First things first. The Yamaha YZF-R15 V 3.0 is arguably the most powerful 150cc bike currently available in India. It offers the dynamics that completely justifies the supersport tag. The KTM 125 Duke, meanwhile, is seen by biking enthusiasts as a perfect example of the manufacturer sensing an opportunity in the increasing buyer interest in the sports-performance two-wheeler segment. While the price comfortably exceeds that of most 150cc bikes, even the smallest KTM Duke beat majority of the 150cc bikes in dynamic ability and engine output.
So how do the two bikes fare against each other? Let’s check out.
Engine and transmission
The engine of the Yamaha YZF R15 has always been the key reason behind its success. The R15 V 3.0 is now hauled by a liquid-cooled, 4-valve, single cylinder 155cc engine which produces 19.3PS power and 15Nm of peak torque. The motor is also fitted with Yamaha’s variable valve actuation (VVA) technology which enables the bike to run two separate valve timings. It offers the vehicle a better low-end riding capability, sans any reduction to the bike’s signature top-end grunt. The motor is mated to a 6-speed transmission system with well-spaced ratios.
The KTM 125 Duke, on its part, is small and mighty. The liquid-cooled, single cylinder 124.7cc engine outputs 14.5PS power at 12Nm of peak torque. The motor is paired to a 6-speed gear system. While the large Duke bikes have higher absolute power, the 125 beats them in refinement. The robust power delivery of the older Dukes is missing in the 125 version. The engine, instead, is refined, friendly, and highly tractable. The Mattighofen headquartered company has also tweaked the gear ratios to offer a fine balance of fuel efficiency and performance.
While the Yamaha YZF R15 V 3.0 is undeniably more powerful, the KTM 125 Duke is friendlier, and that may just appeal first time sport-performance bike buyers.
Design and features
The styling of both bikes is borrowed from their respective elder siblings. The Yamaha YZF R15 V 2.0 had a friendlier demeanour, but the V 3.0 is more business oriented. The faux air duct, flanked by LED headlamps, dominates the front. The petrol tank has gille-shaped vents. The YZF R15 V 3.0 has a neatly finished rear which further reinforces the sporty intent of the vehicle. The all-digital instrument console which reveals average fuel consumption, gearshift position, and the VVA, adds substance to the bike.
The KTM 125 Duke, on first impression, can be mistaken as the 200 Duke. But that doesn’t mean the new Duke looks dated. The vehicle’s design is recognisable and familiar. The sporty streaks and cuts dominate the 125’s design and the bike still manages to stand out of the pack. The bike’s target customers are the college-going crowd. The 125 also has a fully digital instrument console.
Yamaha YZF R15 V 3.0 uses the same Deltabox frame chassis but it’s much sharper than earlier. The bike purely means business. Yamaha has lent the R15 V 3.0 a shorter wheelbase and a sharper rake than its previous generation vehicles. This, in fact, has made a big difference to the overall ride quality. The suspension system comprises of linked monoshock absorbers at the back and 42mm telescopic forks in the front. The R15 V 3.0 is now fitted with dual-channel ABS, leading to a much safer stopping.
The KTM 125 Duke borrows its underpinnings from the 200 Duke. The trellis frame, suspended from the 43mm WP-designed USD forks in the front, and preload adjustable monoshock absorbers in the back, are signature to all Duke series bikes. The 125 offers superb handling and easy negotiability along the corners. But for razor-sharp turning of bends, the R15 takes the cake.
Pricing and verdict
At ?1.39 lakh, the Yamaha YZF R15 V 3.0 is ?21,000 more than KTM 125 Duke which is available at ?1.18 lakh. But the premium goes towards faster performance, better styling, and sharper handling. Also the Japanese two-wheeler gets dual-channel ABS, while its Austrian peer has only one.
But the KTM 125 has its own fans. The bike was launched solely to offer a Duke at a lower price. The 125 is a superb learner’s bike and a reasonable alternative for those who believe that the 200 variant is much too high.