We’ll be honest. KTM surprised us all when they launched the 250 Duke in India. They updated the RC 200 and RC 390 earlier this year, with no mention of an RC 250 and we assumed that the Dukes would go the same way: updates to the 200 Duke and 390, and that’s it. In fact, Rajiv Bajaj expressly stated that there would be no 250 in India, which he later clarified saying he was talking about the RCs. So when three bikes made it to the dias on the day of the launch, we were in for a shocker. But hey, we weren’t complaining — it marked the arrival of another affordable enthusiast-focussed orange motorcycle in our market.
The 250 Duke is a mix and match of a lot of parts from the new 200 Duke and 390 Duke. Just like the 390, the 250 Duke’s design is inspired by the Super Duke R, far more angular and compact-looking than the outgoing Dukes. However, unlike the new 390, it doesn’t get the split headlamp. Nevertheless, the sharp looking headlamp is still angled forward and is flanked by DRLs. Similar to the other Dukes, it gets an exposed trellis frame (painted black) and bolt on subframe (painted orange). It shares most of its body panels, including the ones over the 13.5-litre tank and the under-seat panels with the 390. However, there is plenty of 200 Duke in here as well. The 250 doesn’t get the new TFT screen on the 390 and shares its information cluster with the 200. It also gets smaller brakes, 300mm like the ones on the 200 Duke and not the new 320mm discs on the 390.
As for the engine, the 248.8cc engine is an underbored version of the 390 Duke’s motor. On this motorcycle, it makes 29.5bhp and 24Nm, and slots itself comfortably between the 200 and the 390. It also gets a slipper clutch, as well as the two-stage side slung exhaust from the 390. Crank it up, and it sounds typically KTM: it’s choppy, but the new exhausts lends it some sort of refinement.
Swing a leg over it, and the sensations are largely familiar. The seating position is very similar to the older Dukes, the handlebars are similarly high set though the pegs are pulled a little further back. The seat is much wider, and a far more comfortable affair now. The padding is far cushier and the pillion seat is wider as well — your partner should be far happier now. The instrument cluster is all too familiar and the saddle of the 250 Duke isn’t an intimidating place to be.
Once you’re on the go, there are a couple of things you notice of the bike rather quickly. Firstly, how light the controls are. Even compared to the 200, the 250’s controls are far lighter: the clutch is really easy to pull and the throttle doesn’t have much resistance to it. It’s a lot easier to operate, and feels like a much smaller motorcycle. Secondly, how darty the front end is — it is more than willing to change direction when you want it to. That comes down to the change in the steering head angle. The 250 Duke has a steering head angle which is one degree sharper than the older Dukes and this has changed the dynamics of the motorcycle considerably. The Duke was always a sweet handler, but this tiny change has managed to make it even sweeter. Put pressure on the bars, and the bike tips in with the urgency of an RC (it’s only half a degree short of the RCs now after all) and holds its line superbly until you pick it up again. It’s an absolute hoot on a twisty road, rewarding you with quick direction changes and allowing you to carve confident lines. The wheelbase is also marginally less than the 200 Duke’s.
The engine is a sweet motor as well. The bike is distinctly faster than the 200, and keeps pulling comfortably where the 200 runs out of breath. It is rather docile in it’s low range, but it does get more meaty in the midrange. It isn’t too frantic, and the power delivery is extremely linear as the revs pile on. It won’t try to kill you if you’re heavy fisted, but it is quick. Out on the highways, it is more than capable of making high-speed overtakes and it gives you great drive out of corners, provided you keep it in the mid range. However, the bike does have a fair amount of vibrations through the foot pegs, though the handle bars are vibe free.
The only complaint I have are the brakes. The 300mm discs don’t inspire enough confidence. They are the same brakes as the 200, but the 200 wights a whole 21kg less and they work far better on that bike. on the 250, with the added power and weight, you crave a little more stopping power for a complete package.
The 250 Duke costs Rs 1.73 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), just Rs 30,000 more than the 200. Is it worth stretching your budget to get one? If you can, then most definitely. It has a wider range of abilities: better for touring, better in the hills, it’s more comfortable and looks far, far hotter. KTM says they have retained the 200 in their portfolio because a lot of people have stretched their budgets considerably to reach the 200 itself. The 250 is for people who can spend a little more, and what they get is a much nicer package.