As the orange storm criss-crosses the country, we felt we needed to be in on this. Is it really the bike, or is it a spot of frenzy stirred up by some skilful marketing?
The only way to find out is to get hold of a bike and put it through the paces, and that is precisely what we did. No racing or stunts, mind you. Just good old street riding (ok, pushing the throttle to the limit occasionally).
It is unlike anything that Indian roads have seen till now. No doubt that it stands out in a crowd.
The in-your-face flaming orange colour treatment and the bold labeling and graphics proclaim loudly --- here I am, look at me.
If that were not enough, the company has provided add-on raceline stickers for the body and the tank. The target audience is clearly the young and the daring, and they clearly approve! This is most certainly NOT for the quiet boardroom type or the timid commuter.
As though to even things out, the company recently introduced white and black variants --- for a limited period.
The bike is completely naked, even more so than its Bajaj cousin, the Pulsar 200NS reviewed in these columns previously - which has a nominal wind-breaker around the headlight.
The exhaust gets the same hide-away treatment, opening up both sides and enhancing the vehicle's naked look, as well as stability and balance. The high seat and the naked rear tyre accentuate the adventurous appearance and the youth appeal.
The steel trellis frame is excellently balanced --- one biker who recently bought a Duke could just not stop gushing about how the bike just refused to wobble or get thrown off balance - and the seating and the handle position are just right.
Not too far down in the Yamaha R15 wrist-killer manner, yet not too tall to take away from the yearn-to-race nature of the bike.
This is a posture that will allow you to swallow up the miles on a highway. And thanks to the nooks behind the fuel tank, one can tuck in the knees and really get down to some serious speeding.
Talking of speeding, the Duke has a top speed of about 135 kph. We pushed it to 130, and it is extremely comfortable and well-planted at peak speeds, even around corners and kerbs: Nary a wobble.
The six-speed gearbox delivers the 25BHP power in a very linear manner, with 60 kph achieved in under 4 seconds and 100 in about 6-7 seconds.
And as most of its 19.2 Nm peak torque is available throughout the range, the bike lets you dawdle even in 5th gear. The sixth is better used on the long straights. Much of city riding is achieved in the second-fourth gear range: surprisingly, perhaps, mostly in the fourth.
The ride is comfortable, with the rear monoshock and the front upside down shockers gobbling up potholes. The front and rear disc brakes are sufficient to handle the kind of speeds that the Duke 200 produces, nothing to complain about.
The moot question is, what would the pillion rider feel about the whole thing? With the high seating and footpegs, it is not exactly the most comfortable place for a long and exciting ride. And the saree or skirt (or lungi) wearer had best stay away from this bike's pillion.
An out-and-out sportster such as this bike should not be put through the indignity of a mileage scrutiny, and we refrained from that test. The company makes no mileage claims, but in our rides it averaged 38-40 kph.
We did not need to visit the restroom too often to fill her up, and with no expectations, did not get disappointed on that note. If mileage is your thing, look elsewhere.