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2020 KTM 200 Duke: MD First Ride

Late last week, we attended the U.S. press launch of the 2020 KTM 200 Duke. We gave you pricing and all of the specs for this new U.S. model when KTM announced it would be available in this market. MD already has a test unit for further evaluation, but here are our first impressions after half a day riding in San Diego, California.

As some of our readers recognized, the 200 Duke largely shares the same chassis with the 390 Duke. Along with the frame, the beefy suspension components (including the 43 mm USD fork), brake calipers (the 200 has a smaller 300 mm front disc rather than the 320 mm found on the 390), and even the relatively large 3.5 gallon fuel tank are shared with the 390 Duke.

Suspension travel has been reduced on the 200 Duke to lower the seat height 1″ compared with the 390. At 31.6″, it is still a bit higher than Kawasaki’s Z400, for instance, but average size riders will easily flat-foot at stops.

Other features found on the 200 fall short of the similar features on the 390, including the halogen headlight (rather than LED) and LCD instrument display (rather than the TFT unit on the 390). The only suspension adjustment available is spring preload on the rear shock.

As we pointed out in our earlier article, in addition to the beefy suspension and radial-mount front brake, the 200 Duke gets generous tire sizes for its class, including a 110 section front tire and a 150 section rear. The tires themselves are extremely impressive … Michelin Road 5s.

The compact, light 200cc single-cylinder engine is fuel injected with a six-speed transmission. It is a modern, liquid-cooled design with DOHC and a four-valve head.

Despite the “big bike” chassis, wheels and tires, KTM managed to keep the claimed weight down to approximately 330 pounds with the fuel tank topped off (308.6 pounds empty) – still very light for a street legal motorcycle.

KTM is certainly capable of building powerful, small displacement engines, and the one in the 200 Duke proved to be exactly that. If memory serves us here at MD, the little Duke feels quite a bit quicker than the last Honda CBR250R we tested several years ago. Is it freeway friendly? Acceleration is strong enough, and top speed appears to be North of 70 mph (we will be testing this before our final review is published), so short hops on the freeway can be done without too much drama. Nevertheless, the bike lacks the speed and acceleration to make freeway travel comfortable for longer stints at speeds we typically see here in Southern California.

Clutch pull is light, and the engine displays a torquey character as you pull away from a stop. The single disc brake up front seems more than adequate, if not particularly powerful for such a light bike. ABS is standard … you can even turn off ABS on the rear wheel and ride “supermoto” style.

Our testing at the press launch was limited to relatively low-speed street riding. The chassis feels stout and the suspension is relatively stiff, however, so we look forward to testing the bike in the twisties.

The larger wheels and tires may limit flickability, to some extent, but the trade-off is an extremely stable-feeling motorcycle. One man’s “flickable” is another man’s “twitchy”, and overall we like the stout feeling of the 200 Duke.

The upright ergonomics felt comfortable during our short ride. The older style instrumentation is obviously less bright and contrasty when compared with the newer TFT on the 390 Duke, but we found it legible enough and on par with most displays of that generation.

We’ll have a lot more to say in our final review after further testing, but at this point we can already tell you that the KTM 200 Duke is a fun, capable motorcycle with components normally found on bikes costing more than $3,999. This is a bike primarily aimed at beginning riders or city commuters, but even experienced riders might want a small bike like this in their garage for in-town errands and weekend play. Stay tuned for our final review, and take a look at KTM’s website for additional details and specifications.

43 Comments

  1. Gabriel says:

    Looks like KTM had a batch of the older dashboards lying around and decided to put them to good use. My 2015 390 Duke has that very same screen and yeah it sucks. Eh this is built to a price point, I totally get it.
    I know KTM doesn’t have the vintage legacy of a Honda or Suzuki in the US, but as much as I love small bikes I feel like if they sold this under the Husqvarna brand with some old red/chrome tanks and vintage inspired bodywork it would sell better. Knowing my kids in the age bracket of modern urban dwellers, they don’t seem inspired by the angular sportbike look as much as the old curvier lines of days past. Put this in competition against the TU250 or even the VanVan. My $0.02 as it were.

  2. Mick says:

    I often wonder how a bike like this could weight about over 50 pounds more than a KTM 500 EXC-F, which is also street legal.

    Fifty pounds is quite a lot of extra weight. There has to be quite a pew parts that are significantly heavier. Especially considering that most of the major parts are made from the same sorts of materials and designed by the same company.

    • Kermit T. Frog says:

      Hi Mick!

      The 500 EXC-F is far more of a race bike made street legal than the Duke 200 and so I would more than expect it to weigh less. I would also expect it to have more frequent maintenance intervals.

      A diamond is a diamond, it’s the “4 Cs” that determine costs. Motorcycles have a “Big C” if you will.

      COST.

      Weight is tied to cost. Horsepower is tied to cost. Handling/suspension? Again, cost. Yes, a great many of the bikes of the past were larger in displacement and weighed less than some of today’s similarly sized (and smaller) motorcycles including the Dinky Duke, but they were not built nearly so well and needed far more frequent attention.

      Rather than wonder “how”, why not just wonder in amazement at what today’s technology is bringing us right now and then pause to imagine at what lies over the horizon.

      Then ride toward it. 🙂

  3. bmbktmracer says:

    Would like to see a bike like this have its own personality like a Monkey or Grom. Not sure why every KTM has to look the same as every other KTM.

  4. VFR_MANE says:

    I have a CBR300 in my garage as a backup. It’s a hoot. On a twisty country road 27 HP at the rear wheel is plenty. I think the new 200 Duke looks pretty sweet.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I see a tone of the Groms and Z125’s around. For near the same money and you get this 200 Duke. Count me in. If they can keep it at $3,9xx for real, then they have a good thing.

  6. DR007 says:

    The used bikes you can buy for the same price and bikes that’ll do 75mph with ease. I don’t see this bike being successful. It’s cool looking at least.

    • Dave says:

      “More” is not the answer anymore. Customers who buy this bike will have the same mentality as people who buy premium trims of economy cars instead of low to mid trims of larger cars. They want nice and modern, not big and old.

  7. Grover says:

    Going up a steep grade will probably reduce the “top speed” to 55 mph or less. Something to think about when considering a small cc motorcycle.

  8. Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

    Only $100 more than the Honda Trail 125 and a more versatile bike. Still, while it “can” do over 70 mph, how much will the KTM drink wound up like that for significant periods of time? There goes it’s fuel efficiency rating. I’d rather spend another $1000 and get twice the bike in the Ninja 400 for a more relaxed ride everywhere on the big open roads of the USA.

    I just don’t see who the target market is in the USA. City dwellers going for coffee? Don’t they typically buy Vespas and their cheaper Chinese equivalents for that?

    • Mick says:

      I kind of wonder about that too. 390 sales have been in decline and the average retail for one right now is around $4300.

    • Dave says:

      I bet its efficiency holds up at speed. The engine will be running much closer to it’s peak efficiency range than a larger bike’s.

      I wouldn’t want to road trip on a bike like this either, though. Most Americans live in urban areas and drive about 35 miles a day. I hope this bike makes sense to lot’s of them.

  9. Dirty Bob says:

    Cheaper than a used car. Easy parking in city. Zips through traffic. Fun! Oh, and comes with a warranty. Reliable manufacturer. Sold!

  10. fred says:

    Looking forward to the more complete review. I’m a long ways from my first bike, and hopefully a decade or two away from my last bike, but like to see what is coming out in terms of starter and play bikes. IMHO, this looks (so far) like a great first bike, or at least a great first new bike, as well as a terrific commuter and play bike. It the old days, we took our road bikes off the pavement, and this looks like it would work well for that, too.

  11. TimC says:

    Top speed north of 70? Eh good city bike but not quite there. First-gen Ninja 250 is more like 90-95 – that’s quite a difference.

    • fred says:

      90-95 is north of 70. IIRC, overseas tests showed 85mph as the top end. Not amazing, but still higher that almost all speed limits in the U.S.A..

      It’s not time to start getting stressed about the top speed capability of this thing yet.

      • VFRMarc says:

        I don’t know . . . one of the photos in the article shows the Lil’ Duke running in the bike lane. I’d be stressed if that’s any indication of top speed. Just kidding. Brought back memories of my old Benly 125 on Cali freeways.

      • TimC says:

        Anyone that thinks 85 is practical/safe based on what the speed limit is is living in fantasyland.

        • fred says:

          Either that, or he drives/rides in the real world. Freeways where I live average 75-80, with lots of drivers going 85+. Practical? Yes. Safe? Safety is relative. No major uptick in crashes that I can tell.

          As far as speed limits go, sometimes they are relevant to safety, while other times they are merely political decisions. Very seldom is 85 in a 45 safe. OTOH, 85 in a 65 or 75 is not much of a safety risk most of the time, unless you consider tickets/fines/etc a safety risk.

          • Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

            I’ll agree with that Fred. Suburban Houston and going into town or around it on the beltway or grand parkway is set at 65-70 mph but the flow most of the day is 80+. You best not be on any of those roads if you can’t keep up. The closing speed from someone coming up behind you will make you look like Texas’ state animal, the armadillo…flat and guts everywhere.

          • Dirty Bob says:

            In Cali cities commuter traffic never exceeds 70ph. I need to move to Texas.

          • Dave says:

            Are drivers in Texas so bad that if they’re going 10-15mph over the speed limit they’ll run right into the back of someone who is driving the speed limit?

          • Jeremy says:

            Texans know how to drive just fine, judging from my eight year sentence in Houston, TX not so long ago. But if they find themselves closing on you at 10 – 15 mph and you don’t move over to the slow slow lane, well, they assume that you don’t really know how to drive. And Texans are just fine taking a “survival of the fittest” approach to such individuals.

          • todd says:

            Sure, traffic fatalities have actually increased lately because there is less traffic and some people think that a pandemic gives them reason to act like idiots.

            The “fast” lanes do get up to around 80 here in the Bay Area with the occasional ‘90s Oldsmobile weaving across lanes at 100. However, the first two lanes are typically crowded with old ladies in Corollas and Priuses and unlicensed/unregistered drivers just barely doing 65; that after they spent the entire onramp doing 35. If you stick to these lanes or only commute during commuter hours, you’ll likely be able to ride through traffic just fine on a bike like this.

          • TimC says:

            I stand by my statement. I prefer to have a lot more cushion than a few MPH if something shi**y goes down.

            https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/alberto-mota-faces-charges-in-alleged-road-rage-motorcycle-crash-on-i-25/ar-BB18GJMW

  12. Harry says:

    My garage has currently two motorcycles, both Kawasaki. Due to my age, lower 70s, my riding is coming to a close. Hope to ride throughout my 70s. Purchased a Kawasaki Ninja 300 in ’14 for strictly urban travel. Believe in climate change and trying to maintain a low carbon footprint. The 300 got me around 65 mpg overall. Fairly light at around 380 pounds but IMHO under powered. Traded the 300 for the 400 in ’19. Can’t be happier, lighter than the Ninja 300 at 360 pounds and effortlessly keeps up with urban traffic. And because it doesn’t have to be pushed as hard my gasoline mileage is also around 65 mpg. This is one of the best bikes for strictly urban travel, light, quick and highly maneuverable. Don’t see the virtue in a 200 cc bike.

    • joe b says:

      thx Harry, for the comments about the different smaller bikes. I can see myself getting there someday, 69 now and my 600lb VFR1200 seems to be pretty big at times.

    • Marcus says:

      You might try looking at a large scooter. Don’t laugh. I’ve always keep two motorcycles along with my tried and true Honda Helix 250.
      Top speed in full tuck on a slight downgrade is 77 mph. It’s flickable and can haul plenty of groceries. Practically no maintenance. Gas and oil.
      It is my commuter of choice. Twist and go in city traffic. What traffic, I mean? Cops pay it no mind and it’ll embarrass a sport bike boogieing through tight city streets.
      And I enjoy riding it as much as any bike I’ve ever owned. 👍

      • Stuki Moi says:

        Scooter-length suspension, combined with all-weight-on-the-tailbone and the decrepit condition of LA area freeways, does not make for an older-lower-back friendly mount…..

        True Maxis (TMax et al), being motorcycles in drag rather than unitized traditional scooters, are a lot better. But aren’t generally imported to the US, weight 500lbs, and cost $12K or so……

        • fred says:

          Clearly, you are not familiar with the Helix. https://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/model/Honda/honda_cn250%2094.htm
          It has a 64 inch wheelbase, which is right up there in HD & GL territory. Not my cup of tea, but they are pretty amazing for scooters. Riding one for the first time 35 years ago changed my attitude towards scooters.

          • Dirty Bob says:

            BMW has a 600cc auto trans and comfortable seat. In Paris I see many riders but wouldn’t take one on Paris motorway.

        • Marcus says:

          The Helix is more comfortable than any motorcycle or scooter out there and more comfortable than many living room sofas.
          Important is that it has full length floorboards where you can get your feet beneath you if that’s the way you ride, I do. Most scooters, even large ones, lock you into feet forward only. I believe the TMax is feet forward only.
          You are correct about its suspension but upgraded shocks, front and rear, make a big difference.

          Disparage not the Helix until you’ve ridden one and I challenge you not to come back without a smile on your face. I’ve let four or five of my motorcycle friends ride mine and they’ve all bought one. (Except one).
          Granted

          • Stuki Moi says:

            I have no experience with the Helix.

            Have an XMax in LA, though. And that thing is a hardtail-grade lower back destroyer, when keeping up with traffic on the 405, 101, 118 etc.

            As was the Kymco version I rode, as well as the Vespa GT.

            I’m really surprised the Helix is that different from the rest of the class.

            The TMax is a class above. But also, despite appearances, a very different class of vehicle. And, unfortunately, not even available in the US anymore.

    • fred says:

      Glad you like your Ninja 400. I’m also of the opinion that the Ninja 400 and Z400 are terrific bikes.
      Having a couple of VTR250’s and a TW200, I do see the virtue in small(er) bikes, but mostly I’m glad that we have choices, which lets most of us find bikes we really like.
      FWIW, the TW does fine w/ urban traffic & surface streets, and the VTR’s work fine there and on the freeways as well, as long as I don’t feel the need to run with all the big dogs.

      • Harry says:

        Fred, different strokes for different folks. There is no right or wrong motorcycle. It just depends on your needs, your situation in life and your riding habits. Most of my riding is outside of city limits. I live in a small town around 8 miles from the largest town, Boise, in Idaho. The speed limit in most of my traveling is around 55 mph. I occasionally ride on I84 where the limit is 65 and sometimes go outside the urban area where the limit jumps to 80 mph. A scooter and I have rented them in Europe would not work for me. I wear a backpack when there is a need to carry items. I bought my 2018 Ninja 400 in 2019 for $5,000, out the door. Price was right and as I have stated before the bike works for me with excellent gas mileage. My Ninja 300 had a top speed of 105 mph, GPS certified (I’m a small person, weigh 140 lbs). I figure this 400 is around 120 mph top end. It holds 80 mph effortlessly although with some vibration. So far I’ve got over 5,000 miles on the odometer and couldn’t be happier.

        • fred says:

          That is reasonable. It sounded more like you were saying “small bikes are stupid”, rather than “small bikes probably wouldn’t work for me”. I disagree with the former, but fully agree that you are the one most qualified to decide the latter.

          It’s cool that you have 80mph speed limits close by. 65 is the highest legal speed anywhere near me. Not that traffic drives 65, but that is what is posted. Recently, there are more unmarked cars patrolling, but they seem to be targeting the 85+ crowd.

  13. Schmoe90 says:

    You know TFT _is_ LCD, right? I’m guessing the 200 uses something passive.

    330lbs sounds heavy when the DRZ400SM is listed at 322lbs wet.

    • joe b says:

      A TFT display is sharper and brighter than a common LCD display. It refreshes more quickly than a regular LCD display and shows motion more smoothly.” unquote. I looked, the DRZ is around 322 lbs. didnt know that

    • John Bryan says:

      Odd choice for a comparison – a $7k+ twice the engine size dirt bike derived supermoto versus a lightweight beginner/commuter bike…but yes, you’re right, the DRZ-SM is lighter. With it’s intended mission and much lower seat height (and presumably lower CG) the 200 Duke is most likely light enough. Adding lightness cost money – any substantial loss in weight would probably price the lil Duke out of it’s market.

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