2017 125cc bike of the year: KTM 125 Duke

Published: 25 October 2017

KTM’s 125 Duke received a much-needed overhaul for 2017. After six years of the original 2011 design, it was aging and lacked the quality of its rivals. Taking styling cues from the mighty 1290 Super Duke R super naked, this new machine has been revitalised with modern touches that give it that desirability factor it so desperately deserved.

Updates include a full colour TFT dash, illuminated switchgear buttons, an LED headlight and a new exhaust. There is now also a larger fuel tank, non-adjustable WP suspension and a four-piston radial caliper up front. As well as styling updates, the 124.7cc single cylinder engine has been brought into the modern age and is now Euro4 compliant, offering a wider spread of power than the previous bike’s lump. These alterations mean the new 125 Duke exudes quality, making it our favourite 125 of the year. It also offers you that big bike feel, thanksto a roomy riding position capable of accommodating taller riders, without feeling intimidating to novices.

On the move, the 125 feels like a well put-together package. The gearbox is slick and the WP suspension feels sporty and well sprung, unlike most soft and wobbly 125s on the market. The 15bhp engine also offers ample performance for urban riding and, thanks to a dry weight of just 137kg, has more than enough power to stay ahead of the traffic.

KTM have turned this bike into a real rival-beater. Compared to the rest oft he 125cc crop, it offers a crisp, well finished package that others struggle to match. It also injects new hopes into the longevity of motorcycling, giving teens an exciting low-capacity bike to aspire to – something unseen since the head banging two stroke Aprilia RS125.

Here's what we said after our first ride

Like the 390 the new 125 Duke gets a major makeover. The original 2011 model didn’t exactly have quality written through it like a stick of rock, but this one does. It has the 390’s full colour dash, illuminated switchgear buttons, LED headlight, new exhaust, revised chassis, larger fuel tank, nonadjustable WP suspension, four-piston radial caliper (with 300mm discs), fat 17in tyres (Metzeler Sportec M5) and a breathed-on (non-ride-by-wire) Euro4 spec engine that has a wider spread of power.

Unlike many 125s the Duke is solid, crisp and has the same roomy, big bike feel as the 390. The gearbox is slick, the brakes strong and the new WP suspension is nice and sporty - not the usual budget wet mush mixture of cooking-oil-damping and biro-spring support you get on your average 125. It’s nippy through town and weighing just 137kg dry the 15bhp single cylinder has enough performance to keep up with, and stay ahead of, traffic.

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The hugely-improved 125 Duke is easy to ride and will make you grin every time you turn the key and see that colour display flicker into life. Decades after the demise of L-plated hooligans, like the RD125LC, KMX125, RS125 and MBX125, the KTM has made a 125 to lust after. It’s a tad over £4k which is a lot for a 125, but it’s £200 less than a Yamaha MT-125.

KTM 125 Duke - The Facts

Price £4099
Engine 124.7cc 4v single
Frame Tubular steel trellis
Seat height 830mm
Suspension WP 43mm forks and single rear shock. Non adjustable.
Front brake 300mm disc. Radial four-piston calipers.
Colours Orange, white.
Available Now 
Power 15bhp@10,000rpm
Torque 9ftlb@7500rpm
Dry weight 137kg
Tank capacity 13.4-litres

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