Niall's Spin: KTM Duke II

It might be light and peppy to start off with but the fun quickly dries up once you get started.

Click to read: KTM Duke II owners reviews, KTM Duke II specs and to see the KTM Duke II image gallery.

The best road-going supermoto for most people. Light and peppy enough to be genuine fun but not a barking, service-every-300-miles, kick-start-only two-wheel psychopath.

Still, try and get a test ride - above 85mph the fun quickly dries up and the Vectras and Bandit 600s will fly past on the motorway. If you're used to riding multis, or even twins, this single is going to feel really harsh and certainly vibey. But if you've come from riding a true competition supermoto then you'll appreciate that this is a CBR600-esque grand luxo by comparison. Sophisticated, well appointed and yes, still surprisingly agile - until you want to race that is. In any case the cast alloy wheels give the game away: this is no racer , those beautiful rims wouldn't last five minutes landing off 20-foot tabletop jumps (and they're just too damn heavy).

The big thing to remember with this KTM is that it's like a Ducati - it does like to be pampered, it does need super dilligent servicing. Okay, it's not as needy as its EXC-engined brethren but these KTM donks do need constant fettling - clutches are a typical high-service item, the top end too likes a close eye kept on it and make sure you always use quality oil, changed bang-on time.

Road riders will be slightly perplexed as to quality. KTM use what look like cheap fasteners and bolts. They're not, it's just that racing background of theirs - lightness is paramount. But there's quality in the WP suspension and the controls - alloy bars, Magura levers, milled alloy footpegs, and gear and brake levers.
With time you'll appreciate the details, the careful thought that's gone into every component. And you'll appreciate the thought and studied dedication to maintenace that comes with ownership too -this is nothing like owning a run-of-the-mill Japanese road bike.

So, hysterical yet practical in town, brilliant on bumpy roads and superb at stunting. Build quality is impeccable too, but that doesn't mean servicing should be neglected. CBR600 prices put off many but try one of these and you might never look back.

  • Key ID Those stacked alien-bug eyed headlights - still striking, still unique.
  • Walk away From heavily tuned bikes. A few sensible mods are okay though.