KTM, the Austrian motorcycle maker, is one of the leading 'lights' in Europe after a period a few years back in which it almost went under. How did it do that? Indian motorcycle maker, Bajaj, bought into the business and now owns a good amount of the company's shares. It helped set KTM on the comeback trail by asking for a 125cc road motorcycle for the Indian market that also proved a red-hot (orange-hot) favorite in Europe.
The KTM success can be attributed to the thorough approach taken, beginning by asking the target market what it actually wanted in a 125cc road motorcycle. The price, naturally, had to be right, which didn't appear to faze KTM management, as they could build it in India. It had to have heritage, which KTM had in bulk with its success in off-road and motard racing. And quality was appreciated, which is nothing new to KTM motorcycles, with their White Power (WP) suspension components and the like. Finally, owners wanted to be able to personalize their ride, which is also fine by KTM, which offers a Powerparts catalogue of bits, such as decals and hot pipes.
KTM went from being minnows to one of the biggest motorcycle manufacturers in Europe. The KTM Duke 125 was a runaway success because it did what was promised on paper, and it looked stunning as well, sporting black-and-orange livery, with Duke in large letters displayed. In Thailand, the KTM Duke 125 was never officially introduced, what isn't a bad thin, as KTM introduced the 200cc Duke. The KTM Duke 200 is using the same engine but with a much bigger bore, and different heads and exhaust, the KTM Duke 200 was developed, employing essentially the same chassis and components.
So we now have the small but indecently well-formed KTM Duke 200, which sells in Thailand for nearly twice the price of a Japanese 250cc. It's manufactured and assembled in India and then freighted to Thailand. So what happened with the free-trade-agreement between Thailand and India – the same free-trade-agreement which enables Kawasaki to sell the Thai made Ninja 250 for a similar price in the Indian market?
Back to the KTM Duke 200, there's the gorgeous trellis frame, the angular fuel tank lines, the cast-aluminum swingarm, the alloy footpegs hangers, a stubby underslung exhaust, and even braided brake lines, span-adjustable levers and Renthal-like handlebars. You name it there's class to the KTM Duke 200.
There's also a comprehensive instrument cluster. The LCD crams in a gear indicator, which is always welcome, a fuel-use meter that registered an unlikely 1.8 liter for 100 kilometers while cruising in town at one point, and 3.6 out of town, and even a fuel gauge. The rev counter is a strip across the top, with numbers only teens could decipher, but there's also a red limiter light that shines at around 10,000rpm.
What's so cool about this KTM Duke 200 moto rcycle is that it performs aw well as a 250cc by virtue of its light weight. Fully fueled, it's 136kg, while the hugely oversquare geometry means it's not afraid to rev, and it thumps out 19kW of power. The result is a motorcycle that's quick off the mark and through the gears.