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.
– Bike, Duke 200 with stock components.
– Kilometre driven 5570 km & 27 days.
– Saddled weight, about 14 kg.
– Cramster Breezer 4.0 Riding Jacket.
– Knox Cross Bionic knee guard..
– DSG Mesh street gloves.
– Cramster waist pouch.
Roads, Terrain and milestones covered
– 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
FINAL WORD on experience
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.
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.
FUTURE TOURS planned with Duke 200
– 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!