Staff bikes: KTM Duke 125 - If you ask an expert...

By Dan Aspel -

First rides & tests

 27 October 2011 16:26

In my hands the MCN award-winning 125 Duke has proved to be a reliable commuter, tourer and general muck-about bike. It has impressed me. But would it impress a half-decent rider?

I handed the keys to MCN senior road tester and NW200 veteran Adam Child. After a quick blast, a few stoppies, a burn-out and valiant attempts at a wheelie, here's what he had to say...

"It looks the part, it's cool and that's its unique selling point. It's easily the best looking naked 125 at present. It feels like a 'normal' big bike, reasonably solid, not too flimsy and relatively roomy.

"The suspension actually works, there is some controlled damping at both ends and there's a reasonable amount of feel. However, the tyres feela little wooden. The engine is comparable to other four-stroke 125 machines and it will happily chug along at 65mph all day.

"The gearbox is smooth and there's not too much vibration from the bike. The steering lock is a little limited around town - and might make the figure-eight manoeuvres on your test more challenging - but that's my only criticism.

"To do stoppies and tricks, it's just like a BMX with an engine, It's easy. You've got to be a bit more brutal to do a burnout, but it will do it."

And if you'd like a third opinion, Rupert Paul, former editor of Performance Bikes, gave me his thoughts:

"Most 125s are a sham aren't they? A CBR125R is less stable than a Fireblade. The 125 Duke seems different. It rides well, it leans, there's feel in the brakes and it's the best looking 125 I've seen. I'd really like one.

"Some of the finish is a bit Third World, but it's still better than the competition. It just seems like KTM care a lot more than the Japanese. They've put more effort in."

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