it comes to enjoying the raw power of Dukey. It’s a feeling which can only be experienced and I won’t mind recommending the Duke to someone based solely on the merit of its adrenalin filling acceleration.

 

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Comfort – The Duke has an aggressive riding posture. The handle bar is placed quite instinctively and the upper body feels pretty relaxed while riding. The position of the footrest however takes time to get used to and even during long rides your legs are more prone to fatigue than your arms or shoulders. The seats are towards the harder side and don’t feel comfortable in the first go. Having said that, the Duke is quite capable to munch hundreds of miles in a day and I remember covering around 175 kms without a break and the highest I have travelled is about 750 kms in 12 hours, both with a pillion. The Duke is comfortable for the rider but the lack of grab rails, a smaller seat and aggressively placed footrests make the Duke not so comfortable for the pillion.

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Handling – The chassis of the Duke is well responsive and gives you all the confidence you need to take tight corners in the city or the hairpins on the ghats. Add to that the lightweight flexibility of the bike and you have a winner in your hands. The flipside of the light weight is that you get a good amount of windblast when you max out the Duke on the highway; that is perhaps the reason why the Duke’s top speed gets checked at 138 kmph while it feels as though the bike still has some juice in it to go more. The stock tyres are a joy when it comes to cornering but the absence of ABS makes panic braking difficult and dangerous with the almost bald tyres.

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Braking – The Duke 200 misses ABS big time! While I understand that adding ABS would have increased the cost of the bike by another 30K odd but I personally feel that a bike as peppy and powerful as the Duke should come with stock ABS. As mentioned earlier, the stock tyres are very comfortable for cornering but when it comes to wet road grip or panic breaking in cities; the absence of ABS, the texture of the tyres and the super responsive disk brakes takes away the confidence of the rider.

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Transmission – The duke has excellent transmission and gives you the liberty to ride in a wide range of RPMs on almost every gear. This helps in ensuring that you don’t have to change the gears very often on the Duke especially when you are downshifting. This is a big plus on crowded city roads.

Suspension – The Duke has beautiful suspension. The upside down forks on the front and the monoshocks at the rear work in perfect tandem and ensure that you have a bump free ride more often than not.

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Cosmetics and electrics – Every person has his/her own preferences when it comes to the look of his/her bike. But as the famous saying goes “if you don’t look back and admire your bike after parking it, you’ve bought the wrong one”. I sure as hell admire Dukey, always. But if I talk about the quality of the materials used for the body then I am a tad disappointed. In my one year of ownership, I have had to change the rider and the pillion footrest once each, both of which were a result of minor crashes. The stock headlight of the Duke is pretty powerful and I have not had any problems with the battery. But, every time I press the horn of the Duke, I feel like I am riding a moped.

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Spares and after sale service – Almost every motorcycle enthusiast is unhappy with the kind of after sale service we get in India. I have had the opportunity of experiencing the after sale service of KTM in two cities, Kolkata and Mumbai. While I have not been entirely satisfied, I have to admit that in comparison to other brands, the after sale service of Duke is a tad better, but only just. The only time I had an issue with spare parts was when I was unable to find the front footrest panel for more than 2 months in Mumbai and I was forced to use a bent one from a local garage. It might have been a one-off incident but it did make me suffer.

Debunking some myths – I have had several interesting conversation with bikers and non bikers alike about the Duke and have found some common myths which need to be debunked.

  • Heating issues – Yes, the engine heats up in city traffic but I don’t understand why people complain about it. Almost every motorcycle heats up in traffic; at least the Duke has a liquid cooled engine and a radiator fan which brings down the temperature in no time.
  • Top speed – A lot of people complain that in spite of being a 200 cc bike, the Duke maxes out at 138 kmph whereas other 200 cc bikes max out at 150 kmph. One has to understand that every bike is designed for a purpose. While the purpose of the Pulsar 200 NS is to hit a top speed of 150 kmph, the purpose of the Duke 200 is to make sure that it reaches 138 kmph before the NS does. It is upon the individual to decide what he/she wants out of his bike, the latter or the former.
  • Not for touring – It depends on the kind of touring a person wants to do. Honestly, we really don’t have a bike in our country yet which is dedicated completely to touring. More often than not, we end up buying a motorcycle which fulfills most of our purposes. The Duke effectively covers large distances in short time on flat straight highways and gives you pure adrenalin rush when it comes to taming the hairpins; which pretty much sums up the touring requirements of many of us.

Pros and cons – Skipped reading all the jargon written above? Here’s a summary.

Pros

  • Raw, powerful performance
  • Excellent power to weight ratio
  • Decent handling; excellent suspension and transmission
  • Super informative and advanced console

Cons

  • Lack of ABS
  • Not too comfortable for pillions
  • Small fuel tank
  • Quality of body parts

Verdict – The Duke is not for everyone and it definitely isn’t for the faint hearted. A lot of people swear by its performance and a lot of others criticize it. In my personal opinion, The KTM Duke 200 is one of the most iconic motorcycles to be launched in our country and Kudos to Bajaj for coming up with this powerhouse motorcycle at an affordable price bracket. I have been a happy rider in my one year ownership experience because of the fact that I understand that no bike is perfect. The Duke 200 solves most of my purposes and gives me joy when I ride it. Isn’t that what riding is all about?

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Ramneek
Ramneek
Ramneek – Born with a wanderlust and a love for telling stories with his words, Ramneek has been riding his puny but humble Pulsar all across the country. He presently pulls himself out his of bed every morning to go to work in a multinational corporation and his biggest desire in life is to live life on the road with his favorite partner. Kickassmotorcycling is his brainchild and he is the creative force behind the website. To get in touch with him click on the "Kickass Team" above.
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Comments
  • vual grimoire
    Reply

    Great review. Very informative. Thanks for taking the time. I love the look of the Duke series but there are a lot of stories out ther that the 200cc engine is weak and unreliable, that it breaks down a lot and expensive to fix. I’ve heard say that even a KTM mechanic told a buyer to avoid the 200.
    I don’t know how true all that is but since I can’t afford a brand new bike at the moment, I’m looking at the used market for the 200.
    Some riders say don’t do it. Any used 200 for sale will have been thrashed to within an inch of its life.
    Any advice in terms of what weak spots to look for in a used Duke 200?
    Any comments or advice much appreciated.

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