KTM’s Duke range of naked motorcycles are anything but ordinary. Both the Duke 200 and the 390 are razor sharp handlers, more powerful than their competition, and most importantly, they are priced competitively which explains why we see so many of them on our roads. Now for 2017, KTM has given us yet another Duke sibling, the 250 Duke. Although KTM did not initially plan to bring the 250 to India, the new 2017 390 Duke has gotten more features and become more expensive in the process. This has created a bit of a vacuum in the pricing with the 200 and the 390 Dukes. And that’s where the 250 Duke comes in.
The 250 Duke shares most of its bodywork and styling with the new 2017 390. Both get a new two-part trellis frame and a 13.5-litre fuel-tank. This new look for the bike appears a fair bit more aggressive than the older Duke design. What really sets the 250 apart from the 390, besides the obvious numeric decals, is the headlight. The 250 Duke misses out on the split LED headlight setup the 390 version gets. It also gives the all-new TFT instrument console seen on the 2017 390 Duke a miss. Instead, it makes do with the same digital unit as the 200 Duke. Another point of differentiation is the blacked out wheels on the 250 Duke.
Besides the numeric decals, the blacked-out wheels differentiate between the 390 and the 250. (AutocarIndia)
Besides the styling changes, the seat design has also been revised, and the new, longer seat has a decent amount of padding for the rider as well as pillion.
Get astride the new 250 Duke and the seating posture is a rather familiar one; it retains the neutral posture from the older Dukes. But the new 830mm seat height and new foot pegs, that are a little further rear-set, make this new bike feel a little less cramped than the older models. Although it isn’t much, the 30mm increase in seat height may be a bit cumbersome for shorter riders.
The new quarter-litre Duke uses a 249cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected engine which produces 30hp and 24Nm. Crank the engine up and there are a few vibrations that filter through the handle-bar at idle. But once you get to higher revs, this tends to smooth out. When initially pulling off the line in first gear, the bike feels a bit sluggish; but in a typically Duke fashion, the punch kicks in once the revs build, and the motor really feels strong at full chat.
The engine is mated to a slipper-clutch-equipped, six-speed gearbox. Shifts through the gears feel smooth and precise, with the slipper clutch allowing you to downshift hard from high gears while keeping the rear wheel from locking. The bike can hit up to a speedometer indicated 137kph in sixth gear, but in the real world, the top-gear seems like it’s meant more for cruising than outright speed.
The 250 Duke also misses out on the ride-by-wire tech and stickier Metzelers from the 390. Instead, it’s shod with MRF Revz C1 rubber, which provides decent levels of grip. Stopping power comes from a 300mm disc with a four-piston caliper up front, and a 230mm disc with a single-pot at the rear, which is the same setup as in the Duke 200. The front brake feels strong and has a decent amount of feedback as well. Sadly, there’s no ABS offered on the 250 Duke, even as an option.
While clocking a few laps around the curvy Bajaj test-track, the 250 Duke really felt in its element. It changes directions quite briskly and overall stability is commendable. The bike feels planted at all times and really encourages you to ride harder.
At Rs 1.73 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the new 250 Duke not only bridges the gap between the 200 and the 390 in terms of pricing, but also in terms of power and features. It doesn’t have the kind of manic power the 390 does, but it still has enough punch to keep things interesting. Although, it would have been nice of KTM to offer ABS on this model, at least as an option. Although it’s priced a bit steeply, there’s no denying that KTM has delivered another brilliant machine in the Duke 250.