The much loved KTM RC 200 gets its biggest update since its launch in 2014.
A new KTM is always exciting news, especially when it's an update for a bike that has changed very little in the past seven years. The first of the new-gen RCs to hit our market is the RC 200, and we got to spend some time with it at the Bajaj test track in Chakan. As before, most of the changes will feature on the entire RC range, including the new RC 390 that’s due early next year, so here’s what to expect.
KTM RC 200: Design
The biggest change is what’s staring right at you and that’s the new design philosophy. The new RC gets a much larger face and in typical KTM fashion, it's a unique and rather quirky design.
Compared to the old RC, the new bike gets a more upright-looking stance with a bigger front section and a taller, more rounded windscreen. KTM says that this bike has better aerodynamics than before, and the actual wind protection we experienced was quite good. The bike looks more cohesive in person than the images would suggest, and while the face does not look as sharp and aggressive as the old bike, it definitely stands out. If anything, this bike probably has even more presence than the old one.
The RC 200 now gets a full LED headlamp (only the RC 125 now gets a halogen lamp), while the indicators and LED position lights are now placed alongside the main headlamp. The new fairing uses a wider, layered design that gives the bike a greater sense of presence. The tail section now also looks longer, with a completely different rear seat design and a sleeker-looking LED brake lamp. A new set of Duke-style grab handles will make life easier for the pillion as well. The new RC 200 is available in the black orange scheme you see here and striking combination of orange and gray.
There are some nice new additions in the smaller details as well. The bike gets new foldable mirrors and both the foot levers now have foldable ends – although the hand levers aren’t adjustable. The RC 200 also gets an LCD display that comes off the 250 Adventure. Only the new RC 390 is expected to get a TFT display, but this LCD screen on the RC 200 is much larger than before, while being quite informative and easy to read. We noticed a bit of ghosting on some of the displays at the launch event, but Bajaj says that this will be sorted out by the time the production bikes hit the showrooms.
KTM RC 200: Riding position
No matter what your opinion on the design is, you're almost certainly going to like what KTM has done with the riding position. The footpeg position is the same as before, but the clip-on bars are now a little higher up. It’s not a massive difference from the old bike, it is something you’ll notice and appreciate over longer rides. For those of you who want it committed like the old bike, the clip-ons can be lowered by 14.5mm, but this will need the usage of some spacers that will be available at KTM service centres.
The bigger improvement, however, is in the seats. KTM claims the same 835mm seat height, but the seats are now flatter, better padded and much more comfortable than the old bike. They also get smart-looking covers that feel quite premium and are nice and grippy. KTM says that they’ve also slimmed down the section where the seat meets the fuel tank, but anyone below 5’7” will probably still find themselves on tiptoes with this bike.
KTM RC 200: chassis and handling
For 2022, the RCs get a new frame with a bolt-on subframe. The main frame is pretty much the same as before, so there are no changes to the steering geometry or wheelbase. Perhaps, the most relevant change to customers now is that the fuel tank now holds 13.7 litres vs the tiny 9.5 litres in the old RC.
Despite the added weight of the extra fuel, the RC 200 still weighs the same 160kg as before because KTM has managed to shave over three kilos of unsprung weight from areas like the rear chain sprocket, the new front brake disc and the wheels themselves. And if you’re concerned about those wheels, KTM assures us that they’re not only lighter, but also stronger than the ones they replace.
As for the suspension, the 43mm USD fork gets 10mm more travel, but the rear remains the same. There is no suspension adjustability on the RC200, apart from rear preload, but hopefully we’ll finally get that feature on the India-spec RC 390.
Out on the track, the RC 200, unsurprisingly, feels very familiar. This is a motorcycle that loves corners and it seats you in a position that encourages you to go on the attack. It is still a 160kg machine, which means it doesn’t feel super light on its feet, but the bike is quite stable. And without all the extra power of the 390, the RC 200 is also more forgiving of any mistakes that the rider might make.
The RC has always been a great handler and there isn't anything on the new one to take away from that. Perhaps, the lighter components have made it a little easier to change direction, but we’d have to ride it back to back with the old bike to see whether there are any differences. It's still lots of fun, but don't go thinking this is some hardcore little road-legal race bike. Just like before, the rear shock is quite softly sprung and you'll end up wanting more from the brakes.
To be fair, the soft rear spring rate has never really been a problem, unless you’re a rather heavy rider, and KTM has also tried to improve the brakes. With this update, the whole RC range now gets a 320mm front disc while the old RC 200 used to run a 300mm disc. That’s definitely an improvement, but the brakes still don’t feel as sharp as we’d like on track. For most road users this level of performance will be fine, but if you plan to track the bike, you’ll probably want to look at more aggressive brake pads or an aftermarket master cylinder.
The MRF Revz tyres are another thing that holds this bike back at the race track pace. Again, they’re perfectly good for road speeds, but they don’t feel very reassuring when you start to explore the limits of traction.
As for the ABS, it's a dual channel system like before, but you now have the option of deactivating the rear ABS.
KTM RC 200: Engine and performance
The most familiar aspect of this bike is its engine. The 199.5cc liquid cooled single cylinder is in the same spec as the current BS6 RC 200 and there are no changes to the 25hp/19.2Nm power and torque figures. However, the new RC gets a 40 percent larger airbox and KTM says this offers better throttle response and a stronger torque curve.
Another thing that should be an improvement in the real world is what the heat management will be like, because the new RCs now get a larger curved radiator and this should help the bike to run a little cooler.
Beyond that, the RC200’s motor is very familiar and it continues to run super short gearing that make it great fun to use, especially on the street. On the track though, you’ve got to be careful to be in the right gear, because it's easy to either fall out of the powerband or slam into the rev limiter.
On the long straight at the Chakan test track, we saw a speedo indicating a top speed of 142kph, but this was with some assistance from a very mild downhill. As for the acceleration figures, Bajaj quotes a sub-12-second 0-100 time, but that’s something we’ll test for ourselves when we get the bike for a full review.
Nevertheless, this remains a characterful little engine and it's far more involving than the bigger 250cc motor from KTM. Another thing worth mentioning is that this BS6 engine sounds smoother and more refined than the original 200cc motor, but it's still a very KTM sound that encourages you to keep revving the engine out.
KTM RC 200 Conclusion
That sums up the changes on the new RC 200 and enthusiasts will be very happy with the fact that this bike is priced on par with the outgoing model. It’s not sportier than the one it replaces, but it's still just as fun, while bringing in additional features, comfort and usability, and that’s always a good thing. Just remember that this is introductory pricing and it will go up at some point in the near future.