Dubbed the “light heavyweight” by its Austrian creators, the entry-level 2020 KTM 200 Duke should wear the great Muhammad Ali’s quote, “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” on its sleeve, with its nimble handling and rev-happy 199.5cc single-cylinder engine. But its price is the real haymaker — at $3,999, KTM hopes that the 200 Duke will get serious attention from a new generation of riders.
Manufactured in India, the 200 Duke has been available in other countries since 2012, but has never made an appearance in the United States until now. This year also marks the platform’s first major update — it gets the 390 Duke’s entire chassis, revamped styling in the current Duke family image and an all-new Euro 5 compliant engine.
Toss a leg over the Dukette and you’re met with backswept handlebars that prop the rider up in a neutral position, still allowing you to get your elbows out in the corners, and a low 31.6-inch seat height that’s unique to the U.S., European and Philippine markets.
That’s one-inch lower than the 390 Duke’s seat, thanks to a shorter shock spring and reduced fork stroke. Combine that spec-sheet figure with the slender chassis and my 32-inch inseam can reach terra firma easily, which is attractive for new and shorter-statured riders. However, I did notice more knee-bend than I’d normally like with my boots on the grippy rubber-covered footpegs.
Plastics are shared between the 200 and 390 Duke, and the 200 also boasts the predatory headlight design first seen on the mighty 1290 Super Duke R. As a cost saving measure, the 200 also features an LED daytime running light and a halogen bulb for illumination.
Although the 199.5cc displacement is the same as the prior generation, the peppy thumper engine is all-new for 2020. The dual overhead camshafts are paired with ultra-hard, carbon-coated cam followers that help reduce weight in the valve train and contribute to the thumper’s free-revving, lively personality.
Most of the claimed 26 horsepower and 14.4 lb-ft of torque live above the 6,000-rpm mark, but considering how quickly 200’s engine wicks up, it’s a great companion when darting around city streets to work or school. It’s also freeway legal and topped out at an indicated 86 mph, which is impressive for a bike of this size. Crank-driven counterbalancers do their best to hide vibration, but some buzz is felt when wringing its neck. A completely updated exhaust system with dual catalysts is said to make the wee-Duke meet stringent emissions standards.
It’s hard not twist to the grip and grin riding the 200 Duke, which encourages riders to whack through its 6-speed gearbox. It shifts well, but doesn’t have the same precision as its costlier brothers in the Duke family, nor is the clutch pull as light or refined as some other lightweight bikes that feature slip-and-assist clutches.
Both the non-adjustable 43mm WP fork with 4.6-inches of travel and WP shock featuring 5.0-inches of travel and spring preload adjustment are damped for comfort, soaking up rough urban tarmac well. Between the compliant suspension and communicative steel trellis frame, the 200 Duke is wonderfully agile, yet stays composed when cornering or hard on the binders.
A radially mounted ByBre 4-piston brake caliper clamps onto a 300mm rotor up front, with plenty of stopping power for the speeds you can achieve, and decent feel at the lever. In the rear, a single-piston floating caliper grabs upon a 230mm disc with a relaxed bite and good stopping power. ABS is standard, as is a Supermoto Mode that disables ABS in the rear only — KTM is never one to shy away from hooliganism.
In 2020, the prospective rider has a wide variety of awesome bikes to choose from. Save for a few unrefined points, the KTM 200 Duke’s proposition is a strong one, with its spunky single-cylinder engine, great handling and ergonomics that are neophyte friendly — not to mention the serious $3,999 value.
Helmet: Shoei RF-SR
Jacket: Rev’it Vertex Air
gloves: Rev’it Echo
Pants: Rev’it Brentwood SF
Boots: Sidi SDS Meta
2020 KTM 200 Duke Specs
Base Price: $3,999
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled single,
DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 72.0 x 49.0mm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 53.4 ± 0.6 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees / 3.7 in.
Seat Height: 31.6 in.
Claimed Dry Weight: 308.6 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 3.5 gals.