When KTM updated their then less-than-ideal 390 Duke in 2017, the difference was night and day. The old Duke, which, apart from looking and feeling rather long in the tooth, had quite a few mechanical gremlins which were known to be a total pain in the ass. From valves going out of spec at random, to incessant overheating, these issues came as a massive demerit to an otherwise capable bike centered around fun and excitement.
Alas, when the updated 390 Duke was revealed, not only did it look like a downsized version of the 1290 Super Duke R, but it had all the goods to back it up. With a revised cooling system, temps were better kept at bay, and a few refinements to the engine addressed other reliability issues which plagued the previous bike. With that, it would seem that KTM had created the perfect beginner bike—as attested by quite a few influencers in the motorcycling world. So why would they need to introduce an even smaller, and less peppy bike in the form of the 200 Duke?
Ever since being launched in North America a couple of months ago, the smallest of the Duke lineup has been met with criticism due to its lack of power, and seemingly redundant market positioning. However, Adam Waheed does a great job explaining exactly what this bike is for. For starters, the KTM 390 Duke sits on the upper echelons of price when it comes to entry level machines, setting you back a tidy $5,500. With the KTM 200 Duke, Big Orange sets itself up for riders to start their motorcycling lives on an even more affordable machine priced at the $4,000 mark. Granted of course, the 200 Duke misses out on a lot of its bigger sibling’s premium features in order to keep the sticker price at bay.
The little Duke, of course, has a few things to its detriment. Powered by just a 199.5cc single cylinder engine, the bike makes all but 22 horsepower. That means it’s a little more docile than other entry level bikes like the Honda CB300R and the Yamaha MT-03. Despite its lack of power, Adam demonstrates that this bike is more than capable of giving you a fun time, while being able to handle long stretches of freeway competently.
When Adam expresses that he would have gotten this bike if he were sixteen and just starting out on two wheels really resonates with the ethos of this bike. Having owned the previous generation of 200 Duke myself, as well as the current generation 390 Duke, it goes without saying that this platform is one of the most versatile on the street, making it ideal to hone and develop your riding skills. You can hop on this bike and take it to work or school on the weekdays, rip through twisty mountain roads after hours, and hit the go kart track on the weekends—all in a package that won’t break the bank, is affordable to maintain, and looks the absolute bomb.