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KTM RC390 and RC200 track review in India

10th Oct 2014 12:57 pm

KTM’s RC series 200 and 390 are race ready sportsbikes. We test the India spec bikes on Bajaj’s Chakan test track

  • Make : KTM
  • Model : RC200

We couldn’t have asked for a better way to start our day, introduced to a fleet of KTM RC200 and RC390 test bikes, all prepped up and race ready to attack the Bajaj test track in Chakan. We didn’t have much time at our disposal; we only had 20 minute riding time astride each bike stipulated for the day. A never ending stream of dark clouds passing overhead, but a steady drizzle in the air and damp patches on the circuit all added up to keep us on our toes through our riding session.

The KTM RC200 was first up. The RC’s are well engineered sporty looking motorcycles, handsome in individual colours, with orange chassis and wheels. Menacing dual front headlights, a slim tank and a multi layered fairing coupled with a slim seat pad look very much in place on thoroughbred racers such as these. Both bikes are compact, really smartly styled machines. There’s a top quality air to both the new KTM motorcycles, this extending to every corner of the bikes. The RC200 lacks handlebar end weights as are available on the RC390. Palm grips on the bikes could have been better, their dimpled ‘pokey’ texture proving harsh on the palms when riding without gloves.

All geared up and ready to let rip, we hop onto the RC200, taking a couple of laps to get used to the quick performance, sharp and nimble handling, before pushing harder. The 199.5cc, single-cylinder engine on the RC200 produces 24.7bhp at 10,000rpm, excellent for this class of bikes. Every time you open throttle, the RC200 surges ahead with willing, smooth and vibe free performance, reminding us of the thrilling experience when we were first astride the KTM 200 Duke, albeit now with ergonomics much better suited to an on-track experience.

Around corners, the RC200 proves its mettle - neutral steering makes it easy to dive with accuracy into every corner, as the bike clings to its line and carries high corner speeds without any bother. Strong grunt from its torque rich engine allows you to shoot out of corners, as you shift upwards quickly through a slick shifting 6-speed gearbox. The RC200 shot past 90kph without any trouble on Bajaj’s 1100m long straight, flying onwards all the way into its electronic rev limiter in top gear. At this point you find yourself clipping along at an indicated 135kph, displayed on a compact, somewhat crowded, sporty LCD instruments bay. The RC200 is a fun track day motorcycle, best suited to people who want to avail of a bike with thoroughbred, track focused ergonomics and strong performance for the class.

Having now warmed up on the RC200, we hopped aboard the KTM RC390, to find it feels just the same in terms of size and ergonomics. Heading out of the pits though, you notice its slightly extra flab, and of course a deeper, so much more soulful, inviting engine growl that pushes you to open throttle and crack the whip. The 200’s rear suspension is a touch plush for the track, where ride quality isn’t a priority, we requested for suspension preload to be bumped up two notches, which made a world of a difference. The KTM RC390 provided to us was in dual tone, black and icy white, giving it a unique identity relative to its younger, mischievous sibling, the RC200. The RC390, like its sibling, does well to handle confidently and proves as thrilling as it gets on a bike of this size. It packs enough punch to strike out and reel in several bikes way above this class, some even with an extra cylinder.

The RC390 urges you to unleash all of its 42.9bhp, which comes in at 9,000rpm, and feels so much quicker than the RC200. One doesn’t realize when the 390 achieves triple digit speeds, the engine sweeping through its powerband ever so quickly, which is about when you start to appreciate the wide safety net, thanks to such an able trellis frame, potent and ABS-enabled brakes. There’s also soft compound Metzeler tyres, which allow you to push hard with that much more confidence, than when riding the MRF-equipped RC200. The RC390 inspired much confidence while cornering, and attacking corners hard to achieve fast exits. And then, the RC390 doesn’t bore its pilots on straight line sections, for that’s where one quickly learns the RC390 can achieve 130kph and more in the blink of an eye, beyond which the new KTM still has plenty of grunt in reserve. Blasting down the long Chakan track straight, water streaming backwards as it splatters our helmet visors, we took the 390 to its limit, at which you find yourself at an indicated 171kph. Perhaps the only thing we found ourselves searching for on the RC bikes was a higher rev limit. These willing engines go through their rev bands so quickly, they sometimes feel slightly shorter geared than possible. That’s, however, also the reason why they are this rideable, which will be to their advantage when riding on-road.

Yes, there’s more to gain on the RC390 on-track as compared to the RC200, given you don’t need to always be in exactly the correct gear, closer to the peak of the powerband. You can hold the RC390 in a gear higher than ideal when pressed for a downshift, secure in the knowledge the bike has enough torque to pull away from lower rpm, and sprint through its seamless, step free powerband. Like the KTM Dukes, the RC200 and RC390 both delight with their always willing, strong, refined and ever so smooth motors. There are few engines as good as these, and likewise few motorcycles that will match them on a track with such a good setup suspension and finely tuned chassis geometry. Only the Yamaha YZF-R15 and Kawasaki Ninja 300 make the grade to feel in the same league.    

This pair of Race Competition (RC) series bikes from KTM provide unadulterated track day tools for those of us looking for punchy, brilliantly setup sportsbikes, for a fun filled experience on track. Of course, as far as commuter bikes go, don’t expect comfort to be a forte. More about that when we get to ride the bikes on public roads. For the price these RC bikes are being offered at, they make attractive motorcycles, more than able to match up to expectations.

Rayomand Darius with Rishad Cooper 

 

KTM RC 200 Specifications

Price                                       Rs 1,60,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi)  

L/W/H                                    1978/688/1098

Wheelbase                              1340mm                                      

Fuel tank capacity                 9.5 litres                                       

Kerb weight                           154kg                                          

Engine                                    Single-cylinder, liquid-cooled,   

                                                four-stroke

Displacement                         199.5cc                                       

Power                                     24.7bhp at 10000rpm                     

Torque                                   1.96kgm at 8000rpm                     

Specific output                       123.8bhp per litre

Power to weight                     160.4bhp per tonne

Gearbox                                 6-speed, 1-down, 5-up                       

Front suspension                   USD forks                                     

Rear suspension                    Monoshock, alloy swingarm

Front brake                           280mm disc

Rear brake                             230mm disc

Tyres (f-r)                              110/70 x 17- 150/60x17 inches

 

KTM RC 390 Specifications

Price                                       Rs 2,05,000 (ex-showroom, Delhi)  

L/W/H                                    1978/748/1098

Wheelbase                              1340mm                                      

Fuel tank capacity                 9.5 litres                                       

Kerb weight                           166kg                                          

Engine                                    Single-cylinder, liquid-cooled,   

                                                four-stroke

Displacement                         373.2cc                                       

Power                                     42.9bhp at 9000rpm                     

Torque                                   3.57kgm at 7000rpm                     

Specific output                       115bhp per litre

Power to weight                     258.5bhp per tonne

Gearbox                                 6-speed, 1-down, 5-up                       

Front suspension                   USD forks                                     

Rear suspension                    Monoshock, alloy swingarm

Front brake                           300mm disc (ABS)

Rear brake                             230mm disc (ABS)

Tyres (f-r)                              110/70 x 17- 150/60x17 inches

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