Duke vs Impulse vs R15
However, it is a true KTM, no doubt about that. Switch on the ignition and the Duke greets you with a ‘Ready To Race’ on the readout. Thumbing the starter unleashes a single-cylinder cacophony that makes no pretenses at civil behaviour, its underslung exhaust shooting fumes at your right ankle – it’s hard to imagine an emissions-strangled low-displacement single that sounds better. That the Duke is the rowdiest of this lot is apparent even at rest. And it gets better once you get going. Twisting the throttle exposes this mini-Duke’s wild side and it revs to 10,000rpm before the R15 and Impulse can say ‘rev limiter!’
Quite a handy thing, that, especially when you find yourself on a cool forest road whose twists and turns would shame a belly dancer. In such a setting, it’s difficult not to give in to the Duke’s demands which are precisely a) throttle to the stop and b) shoving its ’bars in either direction to get it turned. The Duke is pretty clear about what it wants and will bend you to its will, one way or another. It doesn’t even matter which of six cogs you’ve selected, for the Duke’s short-stroke motor seems to produce revs out of thin air, ensuring a thrilling rate of progress regardless of what the gear indicator says.