Late into 2020, KTM is bringing in the Duke 200 world motorcycle to do battle in the American marketplace and on its roads. Manufactured by KTM partner Bajaj Auto in India, it is the least expensive KTM street-legal motorcycle, priced the same as the Honda Monkey. Money isn’t everything, of course, and that’s why we test ride them. Here are the fast facts on the urban-ready thumper.
For me, the 2020 KTM 200 Duke’s 31.6-inch seat height is about right. The KTM 200 Duke is not so low that those with longer legs look bent-up and yet it still felt comfortable for me—I am 5’ 6”, with a 29-inch inseam. Even though I couldn’t place my feet down flat at a stop, there was no danger of tipping over. The 200 hits the scales at 330 pounds with its 3.5-gallon fuel tank filled, and is nicely balanced. When riding at any speed or at a stop, I can maneuver confidently.
The 200 Duke is pleasantly comfy. I love the riding position, which is sculpted in such a way that seating is natural. My hands fell instinctively to the grips, which are positioned nicely. The tapered aluminum handlebar is not in an overly aggressive position, so I sit fairly upright—it is a naked upright sportbike, after all.
The seat is roomy and surprisingly wide for a small machine. The pillion seat is stepped up and also generous but no grab rail. Regardless, I can imagine this moto being used for occasional two-up rides.
While you might expect a motor with 24 horsepower to be a bit weedy, that is not so with the 200 Duke. The compact engine produces plenty of power and zips along confidently. The DOHC 199cc single-cylinder engine is dynamic, with a smooth, linear power delivery. This is a great urban motorcycle, and I was happy to find that accelerating onto the freeway and reaching a safe speed is no problem.
The high-revving short-stroke engine has an energetic feel. There is no need to baby the little thumper—just give her lots of throttle and, with Ready To Race orange blood, she’s raring to go.
The gearbox is friendly and efficient. Gearchanges can sometimes be a bit nerve-wracking when riding new motorcycles, or if you are a complete novice. However, the gearbox and clutch on the 200 Duke are not snatchy. The clutch has a little give before I found the bite, and pulled off nice and smoothly. I can easily change up and down through the transmission with no missed-gear or crunchy noises.
The 2020 KTM 200 Duke takes bumpy roads in its stride. I really like the smoothly damped WP suspension, and I experienced no jerky or bouncy feelings at the front or rear. The suspension is only adjustable for spring-preload on the shock, and at 140 pounds, I had no need to touch it. During testing, when I managed to hit a couple of potholes, I held firmly on-line without any harsh bashing up and down. The WP suspension is more than up to the job.
KTM’s trellis chassis looks and handles great. The 200 Duke is balanced perfectly, so the handling is neutral and responsive without being nervous or touchy. For a bike this light, I was happy with the stability.
The Michelin Road5 2CT+ tires are nice and grippy, and a high-end choice for a 200-class sportbike. The tires don’t miss a beat, on city roads and some freeway. Dukey and I stick to the road like Sticky the Stick Insect.
For an inexpensive bike, KTM has not skimped on the brakes. A single ByBre (by Brembo) radial caliper brake and 300mm disc up front provide great, controllable stopping power, making this a perfect city bike. The two-channel Bosch 10 MB ABS keeps the discs from locking up. A couple of times, I had to grab the brakes hard, and I found the 200 Duke took my speed down easily, with no jerkiness or wheel lockup. The brakes are easy to use and have plenty of feel, so I always felt in ample control. For advanced riders, there is a Supermoto ABS mode that allows you to lock up the rear wheel.
The 2020 KTM 200 Duke is not a wallet shrinker. Fuel consumption is meager. After a 40-minute drone at 70 mph on the freeway, I pulled in for a top-up and found the tank still full. We don’t usually check mileage, but reports we’ve seen indicate you will get at least 70 mpg out of the little single. The fuel tank holds just over 3.5 gallons, you can go over 200 miles between fill-ups. Although touring is not the concept of this motorcycle, it just makes life easier if you don’t need to buy gas multiple times every ride. The 200 Duke is just waiting to be turned into a 200 Adventure.
The plain black on gray LCD display shows all relevant information. Located perfectly, this is a neat, comprehensive display showing speed, gear selection, rpm, fuel level, the time, and notification of next service due. Additionally, the 2020 KTM 200 Duke has a natty race-style gearshift-light that indicates when you need to upshift. Still, I wouldn’t complain if KTM upgraded to a TFT display.
The exhaust is tucked away and looks cool. The 2020 KTM 200 Duke has a neat looking compact exhaust. The exhaust note is pleasing and not high pitched, so it doesn’t sound as though a wasp is being strangled, in spite of its small displacement.
Be prepared for attention because the 2020 KTM 200 Duke has top pose value. The creative team behind the 200 Duke was masterful with the spunky graphics that convey visually sharp lines, with bright, contrasting colors, and the distinctive signature trellis frame. There is no doubt from which stable this moto hails, and you have racing orange or cool white color options. It may be a low-cost, small-displacement motorcycle, but the 200 Duke doesn’t look like one.
At less than $4k, KTM has done wonders to achieve an attainable price-point for the 200 Duke. Although built in India by Bajaj Auto, there are no significant compromises on build quality and safety features. Billed suitably as a light heavyweight, the KTM 200 Duke packs plenty of punch, and gives tons of fun to commuting and learning, while minimizing traffic, saving fuel, and parking issues. The 2020 KTM 200 Duke is a solid urban weapon.