Bike Road Test: KTM 200 Duke

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KTM 200 Duke

While the Pulsar 200 NS (having three spark plugs) is still NS==Not Seen, the KTM 200 Duke has already passed under my ass, and what a bike! For a 200 cc bike, the pickup and acceleration is out of this world. Indeed, there are many other things which are also out of this world as well. 


As soon as you switch on the ignition, the LCD digital instrument panel kicks in. Apart from the various numbers displayed, a large LCD digital readout flashes: READY TO RACE. The next readout tells you: Low Fuel Level. As you straighten the bike and sit on it, another read out appears: Side Stand Down. So you lift the side stand, and the readout disappears.

But while lifting the side stand, the LH rider footrest fouls slightly.

You cannot even fold back the footrest because it is spring loaded to remain extended all the time unless you fold it by force and hold it folded by force. This is just an observation, not a criticism. I am perfectly OK with it. In fact I think the spring loaded footrests are very practical and essential for this kind of performance bike. 


As you shift gears to move on, the next thing to strike you (the rider) is: THE PRiCK (which is orthogonally protruding out of the front end of the Toe-0nly Gear Shift Lever) is too SHORT==only THREE cm, while the footrest protrudes 12 cm.

This SHORT prick reminded me of the popular graffiti in male public toilets: “STAND CLOSER, IT IS shorter THAN YOU THiNK!” In the case of this KTM, “the Duke has a very SHORT one”! Too bad! So sad! Indeed, I would go as far as to say that this SHORTfall in the length of the prick is a very (in?) significant SHORTcuming! 


Another problem I have is with the inspeXun (inspection?) window at the bottom of the crankcase for checking engine oil level.

This is a terrible, painful and inhuman system. Firstly the oil is dark in color. Secondly the sun can never shine on the window except when it is on the horizon, bright, and shining directly on the window, which never can be because there are so many buildings obstructing the sun rays. 0r are we supposed to carry a Chinese made LED torchlight with us in daytime? Thirdly this inspeXun (inspekshun?) window is about 12 cm from ground level. To see the engine oil level, you have to move your eyes directly (orthogonally) in front of the window. To do that, you have to almost lie down on the ground, which I am sure everybody will agree is NOT at all welcome. Of course, 99% of bike users get oil engine checked and replaced by mechanic, so they don’t realize this problem. However, I am myself mechanic and inspect and change oil myself. So I know the problem. Additionally, if there is a dipstick, then by touching the oil on the dipstick and rubbing between fingers you can get a pretty good idea of quality of the current oil. Since this bike does not have a dipstick, this benefit is not available. 

What happened to the bloody dipstick? Weight reduction? I say BULLSHiT! Weight reduction MY FOOT! Plastic dipstick weighs hardly 15 grams! Or maybe KTM is trying to reduce owner / driver weight by making him do gymnastics to check engine oil level! To be honest however, many other bikes too have this horrible, painful, demeaning, undignified engine oil level checking system. 


The bike has very small blinkers which look white but glow orange, which is gr8!

The drive chain tensioner, is of a design I have not seen before and is quite solid and effective – no weight reduction here!


In a bike which says “READY TO RACE”, wheel alignment is critical and Mr. K.T.M. Duke is critically aligned! The Drive Chain Tensioner is at the rear end of the 58.5 cm long swing-arm. I have never seen such a solid swing arm on any other bike until today. It is a solid arm, 5 mm (==half cm) thick (I measured with micrometer/screw gauge) with cross webs of calculated width, thickness and placement for eXXTRaaa rigidity without weight inkreeze! Vertically, it is TEN cm tall at its widest. I measured it with Vernier Calipers. Though the SwingArm is so thick and wide and solid, its weight wouldn’t be much because KTM 0fficial Leaflet claims it is made of Aluminum, which is the lightest metal in the world. This should make the chassis very close to flex-free. 20 years ago models used to have round section swing-arm. Now almost all have Rectangular section swing arm, except Bullet of course, which is solid & round! But the KTM swing-arm is out of this world! 


While the rear is solid, the front is even more solid. The beefy USD front forks are a solid 43 mm in diameter. Karizma ZMR is 32 mm, pulsar 150 is 31 mm and Bullet is 35 mm – and all three: ZMR, Bullet and Pulsar150 forks are DSU, which is exactly 0pposite of USD! Ha! 43 mm is the thickest forks among all the bikes I have tested so far. Rear suspension is a FAT single monoshock. 

I have mentioned above that the front forks of this KTM are USD. What the fuck is USD? Well, USD stands for Up-Side-Down, but so what? Does it matter? Maybe, if it lowers the overall CG of the bike by having the heavier component lower down, the ‘g’ factor notwithstanding. ‘g’ factor is: acceleration due to gravity, which is 9.81 meters per second per second. The prime requirement is that the piston must reciprocate inside the cylinder to absorb the shocks. This can & does & must happen in all forks (fucks?), whether the forks are USD (woman-0n-top) or DSU (man-on-top) makes no difference. Reciprocating motion is the only essential requirement for shock absorption as it is for conception and reproduction! 


This type of abbreviation hype like USD/DSU, CBR250R, RTR, FZ/FZS etc. makes a good basis for media hype, which is what auto magazines and holey boox are all about. It is like media hyped semitik religions: Create a mystery about something (USD/DSU) that people cannot understand. Hype it as a big deal, something DiViNe =”Tumhari samajh me nahi aayega-just believe it”= USD in this case. Couch the popat in some unknown lingo = USD/DSU, which to the braying donkeys is unknown. Repeat the shit a million times, and you have created a race of slammik dumbos==Victims of media hype! But it works! 

TYREs : 

The bed on which all this reciprocation happens is: TiREs! In this KTM200, tires (tyres?) are 17-inch diameter, both front and rear. The rear tire is 150/60 which means it is 150 mm (=15 cm=6 inch) wide at its widest and has an aspect ratio of 60%, which means tire thickness (vertically) between road and rim is 60% of 150 mm which is==90 mm (=9 cm), which is pretty flat (less air cushioning) , which means a hard ride. The front tyre is 110/70, which means 110 mm wide with an aspect ratio of 70%, which means 70% of 110 mm, which gives a vertical thickness of 77 mm, not much air cushioning here either. The alloy wheels on this bike are of a design not seen before. The front wheel has 10 spokes (5 x Y pattern), while the rear wheel has 10 spokes in 5 x V pattern. The hubs on both wheels are of a pattern never seen before. 


And a hard ride it is. Even the seat! It hardly has any cushioning. And boy, do I need cushioning! Boss, I am 174 cm high (5.85 feet) and weight only 52 kg. I have no flesh around my asshole. I am skin and bones. With the low aspect ratio rear tire and a hard seat, IT’s BEEN A HARD DAY’s RIDE, AND I BEEN RiDiNG LiKE A HOG! Reminds me of the Beattles song: IT’s BEEN A HARD DAY’s NiGHT which I first heard in XLRI – 41 years ago! 

While the 100 square inch and hard rider seat is adequate enough for my ass size, the hard pillion seat is the pits. Female wearing saree (mine does) sitting sideways (mine does) is impossible on this bike. It is like driver sitting on ground floor and pillion sitting on first floor – the Centre of Gravity (=CG) goes up. Add to this the fact that the pillion footrests are 17cm higher than the driver footrests, the CG reaches for the sky. And if your woman happens to be heavy (mine is 20 kg heavier than me) then your balance gets skewd and all your cornering ability goes for a toss. Maybe this bike is just NOT meant for double seat, at least with my current woman. 

Maybe I should get another woman who weighs less than 50 kg, wears Jeans & T-shirt, and can sit behind me horse-like. But even this woman would have to sit in a crouch (the pillion footrests are so high) and grab me for dear life, Centre of Gravity notwithstanding! Maybe the pillion seat and pillion footrests are thus juxtaposed on purpose so that pillion is forced to grab driver very tightly, giving the appearance of being deeply in love. I know about love bites. Maybe this is a love bike, and the driver’s “feel GOOD factor” is because of the “feel B00B factor” 

In spite of the low aspect ratio tires, ground clearance is claimed at a respectable 165 mm. The one piece, 74 cm wide Handlebar (not clip-on) makes for a comfortable riding posture while the rear view mirrors give an 86 cm wide field of vision. 


It is the most SOLiDLY built bike I have ever tested! I have been testing only Indian made bikes for the last 25 years since 1987, and I have never seen this kind of quality and precision. The KTM 200 Duke is really THE DUKE! It is Duke but not King – there are SHORT-CUM-ings – maybe built in for Austrian aesthetic reasons (my assumption) rather than practicality and weight reduction. KTM is an Austrian company founded in 1953. Now 49% owned by Bajaj, according to Mr. Nitin Bhalla (not biker but corporate kutta), who is AVP of Religare in Pune, who was earlier with Reliance Money in FuckNow, now known as LuckNow. People who live west of LuckNow call it Nakh LaU and people from east of LuckNow call it LuN KhaU, Knee Thin (Nitin) Bh0La (Bhalla) notwithstanding! 


First and foremost, the KTM 200 has no Kicker for starting. There is 0nly battery operated button start. This is damn bad==If battery (at least Rs.1500/- today), and / or starter motor kaput (Rs.4500/- today), then you have to push start, which is un-dignified, tiring and dangerous to say the least. What are manufacturers trying to do? Promote sale of batteries? Like specialist doctors promoting business of pathologists, from whom they get kickk backk bkoz they are Bigg Boss Doccs? Not having kick starter is an absolute NakO-NakO. It spells doom for the 0wner / Driver. Bikeguru does not approve of bikes without kick starter. 

Dazzler name is very good. Dazzler is Unicorn minus kicker. Owner will get “dazzled” when he has to push-start his bike bkoz there is no kicker. He will see stars! And therefore learn about the solar system while dying by heart attack due to pushing heavy bike because of not having kick starter. 

Generically talking about kick starter as such, the kicker unit’s weight in 100 cc bikes would be @ 3/4 kg or slightly more (Bullet is heavier). What is the big deal? What are they trying to do? Reduce weight of bike by 3/4 kg by not giving kicker? Or trying to reduce the weight of 0wner by making him push-start the bike? What happens if he gets a heart attack while pushing – which is quite possible! Who is responsible? Ask Suhail Jaria who has been push-starting his Pulsar 200 bcoz of weak battery. I hope he does not die while push starting his bike. 

Can I in India sue non-kicker bike maker for Consequential Damages Liability if I die while pushing to start? Maybe battery makers are lobbying bike makers, which is why the bloody kick starter disappeared and made you a slave to button start, for which you pay 5-6K extra in buying price which you pay for a larger/bigger battery and starter motor unit. The extra cost of adding kicker cannot be more than Rs.50/-. Maybe non-kicker bike maker is trying to help (FAT) owner lose weight. I think it is better to pay 1500/- to join Gym than compulsory pay for battery. The latter is compulsory and the former is optional. Bikeguru always prefers option to compulsion! 

There is no kicker and there is no main stand either! More weight reduction? Two kg? Three kg? Big deal! Yet I must point out that the quest for weight reduction is misplaced. If weight reduction is the objective, then what is the use of the ‘sword / dagger’ like arrows protruding from where the footrests are? What’s the function of these daggers? I see no point except enhancing looks, which indeed are excellent. So you reduce weight by eliminating kicker & main stand, but add weight (with ‘sword / dagger’ like arrows protruding from where the footrests are) for enhancing looks and attractiveness. Like Bra (=extra weight) wearing female is more attractive than open boob female? 


The exhaust sound is not particularly endearing to me (only Bullet is endearing), which is a subjective statement. To each his own! But this bike does have a silencer such as I have never seen (or NOT seen) before. It is almost invisible and almost non-existent. The huge expansion chamber precedes the canister, which are under the engine and both are well hidden (almost invisible). 

COMPRESSiON – BOOBs and Boo-Boos: 

For one, the KTM200 leaflet mentions a Compression RATE (not Ratio) of 11.5, while the Owner’s Manual which I got with the bike mentions Compression Ratio of 11.3. What is the meaning of Compression RATE? It appears that somebody at the Ad-agency that produced these leaflets and owner’s manuals goofed. Some poor Copywriter who designs Bra ads, was given the job of producing the promo leaflet of KTM bike. For a guy whose job revolves around boobs, bras and 36-24-36, thinking about bike engine and compression is difficult. He can think of only one kind of compression and the rate at which he can compress. The boobs excitement pushed his compression RATE to 11.5 in the promo leaflet from 11.3 (in the Owner’s Manual). This kind of boo-boo is not expected from KTM (or is it Bajaj 0tt0?). Blame it on the copywriter who was fixated on boob-boob and made the boo-boo! 

ENGiNE – POWER & etc: 

So much for features, what about engine, power, torque etc.? While the 0wners Manual does not give power and torque figures, the official promo leaflet does. The 199.5 cc engine having bore X stroke of 72mm X 49 mm claims a power of 18.4 kw at 10,000 rpm. Thus this bike also happens to be the highest rpm bike I have tested in 25 years. Most 150 bikes (Pulsars, RTRs, Xtreme/Hunk/Yamahas) peak at 8500 rpm. Unicorn peaks at 8000 rpm, while Karizma peaks at 7000 rpm. This has much effect on ELF=Engine Life Factor, which is: 100000==0ne Lakh divided by Compression Ratio x Max rpm. The compression ratio of this bike is doubtful. 

The 4 valve of this engine are operated by Dubble OverHead Camhafts. This Liquid cooled (like car) engine having big wide bore of 72 mm and a short stroke of 49 mm makes for poor LOW-END-TORK. Therefore the max rpm has to be 10,000 and to manage this high engine rpm, the bike NEEDs SiX gears, and to adjust to differing traffic needs and speeds, and the driver (rider) needs to keep changing gears very frequently to keep in tune with traffic needs. This is a lot of work, especially for a 66 year old man like Dilip Bam. In any case, the ENGiNE LiFE FACTOR (=ELF) of this bike varies between 0.87 (as per the boob excited bra copywriter of the promo leaflet) and 0.885 (as per the techy who wrote the 0wners Manual). Not much different, but still. At 0.87, it is pretty low compared to Karizma which at a compression ratio of NiNE and a max rpm of 7000 has and ELF of 1.59, which is almost dubble of the ELF of this KTM, which means life of this KTM will be just HALF of the life of Karizma. 

One may think what’s the big deal? After all, the difference between 11.5 and 11.3 is just 0.2 in (say) 11.4 (which is midpoint between 11.3 and 11.5), which is a mere 1.75%, which some may say is insignificant. Significance is a point of view. Facts are reality. Difference in ENGiNE LiFE FACTOR would be only 1.5% which appears even more insignificant. Fair enough. 


But can a company like KTM afford to make such Boo-Boos, goof ups and gaffes? What’s the meaning of brand? The prime requirement of a brand is, and MUST BE, Consistency! And CR of 11.5 in one OFFiCiAL hard copy publication and 11.3 in another OFFiCiAL hard copy publication is highly inconsistent. 

As if this is not enough, the hard copy leaflet mentions Power as 18.4 kw (25 hp) @ 10,000 rpm. What is this hp? Metric? Or British? PS or BHP? Now as per definition, 0ne kw==1.3599 PS. So, 18.4 kw==25.022 PS, which is 24.68 bhp. So the power as mentioned in the hard copy leaflet is wrong and misleading. Also using old FPS units is now AGAiNST THE LAW. But I am not going to take KTM to court because the bike has FANTASTiQUE PickUp. Max Torque of this bike is 19.2 Nm at 8000 rpm. 

Forced lubrication by a rotor pump keeps the internals well lubricated and functional. Suspension travel is claimed at 150 mm, both front and rear. Braking is by a 300 mm disc front and 230 mm disc rear. Fuel tank is of 10.5 liters. Weight of bike is 125 kg dry and 136 kg wet (with fuel). 


While the pickup of this bike is fantastic, the top speed of 132 kmph is no great shakes, which many other bikes like Karizma can do. 

Mileage (RESERVE TO RESERVE) as measured ON Highway by RAHUL BAM with 24 gear changes & NiNE brakings over a distance of SiX km in which top speed was 115 with average speed of 70, was 30 kmpL. In city traffic, over a distance of EiGHT km, with 102 gear changes & 31 brakings at an average speed of 44 and a top speed of 75 was 39 kmpL. These figures are quite extraordinary bkoz most bikes give better mileage on highway than in city. 

At an 0n-road Pune price of Rs.1,31,580/- in April 2012, this bike is not cheap. Bikes with bigger engines like the 223 cc Hero Karizma and/or the Bajaj Pulsar 220 are cheaper by @ 25K, and give same mileage. 

Then why buy this bike? Buy it for its unbeatable PiCK-UP. But wait for the Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS, which has the same bore X stroke, claims the same power, has THREE spark plugs and probably cheaper. 


Team bikeguru:

bikeguru Dilip Bam: www.facebook.com/bikegurudilipbam

Devjeet Saha: www.facebook.com/sahadevjeet

Hrishikesh Mandke: www.facebook.com/hrishikesh.mandke

Photo Credits: www.djclicks.com 

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