Duke 250 vs Dominar Comparison Review

Published on: Feb 24, 2017
Bajaj Dominar 400 vs KTM Duke 250 Comparison Review:

"In terms of feel the Duke is ages ahead of the Dominar. Duke's high pitched exhaust note and glorious exhaust note is proper goosebump inducing material. Dominar on the other hand has a very disappointing, muted exhaust note, which wouldn't be out of place on a 125 and makes it feel way slower than it actually is"

Pricing & Features Comparison:
The KTM Duke 250 retails for 1.92 Lakh Rs. on road Delhi, which is 39,000 Rs. more expensive than the Dominar 400 non-ABS, costing 1.53 Lakh Rs. Both bikes are equipped with rear disc brakes and slipper clutch. Even the Dominar 400 ABS, costs 1.68 Lakh Rs. making it 24,000 Rs. cheaper than the Duke 250 (non ABS).

Performance & Tractability Comparison:
The Dominar, seems pretty impressive on the spec sheet, with 124 cc bigger displacement, 5 extra horses and 11 extra torques, over the Duke 250. But on the road, it just can't beat the Duke. Both bikes take just over 8 seconds, to accelerate from 0-100, and go on to post top-speeds, in excess of 140 kmph. The problem with the Dominar, is that it has a very weak low-end, and excessively tall gearing, making it a slouch at lower revs. The Duke 250's low-end, is also nothing to write home about, but it makes up for it, with extra short gearing making it quicker off the line.

But that's just numbers, in terms of feel, the Duke is ages ahead of the Dominar. Duke's glorious exhaust note, is proper goosebump inducing material. Dominar on the other hand has a very disappointing, muted exhaust note, which wouldn't be out of place on a 125 cc bike, and makes it feel way slower than it actually is.

Power-to-Weight Ratio (PS/ton): Dominar 400 - 192, Duke 250 – 186
Torque-to-Weight Ratio (Nm/ton): Dominar 400 - 192, Duke 250 – 149 (difference 28%)

Power (PS@rpm): Dominar 400 – 35@8000, Duke 250 – 30@9000
Torque (Nm@rpm): Dominar 400 – 35@6500, Duke 250 – 24@7500
Kerb Weight (kg): Dominar 400 – 182, Duke 250 – 161

Displacement (cc):
 Dominar 400 – 373, Duke 250 – 249
Gearbox: Dominar 400 – 6 speed, Duke 250 – 6 speed

Reliability & After Sales Service Comparison:
These bikes, may look as different as chalk and cheese, but both these bikes are distant relatives of each other. Both of their powertrains are derived from the 390 Duke's. The Duke 250's engine is nothing but a toned-down version of the 390, made to fit into the sub 250cc licence class in western markets. The Dominar's mill is uses a desi 'triple-spark' head bolted on to the 390's block.

As such, neither Bajaj nor KTM has a decent track record for either reliability or service support in our country. Amongst the two, the Duke is bound to fare slightly better on the reliability front, but will lose out big time to the Dominar, in terms of maintenace costs and availability of Service Stations.

Fuel Efficiency Comparison:
Owing to its larger displacent and heavier kerb weight, expect the Dominar to be 3-4 kmpl less efficient than the Duke 250, in real-world conditions.

Estimated Mileage (kmpl): Dominar 400 – 33, Duke 250 - 38

Fuel Cost (for 60,000 km): Dominar 400 – 1.35 Lakh, Duke 250 – 1.25 Lakh

Resale & Cost of Ownership Comparison:
5 year old Duke 200s retail for around 85,000 Rs. in the used bike market today. The Duke 250 is expected to hold marginally better resale value than that, 5 to 7 years down the line. Dominar 400, on the other hand is bound to retain significantly better resale value than any other Bajaj bike till date! 5 year old 200 NS sells for aound 50,000 Rs. in the market today, the Dominar is bound to fetch at least 75,000 Rs. Overall, the Dominar non-ABS, works out to be just 15,000 Rs. or 6% more expensive than the Duke 250, in terms of Total Cost of Ownership.

Resale Value (after 5 to 7 years):
Dominar 400 – 75,000 Rs.
Duke 250 – 90,000 Rs.

Total Cost of Ownership: (Price + Fuel Cost - Resale Value)
Dominar 400 – 2.15 Lakh
Duke 250 – 2.30 Lakh

Handling & Ride Quality Comparison:
The Dominar just doesn't stand a chance against the Duke, when it comes to dynamics. The Duke feels like precision cutting tool around corners. Its sheer grip, tight body control, lightning quick agility, loads of feedback and insane fickability around traffic feels like a total contrast against the Dominar. The Dominar feels like a blundering butcher's knife. It feels a bit cumbersome to manuevre around tight bends and tend to dive excessively on applying the front brake. It also doesn't transmitt any feedback whatsover from the surface below.

But then, the Dominar has a much more forgiving ride quality than the Duke. It absorbs the bumps and ruts very well, and takes bad roads in its stride. But even then it feels a bit floppy and inconsitent in the way it goes around its business, if you compare its road manners to a well-known ride-comfort specialist, like, for example, the Yamaha SS125. The Duke has an outrightly stiff suspension setup, and can become tiring very quickly, if ridden on anything less than perfect tarmac.

Wheelbase (mm): Dominar 400 – 1435, Duke 250 – 1357+15.5

Ground Clearance (mm): Dominar 400 – 167, Duke 250 - 185

Tyre Size:
Front: Dominar 400 – 110/70R17, Duke 250 – 110/70R17
Rear: Dominar 400 – 150/60R17, Duke 250 – 150/60R17

Comfort & Ergonomics Comparison:
The Duke 250 is a noticeable improvement over the 200. The seat is wider and has softer foam as well. But it still isn't even half as generous as the Dominar's. Dominar's pillion seat is also much more sensible than the Duke's ridiculously tiny unit. Both bikes have a slightly forward leaning, streetfighter, riding position, which can get a bit tiring after a couple of hours in the saddle. Dominar's huge tank and mammoth tank extention feel a bit intimidating at first, but  they get out the way nicely on the move. Overall, the Dominar feels slightly more accomodating and comfortable than the Duke. The Duke still feels like it always wants to keep the rider alert and never let him relax while riding.  

Seat height (mm): Dominar 400 – 800, Duke 250 - 830

Like all Bajaj bikes, the Dominar is a thoroughly impressive motorcycle, 'on paper'! It has the big-bike presence, big displacement, big power, big torque, wide tyres, even wider seats, it has an LED Headlamp, TFT cluster, slipper cltuch, even ABS, all at an unbelievable price, of 1.7 Lakhs, On Road! That is great value-for-money right? Wrong! Disappointment begins, when you swing a leg over it, as you for the test-ride. Thumb the starter, and it cranks to life, sounding uncannily like a 4-stroke scooter. Tap the gear lever, and it clunks notchily, with the rider still unsure, whether it has really shifted into first, release the clutch and it engages sharply, without much progression, and the bike marches ahead, provided, you had revved it enough, not to stall it.

 As you give it some gas, you are underwhelmed, by the lack of acceleration, and absence of any encouragement, from the exhaust note. Is this really a 400, you think. You take it through the gears and grab the brake for an approaching corner, it dives! You lean in, but the front end is reluctant to follow tight lines, due to the excessive rake angle. You curse the designer. You encounter a mid corner bump, but you get hardly eny feedback of it, either through the handlebar, or through the seat. You try to blip-and-downshift, to get the exhaust singing, but the music never begins. You slow down, and try to pick it up from 30 kph in 5th, it starts snatching. You coast back to the showroom, press the kill switch, and with it, kill your dream, of owning, your first 400.

Then you get on to the Duke. It feels tight and flickable, right from the moment, you grab its wide handlebars. It comes to life with an energetic idle, which sounds like let's go, let's go, let's go! You blip the throttle, and the engine responds with instantaneous urgency, communicating the exact rpm, accurately through the exhaust note alone. As you take it through the rev band, each subsequent harmonic of it's exhaust frequency gets activated, at an interval of 1000-1500 rpm, goading you to push it further and further.

As a corner approaches and you lean in, it responds with such immediacy, that you wonder, whether it started turning in, before you even made your move. As you get acclamatized to it, you try and push it right up to the rev limiter, in every gear, untill your test-ride comes to an end. As you get off the bike, you realise that you have a wide grin plastered on your face, and wonder if you can ever have so much fun, even on 1000cc, inline-4 machine. Do we really need to spell out which bike is the winner of this test?

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