2020 KTM 200 Duke: Appealing Entry-Level Roadster

Nov 19, 2020 View Comments by

2020 KTM 200 Duke

A good first street bike needs to be easy to manage and attractively priced. An excellent entry-level bike adds to these qualities with an appearance that engenders pride in its owner. KTM’s new 200 Duke, with an MSRP of $3,999, succeeds in achieving these terms.

Skeptics would say a bike with a diminutive 199.5cc engine can’t be a passable street bike. But to these skeptics I say: 88 mph. That’s the velocity I saw on the 200 Duke’s speedometer during a brief freeway blast, which is certainly enough for keeping up with the pace of other traffic. Cruising at 70 mph is closer to serene than frantic.

That being said, this smallest member of the Duke family is more at home in the commuter role, where its easily managed light weight (about 310 pounds) and un-intimidating yet accessible power make it a breeze for even junior riders to feel like a master of their machine. And there’s enough performance headroom for it to be highly entertaining on lower-speed twisty roads, too.

Even more entertaining is the 390 Duke, which boasts 44 hp, compared to the 200’s 26 ponies, but it’s otherwise basically the same bike priced $1,500 lower. Besides power, there are other items a 200 Duke buyer gives up compared to the 390. The 390’s TFT instrumentation is replaced with an LCD screen that includes gear position, a fuel gauge, and a customizable shift light. In the 200, the LED headlight is subbed with a halogen light. The 390’s 320mm front brake rotor gives way to a 300mm disc, but both are clamped by a radially mounted ByBre four-piston caliper and equipped with Bosch ABS. Span-adjustable hand levers are also gone from the 200, alongside one inch of suspension travel, yielding a one-inch lower seat height at 31.6 inches. Finally, the 390’s ride-by-wire throttle is downgraded to a cable throttle operating a Bosch fuel injection system.

The growly little motor is delightful, if not a powerhouse, and it’s fun to wind it out going through the gears. Steering is flickable yet stable, with plenty of grip from the premium Michelin Road 5 tires. A 43mm inverted fork is a higher-end front suspension than most bikes in this class have.It is backed up by a preload-adjustable shock that offers a pleasant compromise of comfort and control. KTM claims the 200 Duke nets about 70 miles to each gallon of fuel burned, adding to the economical nature of the platform. With its 3.5-gallon tank, you could get nearly 250 miles from each fill.

Perhaps the 200 Duke’s strongest selling point is that it doesn’t look like a cheap motorbike. Its angular styling mirrors the aggressive cues of the bigger Dukes, and its trellis frame and bolt-on trellis rear subframe resemble higher-end pieces. Tasteful accent graphics on the orange wheels are another nice touch.

Honestly, it’s impossible to find a more economical ABS-equipped new street bike than the lil’ Duke. Honda’s likeable CB300R has a bit more power, but retails for $4,949 when equipped with ABS. Even Honda’s 125cc Monkey without ABS is priced at the Duke’s $4,000 and can’t reasonably go near a freeway! Kawasaki’s Z400 gives some stiffer competition but weighs 50 pounds more and costs $5,000.

KTM says about the 200 Duke: “Our goal is to attract new riders into the sport.” I bet they will.

 

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