The KTM Duke II, Truly Fun Bike

The KTM Duke II, it shakes hard enough to break up kidney stones, you can't put more than about 200 kilometer on it between fuel stops, and squirming around on the skinny little thong of a seat for that long is an exercise in pain management.

So? This is KTM's Duke II we've talking about, spiritual successor to the '70 Schwinn Sting-Ray and more fun than a case of bottle rockets. Above all else, the most competent sporting street single of the last decade is deliriously fun to ride.

The wide handlebar and upright riding position are familiar to anyone whose youth was misspent on dirtbikes. So will the minimal amount of motorcycle between your knees. Agile? The twistiest road you can find won't feel all that twisty anymore. WP suspension inhales rough pavement. The Brembo braking hardware is magnificent, 17-inch BBS alloy wheels accept all manner of gummy sporting rubber, and cornering clearance is essentially limitless.
Still, unless you commandeered uncle Ben's BSA Victor in 7th grade or wheelied a Yamaha TT500 across some university parking lot, the counterbalanced singles high-rev vibration may be somewhat, disturbing.

Unlike the thumpers of yore, KTM's liquid-cooled LC4 single has proven itself essentially bulletproof since its debut in 1996. The 625cc KTM Duke II version makes about 50 horsepower in stock trim. That's underwhelming when judged against a 600cc Japanese four, but enough to push the 160 kilogram KTM Duke through the 400 meter in just less than 13 seconds at just over 160km/h. For the ruly determined, smart tuners can squeeze upward of 70 horsepower out of the beast - at the expense of some reliability, of course.

In stock form, carburetor jetting is somewhat lean and some early production bikes had issues with the electric starter. All this small problems are fixed now-a-days. The KTM Duke II isn't a tourer or a dragster or a technological tour de force. It's a straight close of the reason we ride bike and that is FUN.
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