2017 KTM Duke 250 First Ride Review and Performance Test

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Added in: KTM

The 250 Duke derives most of its styling cues from the gorgeous looking 1290 Superduke and it looks pretty darned cool by itself. The Duke 390 is available in White and Orange shades with fresh new graphics, black alloys with orange highlights and a new UV resistant paint which is more durable and less prone to fading.

Here’s our video review of the Duke 250 

You’ll find plenty of new stuff on the Duke 250 – from the extended tank shrouds, a new-design two tone front fender, to the all steel fuel tank with 13.5 litre capacity, to the headlamps with LED DRL’s, new grab rails, new footpegs, new radiator grille design, new belly pan – everything here is bristling with novelty.

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The tail lamps gets Duke 390 Style clear lens, though the instrument console is shared with the recently launched RC390, but doesn’t get the expensive colour TFT treatment from the Duke 390. All black handlebars get bar end weights and nicer brake and clutch levers.

One of the more important changes for us, though, is the new bolt-on sub frame which reduces repair costs in case of an accident. Another biggie is the new open cartridge type front forks which are ride height adjustable by as much as 8 mm. Finally, the new engine is up by 5 PS and 4.8 NM over the Duke 200 in terms of power and torque, and is assisted by a slipper clutch to prevent wheel lockups during those aggressive kickdowns.

Meet the 2017 KTM 250 Duke in detail:

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The 1290 Superduke inspired headlamps uses a conventional bulb and also features LED DRLs

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Duke 390 is available in White and Orange shades with fresh new graphics

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While there’s no ABS on offer, we were pretty satisfied with the brakes at both ends

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Tail lamp gets Duke 390 Style clear lens

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All black handlebars get bar end weights and nicer brake and clutch levers

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The new seat feels much comfier than any other KTM we have ridden to date

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Side swung exhaust makes the Duke 250 sound worlds apart from the Duke 200

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Instrument console is shared with the recently launched RC390

The all new 248.76cc single cylinder liquid cooled engine is slightly less revvy than the 200 Duke. It produces its peak power at 9000 rpm, a 1000 clicks less than the 200 Duke. The peak torque is produced at 7500 revs, 500 rpm less, but that’s not a bad thing, as it endows the bike with a meatier mid-range.

We have already done a detailed walkaround video of the bike listing out everything you need to know about the new stuff on the bike. You can watch our walkaround video below.

Let’s focus on the engine and performance in this track review.

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Starting off with the engine, the Duke 250 shares its engine casing with the KTM 390 series. This one is not to be confused as a bored down 200. It is a bigger, more mature and dare we say noticeably different motor in character as compared with its smaller sibling.

To start off, that side swung exhaust along with EVAP and all the other jazz to make the bike BSIV compliant makes the Duke 250 sound worlds apart from the sound you are used to hearing from the Duke 200. It doesn’t have the hollow, canistery sound anymore. It’s more muffled, and isn’t as loud as the 200. While the low to mid revs sound isn’t anything great to write home about, it sounds bassy and deep on full chat.

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Swing a leg over the motorcycle, and two things are very clearly evident even before you turn the ignition on. The new seat feels much comfier than any other KTM we have ridden to date. And just by using your weight to compress and decompress, you could feel the rear suspension to be softer and better damped.

KTM has paid special attention to the suspension on this one, and it reflects in the way this bike rides – it’s more comfortable, without losing the sharp handling edge KTMs are known for. The ride height is also slightly higher than the Duke 200, though we don’t think it’s going to be a problem even for shorter riders. I am about 5 feet ten, and I was more than comfortable paddling the bike. I guess riders much shorter than me wouldn’t have any issues either.

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Turn the ignition on, fire the engine up, wring the throttle and you would realize that this one isn’t quite as keen to rev as you expect KTM machines to. A swap with the saddle of the KTM 200 instantly validated our observation.

On the move, the Duke feels racier in terms of stance, what with its slightly reconfigured seating, handlebar position, and slightly more rear set foot pegs. It’s a comfortably upright, yet racy riding position which should suit a wide variety of riders.

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On the move, the 250 Duke is noticeably quicker than the 200 off the block, with a larger rear sprocket and short gearing. It simply hustles its way to 98km/h in third gear, where you need to shift one more cog to take it past the 100 km/h mark. A slightly taller gearing for the third cog would have lent this baby a quicker 0-100 km/h timing – but that’s only for academic purposes.

Speedo indicated top speed for the Duke 250 is 137 km/h. It’s notable here that the top speed can be achieved in fifth gear as well, and the sixth gear is a sort of a cruiser cog, with some reluctance to kiss the redline. Also, as a comparison, the Duke 200 achieved a top speed of 130 km/h on the same straight. So the top speed gains are not exactly massive over the 200. The Duke 250 achieves its 0-100 km/h time in about 9 seconds.

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What is substantial though, is the demeanour and composure of the bike around bends, and its maturity when pushed to the limit. The Duke 250 comes across as a more substantial machine, with more sure-footedness, better handling and more dependability when hustled through a variety of bends. It feels more planted, more neutral and smoother, more flickable around corners, as compared to the 200, which feels smaller and lighter and slightly more fidgety.

The big, wide, saddle on the 250 makes moving your backside around very easy. Dipping the bike into a corner and lifting it again is a breeze – the flickability here is just awesome. The Duke 250 feels smooth and effortless in transferring its weight from side to side and inspires tons of confidence around tighter, more technical corners which are the real litmus test for a motorcycle’s underpinnings. In that context, the new suspension setup nails it as a fine blend of pliancy and composure. In fact, the way this machine handled the undulations when leaned over aggressively, soaking them up without letting the tyres bounce or lose grip was remarkable.

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A note on the tyres though. The Duke 250 is shod with MRF Revz 150 section rear tyres, which KTM claims are made of a softer compound as compared to the ones on the Duke 200. In all honesty, we rode the Duke 250 pretty hard. And on some extreme occasions, especially while powering out of the tighter, slower corners, while still leaned over in relatively lower gears we could get a hint of slippage from the rear tyre. It’s also notable, though, that the extreme conditions of a test track are seldom replicated on the street. However, we would attest to the unmistakable superiority of the Metzelers here. Then again, those ones cost significantly more, and would have added to the price of the bike, which is crucial. So here’s our advice, if you are to use the Duke 250 for hardcore corner killing, replace the stock rubber with a pair of Metzelers.

While there’s no ABS on offer here, we were pretty satisfied with the brakes at both ends, though we still remember the marked difference in the bite offered by the new 320 mm units on the 2017 RC390. The brakes are pretty good here, though we think they could be even better, and we know we are cruelly nitpicking here.

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At Rs 1.73 lakh ex-showrroom the Duke 250 fits snugly between the Duke 200 and the Duke 390. Sure, it’s more powerful than the 200, but more than just the extra power, the bigger difference is the way this bike handles the power. It feels more capable, more substantial, and with goodies like a new sub-frame, slipper clutch and an advanced, adjustable front suspension, is definitely a notably superior product than the 200 Duke. With the Duke 250, KTM in India has extended its range, and we’re here to tell you that it’s a properly differentiated, mature and very desirable product they have added to their lineup.

If you liked this video, do hit the like button. And do subscribe to our channel, as we are just warming up to creating some real kickass videos. Oh, and do let us know if you have any questions about this one, and we will try and answer them as soon as possible. Until next time then, have fun, rev hard and rev free!

Check out the image gallery of the new KTM 250 Duke while we finish up the video review of the motorcycle soon

2017 KTM 250 Duke Review – Riding Shots (6)
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2017 KTM 250 Duke Review (54)
2017 KTM 250 Duke Review (53)
2017 KTM 250 Duke Review – Riding Shots (3)
2017 KTM 250 Duke Review – Riding Shots (1)

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