Always wanted to kick start a thread here So, Here it goes. Got the duke delivered on April 1st 2017. Here are a few thoughts leading up to the eventual buy. If you just want to get to the meat of it just skip to the part that says THE BIKE. It might not much now, but I will be adding on to it.
A bit of History – My first ride is a 08 Honda Dio. In 2011, I got bitten by the bullet bug and took a quantum leap and got the Classic 500. 4 years later, The classic was sold. Back to the Dio it was. And the waiting began. Both these bikes taught me lots of lessons.
So, back to the wait – After I sold the Classic in 2014, I just wanted to get a Fazer or a NS and get it over with. Back then the dream was to get an RC 200. I would settle for an R15 or a CBR 150 too. But I never got around to it. I wanted something new. All of the choices back then barring the RC were…dated and the price of the RC was steep at about 2L plus going by the ownership experiences here, refinement was a concern. I had become somewhat a refinement merchant. The C500 felt smooth only maybe 10 days in its life. A few days right after an oil change and a few hours after an aftermarket ecu installation. Some days I find myself yelling STOP RATTLING AT ME at the Dio in Richard Hammonds Voice - But it’s always bearable. So vibrations were one of the priorities. Weight was the other. Lesson learned. Handling, I don’t want to scrape my knees or anything, but responsiveness and feedback is definitely needed. Handling comes 1st. Oh it needs to be fairly reliable too.
Apache launched the 200. It ticked all my boxes. Handling? – check. Weight? Check. Refinement? Checkity check. And it sounds good too. But no way was I going to wait around for 5 months for a bike. Never again. Plus I wanted the ABS, Pirelli and FI. Not available till date. Shame.
Mojo - Italian? Check? Power was allright. Looks? Okay. Weight was a letdown.
Let’s go to2017 then. First came the Dominar. The Urge was strong. It had everything. The looks, the Power, but the weight! Reliability was a concern. I pondered on this choice for a few days, and the urge died. A huge part of me wanted to wait for the G310r.
Then came the FZ 25. I was tempted, but the urge to get this was not as much as the Dominar. The design is too sedate for me. The front is good, but that strip on the side, and the way It looks when someone was on it just didn’t sit well with me. That 5 speed gearbox didn’t help matters either, More on this later.
So, eventually it Boiled down to 2 options. - The g310r and the updated duke 200. Akula too but looking at the apache 200, I didn’t have much hopes. The 390’s didn’t make much sense to me as i would be spending more time in the city. (a lesson learned lumbering about in Bangalore traffic on the “torque monster” 500)
Then the rumors of KTM’s launch date were leaked. Rumors of a 250 started doing rounds. Whoo was I excited. A few days earlier Rajiv was going on about how it wasn’t going to be launched here.
FEB 23! A day later I found myself going into the showroom asking for the details. There they were. A 17’ 200, a 17’ 390 and finally a Orange 250. It was pretty. A day later I booked the bike. The showroom staff was going on about their orange propaganda and how KTM = orange and whatnot, but I chose the White. 90 days was the waiting period.
Why the 250 – Reviews say that this is a smooth operator. I’m not expecting Jap refinement, but if it’s better than the old generation It’s good enough i suppose. (more on this later) Power is adequate. Looks are perfect. To top it off, this is a handler.
As I could not ride the bike, a couple of doubts were popping up - Part of me was expecting the launch of the 310. But that’s clearly not going to happen now. Then came the powerdrift video of the 0 to 100. Was disappointed to be honest, but a 1 kmph achieved in 6th? I definitely think there is potential there.
Then came THAT FZ25 video. More doubts started creeping up. A part of me wanted to wisen up, spends less and go get the FZ since it did everything the d 250 did, was refined, low on price, reliable etc etc, But another part of me still thinks that there is something shady going on with that bike.
A few days later, Chief minister Siddramaiah dropped the bomb. Taxes were going up from 12 to 18%! No part of me wanted to fork extra money to the Govt. I don’t know why the taxes are so high in the first place. The roads are rubbish and not well maintained in most of the places. The d250 was not value for money proposition in the first place and the prices for this affair was going to get even steeper. My thoughts were everywhere, Cancel this and get an RC 200 (damn, that white RC in the showroom was pretty) , wait for the BMW (at this point I got used to waiting for a new bike as Monday motivation) and what not, but I Still did not want to go for that FZ. Thankfully, to put me out of my misery, the showroom had called on the 28th of march, since the 29th was Ugadi, the bike would be delivered on the 30th. Eventually, i got the bike on the 1st of April and this is how it went -
THE BIKE –
Looks - The bike is a looker. No two ways about it. People were enquiring about it at the signals, at the temple and at the petrol station. Cars let you filter ahead of them, Motorists slow down to follow and steal a look. Another d200 rider gives a thumbs up, a cyclist pulls out his phone and starts recording. I kid you not! Take a bow, Kiska.
Ergonomics - The ergonomics are perfect. You have no problem sitting either slightly bent or straight. Both the Classic and the Dio gave me shoulder aches, but none on the Duke. They say the seat has been improved. I haven’t felt any aches at all during my 25km ride on day 1, All in heavy traffic.
Engine – 29 hp , 24 nm. It sounds amazing. (sounds like a Kawi twin to my ears) Loves to rev. But, it’s happy at 3-4k RPM. It’s even happier at 5-6k RPM, You don’t feel any lack of power in the low end and you don’t feel the need to go any higher. You have sufficient power in these RPM’s and the engine is stress free. And one more thing. I haven’t seen that rev limiter light up. If you're wondering if it’s broken, It isn’t – it lights up at start.
Refinement – Reviews say the second generation KTM’s have vastly improved refinement, It wasn’t so on day 1 in my opinion. I definitely felt the vibes at the tank extensions and the foot pegs at lower RPM’s - This was a new engine and the ODO said it had done 10 km. so it’s mainly that. The vibes at handle bars don’t bother you at all, but the tank extensions and the Footpegs are very noticeable. The latter being the worst. The vibes at the tank extensions are only present if you grip them loosely, If you grip them hard or not at all, and they won’t bother you much. It makes you work for refinement. You have to be at the right RPM’s for the bike to feel refined. So it definitely has sweet spots, you have to find them. There is potential for refinement, but I went to bed quite sad on day 1.
On Day 2, at the end of a ~50km ride, the bike felt much smoother. Those refinement sweetspots on day 1 came more and more often. At the end of day 2’s ride, the vibrations reduced to a very manageable (sort of addictive) buzz. It definitely feels like the bike is getting more and more refined after each ride, so the real story should be out after the first service.
Heating – It was a Hot and humid summer evening at the time of delivery and a couple of signals later, The temp bars started piling up and the engine was hot. The fan only kicks in when the heat gets to the top 2 bars, One thing to note though, when the fan is on, the heat isn’t deflected at your legs. Your legs also get some cool air too!
Ride quality – Ride quality is good. Almost Royal enfield good. I thought nothing could come close to that tank, but this Duke does. At low speeds, it tackles bumps and undulations like a champ.
Handling – Easy peasy. Riding this feels effortless. Filtering around is easy, dodging potholes is easy, I did not go fast enough to test high speed cornering, but I’m sure it will do the job.
Build quality – The tank extensions are plastics and feel hollow when you knock on them. The sides of the lights feel loose, and the clutch lever has too much vertical play to my taste. (You can hear the cable scrunching sometimes maybe this is just my bike). Other than that, it’s solid.
Lighting. No problem. AHO is a pain though. Feels like a fool to commute in broad daylight with your headlights on, only the DRL’s would have sufficed. Annoying taxi drivers on their phones now give way to you, so that's nice.
Gearbox –Gear Shifts are slightly noisy at the moment, but it does its job. Slipper clutch works like a charm. Finding neutral from 1 to N takes a bit of skill. You need the right amount of pressure to get it to neutral. Clutchwork is minimal in the city. you can putter about at ease.
Brakes - Can't complain. There's good feel in the levers. Don't know about high speed braking but at low speeds, it works well.
Efficiency – too early to tell, the real time economy indicator gives all kinds of numbers from 25 to 99.
More to come.
I’m no pro photographer, but here are some pictures –
Tech Specs -