I had been following up on the launch of the duke since last year, more so after selling off my '10 yamaha fazer 16. my last experience with my fazer was not an extremely happy one mainly because I was put off by its total lack of performance thanks to its anaemic engine though I did really appreciate its build quality and styling. finally met the duke on the Day of its launch at the ktm show room here in pune. looking at the bike for the first time in the flesh brought mixed feelings.
i was expecting something bigger and muscular but was very impressed by the quirky styling and robust looking engine and general build quality but hated the horrid rear tire hugger-saree guard and nerdy front number plate. after having a good look and only being allowed by the sales guy to bounce on the seat of the display bike to check the "shock-up"s and in true indian style I blew the horn too! I walked away with my heart saying more "no" than "yes".
weeks passed by and I began to see the occasional ktm passing by every now and then, I became interested again so started reading up reviews by various auto journalists here on the internet. all the reviews raved about and raved some more about the duke so I decided to give this new kid on ythe block one more look. called the showroom on one lazy afternoon and asked about the booking amount and testrides, both questions came back with postive replies. walked in & plonked down 20 grand but was still denied a test drive but was assured delivery in 2 months . recieved a call about 8 days later saying that my bike was here and I could have it in few days delivery....
the fastest delivery ever!! 1)walked in to delivery showroom 2)saw my bike standing at the gate 3)was handed over the bike - keys - manual etc. 4)bye bye mr. dev, don't go above 50km/h or 5000 RPMs & see you when you crack 1000kms. all in 15 minutes flat!!
rode straight to the fuel pump was pleasantly surprised to find that my bike already had 5 liters of fuel in it!
i had vowed and fantasized about me ripping out and trashing that hideous tire hugger and front number plate the moment I got my hands on it so it was off to my favorite mechanics garage to do the needful. while inspecting-admiring-comparing/criticising the bike with my pals at the garage we were shocked to see several bolts and nuts that were loose and were on the verge of falling off.
loose fasteners at .... the gear lever bolt, the front axle (the ones at the lower end of the fork) 10mm bolt below the rear mudguard, clutch yoke needed immediate tightening since most of them were just "finger tight" maybe some techinians at bajaj have lost their tools and are fitting stuff on with bare hands!
a few tips that you might find useful
hard gear shifts..
i have read in a few threads here on tbhp and other forums that a few riders have issues with the gear shift viz. hard gear gear shifts, false neutrals and gears jumping into neutral. after riding for about 200 kms I realised that the cure is a fairly simple one-- just adjust the gear lever to move down slightly lower (DIY-it's in the owners manual)and reduce the "free play" in the clutch lever and im sure this solves gear shift problems.
about the "heating" problems and hot air blowing out from the engine area.
lets realise that this bike was launched in the beginning of summer and now the temperatures in most parts of our country are usually above 35*C. any vehicle is going to overheat while driving at crawl speeds in heavy traffic and crowded lanes. the hot blast of air is the radiator fan desperately trying to blow out hot air from the boiling coolant in your bikes radiator. I also feel that a new engine will overheat slightly more compared to a well run-in one due the friction & heat caused by all the parts in the engine trying to "mesh".??
i suggest that owners should try to avoid riding in crowded streets and unnecessarily revving their engines while waiting at traffic lights, especially in the first few thousand kms while running in the engine.
after owning my duke 200 for less than a month & 900 kms I decided that it had go and sold it about a week back. why?? here's why •strange riding position, im 6'2" and 200 lbs and the high and rear set foot pegs were killing my knees and back
•shorty rear brake lever with its mini pedal. I couldn't operate it or even find it with my size 44 shoes. while rear wheel braking with my racing boots IMPOSSIBLE •not very pillion friendly
•un-tameable chain. after adjusting the chain exactly five times over a period of 4 weeks , 4 very experienced mechanics - including 2 from the ktm service center, couldn't stop the chain from crashing into and scraping against the upper part of the swing arm. my pulsar 180 had the same problems, maybe this is a BAJAJ thing ???
•killer hard seats that after 1/2 hour makes sitting on a rock feel like a visit to the spa!
•timing chain and tappet sounds after 500 kms of use. now I do realise that this could maybe be sorted out at the first service but wasn't too comfortable with the idea of some grease monkey at the pune ktm ss stripping my bike and ripping out the head cover especially after just 750 kms of use. prior to this I have owned 4 indian four-strokes viz. '01 cbz, '05 pulsar 180 dtsi, '06 dio & '10 fazer 150, and ii never had problems like this ever. (BTW all the bikes mentioned here never EVER visited a service center and were maintained by lazy ol' me .. a simple oil & filter change & carb spray did the trick for 1000s of kms. !!
but my short lived affair with the duke wasn't all bad. I did appreciate... •excellent front brakes.
•grippy mrf tires.
•intelligent instrument cluster.
•well tuned front suspension (rear suspension does need to tuned according to ones riding style and condition) .
•few quality bits like the handle bar, powerful head lamp, indicators, switches.
•decent gas mileage
•"flickabilty" in city traffic
•crazy aggressive sounding exhaust note that feels like an after market unit.
my conclusion- what the ktm IS... •an interesting concept with a capable engine and suspension set up
•great for blasting around town - popping wheelies & very easy stoppies-stunting(??)
•great departure from the "run of the mill" indian bike
•suitable for average height, lean built young guys looking to make short trips in the city. what the duke is NOT... •suitable for big built riders •comfortable for long trips - touring •suitable for everyday long commutes •a motocross bike as often considered and used of by many owners for ramp jumping and dirt riding, as seen every now and then on pages like on fb and various other websites and blogs . •very pleasant for pillions •worth 1.32L
please note that my post is purely about my personal experience with the duke 200 and I do not mean to offend or hurt anyones feelings.