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Reviewed: KTM Duke 125

MY24 Small Duke

KTM’s ever popular Duke range has something for everyone, from the ultra-spec 1390 Super Duke R, all the way down to this learner legal 125 – the Austrian company’s aggressive middleweight model comes in a variety of different engine capacities. The Duke 125 has dominated the premium end of the learner bike market for the past few years, and we had the exciting chance to ride the latest model. Here are our thoughts… 

125 Royalty

The smallest offering to bear the Duke name plate, the Duke 125 has sat atop the pile of modern CBT friendly machines for many years. First introduced in 2011, the previous generation model really pushed the spec boundaries of learner legal motorcycling, and that is certainly not going to change with this 2024 model. This year has seen many updates, including a full engine rework, and shared styling cues and framework with its larger 390 sibling. There are also two new colour schemes, Orange and Atlantic Blue. It’s angry, and it’s coming in hot.

Power, precision, and pocket-friendly pootling

For 2024 the Duke 125 has seen a full engine overhaul with a new cylinder head and gearbox, for precise shifting and better power delivery throughout the rev range. As a learner legal machine, the bike has been designed to meet the maximum 11kw power output allowed under A1 licence laws. The 124.9cc, LC4c, four stroke, single cylinder engine cranks out the maximum 14.7bhp allowed at 9,500 rpm, along with 11.5 Nm of torque at 7,750 rpm, which translates into a fun and engaging ride on the road. Interestingly KTM has gone from a twin camshaft set-up on the previous model, to a single overhead camshaft arrangement on the latest incarnation, which may seem like a backwards step but actually contributes to making a lighter powerplant.

As power is limited, KTM has worked on making the Duke 125 lighter and more responsive. Low speed acceleration is crisp, but as with most 125’s, you need to really wind it up to get the most out of it. Once rolling, the bike feels sharp and never out of its comfort zone, even stretched up to the limiter. When it comes to top speed, the bike struggled to push past 70 mph, but it can tackle dual carriageways with confidence and safety. As for economy, KTM haven’t shared any claimed mpg, but from our experience it’ll be around the 80-90 mpg mark.

 

MY24 Small duke street photo

 

Premium spec

Since you are spending nearly £5k on this bike, you’d expect it to come with some premium spec, and it ticks that box with ease. You’ll find a 320mm disc up front with a four-piston caliper, and a 240mm rear disc with a two-piston caliper, equipped with angle responsive Bosch two-channel ABS and KTM’s own Supermoto ABS, which disables the anti-lock feature at the rear. The brakes work incredibly well, with the ABS only stepping in under heavy-handed lever crunching, and the Supermoto ABS offering some play in the back end, should you want it.

Suspension is provided by in-house titans WP, with non-adjustable Apex 43mm forks and a preload adjustable monoshock, both running 150mm of travel. The suspension does a great job with the lumps and bumps, and with this year seeing an increased wheelbase on the Duke, it handles extremely well in the corners. Tipping in when you need it, and capable of holding a strong and steady line. We see the usual 17” wheels front and rear, donning Michelin Road 5 tyres, which do a great job in the wet and dry conditions we often find here in the UK. As for weight, with KTM’s reworked engine shaving off a few pounds, the bike comes in at 154kg fuelled up, which contributes to a user friendly and playful experience. This is combined with an 800mm seat height (with a more padded accessory saddle boosting this up to 820mm, should you need it) makes for an accessible and easy-going ride.

Premium tech

KTM are no strangers to loading up their small capacity machines with technology found on their larger models, and this year the Duke 125 is loaded. A 5” TFT display up front give a big bike feel and offers smartphone connectivity, turn-by-turn navigation, lap timers, track screen, switchable Supermoto ABS, alongside many customizable features navigated via the switchgear. Another new feature for this year is self-cancelling indicators, turning off after 150 metres or 10 minutes, which is handy. LED lighting all round offers fantastic visibility, both for the rider and other road users. The bike we tested came with a few optional extras, including a Remus exhaust (£600), bar end mirrors (£180), and most importantly, KTM’s quickshifter+ (£225). The quickshifter was seamless and intuitive, offering smoother and more effective shifting than I could find if I was manually operating the clutch lever. The blipper was satisfying, and in combination with the aftermarket exhaust, addictive.

 

 

MY24 Small duke studio photo

 

Will it reign supreme?

This year’s big changes have only improved on what was already a brilliant machine, and the Duke 125 of 2024 will be taking the fight to the top line of the CBT-friendly market. Between this and Yamaha’s MT-125, new riders are hard pressed to make a decision, but with the Duke’s undeniable hooligan heritage and playful spec, it may just clasp the top spot and reign over the segment as king. It ticks nearly every box in power, tech, style and functionality, delivering a higher spec than you’d expect to find on a learner bike.

 


KTM Duke 125 Specifications

 

Price: £4,899 OTR.

Colours: Orange and Atlantic Blue

Engine: 124.9cc LC4c SOHC, four stroke, single cylinder

Power: 14.7 hp

Torque: 11.5 Nm

Suspension: WP Apex 43 forks 150mm travel, WP Apex monoshock 150mm travel

Wheels: 17” cast aluminium

Tyres: Michelin Road 5

Brakes: 320mm front disc, 240mm rear disc, Bosch 9.3 MP Two Channel ABS (Supermoto ABS)

Wheelbase: 1357mm

Fuel tank/range: 13.4L – 250-300 miles

Warranty: 24 months

Contact: https://www.ktm.com

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