After nearly a decade, the KTM 200 Duke is finally here on U.S. shores.
If you’re a newbie looking to get into riding, you’ve never had it better. Small-displacement motorcycles are coming thick and fast from pretty much every manufacturer, and American riders are finally starting to listen to the rest of the world when they say more isn’t necessarily more when it comes to bike size.
Small-displacement bikes (read: under 400cc) are the norm in heavily populated areas like Southeast Asia, Central and South America and the Indian subcontinent. They’re also the areas where these machines are primarily produced, with India especially making so many single-cylinder motorcycles, you need to count in the millions to be even close to correct.
KTM’s been in alliance with Indian manufacturer Bajaj Auto since 2007, and it is the latter who is responsible for the bike you see here in the 200 Duke.
The 200’s arrival in the U.S. has been a very long time coming. It was originally released in 2011 as a 2012 model in India and remained unchanged in the subsequent eight years. Much of the 200’s DNA is shared with the splendid 390 Duke, including the frame, suspension (with a modified shock), wheels, brakes and bodywork.
However, the motor is not a sleeved-down version of the 390’s as many would think. KTM engineers have designed a new motor from the ground up, although much of the architecture is shared with the 390.
The 200’s is a 199cc single-cylinder, running a double overhead camshaft cylinder head and is good for a handy 26 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 14.4 lb-ft of torque at 8000 rpm. While those numbers aren’t going to break your arms free of their sockets, they do translate to rather spritely performance.
Our day trip around San Diego gave us a chance to wind the 200 out about as much as we’d be happy to, before arousing the interest of San Diego’s finest. With a registered 72 mph on the old-school-looking LCD dash and more to come, the little six-speed 200 kept up with everything around it, which was rather pleasant given its admittedly small stature.
Power is best described as surprising because a 200 single, in all likelihood, should be this quick. The 200 offers an ideal mix of power and speed and makes for a far better inner-city bike than almost any of the Duke’s bigger brothers.
You’re not getting variable ECU modes with the 200 (or 390 for that matter), so what you’re left with is a simple, comfortable ride that has more than a touch of Duke attitude to it.
You can get after it in the corners quite happily on the 200. The 43mm WP Apex fork is non-adjustable—although there is preload adjustment out back—but the ride is, for the most part, comfortable and the chassis retains good poise when cornering.
It’s certainly sprung for someone with, err, less reduced mass than myself. At 190 pounds, you’d probably want to be 30 pounds less than me to fit the optimal weight numbers for the 200. If you’re in that range, you’re good to go.
The shock is a bit soft for my liking, and KTM said they lowered the shock internally to attain a one-inch-lower seat height than the rest of the world at 31.6 inches. Ergonomically speaking, the bars are a bit close together for my frame, but you’re not at all cramped and hour-long sessions are no problem—save for the rather tough padding in the seat.
Speaking of which, the 200 gets a 3.5-gallon gas tank and—although we didn’t get the chance to test this on our quick San Diego ride—KTM says you should get around 240 miles per tank. That’s stupendous gas mileage and another little teaser that’ll hopefully bring in some new riders.
The styling is perfectly in line with the 390, 790, 890 Duke R and 1290 Super Duke R. There’re a couple of penny-saving differences, such as the halogen headlight (although it does run an LED daytime-running light), and the same basic LCD dash that was featured on previous Dukes like the now sadly gone 690, but overall the 200 is an excellent addition to the family.
It remains to be seen whether buyers will flock to the 200 as opposed to just heading straight to the 390. The 200’s focus is a little narrow, although the price point of $3999, which includes two-channel ABS with KTM’s famed supermoto mode, makes for a good argument.
Regardless, the KTM 200 Duke has finally arrived in the U.S., and we’re all the better for it.CN
2020 KTM 200 Duke Specifications
||Liquid-cooled, DOHC single-cylinder; 4 valves
|Bore x stroke:
||72 x 49mm
||43mm inverted fork, non-adjustable
||Monoshock, preload adjustable
||Single 300mm discs, 4-piston caliper, ABS
||230mm disc, 1-piston caliper, ABS
|Weight (dry, claimed):