Indian Chief Vintage

1811CC 74BHP 139NM

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The Indian brand has a lot of history behind it. Ever since 1953 when the main factory was closed down, it was struggling to keep its head out of the water. But the brand is so strong (and evidently loved) that it seems to have been finally successfully revived once Polaris bought it over. Polaris’ experience with Victory Motorcycles was a big advantage in reviving this piece of history.

The first impression you will get on the Indian Vintage is that it is beautiful, in the truest sense of the word. It seemed to have been chromed in every bit possible and it does look stunning under a clear sky, as it seems to change its colour to blue with that plethora of ultra-reflective surfaces. The fit and finish are excellent with detailing like the embossed Indian logo on the mirrors and the Indian bevelled script logo on the tank giving it a lot of character to discover as your eyes flow around the bike. The Indian’s head on the front fender glows along with the parking light and makes for an attractive brand statement.

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The next deal sweetener is the ignition switch. The system sports a fob that eliminates the need to use a key to fire up the bike. It just needs to be in your pocket when you are on the bike. However, you still need an actual key-in-and-twist action to lock the handlebars. This paradox of old styling with high tech gadgetry doesn’t stop there. You have RbW (Ride by Wire) throttle, an option of chrome plated Bluetooth speakers (!) and ABS thrown in. You also have cruise control. All this combined with simple and no-frill things like click-lock windscreen that is easily detachable.

And that is the moment you take a couple of steps back and have a look at the bike again in its entirety. Then you realize that there is a lot more to the bike than just an attempt to revive a great brand. It is actually a motorcycle that you would love to have in your garage and take it out on special occasions, or maybe even daily once you get addicted to the turning heads and the curious questions on red lights and cafes. “Is it a production motorcycle?”, “That looks beautiful, is it available for sale in showrooms?” et al.

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The heart of this piece of art is the 1811cc ‘Thunderstroke’ engine pumping out 139 Nm of torque to push the 388 kg chrome on its way. Talking of thunder, the pull or the exhaust note will not blow you away. The pull is there, but it is flat throughout, unlike the Harleys that give you that initial elbows-out-of-your-socket pull. The overall package comes across as quite gentlemanly. Don’t expect people to notice you making an entry until they see you, that is. The bike is a visual delight but would have had a lot more character if it would have had that bleeding thump. But as a package, this finds many takers, and you always have aftermarket add-ons for the flashes and the noise.

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Push the swanky starter button and the bike rumbles to life. The gear shifts have a reassuring thud to them, leave the clutch and the full 450-kilo bike (with the rider weight) propels forward, but again not with the suddenness that you might like, due to the rather flat torque delivery curve.

The Vintage rode very well in heavy traffic as well as on the curves, thanks to a more generous lean angle than many bigger Harleys.

This bike will make a statement at a biker’s meet or a high profile party or just being totally different on the road.

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2017 KTM 390 Duke Review: Rioters!

373.2CC 43BHP 37NM
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What a riot! That was the thought spinning through my head, heart and body as I twisted that throttle harder and harder, trusting that fantastic machine to deliver on its promise as I rode around the Chakan track.

The completely new 2017 KTM Duke 390 is a paradox. It is wild, it will scare you, yet you are forever in control of its every movement. The Austrians haven’t built a machine, as much as they have built an extension to the rider’s body. As we the media rode the new 390 at the Chakan track, KTM was testing their MotoGP machines at Qatar before the season opener with Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith. So while half my attention was at the job at hand, the other half was wondering about the fate of this very ballsy company at the highest echelon of motorcycle racing.

According to the KTM factory riders, their RC16 is a fierce bike to ride, needing to be muscled and manhandled around every corner. That maniacal ethos trickles down to the new 390. It is modelled after the most powerful naked ever, the 1290 Super Duke. The company boffins tell us that the bike is new from the ground up. Earlier, the 390 was a larger version of the 200, not anymore, there is nothing in common between the 200 and 390 now.

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When the 390 was rolled into the pit garage, the first thing that the assembled junta commented was that the bike looked big. The full LED headlamp visually doesn’t end at the front, but extends right up to the fuel tank. The LED cluster is an intricate design in itself. The bottom two LEDs are for the high beam, the centre two LEDs are the DRLs, the top two LEDs are the low beam and AHO, while the LEDs on the side are the parking lights. A bit confusing yes, but pretty nonetheless. Total wattage on high beam is 45W, though the illumination is apparently more than a halogen of the same wattage. But once again, I have my doubts over the white lights efficiency in fog, rain and other poor visibility conditions. If only the DRLs are on, then the headlamp will automatically switch on in the dark, for example if you enter a tunnel. The sensor for which is on the TFT display which rests above the headlamp, the first time ever in this price range. Bringing the future here now. We will go in depth with the TFT screen later. The 43mm beefy forks are open cartridge adjustable by 8mm with plastic shrouds to help keep the dirt out. The front disc brake increases in size to 320 mm for better braking. This change gives the bike the stopping power it has always deserved.

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Top to Bottom: Low Beam, DRLs and High Beam

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The 8mm adjustable forks

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The larger 320mm front disc

The front end of the bike also sees wider mirrors, now standard across the KTM range and adjustable brake and clutch levers. You also get hand guards as standard fitment. The switchgear has been tweaked to accommodate the TFT screen, with the pass, high and low beam switch now being activated with the index finger. The rest of the space is occupied by the toggle switches for operating the TFT display. The right hand continues to have the familiar switches, except the headlamp on/off switch is missing with AHO becoming mandatory. Throttle control also gets more precise with the incorporation of Ride-by-Wire. Lower down, the radiator guard does seem a bit inadequate, with a gaping hole in the centre, a bit more protection would be required, especially if one is planning a ride to places like Spiti and Leh. The 390 also has a slipper clutch, which helps substantially while pushing the bike on track.

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Adjustable clutch and brake lever

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Hand guard is standard fitment

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Wider mirrors

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A radiator which should be better protected from flying stones!

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The new toggle switches for the TFT display

Power remains the same at 43.5 PS, but torque is up by 2 Nm to 37 Nm, one more than the RC 390. The bike is BS IV compliant, even with the increased torque. That is thanks to the aluminium side-slung exhaust, though the muffler remains placed in the belly to keep the weight as low and centred as possible. This keeps the CoG low and helps in going around corners faster. Though all of this has increased the kerb weight of the new 390 to 163 kg. This is also thanks to the new fuel tank, which is now steel with a 13.5 litre capacity, which should see an increased range by 100 kilometres.

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The refined mill with more torque

Like the Duke 250, the 390 also gets a split trellis frame, which is powder coated in two different colours. The advantage of this is better weld points and finish for the frame and sub-frame says the company. And in the unfortunate case of getting rear ended, repairs will also be cheaper. Not something we suggest you try out! The saddle, as on the 250, is wider and employs a new material, which I found very comfortable. The saddle height has also been increased which could be problematic for shorter riders. Pillion comfort remains suspect though! The new tank shape and saddle position allows the rider to move around more easily. The ergonomics also get a bit more aggressive with the foot pegs pushed further back and higher up. This is excellent for corner carving, but makes me question the level of comfort over a full day’s ride. To help in change of direction, the new 390 also gets a shorter wheelbase over the older version.

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The split trellis frame in orange and white

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The easier to grip larger steel fuel tank

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Saddle gets new material and is wider for extra comfort

The rear WP 10-step adjustable suspension remains the same, and the Metzelers are H rated, with a speed rating of 210 kmph, well above the speeds the bike can attain. I managed a top whack of 160 kmph on the 1.2 km straight fully crouched, while seated upright, the bike still hit 150 kmph on the speedo. The lower spec tyres are substantially cheaper than earlier, while at the same time will have a longer life. The corner connoisseurs might of course want to upgrade! One thing which is a bit unnerving is the manner in which the rev-limiter kicks in. It is far too sudden. Making the rear skip along with your heartbeat! Which is unfortunate, since the bike begs to be redlined! The brake light is an LED unit, the brightness of which seemed inadequate in bright sunlight.

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The longer lasting Metzelers are easier on your pocket!

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Brake light isn’t bright enough in sunlight

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Sticky enough rubber

So how does the bike feel to ride? Slot the bike into first gear, grab a handful of throttle, dump the clutch and grin like an idiot. If you lean ahead, the rear will spin and slide before launching you forward, lean back and watch as the bike wants to wheelie. Either ways, you will be stupidly ecstatic! The bike accelerates like the rocket it was built to be and you tend to push it hard, knowing fully well that you have excellent braking at hand along with the safety net of ABS. The weight distribution of the bike is excellent and you can make the motorcycle do anything you want, except daydream. Do that and the 390 will snap you back to reality. As I got more comfortable with the bike, I could brake later and deeper into the corners. Purposely braking later than ideal was forgiven, as you can tip the bike on a whim and see it glued to the line, as if on rails. The wild side of the older 390 is tempered here. At no point of time you feel out of control, the new 390 is much more forgiving. Slow speed manoeuvres are also easy peasy, you can easily take a U-turn without putting a foot down. The RBW and slow speed handling make the bike perfect for a motorcycle gymkhana and therefore everyday urban traffic. The bike didn’t heat up during our ride, but we wouldn’t want to judge it, till we ride it in ‘proper’ traffic!

Through the extremely slow speed corners of the track, the bike isn’t as nimble as the 200, we suspect due to the heavier front end, but on the sweeping bowl, I was exiting the corner a good 10+ kmph faster than what I managed on the RC 390. That may in part be due to the fact that I have gotten to know the track better since then. On the main straight, the Duke shows its naked qualities as it gets scary when hitting the top whack of 160 kmph, for those few seconds the planted feeling on the RC is sorely missed. At the end of the straight, I tried out-braking myself multiple times to see if the ABS will kick in. It didn’t. Which shows how mechanically stable the bike is, even without the electronics it is forgiving. The ABS though is switchable with three options. ‘On’ will see the ABS work on both wheels, ‘Super Moto’ will see only the front wheel have ABS, while the rear can be slid and smoked to glory, while on ‘Off’ mode, the ABS won’t work with either wheel. And the display will have a warning message stating ‘this is illegal’! Irrespective of what your last ABS setting was, when you start the bike it will automatically go back to the default ‘On’ mode.

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Even with the raised and setback foot pegs, I found myself scraping it on the long sweeping bowl, which isn’t exactly unexpected on a street naked. Gripping the new tank while braking hard is also much easier than on the older bike. The new 390 is a grown up, matured version of the older bike and is more comfortable, forgiving and smoother. Gearshifts are butter smooth, the engine feels more refined and the aural note from the side-slung exhaust is much better. Overall, a significant update over the previous iteration.

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Let’s now get back to the biggest new toy on the bike, the TFT display. As is visible in the photos, there is a whole lot of information available to the rider at the touch of a button. On the side of the TFT, you get standard LEDs for the neutral, high beam and the remaining tell-tale lights. The TFT displays the speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge, engine temperature, gear indicator and clock. Besides this, it also displays 8 more customisable data. You can select the 8 out of a choice of 15. The display also connects to your smartphone through Bluetooth and you can see who is calling you and change your song from the toggle switches on the handlebar. Neither of these we advise using, as the rider’s concentration should be on the road ahead and this is an unnecessary distraction. The TFT display changes colour depending on whether it is day or night.

The rider gets to choose from 5 available languages. You also get all the information about servicing and if there is any part malfunction in the motorcycle. On the home screen, warning signs like the side stand and engine kill switch is displayed on the top in yellow, while malfunctions are displayed at the bottom in red. Though it might appear to be information overload, the user interface is very easy and after one use, it will feel natural. But I wonder, once the novelty factor wears off, how much tinkering is an owner liable to do! Even smartphones with fancy features get used only once when it’s brand new, after which it is forgotten! One thing I found missing was the font size adjustability; I found all the information a tad too small to read while riding and taking precious extra seconds to read. But the software on this will be updated in the SVC as and when newer versions are rolled out, so hopefully that is something that KTM will address.

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Side stand indicator and engine kill switch will be displayed in yellow at the top

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KTM’s genes

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The tacho goes from blue to red as the revs rise

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Connecting your smartphone through Bluetooth

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ABS gets three modes, On, Off and Super Moto!

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You can customise what you see by clicking on the quick selector buttons

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Tailoring the display to the riders preferences

At Rs. 2,25,000 ex-showroom Delhi, the 2017 KTM 390 Duke is very well worth the monies. It gives you everything you would want from a fun bike and tops it up with fancy gadgetry and futuristic electronics! And there is practically no competition to this motorcycle in the country. Therefore, you get colour options of orange and well… err orange to run riot!

Photos: Arjun Dhavale

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Plastic shrouds to keep the dirt out!

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The coolant cap is very awkwardly placed

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Pass, Lo and High Beam switch rolled into one

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The missing headlamp switch

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The key goes at the top of the tank and not on the handlebar

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The rearset and slightly higher placed footpegs are good for the track

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The rear suspension also gets plastic shroud protection

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Adds to the weight, but also the aural quality

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Protrusion!

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The saddle is much more comfortable now

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A motorcycle like this and a corner like that. Heaven!

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Ridden by: i, The Biker

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2017 390 Duke
2017 Duke 390
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Transformers Hayabusa

1340CC 197BHP
1st_photo_blog We all love things which are not possible! Teleportation, invisibility, time travel! We then use our imagination to give birth to characters who can live larger than life and inspire us and others. Since childhood, like millions of others on this planet, we have been inspired by such characters. Batman, Superman and more recently the Transformers. They are an amazing creation out of a creation by mankind – automobiles. Imagine our surprise when we saw another motorcycle modeled after a comic character, this time the Bumblebee and Megatron from the Transformers. During our search for #100Motorcycles we bumped into these two Hayabusas in Bangalore, and also got a chance to ride them (thanks to the owners Hemanth Muddappa & Hardik Gowda). It is always a pleasure to meet people with similar eccentric tastes! CEATPirelli_2 The two Hayabusas were a contrast of colours and the characters they were modelled after – the good (Bumblebee) and the bad (Megatron). And you cannot think of a better motorcycle than the Hayabusa to get this fantastic treatment. A legendary bike, which comes to life with the Transformer theme! Spartan pro gear template These two machines had stupendous road presence with their 330 rear and the Brocks Alien ear splitting exhaust. You cannot miss this on the road, especially in India! We loved the rear seat cowl detailing which had the glowing etched motifs of the two transformers. The Megatron won the battle for the day, not because it is ‘evil’, but because of the colour and the chrome alloys. It just looked mean! One would expect that it would be a nightmare riding these bikes, especially through corners. But actually once you got used to them within a few miles, you forget the 330mm rear. We rode in the chaotic Bangalore traffic without any hassles. Except the attention was unbelievable. Think a Hayabusa, and then think a Hayabusa like this! WRANGLER_Template After a day of riding the Megatron and Bumblebee it was stunning to get back onto a regular Hayabusa. It felt super light? and the rear tyre looked like that of a cycle! No kidding! These two motorcycles, inspire you to do something crazy with your own motorcycle as well…
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Bumblebee
Hayabusa
Megatron
Suzuki
Transformers

Yamaha FZ 25 Review: The Gentleman’s Game!

249CC 20.6BHP 20NM
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There are motorcycles and then there are refined motorcycles. This piece of sweetness belongs to the latter. The Yamaha FZ 25 ain’t no hooligan, it is a sedate machine which will do absolutely everything you need, without breaking a sweat!

Yamaha organised a media ride in the lovely state of Goa, which is actually a perfect setting for this motorcycle. Twisties, undulating terrain, potholes, gravel and all two-lane highways! The road plays to the motorcycle’s strength and masks its limited weaknesses.

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The bike is good looking, I don’t think there will be many who disagree with that. It carries over the successful base design from its younger sibling sold in India and adds a touch more muscle. In fact, it does feel like a more grown up and mature version of the FZ-S. The prospective buyer will find the design familiar as well as refreshingly different. Face first, the LED headlamp makes you sit up and take notice. The only 250 in India with this setup Yamaha boffins proudly tell you. The LED lights have two bulbs in the centre for the low beam and one bulb in the lower half of the dome for the hi-beam. 13+13+9 Watts together consuming 35W with the hi-beam in play. Unfortunately we rode in bright sunlight and have no clue on the effectiveness of these new lights.

Switching from the lights we go to the switch gear. Quality finish and everything falls naturally to the rider’s hands. The pass switch though isn’t activated by your index finger, instead by the thumb. Which brings me to a pet peeve, why can’t these basic things be standardised across motorcycles! I have a tiny brain and don’t want to use it. Let muscle memory handle mundane things like this please!

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Your leg muscles gladly grab onto the beefy fuel tank. The plastic is neatly sculpted and the recess provides you sufficient grip for all regular riding conditions. The saddle is oh so plush, you almost forget to mention it. That’s how good it is. My pillion for a couple of kilometres vouched for the pillion saddle as well. The ergonomics are spot on for my 5’11” frame and I would gladly ride the length and breadth of this country on the FZ 25, if given a chance! The bike is neither excessively commuterish nor sporty, just skimming the sweet spot between the two.

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The gearbox is super smooth, the handling of the bike is neutral. It’s neither in a hurry nor sluggish, one can ride it at ones comfort level. The motorcycle is overall very forgiving, you don’t feel as if sitting on pins and needles at all times. Make a mistake mid-corner and you can still reel it in without your pants turning brown! MotoGP racer Pol Espargaró had described riding the Yamaha YZR- M1 as a motorcycle which the harder you push, the slower you go. To go faster, you got to be smooth. That description holds true for the FZ 25, even though the two motorcycles exist in different galaxies!

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The brakes on the bike are satisfactory, very gradeable, but if you grab a fistful, the tyres will protest. The MRF rubber on the FZ appeared quite capable, but not something you want to go kamikaze with! The bike doesn’t have the safety net of ABS, so discretion is the better part of valour!

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One of the strongest points of the Yamaha is its gem of an engine, equipped with the ‘Blue Core’ technology. The marketing term to describe an engine which extracts maximum power without being excessively thirsty. Departing from media ride convention, Yamaha laid bare it’s heart and soul, quite literally! A variety of components from the engine internals were kept on display for enthusiasts to drool over. From the lightweight piston, thinner piston rings, cylinder head block with oval combustion, the nickel and silicon plated sleeve, the muffler with multiple expansion chambers for the smooth sound, the 10-hole injector and a cross-section of the headlight. All this weight saving helps keep the weight down to a measly 148kg. Another figure the tech guys are proud to bandy about. This low weight aids handling considerably and the bike would be a different beast if it were 10 kg heavier. The torque from the engine might be scoffed on paper, but in real world riding conditions it’s wonderful. Peak torque coming in at 6000 RPM, ensures that frequent gearshifts are not required and a bit of throttle will see you comfortably sailing past traffic. The bike does struggle for breath at the top end and we don’t expect high speed runs. But riding at near around the triple digit mark is comfortable with no vibes coming in at any point. For those wondering about top speed, frankly Goa isn’t a place you want to risk life and limb to attempt it, and with a brand new engine, your findings wouldn’t be very accurate either.

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Along with the engine tech, Yamaha also showcased its aftermarket capabilities. On display was their diagnostic tool which is hooked into the ECU and all information about the various sensors of the motorcycle is provided to you. These are compared to set parameters which then allows the mechanic to clean/ replace any parts. There was also a fuel injector cleaning unit, in which Yamaha recommends the injectors to be cleaned every 6000km. Service intervals are set for 5000km so you would want to get it done at every service. All Yamaha SVCs will have these tools at their disposal to ensure a satisfactory service.

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FZ 25 vs Duke 250

For starters, the bikes are very different and shouldn’t be compared! So why am I doing so? Because someone will go ahead and ask me this question, so I will grab the bull by the horns!

The KTM Duke 250 is a busy motorcycle, which requires the constant attention of the rider. The bike begs a thrashing. The FZ 25 is calm, mature and gentlemanly and forgives the rider’s mistakes and imperfections. The FZ is lighter in absolute weight and will be lighter on your pocket as well! The Duke is razor sharp and boasts around 10 bhp more. The Duke and FZ should have a similar tank range, though the former comes with a metal tank, while the latter has a plastic one (weight saving). The Duke has a more aggressive and purposeful riding posture, while the FZ is more relaxed. Both bikes come equipped with MRF tyres. The bikes should also get similarly decent after sales and service. And therefore…

…the bike of choice should depend entirely on the character of the rider. The hooligan for the hooligan and the gentleman for the gentleman!

Photos: Thulashi Dharan J and Avinash Noronha (The Monk)

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TVS Apache RTR 180 FX Rally

NACC 24BHP

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In our journey to find #100Motorcycles in India, we stopped over at the TVS plant, where we were lucky to experience 3 of their racing bikes. The street racing, supercross with Aravind KP and now the third, the TVS Apache RTR 180 FX Rally bike!

This bike was ridden by ace rider Nataraj for us to capture him on camera as he flew around the course. Just watching him ride would give you Goosebumps and we can only imagine what it must be like to ride at his level. Anand from the TVS R&D gave us the lowdown and some interesting insights about the machine.

The TVS RTR 180 FX Rally Bike is used to participate in the Group B Rallies. Nataraj has won 2010, 2011 and 2012 Desert Storm on this bike before he moved on to higher capacity motorcycles.

Nothing on this bike that you see will remind you of the street going RTR. It is drastically different, with only the name being constant! It has the same forks, shock, brakes, as used on the supercross bike, though in a different state of tune. The differences between the supercross and rally bikes are down to the? details.

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A lot of testing goes on inside the facilities of the TVS R&D centre. Where a bike is built which the engineers think will be good for the intended usage before it is handed over to the rider where it is fine-tuned. It’s the same forks used in supercross as well but with 136mm travel to handle the terrain. The spring rates are different, though, the damping rates are different as well. The rally bike has about 20mm more travel than a production Apache 180.

With motorcycles like the Hero Impulse, Kawasaki KLX in the Indian market, why doesn’t TVS bring out something similar as well we asked? Especially considering that they already have such a motorcycle in their workshop!

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Anand told us that the changes that are made to the bike make the motorcycle very sensitive, and as such this machine needs the skill of a rider like Nataraj, to be able to extract the performance out of it. A regular rider would probably be slower than on a stock machine!

From an engineering standpoint, TVS already has such machines lined up. But to bringing it to the showrooms is a marketing and business decision. When the market demands, TVS will definitely bring it out they said!

This tuned engine produces around 24-25bhp as compared to the standard 17bhp of the stock Apache. That would be quite a stressed engine. A race tuned engine will have a life of around 20-40 hours, depending on the various internal parts. That doesn’t mean that the parts are scrapped after that, but you need to service, inspect and then assemble the engines again. And of course, for doing this job you need expert mechanics like the ones that are in the TVS Factory. A street bike, on the other hand, is built to last many years/ kilometers with minimal maintenance.

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We sincerely hope that TVS will bring a road legal motorcycle which is dirt inclined soon to the Indian market. It would be crazy fun!

tags
Apache
Rally
RTR 180 FX
TVS

The Quarter Meister: KTM 250 Duke Ridden

248.6CC 29.5BHP 24NM
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Soon after the Yamaha FZ 25 laid down the gauntlet in January this year, KTM have taken up the quarter litre challenge wholeheartedly with the new 250 Duke. The model is new to India only, as it has been selling in many Southeast Asian countries where the 390 could not be sold. In those markets this bike is the flagship product for the company. In India though we get the 2017 triad of motorcycles, the 390, 250 and 200 Dukes.

At the Chakan track we got a taste of the 250, with the 200 being the side salad! And as any foodie will testify, when you have a delicious main course, the salads and soups get side-lined! Fork and knife ready, let’s dig into the 250.

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The new bike is quite the lean, mean, ‘been on a diet’ kind of a motorcycle. It’s angular and sculpted looks grab you by the (eye)balls and irrespective of whether you like it or not, you surely can’t ignore it. The headlight design is somewhere between the 200 and 390. LEDs as pilot lamps, while the main bulb is a traditional halogen, unlike the new 390 with its split LED headlamp. The console isn’t a TFT like the elder sibling, instead you get the regular console with additional information like live fuel efficiency. The same as what we saw on the RC390. In the 250, the kill switch doesn’t kill the display unlike the 200. The tank is redesigned with a larger 13.5 litre capacity, and it is steel. Tank bag lovers, go celebrate!

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The seats are wider and made of a new material. The saddle is firm and gives your posterior ample support. One of the better saddles I have seen on Indian motorcycles.

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The chassis is a two piece trellis unit and to ensure that you notice this detail, it is painted two different colours, front black and rear orange! The rear frame can be seen going below the pillion seat and the way the mechanicals are flaunted, makes it exceptionally attractive. That’s how a naked bike should be. In your face! Tyres on the bike are from the same manufacturer and tread pattern, though of a slightly softer compound as compared to the 200. Consequently expect a shorter lifespan for this rubber. The exhaust now has a side-slung end can, while the muffler is still housed in the belly, keeping the weight low and centred, helping maintain a favourable CoG. And I mustn’t forget to mention that the bike sounds lovely now, much like the revised RC 390.

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Other useful features have been carried over from the RC twins we rode last month, like the plastic shrouds for the forks and rear suspension. The forks also get improved seals to keep the dirt out. The open cartridge type forks can also be adjusted by 7-8mm, and expect an adjustment knob on the WP forks in the future. Higher up, the RVMs are now wider than earlier, so expect to see more than just your bulging biceps in the mirrors! This is apparently across the KTM range in India.

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The only section of the motorcycle not pleasing to the eye is probably the tail. The tail light, number plate holder and seat, all appear to be going on a different trip. That sense of flow and cohesion doesn’t come across.

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Where the 250 gets short changed over the 390 is in the RBW, tyres, headlamps, ABS and front disc brake size. The last being the only inclusion I would want to see trickle down to the 250.

And that’s all you need to know about the motorcycle before you throw a leg over it. And once you do, you realize you don’t know the motorcycle at all from the spec sheet. If you are expecting it to be a 200 + 50, it isn’t. The ergonomics itself ensure that. The 200 seems a bit laid back in comparison! On the 250, you feel as if you are sitting on the front wheel, and the steering is completely ‘within’ your control. Before you have thought it, the bike has done it. The only thing that the rider needs to do is grab it by the scruff of its neck and throw it around like a rag doll, without any fear of getting ejected! The 9mm shorter wheelbase as compared to the 200 shows up in the flickability of the bike, easily hiding the extra 13 kg of wet weight that the 250 has. The increased weight is neutralised by the 5 Ps and 5 Nm of increased power and torque. The power to weight ratio increases marginally in the 250 as compared to the 200. But what is worth noting though, is that peak power comes in at 1000 rpm lower and peak torque at 500 rpm lower, making it that much easier to ride in urban traffic.

The clutch is light, and easily workable with gloves on a track. Though only in stop and go urban traffic can we know for sure how user friendly it is. Gear shifts were super smooth, though finding neutral was a bit of a task. This could possibly be because of the bikes being brand new and having been properly thrashed around the Chakan track. The slipper clutch on the 250, is as smooth and helpful in mid-corner downshifts as we found on the RC 390 last month.

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The bike wants to pop the wheelie question in the first couple of gears and being over enthusiastic with the throttle might spell trouble for a less experienced rider. Braking is good; it would have been great with the use of the larger disc from the 390. Some of our media brethren did complain about a not so responsive rear brake, a problem I didn’t face, since I make minimal use of it.

The top speed I hit on the 1.2 km main straight was around 130 kmph, fully tucked in behind the 4 inch console! Others reported a top whack of 136-138 kmph. While sitting completely upright, the bike managed 118 kmph. The MRF tyres have a speed rating of around 170 kmph we were told, well above the speeds this bike will manage.

With the 250, what you see is what you get. A purpose built motorcycle which is a perfect stepping-stone from a 150cc commuter. Though initially it would be prudent to keep your head firmly screwed onto your shoulders as you get used to the razor sharp handling and crisp throttle response. A motorcycle which can be very rewarding for the rider looking to improve his skillset, yet deadly for those who don’t take it seriously.

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Let’s get back to the forgotten hero, the 200. A motorcycle which opened up a whole new level of biking for the Indian junta. The 2017 200 Duke just like the RC 200 doesn’t get much. New paint and graphics, a BS IV engine, wider mirrors and Automatic Headlamp On (AHO) feature. Though we aren’t complaining, since the 200 is going to be sold at the exact same price as earlier. Every other motorcycle upgraded to BS IV has seen a price hike of 1000-2000. Though we would have been happier if the fork and suspension shrouds had been provided on the 200 as well.

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So which of the two should you buy? If you already have the Duke 200 (or any similar capacity motorcycle), the 250 will not be an upgrade. If you are looking to upgrade from a 150cc motorcycle, then we suggest you pony up the extra monies for the 250, you won’t be disappointed. The quarter is here to help you master the streets, at least until the competitors bring in a sizzler!

Photos: Arjun Dhavale

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Riding Gear by: Spartan ProGear and MT Helmets

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Ridden by: ‘i, The Biker’!

KTM 250 Duke Technical Specifications
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250 Duke
Duke 250
KTM
KTM 250 Duke
KTM Duke