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2017 KTM Duke 250 Review, First Ride

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KTM Duke 250 is a baby Duke 390 which again mimicks the Duke 1290 and the lineage can be seen in performance while versatility is the Duke 250’s highlight.

Enchanting –

  • Scaled Down Design of Supernaked Street-fighter
  • Superlative chassis and engine
  • Feature loaded, value for money
  • Easy to live with than previous generation Duke

Unsatisfying –

  • Brakes could be more enthusiastic
  • ABS missing

KTM has hit the bulls eye again with the launch of its 2017 range of motorcycles. Without nay doubt the  biggest surprise was the Duke 250. But that was for other people since , we broke the news that the KTM Duke 250 is coming despite the fact that the company said otherwise in a recent press conference. Our sources threw out the entire plan of Bajaj-KTM and today we have it, the Duke 250 along with the 390 and the new 200 which is revised cosmetically for now. Duke 250 was launched last week and today we got to test ride the 2017 Dukes at the Chakan test track of Bajaj.

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We were at the track and tested the motorcycle as much as we could to bring you up to date with the nature and character of the motorcycle over the Duke 200 and how close it is to the Duke 390. We have also gained an insight on how the bike will behave on normal roads and figured out if the massive changes that were claimed by Bajaj-KTM for this motorcycle are there or not. We have put in laps and spend some time with the motorcycle to bring you all the information you would need.

Design

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When it comes to styling, the new Duke’s (250 and 390) are way hotter than before. The sleek and large headlight which swoops below looks great. The LED DRL that surrounds the extremities of the headlight give the bike a premium look. The orange fairing around the headlamp lends further push towards  a sporty look. The massive tank extensions and a large fuel tank make the Duke 250 look substantial and edgy at the same time. The large orange painted subframe which incorporates the big split seats and clear lens tail-lamps make sure the motorcycle looks much premium than before. The new paint, a gloss finished one make sure the Duke 250 will stand out easily.

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The main frame, wheels remain black for cost reasons, although the pin stripes on the bike make things slightly better. The exhaust is an old-school unit and isn’t something to drool over, but it does make it look like a proper toned down superbike unit for the masses, which will be appreciated in the long run by riders and owners. Overall, full marks, for the Duke 250 look great at this price point.

Ergonomics

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A very big change can be seen in the ergonomics of the motorcycle. The pegs are set lower and more rear set than before lending the Duke 250 a sportier riding stance as compared to the Duke 200 and Duke 390 of old. There is a lot of legroom for riders to be comfortable in the saddle. The handlebars are placed much lower, the seat height is low as well and that means you get a lean despite sitting almost upright.

Mirrors stalks are higher because the handlebar sits lower. The tank now gives you more space to stretch and grip it properly. Pillion seat also just got better and proper grab rails make things better for pillion riders by a big margin.

Speedo and Switches

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Cluster includes all the fuel-efficiency parameters that you look forward to on a KTM now. You get displays for: actual and average economy meter, distance to empty, average and current speed, service reminder, a clock, average time, temperature gauge, digital speedo and tachometer and much more. The switches are the same as before and aren’t backlit.

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The AHO button has been included as part of the safety package for 2017. The meter in shape and size is slightly different, the finish around it though is a little off the beat as there is a gap which is visible. Overall, fit-finish and quality though is brilliant with the motorcycle

Performance and Gearbox

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The new Duke 250 engine is toned down Duke 390 engine. The motor makes 31 PS of power and 24 Nm of torque. The DOHC 4-valve motor which is an over-square unit is fuel-injected and uses liquid cooling to make sure the motor is high on tech and power. The starter button is contact less which means a click is enough to start the motor. Piston is Nikasil coated and DLC coated finger followers are here as well.

The power comes higher in rev range, to be precise it starts to arrive from just above 4000 RPM and then rushes towards its 10,000 RPM redline. Gearing is taller, just like the 390 meaning there is subtle amount of low-end power that you can use to get of the line quickly. Larger 46T sprocket also helps that achieve better.

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As you can imagine the mid-range and top-end power is more than enough and motorcycles reach 140 km/hr on the speedo which is the right number as we know KTM speedo’s are spot on. We expect it to make higher top-speed numbers once the engine opens up as we know from previous generation Duke which can show their true nature around the 7-10,000 km mark.

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While the Duke 250 does all of this you will realize that the engine is now creamy smooth and isn’t harsh or rough as before. Post first service we think the refinement can reach upto Japanese motorcycles level too. NVH levels are well controlled, but there is buzzing only around redline and only at the pegs. The tank and handlebars remain completely devoid of it. Slipper clutch equipped gearbox is smooth and clutch is light and progressive.

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KTM has finally made the exhaust note sound good, however in doing that it now becomes more generic. The old note though was’t exactly pleasant especially in low to medium revs but it had a character, a unique approach. This one now sounds and feels so much smoother and the engine makes the motorcycle so docile that the ‘bad-boy’ character seems lost here. However, this does make the new Dukes more approachable than before. Duke 250 is much easier to ride and live with  as compared to the old models and this is a big plus point.

Ride and Handling

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Dynamically, the chassis has been revised slightly, but the main change is the bolt-on subframe which is most likely done to make sure the manufacturer can make more motorcycles on the same platform. In the Duke’s case we can see the adventure model coming with a new subframe. The forks are new and is a open cartridge unit which allows 8 level of adjustment. The rear monoshock allows for 10-step adjustment as well. The major area where the change is the feedback from the front. As the handlebar is lowered, the suspension travel has gone down by 8 mm than before and the rider’s weight is above it, the feedback has tremendously improved.

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Chassis continues to be nimble and agile in the corners. High speed stability is good and the wobble at the very top-speed is reduced by a good margin when compared to the old Duke 200 and 390. Another highlight is the suspension and KTM told us at launch that we can expect very mature ride and it does. The ride quality seems very good for now, though we tested the bike on smooth surface of the track. The sense of maturity is very high and we expect to it to be much better on the road when compared to previous model.

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When it comes to brake, we had huge expectations which sadly wasn’t exactly matched. The 300mm disc is seen as before and not the updated 320mm unit at the front. Initial bite is missing and the progressive power post that is enough to bring the motorcycle to halt, but still we were expecting the bikes to get the new brake kit from the RC series, which exists on the new 2017 Duke 390 as well.

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MRF C1 tyres make it to the Duke 250 for reasons which are related to costs. Tyres are good and they do a good job post warmup. The grip levels are great and at the very limit too that give a feeling of security and composure. However, if the Duke 250 had Metzeler that feedback and speeds through corners with the fantastic chassis could transform the bike completely.

2017 KTM Duke 250 Review, Verdict

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Let us remind you once again that we told you about the Duke 250 and gave you all the reasons what KTM listed were already done and said in the article we reported about, because that is what the Duke 250 is all about. The Duke 250 fills the void right between the Duke 200 and Duke 390. The price gap has always been high but with the new Duke 390 getting expensive, there was a gap which the Duke 250 perfectly fills. Duke 250 represents what the old Duke 390 will be in terms of refinement, performance and value.

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Duke 250 is ideal entry into the slightly more sophisticated 250cc segment that it has started and other manufacturer will have tough time cracking this nut. Duke 250 becomes the mini Duke 390 in every way as it opens a new segment like its elder sibling did, the performance is beyond class leading and it offers so much value for money that is just to hard to ignore.

Read this too: KTM Duke 390 Review also live!

Read this too: KTM Duke 200 vs Duke 250, Ridden! What should you buy? Sibling Comparison review!

Read this too: KTM Duke 250 vs all its rivals in a spec comparison

Read this too: KTM Duke 250 launch report, features list

Read this too: 2017 KTM Duke 200 launch report, features list

Read this too: 2017 KTM Duke 390 Adventure, all the spyshots

Read this too: 2017 KTM Duke 390 launch report, features list

Read this too: 2017 KTM Duke 200 Gets New Tyres

Price Rs. 1.95 on-road Mumbai

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2017 KTM Duke 250 Review
  • Design
  • Performance
  • Value
  • Feature
  • Safety
  • Comfort
4.8
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