As I turned the key, I heard a hum that hinted of the KTM 200 Duke’s fuel injection system. The digital LCD screen flashed “Ready to Race” before it displayed an array of useful data. A fuel gauge, temperature meter, a gear indicator…more finger action revealed an odometer with two trip meters, average running speed and fuel consumption. It was more than enough to put a smile on my face. The plan was a leisurely ride on the twisty mountain roads of Tanay, Rizal but the Duke’s one-line greeting encouraged a more spirited kind of riding. Altitude is always a consideration in testing fuel-injected bikes. The 200 Duke performed so consistently that I soon forgot about computerized air-fuel mixture and started appreciating the other qualities of the bike. The riding stance is poised but relaxed. Foot pegs are placed backward to keep the legs tucked behind the tank-mounted leg shield while the grips are in a neutral position for good steering leverage. The 110/70 and 150/60 17-inch tires inspired confidence when leaning into tight corners but I found it to be unnecessary as the bike required minimal effort to shift direction, too bad. Of course, it might not be a case if you enter a turn at 90 kilometers per hour. Surprisingly, the split seats turned out to be very comfortable and the 100-kilometer round trip felt like a short ride to the neighborhood store for my evening sugary-drink fix.
Propelling the 200 Duke is a 200-cubic centimeter single-cylinder liquid cooled double overheard cam engine that produces a class-leading 19 kilowatts (25 horsepower) at 10,000 revolutions per minute and 19.2 Newton-meters at 8,000 rpm. The rev-happy mill may require a downshift or two to pass other vehicles but chugging along at low rpm in city traffic is not a problem for the capable thumper. However, the 200 Duke is not just intended for the streets. The inverted telescopic fork, the four-piston front disk brake and the lightweight tubular space frame are indicative of the bike’s track readiness. KTM has always been associated with racing and the company even claims that any of their bikes can be raced straight out of the showroom.
A charming bike
There have been countless test bikes that came my way, from monstrous 1400s to cute little 115s and the 200 Duke has to be the one with the most charm. It never failed to attract a crowd wherever I went. For some, it’s the styling that caught their attention. To those who are in the know, it’s the three-letter badge. Still, everyone would engage me in a conversation, even while on the move. Each time I would end up giving a quick run-down of the bike’s qualities. Some would argue that the 200 Duke is a Supermoto. Others will attest that it is a street fighter. Who cares? It is fun and it’s orange.
Since the 200 Duke’s Philippine debut, KTM distributorship had passed on from one company to another. Yet, the Duke consistently sold like hotcakes. Many still aspired to have one in their garage, only to be deterred by a rather restrictive price tag and some apprehensions about after-sales support. With the recently announced KTM-Ayala Group partnership, we can expect to see more bikes from the Austrian manufacturer plying our streets and probably racing in our tracks as well. They have also revealed that production for of the 200 Duke and other KTM models will be localized soon. The intention is to make their products more available, and more affordable.
If you have been lusting after this beautiful piece of European engineering for quite a while, you now have fewer reasons not to get one. So suit up and get ready to race…just see to it that you’re riding gear goes well with orange.