Opinion: What is the KTM 180 Duke?

Shubhabrata Marmar Updated: May 27, 2013, 12:03 PM IST

KTM CEO Stefan Pierer mentioned in his interview to CNBC-TV18 that KTM is looking at a sub-200 model which will be cheaper to expand volumes and allow more Indian customers to access this motorcycle.

You might wonder if the 125 Duke on its own wouldn't be enough for this purpose. But we believe that the 125 was never intended for India from the start. 16 year olds in Europe can ride 125s on moped licenses that the Duke 125 has proved to be popular abroad. But if it were brought to India, it would be so close in price to the 200 that it would be unviable. Which is why, the KTM 125 Duke is not only not going to become the affordable KTM in the foreseeable future, we might never see the motorcycle in India even though it is manufactured at Bajaj's plant in Chakan.

So the KTM Duke 180, then, will likely be a bored/stroked down version of the 200. But making the engine smaller alone will not gain the motorcycle the cost savings it needs to offer a lower price point and therefore, a lower entry threshold for the Indian customers. One way to cut costs would be to reduce, for instance, the tyre sizes a little bit. This is harder to call in case of the Duke because the 125, the 200 as well as the announced 390 from the EICMA show in Milan last month all wear the same chassis spec. Which is why we would expect that the cost savings will probably come from the replacement of the fuel injection system with a carburettor, sort of like how the Pulsar 200NS is today.

Carburettors are still extremely effective devices at getting fuel to mix with air and charge engine cylinders and the big reason for the expected migration across the board to fuel injection on motorcycles in India, and abroad, are the ever-tighter emission norms. However, being an all-new engine with almost no legacy to deal with, it would be easy for Bajaj/KTM to design the base engine to be clean enough to manage emissions for many years to come effectively enough for the fuel injection system to not be mandatory. Other options include replacing the upside-down front forks with normal ones (the P200NS ones could be a direct lift, for instance), similar alternations to the rear monoshock.

The 200 Duke without a doubt comes with top flight equipment from end to end and it will interesting to see what route Bajaj and KTM take to get to the more affordable KTM 180. This will, obviously also have implications on the smaller Pulsars in the same way that the P200NS shadows the KTM in performance while using lower spec equipment and bits to create a dramatically different and vastly more affordable priced alternative. In fact, if Bajaj are planning an affordable KTM 180, it might actually be very hard to create a viable Pulsar 180 at a price point below - which might mean that the Pulsar will be 150 and a 200 with only a KTM 180 sitting in between priced just above the Pulsar 200NS.

Read all about KTM's future plans for India here

Read Stefan Pierer's complete interview here

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