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There was a lot of excitement when KTM launched its Duke siblings in India. They were sportier and put out more power than their counterparts, and at competitive prices. Now, for 2017, KTM has launched the 250 Duke and positioned it in between the 200 and the 390 Dukes.
Its styling has been inspired by the 1290 Super Duke R, which also features on the new 2017 390. This new design is a fair bit more aggressive than the older Duke. And, from a distance, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the 250 Duke for the 390. What sets them apart is the headlight. The 250 Duke doesn’t get the split LED headlight setup, the 390 version gets. It retains that angular, forward-jutting shape, but as a single unit compared to the one on the 390. It, however, doesn’t come with the all-new TFT instrument console that’s on the 2017 390 Duke. Instead, it makes do with the same digital unit as the 200 Duke. Another difference is the 250 Duke’s blacked out wheels.
The new metal tank on the 250 Duke is well chiselled, and really accentuates its aggressive styling. The key-switch is positioned at the fore of the tank and is no longer at the base of the speedometer console. KTM has replaced the seat with a new, longer version that has a decent amount of padding for the rider as well as pillion. The well-shaped, sharp-looking rear end now houses a twin LED taillight. It shares its exhaust with the 390 Duke and even though it retains that typically tinny KTM sound, it has a decent amount of bass in its exhaust note when you pick up the pace.
Get astride the new 250 and you’re greeted by a familiar seating posture. But the new 830mm seat height, and new foot pegs that are a little further rear-set, make this new bike feel a little less cramped than the older models. The 30mm increase in seat height may affect shorter riders slightly.
The new, quarter-litre Duke uses a 249cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected engine which produces 30hp and 24Nm. Crank the engine up and you can immediately feel a few vibrations through the handlebar at idle. But once you accelerate, this tends to smoothen out. When you set off initially in first gear, the bottom-end does feel a bit sluggish; but in typical Duke fashion, the mid-range and the top-end is where you can really feel its power.
The engine is mated to a slipper-clutch-equipped, six-speed gearbox. Shifting through the gears feels smooth and precise. The 250 Duke misses out on the ride-by-wire tech and stickier Metzelers from the 390. Instead, it's shod with MRF Revz C1 rubber, which provided decent levels of grip. The brakes are a 300mm disc with a four-piston caliper up front, and a 230mm disc with a single-pot at the rear, which is the same setup as the Duke 200. However, there's no ABS offered on the 250 Duke, even as an option.
A few laps around the curvy Bajaj test-track, and the 250 Duke really felt in its element. The new chassis provides an immense amount of confidence to its rider and the bike encourages you to tackle corners aggressively.
At Rs 1.73 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the new 250 Duke not only bridges the gap between the 200 and the 390 in terms of pricing, but also in terms of power and features. It doesn’t have the same kind of power that the 390 does, but it still has enough punch to keep you thrilled. However, we do wish KTM would offer ABS, at least as an option, on this model. Overall, KTM has provided us with yet another brilliant machine, albeit at a slight premium. The real test will be when we take this motorcycle onto city streets to see how it fares.
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