2024 KTM 250 Duke First Ride Review: The Most Sensible 250?
The KTM 250 Duke has evolved into its third generation, and it's gotten all mean-looking. And with that, it has also matured as a motorcycle with rider aids that were previously only restricted to the 390 range. Not that the 250 Duke needs them, but it now becomes more approachable and manageable for a rider graduating from the commuter class. It’s laden with features like a bi-directional quickshifter, dual-channel ABS with a supermoto mode, a 5-inch LCD instrument cluster with a 4-way switch cube, and then some more stuff, which we will get to in due course. While the price has gone up marginally over the Gen 2 model, the bragging rights have certainly gone up by leaps and bounds.
2024 KTM 250 Duke design
The new Duke 250 only looks as menacing as the new 390, but that’s not to say it isn’t wild. Major styling differentiators are the paint schemes and the lack of LED DRLs on the headlight cowl. Apart from that, you would be hard-pressed to distinguish one from the other until you get close enough.
However, once you swing a leg over the 250, the first thing you will notice is that the seat feels softer. But if you are one of the tall guys like me, the seat feels snug (to put it softly) on the saddle. However, that also makes it easy to lock the knees on the tank recesses, and heels onto the heel plates, which feel much firmer than on the previous gen. However, my colleague Mandar (whose review of the Duke 250 is now live on the YouTube channel) felt it was quite roomy for his stature. Once you settle in, the ergonomics are familiar and easy. You definitely won’t have easily fatigued wrists and back, unless your posture and stance are horribly wrong. On the subject, the saddle height has gone down by 20mm to 800mm which makes it even more approachable for shorter riders.
2024 KTM 250 Duke Engine & Performance
Turn on the ignition and the engine comes alive with a raspy exhaust note. The 250cc single-cylinder engine now makes 30.5bhp at 9250rpm and 25Nm at 7250rpm. That’s about 1bhp and 1Nm more. The increased output is most possibly an outcome of the new bigger airbox, a marginally higher engine compression, and the revised exhaust system. The 250 Duke now gets a smaller, 43-tooth rear sprocket (previously 46-tooth). That should theoretically help it attain a higher top speed at the cost of slower acceleration. However, with the 8kg weight loss, the 250 becomes quicker, faster, and more agile.
You can ride the 250 Duke with a calm demeanour at low revs, which it doesn’t mind. However, it loves to be revved, in true Duke fashion. Its true character comes alive after 6500rpm. That is where you get to the meaty torque band, and the exhaust gets grunty enough to egg you to push further. And that’s where the fun lies in the 250. KTM has done a great job of keeping the engine vibes in check, yet just enough to let you know what the engine is up to without having to look at the tachometer. The six-speed gearbox is paired with a slipper clutch and an updated bi-directional quickshifter, which makes shifts uber slick. Both of those are like not one but two cherries on top. The new quickshifter is miles better than the previous one; it almost makes the previous one looks like some sort of beta test module. If so, KTM has definitely listened to its “testers”, and double thumbs up from us for that.
In everyday conditions, especially the urban commutes, the 250’s engine remains very easy to ride. You can keep it in a higher gear and chug along the busy roads without the need to slip the clutch more often. And since it’s not as manic as its elder sibling, you can eke out a decent fuel economy as well. Both of those factors make for a very strong case for the 250 Duke and its urban riding.
2024 KTM 250 Duke Ride and Handling
The engine is complemented by a bunch of chassis updates too. Starting with an entirely new trellis frame and an aluminium sub-frame, which now makes room for the new bigger airbox. Next up is the thicker 43mm USD fork and the offset monoshock. However, I did feel the front end was rather soft. Fortunately, the monoshock has preload adjustability which should help you set it as per your preferences. Though, as is the case with any bike, it is best to set the preload to offset the sag for your weight to get the best out of the chassis, and to avoid easily bottoming it out. The new lighter wheels on both ends are shod with MRF’s new Steel Brace tyres which are quite good for the performance the 250 has to offer. However, the softness of the front suspension can be a hindrance if want to go all-out corner carving. The other side of this coin is that it makes the 250 oh-so-easy to ride on an everyday basis. It gobbles up bumps with ease, and if you set your rear preload right, it’s just shy of being a magic carpet ride.
Braking is handled by a 320mm disc at the front and a 240mm disc at the rear. The 250 now gets a Supermoto ABS mode, which essentially disables rear ABS, and lets you have some fun in private or closed-off areas. The bite was consistent and progressive and you have decent feedback on the lever. Although, I must point out that the front brake lever became quite spongy by the end of our test day. However, that’s most likely because the bike was a media unit that could have been pushed to its limits a fair few times even before we could swing a leg over it. That aside, the 250 is a handler, no two ways about that. But it’s only withheld of its full potential by a few minor factory settings that KTM can easily adjust for the customer-ready batch.
2024 KTM 250 Duke Features
Moving on to the KTM 250 Duke’s features, it finally feels like a more complete package. The new 5-inch LCD instrument cluster might not be as fancy as the one on the 390, but it does a lot. Right from your basics to controlling the music playback, answering calls, and turn-by-turn navigation. On the information front, you have coolant temperature, battery voltage, estimated range, and two trip meters, each with trip distance, average speed, average fuel consumption, and trip time. You can customize the display to show four items from these besides the odometer. To toggle through the menu on the display is the new 4-way switch cube, which adds to the premium experience of the 250 Duke. The display is crisp and clear even on the brightest of days. Since you can have only four secondary information pieces shown along with speedo and tacho, the unit looks neat and clean. And under this display is a neatly positioned USB charging socket for your phone.
2024 KTM 250 Duke Price and Verdict
The 2024 KTM 250 Duke is priced at Rs 2.39 lakh (ex-showroom), which is just about Rs 800 more than before. But the updates it gets are worth far more than the increase in the price.
The KTM 250 Duke is a motorcycle you can’t go wrong with. It’s like a black forest pastry – easy, relatively affordable, and a good one will have a cherry on it, and remember, this has two. The 250 is a relatively easy bike to learn, and to grow your skills. But it’s something you can keep enjoying no matter how much you grow as a rider. If it is higher performance you seek, the 390 is always there to upgrade to. Until then, the 250 Duke is a fantastic everyday motorcycle if you want something that looks good, is quick off the lights, and yet is easy on your wallet.