2019 KTM 125 Duke ABS: Likes and dislikes
The 2019 KTM 125 Duke ABS is here. It arrives at Rs 1.18 lakh ex-showroom which puts it about Rs 30,000 below the KTM 200 Duke with which it shares the frame and styling. The engine makes 14.5PS and is exactly the same as the old one that KTM India used to make for export. The global markets now get the updated model. The power output is the same but the frame, engine as well as the styling has been updated.
Why we don't get the new one is a simple two-headed problem. First, Bajaj continues to sell the old-style 200 in India and the new style 125 wouldn't fit in. Second, KTM India says the new 125 is more expensive and that would place it too close to the 200 Duke for it to do well. And that's against the context that KTM prices have risen and it's the price of the 200 Duke today, about Rs 1.5 lakh ex-showroom.
We rode the bike and there were very few surprises - just check out first ride review. But here are the things that stood out.
Like: The feel
The KTM 125 Duke is a calm machine. For a 125 it's fast. Like today's 150s are, but it doesn't have that edgy feeling of the 200 or 390. To me, for new riders, this is a good thing even though it makes this the least involving of all the Indian KTMs to ride. But the calm performance means a new rider will have the time to think about how they're riding - a good thing.
Like: The chassis
I don't like it when motorcycles lose the balance between the engine and chassis. In that sense, the 390 really does make use of the trellis frame fully and the 125cc engine cannot really stress it out. So in the corners, it can sometimes feel like you can never build up enough speed. Again, for a new rider, this means no matter how fast they go and how many mistakes they make in a corner, the KTM will always have more grip, clearance, and stability left for them to be able to make corrections and ride on.
Like: The styling
The new KTM styling is smashing but casting fresh eyes on the old design reminds you of how unique the KTM design is. The new stickering for the Duke 125 looks smart and whether you pick the black one, white one or the orange one, they look good.
Don't like: Single channel ABS
The brakes are nice but KTM India has chosen to add ABS only for the front wheel. There are two ways to look at this. This bike is under the 125cc displacement mark which means technically Bajaj and KTM could have decided to sell the motorcycle without ABS within the bounds of the law - a combined braking system would have been enough. Having ABS on the front wheel is better than nothing. I do wish, deep in my heart, that KTM had gone the whole hog although I know that commercially it probably does not make sense.
Watch the first ride review video below:
Starts Rs 1,18,000
Starts Rs 1,48,160
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