KTM 125 Duke is not a girly bike

By Dave Abrahams Time of article published Aug 8, 2011

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Cape Town - KTM is primarily an off-road motorcycle maker, although that hasn't stopped them from building some rip-snorting road bikes in recent years. Mind you, even the severely bad-tempered RC8 superbike clearly shows its dirtbike DNA in its built-like-a-tank bracketry and painstakingly waterproofed wiring loom.

So, if KTM were to produce a 125cc sixteener streetbike (its first, by the way), what would it look like? Like a motard, you'd say, with chunky plastics and a huge dose of attitude, you'd say. And it would be orange, you'd add, not quite as an afterthought.

And you'd be right all the way down the line: meet the KTM 125 Duke, 124.7cc of high-compression, fuel-injected, six-speed street-fighter.

The off-road ancestry is still there, especially in the remarkably compact, ultra-short stroke (58 x 42.7mm) liquid-cooled single with twin cams, four dinky little valves and a five-figure redline.

KTM quotes 11kW at 9500rom, with a less impressive 60Nm at 8000 - which tells you this thing is going to rev like a cobra striking, and that your left foot is going to be pedalling almost as hard as your kid brother on his bicycle.

This intense motivation is channelled through a bullet-proof motocross-type clutch and slick six-speed 'box to drive a bike that weighs 124kg dry - a little heavy for the class, one would say, but for a powder-coated steel trellis frame and stainless-steel exhaust system one would accept that weight penalty.

KTM doesn't quote any performance figures, but I don't think it's going to be left behind by the Chinese CG125 clones with their 1960s-technology, single-cam engines and 19mm slide carbs.

And, with a 1350mm wheelbase, 25-degree steering-head angle and 17” rims at both ends, it's going to be as agile as a terrier after a rat, with practically unlimited ground clearance to boot (or to school shoe, as the case may be).

Stunt superstar Brian Capper demonstrated that at the South African launch last week with some impressive acrobatics, all predicated on balance and controllability, rather than sheer grunt.

But even schoolboys have to stop sometimes, and the 125 Duke is going to stop like it's run into wet cement, thanks to a Grand Prix-spec, four-pot, radial mount, opposed-piston calliper on a 280mm disc in front, and a useful little single-piston calliper on the rear wheel, just right for of stomping on to get the rear wheel to step out without stepping into trouble.

For the schoolperson (let's not be sexist here) who rides off-road at weekends, this is the closest thing they are going to get to a street-legal motocrosser, with all the amenities, including an electric foot.

And for kids of all ages who reckon scooters just don't cut it in terms of Cool Quotient, nobody is ever going to call this thing a girly bike - certainly not in the presence of the girl who's riding it!

Price: R38 999.


Engine: 124.7cc liquid-cooled four-stroke single.

Bore x stroke: 58 x 47.2mm.

Compression ratio: 12.7:1.

Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.

Power: 11kW at 9500rpm.

Torque: 12Nm at 8000rpm.

Induction: Bosch electronic fuel-injection.

Ignition: Bosch electronic management system.

Starting: Electric.

Clutch: Cable-operated multiplate wet clutch.

Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by chain.

Front Suspension: WP 43mm inverted cartridge forks.

Rear Suspension: WP monoshock adjustable for preload.

Front brakes: 280mm disc with radial-mount four-pot opposed-piston calliper.

Rear brake: 230mm disc with single-piston floating calliper.

Front tyre: 110/70 - 17 tubeless.

Rear tyre: 150/60 - 17 tubeless.

Wheelbase: 1350mm.

Seat height: 810mm.

Dry weight: 124kg.

Fuel tank: 11 litres.

Price: R38 999.

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