MCN fleet: 12 months with the 2017 KTM Duke 125

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It’s a bittersweet ending after 12 months with KTM’s 125 Duke.

Our time together has seen me develop my riding and enjoy most of what biking has to offer. We’ve even conquered the A1M on our daily commute and her 15bhp-self has been super economical, even though I’ve revved the hell out of her. Above all, we've well and truly become good pals. 

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Practising riding with other #MCNFleet17 bikes

KTM 125 Duke enjoying the countryside with two other bikes

A lot of my time with Doris the Duke was spent riding with fellow bikers. I gained confidence in riding better from watching other’s biking behaviours and getting pointers. On one occasion I was with my dad; him on his 2007 Fireblade and me on Doris the updated-for-2017 Duke. I, riding a hair dryer working hard to get up to the national speed limit while dad was cruising behind me. When we took some country lanes he was able to dispose of cars at the flick of a wrist and I simply couldn’t overtake. One place I did have dad, was when filtering. I imagine the Duke was better than the Blade thanks to her light 137kg and wide steering lock, ha! Take that pops! But then the road opened up and there it was again... dust-in-my-face.

Pillion fun

From one parent to another, I took my mum on a shopping trip. Through town having a pillion for the baby Duke is no problem. Reaching 40-50mph is actually quite swift. I could still easily nip out at junctions and roundabouts without putting anyone in danger. However, getting to 70mph is a bit sluggish so a pillion on the motorway is a definite no-no. Dual carriageways is fine, the bright orange bike and LED headlight stands out too.

PowerParts added

  • Aftermarket exhaust (£500.82) – Louder, not much difference to performance, looks ace. 
  • Hand guards (£66.12) – Must-have! Give a bit more protection against wind so hands stay a tad warmer.
  • Front slide pads (£32.64) – Protecting the forks from any damage.
  • Chain guard (£50.10) – Chain protection out of stainless steel, KTM also included a rear fender.
  • Standard plate in large (£41.04) – Perfect for parking on grass when on all my camping trips this year.
  • USB-power outlet (£25.08) – Utter sh**e. Doesn’t even charge my phone. In fact, my phone loses battery-life when plugged in to the KTM. A complete waste of money.
  • Ibraket for iPhone 7 Plus (£100.32) – Cool contraption, not waterproof so make sure you have a suitable phone case.

Road tripping


I’ve proved that a 125 can do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. Touring is seen as the preserve of big-capacity bikes – riding across the country, eating up the miles. But do you really need a 1200cc motorcycle to go touring? And could my little Duke cope with luggage and panniers from Cambridge to Wales?

There was only one way to find out and after a weekend away camping in Wales I knew the answer – the Duke is capable of tackling most things. After my trip I felt a little bit invincible on the 124.7cc Duke. This small machine has a big bike feel and after 515 miles in four days I believe you can take any bike anywhere.

Upgrading to a 390?

If you’ve been following my journey you’ll know I was screaming to the gods above for “more power!” Then the heavens granted me such pleasure with the 390 Duke (44bhp) for one afternoon.

The power is obviously an incredible difference and you notice it as soon as you turn the throttle in any gear – compared to the 125 it just rockets forward and now feels like I can get to 70mph comfortably. I can keep up with traffic and even overtake with ease. It takes much more planning on the 125…

Now with more experience, the 125 gets to around 68mph in fifth gear and up to 73mph in sixth, especially when going downhill. However, if you hit even the slightest incline, the 125 drops down in mph in sixth, which is when you need to switch down to fifth, and switch to it fast.

The 390 has enough power not to worry about all that. It’ll do 100mph and also returns 69mpg. It’s everything you need.

It feels no heavier, higher or harder to ride than the 125 and the brakes are really responsive, too. At £4599, the 390 is just £500 more than the 125 but offers a huge amount more. After you pass your test, this is a great next step and if you already own a 125 you’ll feel very familiar straight away. I’m still a fan of Doris, my 125 Duke though. So, to conclude, would I buy a 125 Duke? If I lived and worked in a city, yes. 

Goodbye Doris...

KTM 125 Duke final average stats

Price: £4099

Torque: 9ftlb @7500rpm

Bike weight: 137kg (dry)

Seat height: 830mm

Fuel: 13.4 litres @81mpg = 168.8 range

Pictures by, Black Kite Creative - www.blackkitecreative.com


Update eleven: KTM 125 Duke hand-guard heaven

Published: 21.11.17

The KTM 125 Duke showing off it's elite handlebars

I used KTM’s online configurator to make some updates to Doris the 124.7cc Duke. One addition, which I thought would benefit the motorway miles I cover a bit more, was KTM’s hand-guards (purchased from KTM PowerParts in small, black, for £66.12).

Instantly I noticed they keep my hands considerably warmer, deflecting the wind. They do however increase the width of the bike, which may make you think twice about filtering, but not too drastically.

The hand-guards, which come with all fastening materials, are easily removable. I’ve taken them off a couple of times to help me when manoeuvring Doris to the back of my house.

KTM’s hand-guards are part of the Austrian firm’s ‘Street Equipment’ and can also be ordered in their signature orange or white colours, between £30-100. 

125 Duke stats

Price: £4099

Torque: 9ftlb @7500rpm

Bike weight: 137kg (dry)

Seat height: 830mm

Fuel: 13.4 litres @81mpg = 168.8 range


Update ten: The baby Duke’s first pillion

Published: 15.11.17

The KTM 125 Duke enjoying the sun waiting for it's first pillion trip

I remember my first pillion experience well. Mainly because it didn’t end very well. I was 16 years old and riding a Peugeot Speedfight 50cc scooter with my cousin as pillion in Greece. It was a hot summer’s day and I was not wearing the right gear, like the ignorant teenager I was. We were riding through the mountain when my cousin pointed out a house on the right. I remember momentarily gazing away from the road.

When I focused back I noticed some gravel in the middle of the road and in a very inexperienced manner, I slammed on both brakes. The scooter flew one way and we both went flying in the other direction. Me first and my cousin (who was a bit heavier back then) landed on top of my then gangly-self. Lying with my face in gravel, we got up, luckily escaping with a few cuts and scrapes. Never doing that again. I spent the rest of the summer with a plastic chair by my bed so I could rest my arm away from the sheets that it kept sticking to.

14 years later, I’m armed with a slightly larger capacity bike (my KTM 125 Duke), with more brains than my younger self (hopefully), wearing protective gear and with my most prized possession as pillion. My mother.

I was a little bit nervous, but not because I thought I couldn’t do it, these were good nerves. I know the 15bhp bike well and my mum is nice and light (54kg), this was an easy job. The question was, could Doris the Duke hack it?

The first task before mummy Alice and I head to the shops, way before we even get on the bike, was to discuss with mum how to get on the bike and for her not to get on until I tell her to do so. I’ve seen mum get on the back of dad’s Fireblade, she almost stands up tall to take a seat. Also, I believe it’s good practice to discuss with a pillion if they haven’t been on a bike before, to lean when you lean, whether they’re going to hold on to you or the bike, etc. etc.

The rear foot-pegs were dusted off and she get on, no drama. Everything instantly felt a bit more rigid and like a small chimp had jumped on my back. The rear axle load for the Duke is a maximum of 228kg, with a maximum overall weight of 355kg. Now given that the combined weight of myself and mum is 107kgs I knew the 124.7cc machine shouldn’t have much trouble. We set off and rode through town. The moment I needed to use my brakes, mum would tap my helmet with hers. Then again. And again. And again. They were gentle taps and I was in fits of laughter at the fact mum couldn’t control her head movement. Seriously, I wasn’t braking hard at all. With all my off roading experiences lately I’m a pro at two-finger gentle braking.

Handy Sena bluetooth communication

What was reassuring for both of us was we could speak to each other using our Sena Bluetooth communication systems. Mum could also hear me laughing hysterically at her when she was knocking my lid. To encourage her to stop doing so, I could communicate some suggestions whilst riding. I told her to squeeze her knees onto me and use her hands to gently push away. When I was about to brake the next few times, I was able to alert her and the knocking quickly stopped.

The Sena also came in useful when letting mum know when I was going to turn so she could lean with me. I recommend if you’ve got a pillion, get a Bluetooth intercom. They are the best invention for bikers.

Getting up to speed with a pillion

Through town having a pillion the 125 Duke is no problem. Reaching 40-50mph is actually quite swift. I could still easily nip out at junctions and roundabouts without putting anyone in danger.

However, getting to 70mph is a bit sluggish so a pillion on the motorway is a definite no-no. Dual carriageways is fine, the bright orange bike and LED headlight stands out too.

I usually commute to work on the 125, which means joining the A1M each day. When I hit an incline the bike quickly drops from 70 to 65. Imagine that with a pillion? I wouldn’t even risk it. But for a 125, a pillion is doable around town. The turning circle and counter steering are hardly effected. In fact, after a few minutes I forgot mum was there. Until…knock. Yeah, there were still a couple of those from mum.

I didn’t have to make any adjustments to the bike’s suspension as our combined weights didn’t affect the bike’s stability or visibility either.

We were out on a dry day, so stopping distance wasn’t affected much and when I did have to stop my feet weren’t flat on the ground and I was able to come to a stable stop when necessary. One good thing about having a pillion on the Duke was the side wind affected me less. Usually side wind and especially over the month of October when the winds were extra strong, the light 137kg machine moved massively.

Overall, it was a pleasure to have a pillion on the Duke and a much better experience than with the Peugeot. There really isn’t much this updated-for-2017 Super-Duke-R in disguise can’t do.

From the pillion's perspective...

Here's how it felt for my mum:

-       Riding with Maria was like any other of my pillion experiences

-       The seat is slippery. I kept sliding forward and she noticed compared to other bikes I’d been on. The Duke’s seat was the hardest to stay in one place. (Maria didn’t notice the sliding movement).

-       Once on the pillion seat, I noticed a constant vibration and at higher speeds it was worse. However it wasn’t uncomfortable.

-       Other experiences: In comparison to my other experiences, on the Yamaha MT-09 it was smoother and like sitting in an arm chair. On a 2007 Fireblade I felt more stable, but the seat was less comfortable. And although the KTM pillion seat is highly slippery I liked the position of the seat because I was higher up than myself and could see above Maria. It was a pleasant ride as I could see.

-       Foot-pegs: Grip was good, legs fell perfectly for my knees and was able to hold on to Maria with ease.

-       Generally a smooth ride, comfortable on turns yet when braking I kept sliding forward and bumping Maria’s helmet.

-       Sena communication: Very useful as a pillion to know what the rider was going to do. Felt more secure and safer in a way.


Update nine: 125 Duke left for dust by the Blade

Published: 25.09.17

Maria with the KTM 125 Duke hoping the weather doesn't break

It was time for another Sunday blast with dad, him on a 2007 Fireblade and me on Doris the updated-for-2017 Duke. My dad must have been so bored.

I was there with my hair dryer working hard to get up to the national speed limit, taking a million hours to do so and dad was cruising behind me…probably listening to lift/interlude music, with tumbleweed passing by or something.

Every time I looked in my mirrors I thought, 'Yep, he's still there. He doesn't look like he's about to zip past me.' I'd repeat this a couple of times and then the millisecond I don't look, ZOOM...and he's gone. Seriously gone.

When we took some country lanes he was able to dispose of cars at the flick of a wrist and I simply couldn’t overtake. I was basically another car.

One place I did have dad, was when filtering through traffic. I imagine the 15bhp Duke was better than the Blade thanks to her light 137kg weight and wide steering lock, ha! Take that pops! But then the road opened up and there it was again... dust-in-my-face.

No matter how much I love Doris, and I do love her a lot — if I lived in the city her LED headlight, economic-on-fuel self would be with me every day — but it is time, it’s time for a bigger bike now. Is anyone listening to me? 

MT-125 buddy

Aside from actually being able to ride with dad, my fiancé, Theo, was riding along with us on a Yamaha MT-125. 

Theo weighs 97kg, meaning my 53kg-frame was nippier. Having someone on the same capacity bike and a tad bit slower — now that pleasured my ego a bit (Soz to my future husband).


Update eight: What’s it like to upgrade to a 390 Duke?

Published: 02.09.17

Maria and the KTM 125 Duke at Silverstone for the MotoGP

My long-term test bike is definitely one of the coolest looking 125s out there and riding it is a joy. I recently took the Duke to Silverstone to watch the MotoGP and its great low-speed balance and smooth power delivery, combined with a slick gearbox got me out of traffic jams at the end of the day with such ease.

Updated this year, getting an LED headlight, new exhaust, revised chassis, larger fuel tank, and stunning full-colour, Bluetooth-enabled TFT dash, it has everything I need.

The only thing missing is power – my little KTM makes a learner-legal 15bhp and struggles when asked to go faster than 70mph. It’s hardly the bike’s fault though – it has to comply to the L-plate laws. But there is an alternative – the 390cc A2-licence-spec 44bhp version.

KTM 125 Duke using all of it's 15bhp

That’s almost three times the power in essentially the same bike and now, with a full licence I got the opportunity to try one. The 390 shares the same upgrades that came to the 125 this year but weighs 12kg more – thanks to a beefier motor, running gear and emissions kit. Going from the 125 to the 390 Duke, is exactly the kind of route KTM would like its customers to follow.

The power is obviously an incredible difference and you notice it as soon as you turn the throttle in any gear – compared to the 125 it just rockets forward and now feels like I can get to 70mph comfortably. I can keep up with traffic and even overtake with ease. It takes much more planning on the 125…

Now with more experience, the 125 gets to around 68mph in fifth gear and up to 73mph in sixth, especially when going downhill. However, if you hit even the slightest incline, the 125 drops down in mph in sixth, which is when you need to switch down to fifth, and switch to it fast.

The 390 has enough power not to worry about all that. It’ll do 100mph and also returns 69mpg. It’s everything you need.

It feels no heavier, higher or harder to ride than the 125 and the brakes are really responsive, too. At £4599, the 390 is just £500 more than the 125 but offers a huge amount more. After you pass your test, this is a great next step and if you already own a 125 you’ll feel very familiar straight away. I’m still a fan of Doris, my 125 Duke though.


Update seven: 125 Duke v MT-125

Published: 21.08.17

The KTM 125 Duke alongside a Yamaha MT-125

Earlier this month, I went on a 515-mile round trip to Wales on the 124.7cc KTM Duke, taking with me my fiancé and my Yamaha MT-125

Here are four comparisons I noticed on these new rider, good-for-the-city bikes:

Gear change heaven

The KTM has a better gearbox. Finding neutral on the MT is a ball-ache. Paired with the lack of a gear indicator, the squidgy gear changes make it all too much of a guessing game. The KTM does have a gear indicator and the gearbox is a bit more positive and this means it feels a lot more reassuring for a new rider like myself.

Ergonomic wonder

The KTM has wider handlebars and is closer to the rider, which means you put slightly less weight on your wrists while riding. The MT feels a bit sportier, you’re slightly more leant forward, and is somewhat reminiscent of a proper super-naked road bike.

Sidestand hell

KTM 125 Duke's sturdy side-stand

The Duke’s stand makes the bike sit far too upright, while the MT-125’s stand gives the bike a respectable lean without the fear of tipping. During my big Wales trip, I feared the most about leaving the 125 Duke on its stand.

Build quality pain

The MT has better build quality. The switchgear and overall controls feel more robust. A button on the Duke has already mysteriously cracked. You just can’t help but feel the KTM’s buttons are just a bit fragile.


Update six: 500-mile trip to Wales on the baby Duke

Published: 17.08.17

The KTM 125 Duke along with other bikes at Camp VC

Touring is seen as the preserve of big-capacity bikes – riding across the country, eating up the miles. But do you really need a 1200cc motorcycle to go touring? And could my little Duke cope with luggage and panniers from Cambridge to Wales? There was only one way to find out and after a weekend away camping in Wales I knew the answer – the Duke is capable of tackling most things.

After my trip I felt a little bit invincible on the 124.7cc Duke. This small machine has a big bike feel and after 515 miles in four days I believe you can take any bike anywhere.

Although I can’t pack light, what I did shove in one Givi tail-pack and a second Givi backpack was light enough. Piling in clothes, one pair of shoes, a torch, chocolate bars, tent, inflatable mattress, pillow, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner and a few other bits, the bags reached a total weight of about 12kg.

Using two straps and one cargo net to keep it all down, it wasn’t until I got back from my trip that I checked my payload details. But considering the bike is designed to carry two 80kg riders, you don’t have to worry about a bit of kit on the back. Just make sure that all luggage is securely mounted.

Maria and the KTM 125 Duke relaxing at Camp VC

Cruising at 65mph

The KTM’s Metzeler Sportec M5s did a cracking good job during the trip – I felt they were confidence-inspiring in both wet and dry conditions. The only time I felt insecure was when I had to battle the wind blast while trying to overtake lorries on the motorway, but that’s a symptom of the KTM’s light weight. The KTM sticks to 65mph comfortably on the motorway and will go up to 70mph for a decent (although not that clean) overtake.

The KTM redlines at 12,000rpm and the Duke reaches just over 10,000rpm at 70mph in 5th gear. Put it in 6th gear and she goes into a bit of a lull. If you’re going up a bit of a hill, she’ll even go down as far as 60mph in top. It’ll do it, but motorways aren’t fun.

It’s really important to note that doing a max of 70mph on motorways can be challenging as you have no upper performance margin left.

Luckily, where the bike does shine is on A-roads. On country lanes my revs were always higher and this is where the most fun is to be had.

The wide handlebars also help to flick through the country lanes – almost like man-handling a baby bull.

There are some great little touches on the KTM and where it stands out among its rivals is the switchgear and dash. A great feature is the day and night mode on the TFT dash which reverses the backing colours for visibility during the day and lack of glare at night and is measured by a light sensor.

The TFT screen is the first of its kind for a bike of this capacity and also has illuminated switchgear buttons. Perfect.

Fits like a glove

For my 5ft 3in frame the bike’s ergonomics work very well, however when I stop at the lights I have to shift over ever so slightly to put my foot flat. After 1500 miles with this bike I’m really used to this shifting, but that feeling took some time.

A long journey like this is really comfortable on the Duke. It was only when I got to the two-hour riding mark that I started noticing a sore butt. Despite that, the seat and position isn’t too bad. I didn’t ache when getting off the bike, just a bit of a stretch and I was back on for another two hours of riding to reach the destination.

The 125 Duke didn’t stick out like a sore thumb on this cool biker chick gathering. Its mean demeanour meant it parked up with the crowd like one of the gang. It rode over the grassy terrain and steep hills without any issues – it’s that old KTM off-road lineage.

What is Camp VC?

People enjoying the entertainment at Camp VC

My destination was an all-women biking festival. It was good vibes all round at #CampVC, organised by a group of girls who call themselves the VCC girls, bringing a bunch of like-minded ladies together for their first annual event. The event near the Brecon Beacons saw over 250 attendees and taught over 50 women to ride for the first time.

With the smell of burnouts in the air and live music, people travelled from as far as Canada and Australia to join in and grab some free beer, free yoga classes, as well as enduro, flat track and skate-boarding lessons.

There was also the opportunity to go on a group ride out to explore Wales – and even get yourself a tattoo. Wild. With Honda, Sailor Jerry and VANS as sponsors, the VCC girls are set to repeat the festivities in 2018.


Update five: “The 125 Duke was made for the city”

Published: 10.07.17

So I braved the A1 (M) again, but this time down south to London. With a full tank under my belt and a slight fear I wouldn't be able to hack the hustle and bustle of our big capital, I arrived at the Hatfield tunnel.

The smell of fumes momentarily took over and before I knew it I was in the thick of London’s traffic. Unsure and constantly checking whether I can use the bus lane, being overtaken by several scooters who are nipping in and out of traffic, standing out as a complete newbie, I finally make it to Alexandra Palace.

My absolute favourite place to be in London. E—l—a—t—e—d to have arrived with Doris the Duke in one piece, we do an MCN Facebook Live and tell the world how unbelievably proud the 125 Duke has made us.

This bike was made for the city; it feels light, nippy and a breath of fresh air to be with. Born and bred in London, I know the city well. So although I had a shakey start when filtering, I soon nipped to the front of the queue at traffic lights. 

Setting off at the lights is fun. It's a smooth acceleration from first to second gear and I'm able to get out of the way before potentially being rammed by an impatient city driver behind. 

The brightly-coloured Duke stands out when pushing past traffic so that helps to keep you visible and as you're never going over 50mph the power is more than enough. 

I don’t want to leave, but sadly, back on the A1 (M) we go. Ready once again to struggle with the slopes of the motorway that slow us down massively. 

Seriously, am I mad to keep using my 125 on the motorway? 


Update four: How much does a 125 Duke 1st service cost?

Published: 01.07.17

KTM 125 Duke stripped and ready for service

After 600 miles added to the clock, the KTM 125 Duke I'm running as a long-term test bike this year, is now ready for her first service.

The KTM's 1st service

During the KTM's first service I managed to have a chat with KTM Technician Matt Sloman.

From my understanding the first service is quite simply, especially for a small cc bike. However this can still have you waiting three hours. 

For riding behaviour...

"We did a first 600-mile service and updated the software on the engine electronics ECU," Matt explains.

"The reason for this was the factory are always testing to improve characteristics on all bikes. In this case the 125 Duke."

He continued: "The service probably took two hours and a half. As part of the service you need to check the valve clearances and they needed adjusting which adds a little more time. The software update takes around 20 minutes to do."

A job like this for a qualified KTM tech is not a difficult on and for Matt this is one of his day-to-day jobs.

What takes longer in some instances is if you have to ride your bike to get it serviced. If you find yourself unable to take your two-wheeled pal in a van to your dealer to a service, the technicians will often have to wait for the bike's engine to completely cool down. before they can start working on it.

Matt added: "If the bike is at full riding temperature you could be waiting a good two to four hours on a warm day to let the engine completely cool down.

"But as you brought the bike in a back of a van I didn't have to wait for the engine to cool down before I checked valve clearances."

5/6 hours later and Doris the Duke was all sorted and I had the most pleasant ride home from Silverstone (KTM's HQ). A complete relief after my manic week of clocking miles during my lunch breaks to reach 600 miles for the service in the first place.  

Did the 1st effect the baby Duke's performance?

I have genuinely noticed the 125 now reaches 70mph a bit better.

In fact, being a couple of weeks without her, on a loan bike, I realised how acquainted I have become with my Duke.

Having noticed the power no longer tops out at 68mph in 5th gear, I'm able to reach 6th gear, without a slump, and stay in 70mph on the motorway on this 124.7cc engined machine.

How much would a KTM 125 Duke service cost you?

I was curious to ask about prices for services so called up KTM's Digital Marketing Manager Ross Walker, who the MCN team has met several times at events like MCN Festival and at the annual Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show. 

I ask: "So how much does a first service cost?"

To which he replies: *Sighs* "That's actually a difficult question. The biggest element of a service is the labour."

What I understand from Ross is that the bigger engine capacity the longer the service. But then the bigger the bike the more miles it has to have done before it's serviced. For example some of KTM's adventure models require the bike to reach around 10,000 miles before it's second service. 

My 125 Duke's first service costs around £250. That's for 600 miles and is classed a 'minor service'. A bigger service of between 4-6,000 can cost around the £400 mark and is put under a bigger service bracket.

Then Ross brings up the very valid point of it depending on the KTM customer's finance deal. From his knowledge the number of services people have also depends on how the owner has purchased the bike. According to Ross, most take out a PCP deal for three years and tend to get a new bike after that. So depending on the finance deal also affects the service details. 

Perhaps something to note when buying a bike - See if you can get a free service in your package?

Gear4 service price

With more intrigue, I called up a local KTM dealer to see how much a first service would cost me.

Unable to get an exact price, but really useful nonetheless, the service team informed me that for 600-mile service, for two hours labour, plus oil and filter changes, would cost me around £160 including VAT.

I was also pleased to hear that Gear4 have spaces for the upcoming weeks for a service, meaning I wouldn't have to wait long to get me service. Some service departments can get very busy in the summer, so definitely plan ahead!

And lastly Gear4 said, if I brought the KTM to them first thing in the morning I'd be "out by lunchtime". Once again, plan ahead. 


Update three: Riding smart on the 125 Duke

Published: 26.06.17

KTM 125 Duke cornering

Now I’m a full licence holder, I have to admit I’m struggling a little with the 15bhp on offer from the KTM. It’s not so much of an issue on twisty B-roads, but on motorways – where I do most of my commuting miles – things can get a bit hairy.

When I want to do a simple, clean overtake the bike stops accelerating at 65/68mph. This means I usually have to bail out, drop back and plonk myself behind the car in front (not too close) doing 60mph. 

What I also end up doing a lot, and I think this is a good tip for new riders, is when I do manage to do my slow-for-the-motorway overtaking I’m constantly looking in my right mirror to ensure there is space in the right lane. This is just in case the car driver on my left doesn’t spot me and comes into my lane, I can then escape into the lane next to me. Lucky for me, this worked well when a driver on her phone didn’t see me.

This was the first scary, on-bike motorway incident that has happened to me. Mid-way through my planned overtake, the lady on the left starts gliding to the right and into my lane, at which point I’ve already planned ahead and jumped into the empty lane to my right. I can safely say, I didn’t cause any other road user to abruptly change their road position. What was most alarming about this was the driver didn’t even know what she had done.

Moving on from this minor run-in with Mrs Oblivious-To-Life, I then took my KTM for its first service, which I’ll tell you more about in my next update.

KTM 125 Duke sat outside the house

KTM recalls the baby Duke

A week ago KTM issued a recall for the 125 and 390 Duke due to a fault with the software linked to the LED headlight. The feature was new for 2017 on the updated Duke, but now needed a software update.

KTM had this to say about it: “During the internal endurance testing, KTM experienced some cases of sporadic reboots of the LED headlight. As this may lead to potentially dangerous riding situations, the software of the headlight needs to be updated as soon as possible.”

I now haven’t ridden my KTM for two weeks due to the worry of the intermittent headlight. As a new rider, I rely on this to keep me visible during the day as well as obviously during the night. 

The KTM guys picked up my bike today, I now have a replacement 125 Duke. We'll call this one Django the Duke. 

Next: I'll be talking about my first service next week and in the week's following that I'll update you on how I've gone about selecting some KTM PowerParts


Update two: Quick! Clock the miles before the 125 Duke’s first service

Published: 12.06.17

The KTM 125 Duke waiting for a fill-up

You may hear (read) me bemoan that I'm lusting for a bit more power. Don't get me wrong I love the KTM 125 Duke (124.7cc to be exact) but as I'm normally doing motorway miles and have recently obtained my full bike licence: I. NEED. MORE. POWER. 

And until I get a bit more power I shall keep moaning about the lack of power. 

Now anyway let me take you back to a few weeks ago...

I wonder, as I’m making my 31-mile journey back home just for lunch, does everyone rush to get to 600 miles for their first bike service? Because that’s what I’ve been doing. You have to book services a good few weeks in advance in order to get a slot when you want one. If you don’t, before you know it you’ve hit 701 miles and your bike still hasn’t been serviced.

Yes, that did all happen to me on my other bike (Yamaha MT-125). Now with Doris the Duke I wanted to be more organised, so I booked my service two weeks after getting her. 

Then I realised a week later I’d only done 150-odd miles, hence my long lunch breaks. Can’t say I’ve minded, though; time spent riding is time well spent and I’m loving time with the KTM. 

The KTM 125 Duke parked on the street

With five days to go until me service, here's how I clocked up my miles...

Day 1: 199 miles

Day 2: 323 miles

Day 3: 384 miles

Day 4: 507 miles

And by the end of day 5, I was up to 520 miles. Day 6 is service day and I'm told around the 500-mark is OK and you can still have a service. Thankfully. 

KTM 125 Duke basking in the sunshine

124-mile day commute

As a new rider I was pretty chuffed with my 124-mile-a-day commute. Let me tell you, it was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions.

Those five days went in a specific formula: Ride to work, 31 miles. Panic to reach miles so ride home every day for lunch. During the ride, peace and serenity takes over and I forget about the miles. Hop off bike and immediately read clock to see how many miles I’m at. And vice-versa on the journey back to work from lunch. Then ride home after work, another 31 miles.

Repeat all over again for next few days.

I used the motorway to clock my miles and also discovered that a full tank of motorway riding cost me £11.49 which the KTM tells me was a 3 hour 41 min journey covering 178.8 miles.

A week on and MCN Office Manager Alison Silcox got her longterm test bike (Honda X-ADV) and did the same thing except she did 300 miles in a day and clocked her 600 miles in one weekend.

The moral of the story is, we love our bikes so much that we will ride come rain or shine to clock our first-service-miles and it’s bloody fun doing it. 

Some KTM 125 Duke stats

PRICE: £4099

FUEL: 13.4 litres @ 75mpg = 217.5 miles

POWER: 15bhp

TORQUE: 9ftlb

WEIGHT: 137kg

SEAT HEIGHT: 810mm

KTM 125 Duke recall

Oh bloody heck! After all my efforts now the 125 Duke has been recalled, along with KTM's 390 Duke. Read more here as to why and check back on Saturday for my next 125 Duke post. 


Update one: Becoming friends with KTM’s 125 Duke

Published: 01.05.17

Maria with the KTM 125 Duke

I remember when MCN Deputy Editor, Richard Newland, gave me the news that KTM wanted to loan me the 2017 125 Duke. I instantly said 'yes' and then waited patiently for it to arrive at the MCN office. 

Forget the rest of the team's 2017 fleet bikes: Honda Fireblade SP, Kawasaki Ninja 650, Suzuki GSX-R1000R, Ducati SuperSport S. Pish posh! I was getting a KTM 125 Duke. It's got a full-colour TFT dash, don't ya know. 

The first time we met...

Me and my new pal met for the first time at the Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show earlier this year. It was literally the first time I got a chance to sit on Doris (yes I've named her Doris. Thanks to MCN Senior Road Tester Adam Child, who occasionally calls his wife 'the Doris', the name has now stuck). 

Now after a week of riding Doris, the fact that she is the smallest bike on the long-term squad this year is far from insignificant.

The 2017 update has given KTM’s smallest Duke a fair few additions to help it punch well above its weight. Firstly, it’s been given a full makeover, which basically means it looks incredibly similar to the hyper-naked 1290 Super Duke R.

And secondly, when you switch the ABS off a yellow warning light flashes ‘not legal’ – so stoppies, wheelies, and stunts here I come!

OK, let me take it down a peg, or 10. I’m in no position to do tricks (yet) but having the option is brilliant. Aside from the fact I’m still running the bike in and haven’t experienced the bike’s 75mph top speed, it’s quite clear that this is a huge upgrade from the original 2011 model.

We’ve got engine tweaks, a full-colour dash, updated bodywork, new chassis and bolt-on subframe, WP suspension, new exhaust, a newly designed LED headlight and a new larger 13.4-litre steel tank. 

However, as techie as this KTM sounds, after spending a week with BMW Rider Training on a 75bhp F700GS last month, the little demons in my head keep yelling “you need more power”.

You can’t help but ride a 125 and ask yourself ‘what is next? A Daytona 675? An MT-07?’ But with all the knowledge I’m yet to obtain, I’m trying not to jump the gun and I’m hoping that the little KTM will help me tap down a couple of gears and allow me to build a solid riding base. 

Back to the small-scale fun

The engine inside the KTM 125 Duke

The best part so far is that the little Duke is the first in its class to have a full-colour TFT dash; it takes me back to my PlayStation days. 

Instead of using combos to kill the bad guys or to score my hat-trick against Spurs on FIFA, I’m using the ‘up’ and ‘down’ keys to navigate through the menu selection, with the right button selecting items and the left button serving a step backwards. 

Saving the best ‘til last – the onboard functions allow you to take incoming calls and change audio tracks as you can pair your mobile to the bike via Bluetooth.

As if technology wasn’t corrupting our brains enough, right? 

The KTM is a bit of a wide thing

The wide, straight handlebar is getting on my nerves. Only because it doesn’t fit through my gate as nicely as my Yamaha MT-125. When riding, however, the upright position is great, especially when filtering on my 60-mile commute.

If I’m being pernickety, the stand sits the bike almost upright, which makes me feel like it’s not stable. I always jig it about a bit before leaving it. 

So far this light, 137kg, single-cylinder, A1 licence-friendly machine is a blast and a breath of fresh air to chuck around on country lanes. Despite the switchgear not feeling as well-made as those on my Yamaha, it’s definitely a looker. 

I’m planning a trip to my KTM dealer to browse some PowerParts and I’m already eyeing up an Akrapovic slip-on. I’m also planning a trip to Wales in August for Camp
VC
 (a weekend of biking with some awesome London girls) so let’s see if the 124.7cc KTM comes with me...

For now I’m just about done scrubbing in my fat new Metzeler Sportec M5s. 

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Maria Martin

By Maria Martin

MCN Online Editor