We waste no time and hop on to the most exciting 125 in the market to bring you this report
Story: Anosh Khumbatta
Photography: Saurabh Botre
KTM surprised us all with the unexpected launch of the 125 Duke, the smallest of the Austrian brand’s roadsters, and opened their doors to even more Indian bikers who aspire to ride an orange Austrian machine. Priced at Rs 1.18 lakh (ex-showroom) the new baby Duke comes in thirty grand cheaper than the 200 Duke, and will welcome even more bikers into the KTM fold. I spent a day with the new bike at Bajaj Auto’s private test track near Pune, and came back smiling; here’s why.
Visually, not much is new. After all, this bike shares a platform with the 200 Duke and that athletic stature, sharp, chiselled fuel-tank, under-slung exhaust and in-your-face headlight are all familiar — it’s only the sticker job that differentiates this bike from the 200. The newest bit on this bike is the 124.7-cc liquid-cooled engine suspended from the steel trellis frame, which is a scaled-down version of the mill on the 200, with bore reduced from 72 millimetres to 58 mm and stroke from 49 mm to 47.2 mm.
The engine fires up promptly, settles into a relaxed idle and I immediately notice how easygoing this powerplant feels when compared to the rest of the Duke line. I had expected the bike to be like the other KTM singles I’ve experienced — peaky, rev-happy, and lumpy at low revs — but was pleasantly surprised at the smooth spread of power and torque, coupled with a relaxed and predictable throttle response. The 125 Duke is designed to punch above its weight class and an aggressive right hand will yield 14.5 PS at 9,250 rpm and 12 Nm of torque at 8,000 rpm — enough to keep up with most 150- to 180-cc bikes available today.
The engine is mated to a six-speed gearbox with well-spaced ratios that see the baby Duke breach 80 km/h in about 10 seconds while still in fourth gear. Shifts need to be timed correctly in the lower gears, else you will find yourself bouncing off the limiter, just north of 10,000 rpm, without warning. Banging through the gears to keep the engine in its 7,000-to-9,500-rpm sweet spot as I made my way around the test-track was great fun and extremely engaging, while the smooth throttle response allowed me to be aggressive with my inputs, without unsettling the motorcycle. Acceleration slows down considerably beyond 90 km/h and, although I did achieve a top speed of just over 110 km/h, this motorcycle feels liveliest between 60 and 100 km/h.