The notorious children from Mattighofen have been causing a ruckus in India for a decade now. But five years ago, the KTM 200 Duke and the 390 Duke were joined by the 250 Duke — the good boy of the lot. It had more performance than the 200, yet felt inclusive and friendly to play with — does the new generation of the 250 Duke feel the same, or has the middle child finally given in and become a hooligan, too?
Doesn’t look civilised
To my eyes, the flat, halogen headlight with those DRL fangs of the older model looked like the good child was doing its best to imitate its badass elder sibling… but its personality said otherwise, of course. The new one, though, has certainly been taking notes or attending classes to look the part. This time, the LED headlight is the same as the 390 Duke, but this one skips the flared-out DRLs… and that’s a good thing in my books.
But that’s not the only difference between the 390 and the 250 Dukes. The latter flaunts a different design for those ridiculously long tank shrouds. They are sleeker, and don’t have the cuts that the elder brother sports. Plus, the header pipe and the mid-pipe don’t get the protective shield that the 390’s wields.
Yes, it doesn’t get the TFT console like its elder sibling, but gets a 5-inch LCD display that does its job just fine. From the switchgear that’s borrowed from the 390, you can toggle through different settings, including navigation and music control. Plus you can also choose to disengage the ABS at the rear wheel or the bike’s quickshifter. Yes, the new-gen 250 Duke comes with a quickshifter.
Aesthetically, the 250 Duke now feels like it has its own identity, and is not trying to ape its sibling to fool people. And in its Electric Orange clothing, it looks more badass than the 390 Duke… perhaps because the orange, sharp tank extensions and the silver-painted tank reminded me of the 790 Duke.
Still a good boy at heart
The new 250 Duke makes 30.57 bhp at 9250 rpm and 2.54 kgm at 7250 rpm from its 249.07cc engine. That’s almost 1 bhp and 0.1 kgm more than before, and while the peak power is delivered 250 rpm higher in the rev range, the torque peaks 250 rpm sooner. All that is good for the bike to brag about itself, but….
Despite the performance again, it is still that good boy at heart who doesn’t want to scare you but rather make you feel comfortable and swoon you with its friendliness. The changes to the gearbox and the engine have made the 250 Duke even friendlier than before in some aspects.
The larger airbox means it is breathing better, and that coupled with the updated gearbox has resulted in a bike that can move through the city traffic without breaking a sweat. Plus the quickshifter makes things a bit easier, too. No frequent gear shifts and no sudden surge of power made it feel like an absolute delight in the urban jungle. And on the highway, these very characteristics of the engine had me wondering what a good tourer it can be, but the 250 Duke is not meant for that. And when you are a part of the Duke familia, you definitely don’t want to be called a good boy.
Is a badass, if you are
At the end, badassery runs in its blood, and if you know how to get that blood pumping, you are in for a treat. The 250 Duke gets the same new frame as the 390 Duke, so it is swift with its moves and also forgiving with the rider’s errors. But I came to realise that it does a few things better than the 390.
Firstly, the suspension is a bit on the softer side, which you’ll appreciate in the city, and unless you absolutely push it to the limits, works just fine through corners too. And the brakes? They are not sintered like the 390’s but offer good stopping power and provide enough feedback at the lever, too. So, what’s so badass here? Well, use your fingers the right way, and it’ll make you look like the king of badassery with stoppies… and the good boy it is, without scaring the living daylights out of you.
While slicing my way through corners, the suspension was the only chink in its armour because the tyres had a lot more grip than the performance on offer. The 250 Duke is now flaunting MRF Steel Brace W-rated tyres. Yes, not the H-rated stuff that the 390 has. So, it corners like a badass, too.
Borderline Bad Boy
The 250 Duke has so much to teach for someone who’s looking to step into the world of performance motorcycling. Its engine has the kind of performance a newbie won’t get bored of soon, but also delivers it in a way that won’t scare them. And the chassis? Well, for the experienced riders, it will cloak the friendliness of the engine, but for the newbies, it would be like a big brother, watching their back and helping them get better with each ride.
At ₹ 2.39 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the new Duke is priced the same as the older version. So, you get a better, bolder design, an improved engine, a chassis that is surely going to awaken your inner teen and more creature comforts for the same price. To sum it up, the new 250 Duke is still the same old good boy at heart, but the new chassis adds oodles of naughtiness to it. Looks like the middle child held its ground, and perhaps its siblings could learn a lesson or two from it.
MOTODATA2024 KTM 250 Duke
249.07 cc, single
30.57 bhp @ 9250 rpm
2.54 kgm @ 7250 rpm
Type: Split trellis frame
F/R: 320-mm disc / 240-mm disc
F/R: 110/70 R17 / 150/60 R17
Rs 2.39 lakh (ex-showroom)