Posted: 11 Oct 2012
The 125 Duke is small but perfectly formed and carries all the attributes of its larger capacity Duke relations. As far as styling goes, the Duke is simply a stunner and joins the ranks of Yamaha and Honda’s sportier offerings (YZF-R125, CBR125R) in terms of quality and desirability – albeit in a naked roadster guise.
Because of the learner-legal requirements, a restricted 125cc motorcycle is never going to set the world alight, but the way the Duke rides, it does give you more than a half measure of what to expect when moving up the licence ladder.
The single-cylinder engine is actually quite punchy given its diminutive capacity and power output. Because of this it is the Duke can be quite cheerfully manhandled around country roads rather than the customary city ring road or run to the burger shop.
Like all parts that form the Duke, the fuel injection system is precise. Not a glitch of hiccup, no matter how severe the throttle cable is stretched trying to entice another one-mph from the obviously neutered engine.
Because the engine never feels stressed, it makes the ride a worry-less event – unlike cheap Chinese alternatives that sound like the proverbial bag of spanners in a cement mixer. The same reassuring feel of the engine also shines from the gearbox; every cog swap is short and precise.
Strangely enough the Duke’s ride quality gives the impression of riding a bigger bike than it actually is. Put this down to the naked styling, where you are sat fairly upright and exposed to the elements. Because of this stance it is easy to grab the bars and cajole the Duke through stationary traffic or dance along twisting lanes in complete ease.
Now add outstanding braking and superb WP suspension – given that it is built to a price to compete in global markets these are top notch items – and you have a bike that has done as much for KTM as English weather has done for umbrella sales.
+ points – unique styling, quality components
- points – strong sales knock edge of exclusivity, desirable to thieves
Power: 15bhp, n/aft lbs
Dry weight: 125kg
Seat height: 810mm
Colours: Orange/black, grey/black
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