The KTM RC 390 is one of the most important motorcycles introduced in India in recent times. It promises Moto3-inspired performance and dynamics, at a scarcely-believable price point. We straddle this two-wheeled Indo-Austrian missile and take it for a long ride, to test it and see what it is capable of.
Styling & Build Quality
Dressed in KTM’s signature colors of orange and white, with a hint of black thrown in, there is no denying that the RC 390 is one stunning piece of kit. Its angular fuel tank, slim full-fairing, and the cowl-shaped pillion seat, all make it look like a thoroughbred race-bike. The front end design may come across as quirky to some, but regardless, the RC 390 garnered attention and turned heads wherever it went.
Build quality on the RC is top notch. The plastics employed throughout exude a quality feel, and the bike feels solidly built. There are a couple of issues though - the matt finish of the fuel tank tends to scuff easily, and the battery cover felt very flimsy.
The RC 390 comes with a bent-forward riding posture, with the handlebar set low and the foot pegs set rearwards. This posture will feel great for spirited riding, as it offers more control over the bike and allows the rider to tuck in behind the fairing for better aerodynamics at high speeds. The saddle may look small, but there is actually quite some room for the rider to shift about. So at highway speeds, it is fairly comfortable. In the city though, it is a different story altogether. The seating posture tends to put a quite some pressure on the wrists and lower back, making it uncomfortable to ride at slow speeds.
Surprisingly, pillion comfort on the RC is quite decent. The pillion seat, which is integrated with the tail section, is sizable and provides good cushioning. Although it is positioned high, once you straddle it, you will find it reasonably comfortable to ride on.
Engine & Performance
The RC 390 is powered by the same 373cc single-cylinder engine in the same state of tune, churning 43 bhp & 35 Nm of torque. Initial acceleration isn’t as urgent as you might expect it to be, but once you hit 4000rpm, it accelerates ferociously all the way till redline. 100 kmph comes up in a flash, and if you keep the throttle pinned, it will take you to nearly 170 kmph.
The 6-speed gearbox employed on the RC 390 is a mixed bag. It comes with tall gear ratios, which is great for cruising on the highway, but when it comes to city riding, it is a bit of a hassle. The tall ratios mean you can’t go past second gear, and given the jerky fuelling at low revs, it is tricky to ride the RC 390 smoothly at low speeds.
Handling & Ride Quality
The RC’s defining factor is the way it handles. The stiff suspension, well-tuned chassis, and ultra-sticky Metzeler tyres inspire a ton of confidence, and allow the rider to turn into corners at high speeds without breaking a sweat. It is also very agile, capable of changing direction rapidly at the rider’s behest. Stability is great too, be it on straights or around corners. Take it around a track or your favourite set of twisty roads, and you will definitely have a ball of a time. In the city though, the RC doesn’t feel as nimble as a streetfighter does, and it takes a little bit of effort to negotiate traffic.
Well, you can’t have everything, can you? Great handling and great ride quality seldom go hand in hand, and that holds true in the case of the RC 390. The stiff suspension results in a hard ride. While this isn’t much of an issue on smooth highways, it is very apparent in city roads. You will have to traverse bumps and potholes slowly and cautiously on the RC 390.
KTM has equipped the RC 390 with a 300mm disc up front and a 230mm disc at the rear, along with an Anti-lock Braking System fitted as standard. This set up proved to be very effective, swiftly bringing the bike to a halt even from high speeds. The ABS worked really well in the background, not allowing the wheels to lock even when we jammed both brakes simultaneously, thereby ensuring neat and fuss-free braking performance on all surfaces.
The RC gets a fully-digital multi-function display, which projects all vital information, such as vehicle speed, engine speed, fuel level, gear indicator and a whole host of other details and various tell-tale lights. Also included are a customizable gearshift indicator light, and a hidden switch to turn the ABS off. Apart from these, the RC comes equipped with projector-headlights that offer excellent illumination in the dark, LED pilot lights at the front, LED indicators, and LED tail lights, all of which look really cool when lit up.
The cherry on top of the cake that is the RC 390 is its pricing. At around Rs 2.2 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi), it poses exceptional value for money, considering the performance and features it has on offer. Its closest rival, the Kawasaki Ninja 300, is a whopping Rs 1.6 lakhs more expensive.
The KTM RC 390 is nothing short of a revelation. If the Yamaha R15 introduced us to track-focussed dynamics, this sportsbike shows us the intoxicating effects when you add a lot of power to the mix. It may not be the most comfortable bike to run your daily errands on, due to the sporty ergonomics and harsh ride quality. Take it to a track or a twisty back road though, and you will be able to enjoy its wonderful corner-carving abilities to the fullest. If you are a riding enthusiast looking for a fast and immensely-capable sportsbike under Rs 3lakhs, your search ends here.
|Engine||Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke single-cylinder|
|Power||43 bhp @ 9000 rpm|
|Torque||35 Nm @ 7000 rpm|
|Chassis Type||Steel Tubular Space Frame|
|Brakes||Front:Disc, Dia 300mm
Rear:Disc, Dia 230mm
|Suspension||Front:43mm dia. upside down telescopic forks
Rear:10-step adjustable monoshock
|Fuel Tank Capacity||10|