Saturday, 8 June 2013

KTM 200 Duke Review

I've just published a review of my KTM 200 Duke, after 100 km of ownership. So far I'm loving it! Great commuter, economical, easy to ride, would be good for learners, and most importantly, fun!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Two Dukes

The grand old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men...

So, two dukes would equal twenty thousand men, right?

Maybe, but not in this context. In this context, a single man has two dukes. OK, technically three, but the basket case remains in a basket.

My two dukes are very different, however. They're not even the same brand.

The KTM looks big next to the truck. It isn't.

Let's rewind. In the beginning, there was... No, no, not that far...

OK. I've had dukes for years. Big, fast, loud motorbikes. Wonderful fun to ride, but compared to your typical commuter bike, expensive to maintain. When my son upgraded his bike to a sports model, he let me have his old banger - a venerable Kawasaki GPX250 - and I switched to commuting on that. Sure, I didn't cut quite as dashing a figure on the little Kwaka, but it always got me to work and home again, and quite cheaply. That is, until it was stolen.

New meets old

My son's sports bike had been stolen, but was recovered with minor damage, so I returned the GPX to him so he could get to work while his good bike was being fixed, and started burning through the tyres on my big duke. Within a week, the Kawasaki was stolen, ridden through a speed camera, through a red light, and into a car. We suspected the same scumbags, and hoped they'd been hurt. Sadly, fingerprint and DNA testing didn't prove the offender's identity, even though the cops have a good idea who he is.

In the bush
Eventually the insurance company paid us out as a write-off, and I started looking for a new road bike. Although the GPX had been good to me, and extremely reliable, the 2012 250 was basically the same as the old 1998 version, and the latest, updated model was a little too exxy for a commuter. Suzuki have the Inazuma, which may well be Japanese for ugly and heavy - bleeuugghh. Yamaha only have cruisers in the 250 range, although they do have a sporty 150. I wasn't looking for sports, although I did want fun.

Honda's CBR250R is really popular, and there were numerous low km second hand models available in my price range. It's a bit heavy, in my opinion, and my test ride, was, well, underwhelming. I wanted to like it, but I couldn't. Yes it's a fine bike, and well made, but I thought it was soft and uninspiring.

One of these vehicles did over 200 km today

Honda did, however, make me see the resale benefits of ABS, and also made me realise that brand new bikes were available for almost the same price as second hand - as I browsed, I realised it was actually possible to buy a two year old, but brand new, non-ABS model for less than some were advertising them second hand. I think that in a few years, ABS will be expected - it will be hard to sell non-ABS bikes to learners.

So I started looking at new bikes. Unfortunately, other than discount, run out Hondas, and the ugly Inazuma, it looked like the reasonably priced alternatives were mainly Chinese. I wouldn't rule them out, but want to wait for them to establish a better reputation before going down the Mandarin route.

Honda were still high on my radar, despite the blands, but really, only if I had to. I kept looking, and another brand appeared when I searched for new bikes. KTM.

At the end of a firetrail

Hmmm. I'd really only thought of KTM as dirt bike people, although one of my colleagues has a 690 motard style KTM, and loves it, but motards aren't really my cup of tea. Still, the reviews sounded promising, and even though it's only 200cc, it puts out almost as much power as the Honda, with 30 kg less weight! What's more, there's even a dealer as handy to me as any of the Japanese brands. Time for a test ride!

Oh yeah. This time I returned with a silly grin on my face, having zipped around town, cruised at freeway speed, and even zoomed up a local hill much more quickly than a 200cc single had any right to go. I liked it, and much more than the Honda.

Now I had to decide. A 2012 model at $6k ride away, or a 2013 model for only $500 more. In my mind, it was obvious, especially as the 2013 model has ABS, but SWMBO took a little more convincing.

If you've been looking closely at the pictures, you know the answer. I went ABS. So far I'm loving it.

Even with run in restrictions, it will still sit just under 100km/h, and feels like there's plenty more in reserve. The average fuel economy display on the dash has gone as high as 53 km/l - an astounding 149 old skool mpg! The trouble is, I'm not sure what it's measuring. Fuel use this trip, fuel use last X seconds, or what. I've only filled up once so far (at 269km, just under 50 km with the reserve light lit), so will know more as I use it.

I couldn't help but laugh