Excellent. The riding position is comfortable, yet poised and cornering – thanks to the big bike ergonomics but small bike weight – is nimble and swift, the steering lock is a little limited around town - and might make the figure-eight manoeuvres on your test more challenging.
While track riding – not an impossibility on the 125 Duke by any means – the 125 Duke will allow you to scrape pegs, knee sliders and anything else you care to trail along the floor.
The suspension actually works
The front brakes are fantastic and beautifully responsive, allowing you to really feel the front forks load on mid to heavy braking, while keeping the bike perfectly stable and straight. Anyone keen to lift the rear wheel will find the four piston calliper and the centralised riding position more than up to the job.
The rear shock, too, absorbs any bumps in the road well and provided decent cushioning on a range of roads tested. The suspension actually works, there is some controlled damping at both ends and there's a reasonable amount of feel. However, the tyres feel a little wooden.
The single-pot 124.7cc DOHC, liquid-cooled and fuel injected engine is an entirely new design for the 125 Duke. It’s more similar to the firm’s enduro models than to the KTM 690 Duke, which due to space issues has no camshaft rocker and only a single overhead cam.
Unquestionably smooth and capable, it’ll get to 40mph in no time at all, and on to 78mph in a straight line. Despite only managing 15bhp it feels responsive and zesty enough to thrill.
It's a shame European and learner regulations limit the Duke’s power, because it would do extremely well with another 10bhp under its belt. The engine is comparable to other four-stroke 125 machines and it will happily chug along at 65mph all day.
This is not just a bike that’s just good enough for learners, this is a bike to welcome young riders to the world of premium motorcycles. A walk around the Austrian-designed, Indian-built 125 Duke confirms the impression.
The 43mm upside-down forks are by WP, as is the adjustable, linked rear shock, the four-piston radial front brakes are produced by Bybre (an Indian division of Brembo) and all the lights – from tail to indicators – are LEDs. The service intervals are a relatively short 3,106 miles. The gearbox is smooth and there's not too much vibration
The 125 Duke cost £3695 when it was released, which was a lot of money for a 125. KTM must have known this as they offered one year’s free insurance or low rate finance packages on the bike which were worth hundreds to young riders saddled with prohibitive premiums.
The Suzuki Van Van [£3065], Yamaha YBR125 [£2399] and Honda CB125R [£3170] were all considerably cheaper, but just couldn’t touch the 125 Duke for quality. The next best thing – the ubiquitous Yamaha YZF-R125 - cost a whopping £4249, which made the little Duke seem like a bargain.
On the used market, you can find a KTM 125 Duke for sale with low miles for around £2,000.
Insurance group: 7 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
Top drawer. The KTM’s dash lights up in a display that’ll send butterflies spinning through every 17-year-old’s stomach, from the “charging” rev-counter to the “READY TO RACE” welcome message.
The orange backlight on the dash illuminates a range of stats and figures that puts even the KTM RC8 to shame. The 125 Duke’s clocks are definitely the best on the market.
The mirrors are excellent and all lights on the bike are LEDs. It’s got decent pillion support too, as the seat and frame are larger than your average 125.
Plus, there were a stack of factory extras to pick from the accessory catalogue, including LED lights, sticker kits and headlight masks, so watch out for these on the used market.