The Duke series of KTM is a real success – despite its name. The Dukes of KTM behave less like nobles: they are sports cannons up to the brutal 1290s Duke. Can the small 125 with a sparse 15 hp keep up with the test, or is it the black sheep of the family?
Then let's take a closer look. A first lap around the bike shows a lot of pleasing: Although the Duke is like all 125s a small bike, nevertheless it stands grown up. No wonder: The 125 corresponds in its frame as well as the whole design of its larger sister, the Duke 390. And there the lattice tube frame has to cope with 44 hp and not only with the A1 (or B196) compliant 15 hp of the small 125 that is in front of us. More about the A1 driver's license at the end of this article.
The Duke seems to be getting to the customer base: the KTM is by far the best-selling 125 in Germany. Despite the adult look, the whole machine weighs only 137 kilos ready to drive. As always with the A1 bikes, how fast you actually progress depends more on the possible overweight of the rider than on the motorcycle. Incidentally, the seat height of 830 millimetres with a length of only 2.03 metres is not at all small.
The close relationship to the 390, also manufactured in India, brings with it not only the high-quality lattice tube frame, but also the full LED light as well as the high-quality TFT display. The inclined – and probably rather young – clientele can pair the display with their own smartphone.
The engine of the small Duke is a standard single cylinder, which despite a narrow 125 cubic capacity does not hang small and lost in the frame. It produces the permitted 15 hp at 10,500 revolutions and 12 newton meters at a maximum of 8,000 tours. It is expected to consume a credible 2.5 litres, resulting in a range of more than 400 kilometres for the 10.5-litre tank.
The chassis is greedy with adjustment options, but consists of high-quality components. Thus, the fork comes from WP, and at the back a monoshock strut also performs its service from WP, where at least the spring base is adjustable. What KTM does is something that the Austrians happily did not look at in the competition: the KTM stands on high-quality Metzeler tyres, the competition often on no-name products.
Then let's go.
In fact, the seat height is rather not for small-grown people. The sitting position itself is restrainedly sporty, rather upright. The driver has enough space, for the passenger it is rather scarce as with almost all 125s. What is positively noticeable even when bouncing off the side stand (there is no main stand) is the low weight. If you're going through the area on a full-size adventure, you'll have to be careful not to bring the KTM into the uprights with too much of a jolt, otherwise it will tip over to the other side. The display is clear, logically structured and easy to read. There is not much to hire, that was no different.
The engine is spinning, but 15 hp are no longer. Compared to the 125 Yamaha, it has to be turned even higher to reach its maximum performance. It is good that he never seems strained or splendid or sounds like that. The six gears snap in well and smoothly, which is a not to be underestimated advantage with the rather shaky torque and correspondingly frequent shifting.
KTM is also not naked when it is used for the brakes. They come from the Indian Brembo daughter Bybre and fit well with the little duke.
Then we come to the greatest advantage of the KTM: its enormous agility. The 137 kilos plus drivers steer safely, defined and with little effort at all times. This is pure driving physics and cannot be achieved by so much electronics. A real fun bolt is the 125-Duke, with every kilometer travelled the friends climb sit on the next bend. And here again shows how important a high-quality tire is, because it gives the whole motorcycle the necessary sovereignty.
After the test, it is quickly clear why the KTM 125 Duke is such a sales success: it is the most grown-up motorcycle in its class. The high-quality components as well as the close relationship to the 390 Duke play their part.
If you have an open driving licence, you may like the 125 class as a newcomer, but not for long. For this purpose, the range of services is simply too low and the price-performance ratio too poor. The KTM 125 Duke costs 4,728 euros. This makes it even cheap in its class. As with the Yamaha, you are struggling with the competition in-house: the KTM 390, its technical relatives, is on the price list with 5,550 euros, so the gap is too small.
The test bike was provided to us by Motorrad Ruser in Haseldorf.
What can I do with the A1 ticket? This is precisely what the legislator has specified:
1. Motorcycles (also with sidecars) with a cylinder capacity of up to 125 cubic centimetres, an engine power not exceeding 11 kW, where the ratio of power to weight does not exceed 0.1 kW/kg
2. Three-wheeled motor vehicles with symmetrically arranged wheels and a cylinder capacity of more than 50 cm3 for internal combustion engines or a maximum design speed of more than 45 km/h and with an output of up to 15 kW.
The minimum age for this driving licence is 16 years, the training takes place normally in a driving school.
If you are at least 25 years old and have had a driving licence for five years, you can achieve a significant abbreviation of this training. This abbreviation is called B196.
The legislator has defined as training for B196:
Theory: 4x motorcycle theory lessons 90 minutes each
Practice: 5x motorcycle driving lesson 90 minutes each
Examination: No theory or practical examination