Having a blast on the KTM Duke 125

How to be a teenager at fifty

With young Taylor finally lifting my riding ban from his 125 Duke last week (I snapped the gear lever off in a failed garden stunt), I’ve been clocking up a few miles on what surely is the ‘must have’ learner bike of 2011.

Last week I hopped aboard for a jaunt into the heart of Leicester where you can still park bikes for free then walk to all the major shops in minutes. I needed to appear in person at the main Post Office for an International Driving Permit as I found out without one; I couldn’t drive during my trip up coming trip to the Japanese Grand Prix. I thought these things went out with the Ark but they're still a legal requirement in many countries outside of Europe. They only cost a few quid and the form takes minutes to complete but annoyingly they only last for a year.

I used the most direct route to Leicester which is mainly dual carriageways where the baby Duke pulled 77mph downhill but then dropped back to 65mph while heading back up the rises. There is a handy blast of torque at precisely half maximum revs so some dancing between 5th and 6thgear helped to keep her on the boil. It’s probably not advisable but I found slipstreaming vans helped however, if they happen to pull back into the inside lane during an overtaking manoeuvre things can get tricky. Around town it's brilliant though, as the combination of a great riding position and excellent brake feel inspires confidence.

KTM’s philosophy of always having fun when you’re riding shines through on this bike as even at fifty, I couldn’t help smiling while skidding sideways up to junctions and pulling the odd stoppie when no one was looking. I haven't tested the Indian tyres in the wet but I had no issues while pushing them hard in the September sun. 

With the P.O. business done I downed a quick Starbucks while noting some admiring glances from passers by (yep, for the bike not me) then headed home but this time mostly on ‘B’ roads. It took twice as long but was three times more enjoyable and that’s the way it should be. Mission accomplished KTM. 

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