Up until a few weeks before the launch no one really expected Bajaj-KTM to launch the KTM Duke 250 in India. While most of us thought that the 250 will replace the 200 at an almost similar price point, the updated 390 created a big enough pricing gap for KTM to slot in the 250.
The Duke 250 is an interesting machine, an amalgamation of the Dukes. Looks and almost all hardware are from the Duke 390, with the 250 getting the new 2017 chassis+ sub frame combo; but it has a unique headlight with halogens instead of the LED’s on the 390.
What it misses out, are the new electronics, like the ride by wire, abs and its modes and funky new colour display.
Once you get going on this new quarter litre Duke, you are instantly surprised by the sound and the refinement levels. It has a better sounding engine exhaust note, a more throatier and smoother version than what we are used to.
This engine produces 30 Ps of power at 9000 RPM and 24 Nm of torque at 7250 RPM. The power delivery is not dramatic but speeds do build up quite fast. The 0-100 came up is 8.3 seconds and the bike quite easily touched 130 km/h. Top speed for the Duke 250 would be less for a 250 though, it seemed to run out of steam quite quickly post 130.
Below the 5k RPM mark, it shows none of the urgency like the Duke’s we are used to. Keep the revs below 5k and the bike is almost surprisingly silent but once the revs touch 6k the Duke 250 quite literally starts to take off. This difference is very noticeable and if you are not prepared for it, it can catch you by surprise. If you are on one your speed runs with a lot of corner carving then we really would recommend watching out for this transition point and keep the revs higher.
But the good thing is that this is not hard especially with the slipper clutch making sure you do not lock up the rear wheel when frantically down shifting.
Out on the highway, comfortable cruising speeds are around the 110 km/h mark. At this speed the motor would be spinning at just above the 6 and half thousand RPM. In city, the typical Duke character remains, with all the torque coming in at higher revs, you need to work that gear box to keep momentum.
The gear box in itself is quite sure footed and allows precise reassuring shifts. The Power Assist Slipper Clutch has also reduced the number of springs inside the unit making clutch lever pull quite light.
Now the Duke’s were never really known for their fuel efficiency and the 250 is no different. Punish the throttle and you can see the numbers drop to low 20’s but ride it sanely and it should return about 27 km/l consistently.
Dimensions wise the Duke 250 is pretty much same as the older 200. The new chassis and larger tank though has resulted in a final kerb weight of 161 kg. But the good thing is that, this has not at all affected the handling of the machine. The typical, nimble and easy to ride character remains and you can change directions at will.
You have a light overall feeling which gives you confidence allowing you to easily throw it into a corner and pick it up effortlessly as well. The 250 also gets the new 2017 suspensions at both ends, but it remains stiff overall. The 43 mm front forks handle sharp bumps much better and being open cartridge keeps tuning as an update later a possibility.
With all the performance and handling prowess on the Duke 250 the brakes are a complex story.
The same brakes from the 200 are carried over; and while we initially though they would not suffice, the sharp initial bite with a good progressive feel gives you good support. But it needs conscious additional force than what you are used to. Not something you would enjoy if you are the type that grabs the brake with one or two fingers. This makes ABS all the more necessary on this machine which unfortunately is not available even as an option.
The Duke 250 comes with the MRF C1 tyre range, and while we are fans of this particular model, it does take a bit of heating up before the tyre starts to hold up to some aggressive riding.
On the flip side, the tyres should last substantially longer while still providing higher grip levels than the earlier MRF version.
The overall build quality on the new 2017 Dukes look much better than before, but we did notice some jagged ends. One that we should particularly mention is the new side swung exhaust. It definitely should have better finish levels. The seat height is at 830 mm which might be a point of concern for shorter riders, especially in stop and go traffic.
The seat in itself is now softer and wider for both the rider and pillion; this should enable you to really use that larger 13.5 litre steel tank to good use.
Although the instrument console is from the older Duke 200, it now gets two additional features. One is that it now shows real time fuel consumption and the other that it shows when the kill switch is on.
One thing that we really love on the Duke 250 is its headlights. They are extremely good and even with oncoming light, it had good throw and spread.
The new KTM Duke 250 or rather both the 390 and the 250 have a design that is inspired from the Super Duke. This has made the Duke 250 quite striking and beautiful looking from any angle. Its sharp, its angled and while the engine refinement and performance has gone up a notch the looks has gone up multiple notches. Surely, existing Duke owners must be a jealous bunch now.
The new KTM Duke 250 bundles up the Duke experience in a package that makes it more appealing to a larger audience. There are some kinks in its armour and but overall it has a very strong appeal and a price tag that makes it all the more interesting.
Check out our Duke 250 quick highlights for key features and specifications.