Nothing succeeds like success, and KTM’s achievement, in the model’s first six months in the marketplace since its spring 2011 debut, in selling no less than 9,370 examples of its new 125 Duke four-stroke single-cylinder entry-level hotrod manufactured in India by its partner (and 39.30% shareholder), Bajaj Auto, has proved that the shrewd gamble made by KTM president Stefan Pierer and his colleague Rajiv Bajaj in developing such a bike is paying off. Big time.
For the duo’s dare in producing a range of cool, affordable, entry-level bikes which, in showcasing the youthful KTM brand image, will help attract the next generation of European riders to choose motorcycling over other forms of leisure pursuit, from wakeboarding to mountain bikes, digital entertainment to rock-climbing, has so far proved a smart move. “In my opinion, this the biggest single challenge for today’s motorcycle manufacturers - how can we direct our future products towards a younger customer?” says Stefan Pierer. “The main thing is to get young people on motorcycles for the first time – then we can try to get them to keep on riding, preferably with KTM, as they progress through life and up the capacity scale.”
Creating the 125 Duke has successfully addressed that objective in terms of KTM’s most youthful entry-level target group, which has developed as a result of the new EU regulations which allow 16-year olds to ride 125cc bikes with a maximum horsepower of 11kW/15bhp. But it’s interesting that KTM dealer statistics show an even 50/50 split in 125 Duke buyers between 16-18 year-olds, and 18+ customers. This shows the concept works for older riders, too – perhaps including returnees to two wheels, or car drivers who want something cooler and more fun than a scooter to convert to. In any case, the new downsized Duke has been the first fruit in terms of hard product of the link between the second-largest motorcycle manufacturers in both India and Europe, which has been progressively strengthened ever since November 2007 when Bajaj Auto took an initial 14.5% stake in KTM.
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