KTM Duke 125 2024 Review Alex from BikeMatters

Celebrating 30 years of Duke, as the new 5-inch TFT dash will eagerly tell you each and every time you turn on this 2024 KTM Duke 125, this latest incarnation of one of the most iconic (well, to me) and best-selling motorcycles from the Austrian firm reaches the doors of BikeMatters HQ for testing.

KTM has rather brilliantly marketed this ‘season’ of Duke as ‘No BS’, with this single-cylindered 125cc as the ‘Spawn of the Beast’ – and ever since the very first rendition of mechanical mayhem rolled off the Austrian factory line back in 1994 - coincidentally the year I was born - it has marked somewhat of a hooligan in the right hands. Especially those with a larger capacity.

But fast forward to 2024, with ever-growing and stricter emissions regulations becoming the ever-tightening hoops for manufacturers to jump through for homologation and production, has the ‘No BS’ campaign from KTM signalled a proverbial two-finger-salute to the rules? Or has this 'Beast' been tamed, and ultimately is the KTM Duke 125 in 2024 still the hooligan it once was – the bike that I always looked up to when I was finding my two-wheeled feet? Is the 125 Duke worth celebrating in 2024?

2024 KTM 125 Duke

KTM Duke 125 Price and Availability

Starting with the price, the 2024 KTM Duke 125 is set at an upper-premium base price of £4,899, available in a trademark tangerine orange and blue (very nice, and as ridden) or blue with orange wheels. It’s a premium price point, but this is a premium machine – but fear not, as of writing KTM is offering a tempting £500 off the 2024 model (£4,399) along with a 0% deposit and 1% APR finance offer as a serious Power Deal.

The 2024 model is available in UK KTM dealers now, alongside the 2023 edition with £800 off in the currently running offer.

As a quick check against the rivals of similar nature, you’ll find the Yamaha MT 125 (£5,102, 14.7 bhp), Kawasaki Z 125 (£4,299, 14.7 bhp), Suzuki GSX-S 125 (£4,799, 14.7 bhp), or Honda CB 125R (£4,599, 14.7 bhp) – so it’s on the upper end of the price scale, and matching on quoted power output figures from this handful of selected opponents. Though, there are quite a few others to consider...

A full rival top 10 of alternative picks can be checked out here.

KTM Duke 125 - riding in town

What's New on the KTM Duke 125 in 2024?

Clearly an imposing machine to look at, in 2024 the 125 baby Duke shares the same framework as its larger 390 sibling, the latest update also bringing a new 5-inch TFT display, a new headlight unit, Cornering ABS with Supermoto mode (to switch off the rear wheel ABS to enable skids and wheelies (private land only please)).

You’ll also find an updated Euro 5.2-ready LC4c single-cylinder motor with an optimised cylinder head and improved gearbox, a 2-piece steel trellis main frame with pressure cast aluminium subframe, WP Apex suspension up front with the rear shock mounted off-centre onto the swingarm and preload adjustment potential.

There’s plenty to look at here, and as a 125 cc machine working with a bigger frame it certainly looks like a serious bike at standstill, something quite important for many riders.

But what’s it like when it gets going, and how does it ride when the motor is fired up?

KTM Duke 125 LC4c engine

LC4c 125cc Engine

Powering the 125 Duke show is a 125cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder motor with PASC antihopping clutch, two rider modes, and pumps out a CBT and A1 compliant peak power of 14.7 bhp and 11.5 Nm of torque across 6 gears.

Despite these quoted numbers being the peak that is possible under 125 cc licensing, I was quite let down with the little motor. After a long 2-mile stretch of relatively flat dual carriageway, the Duke ran out of steam at 60 mph and was only able to get up to a 66 mph top speed – and that’s with me full tuck and as aerodynamic as a 6’3” 14/15 stone rider can possibly get, working every gear with the added on Quickshifter+ accessory all the way to the redline at around 10,000 revs.

Gearing in the first 3 gears feels particularly short, and I was finding myself running out of revs when taking corners in 2nd gear quite frequently – though riding high in the revs is exactly where the Duke begins to shine, working high at around 6000 to 7000 revs to the 10k redline and feeling so much more on it’s toes rather than caught flat-footed.

KTM Duke 125 2024

Heading off the threat of faster cars on the dual carriageway and taking the adjacent B-roads is where you’ll truly unlock the potential of the bike, characteristically trying to carry as much of your beloved speed through successive corners that you’ve spent so long earning.

Despite this loan-bike being fitted with an accessory £634 Remus exhaust, when firing it up I just couldn’t help but be underwhelmed by the distinct lack of bite from the beast. I can only imagine it’s down to getting the bike homologated for the upcoming Euro 5.2 standards.

This LC4c motor is still absolutely fun to ride with, but in the right settings – though a 125 will be frugal enough to sink a lot of miles per tank, I’d steer clear of dual carriageways and faster A roads where possible, particularly if you’re a rider on the larger scale shall we say. If you’re looking for power, and possess an A2 licence, it seems silly not to automatically opt for the Duke 390 instead.

KTM Duke 125 handling and cornering

Handling – Frame, Suspension, Brakes, Wheels

With a larger footprint this year thanks to the new frame shared with its older sibling, the 390 Duke wows in its handling, a typical characteristic of the Duke family.

With the 2-piece steel trellis main frame with pressure cast aluminium subframe paired to decent 43 mm WP Apex front forks and preload-adjustable rear shock, both with 150 mm travel, what the Duke may lack somewhat in power leading up to the corner is the confidence at which you can throw it into said corner.

Weighing in at 154 kg, the Duke is certainly a lightweight contender, and feels stable and controlled in a straight line thanks to a 1357 mm wheelbase and Michelin Road 5 tyres trodding the 17-inch front and rear wheel.

KTM Duke 125 WP Apex suspension

Braking power is very good, with a large 320mm front brake matched to a solid four-piston radial caliper, at the rear you’ll find a 240 mm rear disc with a twin-pot caliper. Not to mention the cornering ABS, an unseen feature for the 125 cc market, and the supermoto mode to switch off the rear ABS.

It won’t take a huge deal of braking force to stop a lightweight bike, but this does well to encourage strong braking when it’s needed without being too sharp – all adding to the incredible agile road feel, where this Duke is quick to react to your inputs and truly engaging on every ride.

For handling, it’s very high marks for the Duke indeed – almost enough to make up for a lacking engine character. I say that having recently test-ridden the Kymco X-Town 125, a heavier scooter with a liquid-cooled 125 cc 14.7 bhp single-cylinder motor that was able to happily scoot along with me on at 70 mph.

KTM Duke 125 TFT display and switchgear

Learner Friendly Hooligan Spec

For those of you who may want the more sensible stats and specs, you’ll find a fairly comfortable 800 mm seat height here, something I found comfortable enough – even with my lanky legs. The riding position is tucked to point you forward a tad, creating an engaged riding position almost bordering on cramped, though it didn’t get in the way of a good few blasts in the countryside.

All in, as a package, this 125 Duke has some top spec for a learner riding looking to find their feet with a bike that is truly stunning to look at – particularly for a younger rider who wants the style and substance of something bigger on the road. The LED lights are crisp and bright, the build quality feels consistent throughout, and I’d imagine that for your money (especially £4,399 on the current offer) you’d be happy with your money’s worth.

With a tank size quoted at 15 litres, it should be easily good for the hallowed 200-mile mark for range, particularly important for those who may want to spend long days in the saddle exploring the backroads where this Duke will come to life.

Moving to the new TFT display, at 5-inches it’s really nice and clear to use, and the new backlit switchgear allows for use in any weather, plus the ability to set the up and down buttons to be quick-access favourites for things like rider modes, supermoto ABS switch, phone settings. Speaking of, you can pair your smartphone with the bike. You can also access the ‘speed limiter’ via this dash, which will stop you inadvertently breaking the speed limit in town.

KTM Duke 125 2024 rear LED light

2024 KTM Duke 125 Pros and Cons


  • Big bike frame.
  • Handling is top – cornering ABS on a 125!
  • Currently on offer, making it a premium bike for a good price.


  • Engine is lacking the top end and top speed.
  • Exhaust noise too quiet, even with accessory exhaust.
  • Might as well go for the 390 Duke.
KTM Duke 125 parked up in motorcycle parking

Verdict: KTM Duke 125 2024

Is the KTM Duke 125 the spawn of the beast it claims to be? Yes, and no. The handling characteristic is certainly still there, with the price drop this is a premium machine at a very good price, but the engine takes the shine off somewhat.

It’s not outright slow, and you can certainly still have plenty of fun on this bike, but it just feels like the acceleration and top end has taken a hit, no doubt a part of dealing with the rigmarole of Euro 5.2 homologation. Perhaps this signifies the struggles of manufacturers to maintain the same power delivery and output, but matching the stricter rules – something that is often solved by increasing the capacity of motors, which KTM itself has been doing over the years with this very same Duke family.

The baby Duke certainly is the ‘Spawn of the Beast’ that it claims to be, and as an overall package it will never fail to put a smile on your face on a backroad blast. My girlfriend absolutely loved the look of it, too, which is always a winner.

If considering this bike as a city and town ride, you’ll be fine – but on faster roads a taller/bigger ride may want that bit more power, in which case just get your A2 and get the Duke 390, with the same framework but a spicier engine to play with. Perhaps we should borrow one to test it out.

Big thanks to KTM UK for the loan, head to their website to find out more – and see more about the current deal!

Video Review: KTM Duke 125 2024 | BikeMatters

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