The new KTM lineup just doesn’t stop surprising. With the new Duke 390 setting standards higher than ever in the segment, it was almost mandatory for the smaller sibling to do the same at a relatively more affordable price. The overall package is tempting but at Rs. 2.39 lakh (ex-showroom) it gets close to just shy of Rs. 3 lakh on road in Mumbai, putting it eerily close to the Triumph Speed 400. Has KTM thrown the baby out with the bath water?
2024 KTM Duke 250 review
Mid Weight Champ
Design and Build
Gone are the plain bland looking silhouettes and in comes a design largely inspired by the bigger sibling. The 250 has had a makeover and the new 2024 version looks ‘LIT’. The new exhaust, the tank, the lights all show the DNA of the larger Dukes and that’s how it should be. There’s not a lot to talk about build quality here since largely everything remains the same and it’s mostly all fiber and plastic.
As a 2016 KTM Duke 390- owner, I can tell you with confidence that once you swing your leg over one of these machines, there’s no other ‘small’ bike in the segment that’s going to be as much fun with a hint of madness. And while the previous versions of the smaller 250 didn’t have the fun factor in the DNA, this one surprisingly does embody it!
How? Well, that’s thanks to the LC4C engine that KTM says is brand new. Now veteran KTM owners will notice that the engine casing is similar to the Duke 390’s and even the exhaust, but the proof is in the riding. Power and torque figures are up by one point each and now stand at 31hp and 25Nm the most of which can be accessed at about 6000rpm. The real fun comes in of course when you push it beyond 7500rpm in true KTM style, it lounges forward and commands respect while delivering dollops of trouser troubling fun. Yup, it’s no Triumph Speed 400 or something from the RE stable, this is the hooligan you’d expect from KTM. But there’s more, this engine has been made a bit more tractable and easy to use at lower speeds and rpms, but by KTM standards. So, anything lower than 2000rpm is a no-no.
Another thing that surprised us was how smooth the new Duke felt at cruising speeds, we hardly felt any vibration per say on highway speeds. There are variations to this though as different speeds and gears affect the vibration area differently but it’s all very minimal and not that much of a bother. The gearbox, however is a bit of a struggle and even with the bi-directional quickshifter in place, feels a bit sluggish and clunky and you feel that crude thud especially when you shift in first, ugh.
Handling and Comfort
Cutting sharp corners, leaning hard and taking on the traffic and the track with equal grace is what the new Duke 250 seems to be designed to do. It’s 8Kgs lighter and comes with an 800mm seat height. This makes it more tuned towards slightly shorter riders as someone over 5’10 is going to struggle especially with the footpeg to seat ratio. It’s cramped and when you take it to the track you might have to take the backseat off and use the trusty old taping method to have some more room and fun.
The suspension is on the stiffer side but can absorb what the city throws at you from time to time and there’s plenty of ground clearance as well. The brakes are nice and sharp and are borrowed from the Duke 390. The brake pads would need upgrading to the sintered ones but that’s for you to decide. It’s a cheap upgrade but one that improves performance by a mile. Another aftermarket upgrade that you might want to get is the modified Gel Seats as the standard ones still feel like plywood planks after only a bit of riding around, making long distance traveling almost impossible and unbearable.
The new KTM DDuke 250 comes with a nice LCD unit that offers Bluetooth connectivity. It’s a doddle to connect to and once done, you can control your music and calls. Other features like turn-by-turn navigation are in the works too and should be available via a simple update. The switchgear feels proper premium and I absolutely fell in love with it after just a few hour’s use.
The KTM Duke 250 no longer shadows the bigger sibling. It’s developed its own character and offers its own level of fun and charisma. There’s that sense of the KTM DNA that was otherwise missing from the previous generation of bikes and it can be felt aplomb with this one. With that being said, it could be the perfect first bike for someone looking for a fast and capable fun motorcycle but for whom the bigger Duke 390 is just out of reach. It’s not as fast as other 300s on the market at the same price, but I assure you, it is twice the fun.
Fun, fast and a proper KTM! The new Duke 250 is a wild child worthy of attention