my Next Bike trip…


A schedule for bike trip planned to Gujarat for work and leisure. Trip is expected to complete with 1800 km of ride. Trip also include about 150 km ride through Gir Forest, will be good opportunity to my long waiting for testing the Duke off-road.

Tentative Route map…

  • J’Factors

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INDIA BIKE WEEK, Domestic arena for the biker community


This and the last decade has witnessed a grand elevation in Indian auto enthusiasts. People are spending and to tap this huge, seller’s market many multinational auto makers are engaged in pushing their exclusive presence & competition here. This is true for Supercars and advance Performance bikes. But for this blog, I ‘ll concentrate on a Motorcycle playground.



There is a colossal swell in number of bikers, and surprisingly contribution is flowing form all directions, from far-reaching towns and country land. Today biking era has reached to its infancy of maturation stage, formation of larger brackets but still unorganised for banking in through branding, commercialisation and sweepstakes & merchandising. Although it is getting there and ‘Online Social Media’ will be largely responsible.



Currently in existence are large autonomous groups and, sponsored and autonomous. INDIA BIKE WEEK, the first organised platform for bikers, is a big leap that will alter the course, presence and roadmap of biking community in India.



INDIA BIKE WEEK or IBW is backed up by the history of a event organiser company ‘70 Event Media Group’ whose presence and experience is served Globally. IBW ’s main function is to syndicate individuals and biking groups to form a larger brotherhood, and organising events & festivals at all scales.



‘India Bike Week’ festival to be commenced in Goa from February 2013 is one such event, it is a largest multi-day event ever introduced in India. This festival will serve as a common and introductory platform for bikers, exhibits & promotional opportunities for individual & small enterprise field professionals and finally branding companies. Festival stages many sporting, biking and gathering events.



IBW also coordinate regional /city wise weekend rides, brunch gatherings, brotherhoods, news & newsletters, blogging, and few other services through their network. One can always step forward to get involved with IBW through volunteering, blogging, exhibits & merchandising and participant. In days to come, expecting IBW will develop some quality information exchange platform and media circulation to expand its reach and critical presence in this sector.



IBW is one of the big steps on Indian Biking court and has a serious potential for the growth. Their present planner, events and PR coverage certainly looks promising, now it is to see what shape, direction & place IBW acquire in future. Nevertheless, such events and large bodies will open the gate to fresh commercial and tourism opportunities, even for unprofessional but skilled classes like mechanics, build-offs & customisations.



-J’Factors

Preparing Duke 200 for a long Touring


I got Duke 200 delivered on 4th November this year, did first 1000 km by the 15th day. First long ride was 400 km run to Vapi [located at the southern border of Gujarat], experience was good but novice since followed the speed and RPM restriction.

After first service, and 1400 km began with 30 days touring to Southern India, which also was my first ever long touring experience.

Kick started on 8th of December, travelled for 27 days and 5600 km through 22 cities & towns in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Maharashtra.

This is my experience with the Duke on touring. Note that review is only limited to long touring. Otherwise does not apply for street riding and short runs.

Note; Road lanes when mentioned refers to one side carriageway.

some Facts

– Bike, Duke 200 with stock components.

– Kilometre driven 5570 km & 27 days.

– Saddled weight, about 14 kg.

Gears

– Cramster Breezer 4.0 Riding Jacket.

– Knox Cross Bionic knee guard..

– DSG Mesh street gloves.

– Cramster waist pouch.

Roads, Terrain and milestones covered

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– Tar roads, most part been good.

– Up-hill and down-hill roads with sharp, hair-pin bends, steep curves.

– 970 km ride in 11 hours

– Non-stop ride of 300 km on a well-maintained highway.



CONCERNS of Duke 200



Duke is a stiff for a full, multi-day day rides;

Long handle bar, foot rest, and riding position kept me always at the alert stance. Rare Mono-shock is underneath the rider’s seat and relatively hard for rough and irregular roads, only if KTM employs some kind of secondary piston based technology to further make it a smooth ride. The seating is a solid block too.

All these features contribute to a stiff ride when you are out on road for a full long day or a couple of weeks.



Discomfort zones;

Tail bone, trapezius muscle, and butt.



Stress on tailbone is a significant issue when heavily ladened and a long ride; need to get some extra padding done by rare length of the seat.

Slant, negative angle, adjustment of gear and foot-break lever will offer a more relaxed posture to the ankle.

Vibrations;

There are vibration between 6 -7.5k RPM but nothing that cannot be handled.



After few thousand kilometres engine did felt rough and loosing some ground. Fortunately it was also time for second service @6000 km, which was done in Kochi [or Cochin], Kerala.

Digital Fuel indicator, each bas is i too wide that represents substantial fuel level. This arrangement can get you misjudge sometime, esp. at locations where premium fuel is widely unavailable.

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OVERALL EXPERIENCE

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PERFORMANCE was awestruck. Duke had excellent response to long touring reliability, high-speed cruising, curves & sharp bends, handling & stability.

HANDLING & Stability was consistently at its best behaviour. Give or take few instances when low tare weight provided less drag or traction for breaking at high speed, mainly on polished roads. There was a marginal displacement of rare tyre while breaking at high speed but never felt Duke oozing out of control or taking a fall.

Air pressure of about 30 PSI in rare-tyre gave me a good turning confidence.

Duke smoothly handled sharp bends @80kmph with all that luggage saddled, rapid manoeuvring, inclination at low gears and sudden death situation. High RPM on turns feed Duke with some extra stability and confidence that it could go a little more.

Blow from speeding heavy vehicles and SUV was near to negligible. Pressure and force could not shake the ladened Duke in most encounters, which in a single or two lane highway flows like waves.

Top speed achieved was 130-135 kmph, and did 110 to 125 for a good couple of hours with just 2 or 3 short breaks; engine temperature was well below 60-70% of its safe zone.

Digital meter, or cockpit view, as the company calls it is very functional. Clock, 2 Trip options, travel time, and average speed tracked the whole tour accurately.

WHAT I ENJOYED the most about Duke in this tour?

Nothing is perfect, posture stiffness and discomfort is for Duke on long rides. However, it is a worthy ride to out the hands on.

– Curving on sharp edges at high RPM. Appeared as if Duke almost handled itself through the turn and remain more stable at higher RPMs.



– Engine roar @4.5 -6 RPM.



– High speed manoeuvring.



– Handling, Stability & Control.



– Steep climbs are the 2nd to 4th gear.



– Digital readings and Trip functions.



– No sign of engine heating after a long, high speed ride.

ROUTE Experiences

Route 1- Dubera Forest route in Coorg district of Karnataka state [10 km patch]

Route 2- Talacuavery in Coorg district of Karnataka [last 8 km patch]

Route 3- Coimbatore -Munnar -Top Station [Munnar -Top Station, 25 km]

Route 4- Lakkidi -Vythiri [Wayanad district, Kerala]

Good roads with thrilling curves, some very steep, sharp & hairpin bends. Bike was stuffed & saddled, plus a laptop thus had to be very careful.

There was no trouble at all conquering sharp curves and steep inclination. None case of imbalance, loosing control, or if Duke could not handle the climb with all the weight on it.

Route 5- Munnar -Trivandrum [270 km]

Route followed was through Kottayam.

Route 6- Pune – Sholapur

Total distance done on that day was about 350 km, been a tiring 9 hours ride to Trivandrum. Roads were good but a single lane state highway running through civilisation at every 30-45 minutes, plus the Sunday & vacation traffic.



Pune -Sholapur highway was in a making, endless diversions and uneven roads. Speed was suppressed due to traffic and road condition, had to constantly work around with gears, turns, traffic and heavy handling. To add to this was a 3.5 kg laptop bag on my shoulders. It was by far the worst ride on Duke and generally.

Route 6- Vythiri -Bangalore -Pune [1220 km]

Route taken was Vythiri to Bangalore via Bangalore-Mysore Road. And bypassing Bangalore through Nice Rin Road to National Highway NH4, a part of Golden Quadrilateral project.

Travelled 970 km in 11 hours including about 65 mins break. Started @0600 hrs from Vythiri but being dark, chilly morning and bad road condition covered only 70 -80 km in 2 hours of time, was able to reach 90 /100 kph only after crossing Mysore. Top speed can be easily maintained from Nice Ring Road [Bangalore bypass route] till Kolhapur city.

Karnataka part of NH4 is excellent maintained, and it is a two /three lane highway. Took a coffee break at Bidadi, 18 km from Nice Ring Road, Bangalore and started for Pune by 12.30 pm. Once on NH4, consistently did 110 -125 kph. There were few diversions on the way, one or two patch was under maintenance and 20 km stretch from Hubli is a single lane but otherwise its all spick n span.

This route was one of the best, exhilarating experience of this trip! Desperately wish to get a test run of Duke 390 on this route, and for Mumbai -Bangalore -Goa -Pune route;



Duke gave out its core potential on this route, viz speed, long hours performance, stability and breaking.



NH4 highway from Kolhapur to Pune is characterised with unexpected potholes, unlevelled surfaces and rough diversions.



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FINAL WORD on experience

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Duke is great for short, couple of days’, touring but there are certain alternations to rider’s seat and mono-shocks to make it a easy touring ride.

Stiffness is a cause of good concern but, nevertheless, will not exchange it for any other ride. Duke was a great experience throughout the touring. It is a killer machine on open roads, curves, healthy manoeuvring, inclination, traffic, control & safety, handling & stability.

Best achievements are sharp bends, steep inclination, low-gears [3rd & 4th gear precisely] & high RPM performance.

I will get done some changes in design to rider’s sea,t to a softer one. Meantime, also have a meeting scheduled with KTM senior technical for feedback and suggestions. I should not expect nor desire any major change in the design and form-factor. After all the reason I got Duke is coz of its scrambler factor, performance and tough response.



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a WRAP-UP

Duke is certainly not a long touring category but it offers a thrilling performance, handling and stable responses with peak confidence, making it a safe touring companion. Duke is a machine you dont want to see under-the-hood for long. There are few mandatory alteration required to support the spine and muscles but then every package comes with its own set of traits.



Bottom line, if you are not a big fan of cruising category or prefer a raw performance over total comfort then Duke is one of the best options to go for.



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FUTURE TOURS planned with Duke 200

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– A short off-road run to country side, will have a better judgment about its capacity to handle tough roads.

– Golden Quadrilateral route, 5,846 km highway connecting major cities of North -South -East -West.

– Mumbai -Delhi -Manali -Ladakh -Jammu.

– Maharashtra & Goa.

– Mumbai -Bangalore -Goa -Pune -Mumbai with Duke 390, if fortunate enough!


TRIP PHOTOS;

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35 days of cruizing, 6000 kms, 3 days of countdown.. and gearing up


It has been 10 years of riding and also of my first ride, a 180cc Pulsar by Indian economy and performance bike maker ‘Bajaj Auto’. Recently got KTM Duke 200!

have done many short, multi-day rides. And on several occasion planned a long trip, unfortunately all cancelled for some reason or the other. But now is a high-time for my first long and adventurous cruise. My first preference was North India but given a time of the year settled to South India instead, which as well offer diverse touring experience to suit your mood.

One can choose to ride for costal lines, mountain ranges, backwaters, forests, lakes and waterfalls, Sanctuaries, hill stations, adventure activities, ancient villages, Shrines & Caves, smacking cuisines and much more.

Routes planned runs through a small part of Karnataka state, Kerala state [from South to North], finally at Goa and back to Mumbai.

Terrain will be highway, hill roads, off-roads through backwaters, lakes, villages, will try to get a permission for riding through some part of Sanctuaries, and finally costal route to Goa and scenic State Highway ‘SH4’ known as ‘sagari marg’ from Goa to Mumbai.

Gearing up of the ride;

Routes plotted, measured and printed; Check!

Itinerary made; Check!

Final Checklist prepared; Check!

Daily Bike log, blog & costing format prepared; Check!

Basic repair toolkit, components, helpline numbers and instruction manual assembled; Check!

First Aid kit and First Aid manual packed; Check!

Luggage bags set, Check!

Basic self-repair course done; Check!

Pre-trip checkup and service done; Check!

Safety Gears, riding jackets, knee guard, gloves, shoes … Check!

Cooking & Camping accessories set; Check!



-Final mock packing in progress.

-Puncture kit, Foot pump Battery Booster & Motul C1 & C2 arriving tomorrow.

-J’Factors

KTM Duke 200, 1st 800 kms experience


After long waiting for a good launch finally got KTM Duke 200; did some homework and booked it.

I’ve always been a Scrambler zealot. Duke 200 doesn’t accurately fit the category but it does borrow much of its technicals and visual from the Off-Road segment. Nevertheless, KTM is well-know for Off-road biking and MotoSports.

Duke 200 is a new-born of partnership between KTM, world’s no. 1 off-road bike makers, and Bajaj Auto, an Indian pioneer for economy and performance biking. The Duo has done a remarkable job of putting together their expertise, KTM with their almost a century of tough biking experience and Bajaj, impartially, best in offering performance with economy.

Yes, for all the readers from Europe, US and Australian continent. It is an irony ! here in India, unfortunately, fuel cost is higher than around the world. Infrastructure, traffic congestion and poor income to inflation growth have deterred the development of Performance biking. Hence, Performance and Economy go hand-in-hand here for mass-selling.

After some research and personal interview with the owners Joined the Owner’s Club!

Within a week or purchase finished 800 km mark and every ride is reassuring me to have made a right GO. Perfect if not better than perfect!

Currently I’m maintaining the initial REV limit [of 7500 RPM] and speed [50 – 70 km] as suggested by the KTM. And It is ridiculous to follow these instructions as the need-for-more element never dies at any stage of riding. Albeit, following these protocol will pay off well in a long run. This is form my personal experience, bought Bajaj Pulsar 180 in 2001 and even today can touch a speed limit of 110 to 120 km without any vibes or stability issue.

You can, however request to disable any restriction before delivery.

At every shift, throttling and curves you can feel what the Duke is designed for. Even at low revs and speed, adrenaline is instantaneous and intravenous, right from first burst. Response at low-gears especially is a blow-out.

Coming to the features and performance, Duke packs good power, stability, gear ration, electronics, significant digital information and indicators.

Another good feature is a Side-Stand shift. Shifting from Neutral with side stand engaged kills the engine.

Now the CONs, RPM and mechanics runs the engine hot in no good time, 10-15 mins per say of city riding. But this is the case for tropical Mumbai weather, may be this isn’t the worry for cold climate. To add to disadvantage are bad traffic & road conditions in Metro India.

It’s also a stiff ride, seating is rigid only wish if design could be a little more curved on the rider’s edge, i.e. the base and support. Shock-absorbers, principally rare mono-shock is hard for uneven road or any bump.

Nonetheless, Duke still feel like a must-have for people who are Motosports enthu. It’s a Active Ride.

Stiff ride means you have to be alert and uniformly in contact with the machine which is a turn-on for anyone looking for an adventure ride rather than just a swift cruise.

There is some slackness with Chain, very annoying. Service Technician informed it to be expected and fixed during the first service. Paint in the alloys and few movable wear n’ tear components looks as if under budgeted. Again I believe it has to do with the Indian scenario where Two-wheeler insurance packages are still at infancy and inappropriate, hence to cut the short run maintenance and replacement cost.

Once over these issues everything else is well-built from visual appeal to performance maximisation. It is much more than just a style statement. But certainly not for anyone who takes a good care of spine and enjoys a long, high-speed and comfortable cruise.

It can be a perfect street and touring companion if you’re an adventurer machinist, love to interact with it, prefer Performance over a some-what discomfort. And finally, after a long, tough ride you still say, “Hell Ya! let’s do it again in a more tough conditions.”

Duke is a ride that you want to run at the peak, twist, corner, then will be compelled to shift to low gears and enjoy the revs again. But it demands your full attention, and understanding of it.



KTM India [Mumbai] have formed a good team. Sales and Technical staff are always available to help you out on pre and post sales queries so if you have any doubt about KTM product then just request for whatsoever details required with KTM Showroom people. My queries regarding long trip precautions were well attended and feed with personal contact numbers and liberty to call even at nights in case of a breakdown.



Replies are usually instant but occasionally may take some time for response. But improvement is a process and believe that in time and with customer feedback system should be ultra-responsive and quick.

Economy reported by few of the Indian Duke 200 owners is as high as 42 kmpl & above. Top speed is locked to 134 kmph but people have mentioned to reach 145/150 kmph.

Getting my first service done on 22nd of this month and then will gradually test, learn & reach the peak of it. Also looking forward to a scheduled winter bike trip to South Indian peninsular region, distance to cover will be about 4,500 km, and later some off-road biking too.

This is the ride I’m sure will not be able to keep idle for long duration !!

Kudos Bjaja-KTM… waiting for Duke 390 & 690 test ride.

Later blog to come on Duke 200 for Street biking.

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