KTM 250 Duke review – KTM’s answer to the 250cc segment

When the first-generation 200 Duke and 390 Duke were introduced in India, performance biking was never the same again. These bikes were different; they handled like nothing else, made more power than the rivalry, looked rather alien but were priced very well. Customers did, however, return with feedback on refinement issues. In 2017, the Austrian bike maker launched the 250 Duke in India. It was actually never planned for a local launch, but since the 390 Duke came in costing quite a lot, it only made sense for KTM to bring in the smaller displacement model.

A KTM as usual

It doesn’t take a motorcycle enthusiast to note that the styling of the KTM 250 Duke is inspired by its larger, super-naked sibling. The rest of the bodywork and all that you see on the bike is from the new 390. The bike gets the new two-part trellis frame with an exposed bolt-on sub-frame and a 13.5-litre tank that looks a bit hardcore. The new Duke looks sharper and angrier than the old Duke and it’s a bit difficult to spot the differences, barring the headlight and the numeric stickers on the tank. The headlamp juts out in a pointy manner; there’s also a new TFT instrument cluster also seen on the 200 Duke. The KTM 250 Duke also sports blacked-out alloys. The sleek tank cowls look fantastic and the key-switch is placed above the tank and not below the speedometer console. The new seat is longer and provides decent padding and then there’s the side-slung exhaust you’ve already seen on the 390 Duke. The exhaust note is different from what we’ve heard on earlier KTMs, but once the revs rise, it starts sounding nice. The bolt-on trellis sub-frame is seen towards the rear side-panel. Towards the back, it is sharp and sculpted, with the tail houses a twin LED tail lamp.

Getting astride

Swing a leg over the 250 Duke by KTM Bikes and you’ll notice that the seating position is identical to the older ones, but the increased 830mm seat height and new rear-set foot pegs make it a nicer bike to sit on and experience. Power comes from a 249cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected motor, making 29bhp and 24Nm of torque. Start up the engine and mild vibrations can be felt on the handle bar. However, start picking up pace, and all of it gradually fades. The motor feels a bit lethargic in first gear, but the mid-range is where you’ll enjoy riding this bike the most. Synced to the engine is a 6-speed transmission with a slipper-clutch. The gear shifts are smooth and exact, and the down-shifting feels good thanks to the slipper clutch. In fifth, it pulls all the way to 136kph, while sixth results in a very minor difference. We’d recommend cruising in its highest gear.

Unfortunately, the 250 Duke by KTM Bikes, doesn’t feature ride-by-wire tech and those lovely Metzeler tyres seen on the Duke 390. However, the 250 Duke’s MRF Revz C1 tyres do a fairly good job. Up-front, the bike gets a 300mm disc along with a four-piston caliper and a 230mm disc at the back, along with a single-piston caliper. Another feature from the 200 Duke. The front brakes bite with confidence, but there’s no ABS. Also, the new chassis adds to riding experience and direction changes are dealt with easily. The bike also stays planted and allows you to push hard through corners.

And the handling?

At high speeds, the motorcycle is stable, but the front-end tends to get light and jittery on bad stretches of tarmac, particularly at very high speeds. The seating position is on-point; you sit in an upright posture, with your body barely leaning forwards. Fitting a windscreen would be quite appropriate for the highway. Ride quality isn’t bad; the suspension soak in the rough edges well, further letting the bike handle our roads without a hiccup. At slow speeds however, it gets a bit too bumpy but once you’ve upped the pace, that’ll be sorted out.

Mini Super Duke?

It’s hard to fault the KTM 250 Duke; it’s perhaps the nicest Duke you can buy – and comes across as a great runabout for the city. Motorcycle enthusiasts are going to buy it for its looks, performance and its precise handling. You can zip through traffic effortlessly. It’s a great package for those who love riding fast but responsibly. Also, grab the latest info on the upcoming bikes, only at autoX.

By my name jessi