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KTM 125 Duke
The Duke 125 will serve entry-level riders, with
Europe adopting a graduated licensing system that caps engine displacement at
125cc for beginners. The little Duke gets its go from a 124.7cc Single. The
four-stroke single-cylinder is liquid-cooled, with a four-valve head actuated by
dual overhead cams. A low-slung exhaust exits directly behind the engine and
under the swingarm, Buell-like in its appearance.
The debut of the entry-level 125 Duke marks an
entire new R&D strategy based on adapting KTM's competition-derived technology
to the street, with the aim of attracting new converts to the cult of
motorcycling. Engineered in Mattighofen, Austria, and built in Pune, India, the
downsized Duke also stands as the first collaboration between KTM and its
majority shareholder, Bajaj.
It lives up to that impression on the go. You
don't need to rev out the motor in every gear to get a sense of speed. The
engine is pretty torquey for a "little 'un," so you have the choice of surfing
the torque curve and short-shifting or riding it at the 11,000-rpm limiter like
the Red Bull Rookies do on their KTM 125cc Grand Prix two-strokes.
Building the 125 Duke in India served to save
money, test the waters with Bajaj and introduce KTM to the Asian market, where
the brand has gone largely unrepresented. It will retail for $4700 overseas.
With so much going for the diminutive Duke,
it's a shame it isn't slated for sale in the USA. But the 125's chassis was
built with bigger motors in mind, and slipping the rest of the 250 SX-F's engine
in under that four-valve head would certainly make it more appealing to American
newbs. Will it come Stateside in quarter-liter format? We can only hope.