The dawn of the RC era from KTM in 2014 paved the way for riders to experience what a true sport-oriented machine felt like. It was that perfect combination of raw performance, aggressive and unique styling, and really sharp handling that made the RC series really stand out. For 2017, KTM has refreshed the RC siblings – the RC200 gets some minor changes, while the RC390 gets some more substantial developments.
The smaller sibling in the RC range gets a set of new graphics and a BS-IV compliant engine. A short spin on the 2017 RC200 revealed that this motorcycle remains relatively unchanged, although the new graphics do lend a breath of freshness to the motorcycle.
The major chunk of changes, however, is seen on the RC390. While the slipper clutch has been carried over from the 2016 model, the 2017 model also gets ride-by-wire technology, revised graphics, a revised exhaust unit, improved brakes, and a Euro-IV compliant engine. But how does all this translate in the real world?
The new graphics on the RC390 really enhance the sporty and aggressive look of the motorcycle. The bright orange of the inner fairing, and the revised decals are quite striking and really make the motorcycle stand out. And let’s not forget, thanks to the new side-slung exhaust, the new RC390 also gets a revised belly pan. It is now less bulbous than before and the narrower design addresses the issue on the older motorcycle where the belly pan would scrape the ground during hard cornering.
The rest of the body work remains relatively unchanged. It does, however, get a 12mm bump in seat cushioning. But this is solely for the purpose of added comfort on longer stints in the saddle; the seat height remains unchanged at 820mm. The new RC390 also gets adjustable levers for that added bit of usability and comfort.
Now, in order to meet the new Euro-IV emission norms, KTM had to ensure lower emission levels without losing out on performance. This has resulted in a weight gain of 7kg for the RC390, which is not really evident when riding the machine.
Also new is the ride-by-wire tech that allows power to be delivered in a clean manner, and that makes the bike’s grunt more usable.
Despite the BS-IV upgrade, the 2017 model still produces peak power of 43hp from the 373cc, single-cylinder unit, while torque figures have gotten a 1Nm bump and now peaks at 36Nm. This increase, however, is not noticeable when riding the machine.
The slipper clutch helps reasonably well for hard downshifting. It also keeps the lever light and easy to operate. The six-speed gearbox remains unchanged and the power is delivered smoothly across the engine’s entire rev-range.
What has been improved greatly are the brakes. Not only does it get a 20mm increase in diameter for the front brake, making it 320mm, it also gets a 1mm increase in the size of the master cylinder which is now 13mm. This has resulted in phenomenal stopping power. The brakes feel strong and confidence-inspiring, and the twin-channel ABS kicks in cleanly to avoid any untoward drama.
Another small change on the 2017 model is with the tyres. Although it retains the grippy Metzeler M5I tyres, the new ones have a lower speed rating. However, grip levels remain as good as before, so this is not really an area of concern.
The 2017 RC200 is priced at Rs 1.72 lakh and the RC390 comes with a tag of Rs 2.25 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). For only a Rs 12,000 bump in pricing, the 2017 RC390 does get a whole new lot of goodies. Although in the real world it doesn’t translate into too many changes in the dynamics of the motorcycle. So, while the 2017 RC390 is priced well and is still a whole lot of fun to ride, KTM could have gone that extra mile and made it a whole lot better. While KTM hasn’t mentioned anything yet, here’s hoping that 2018 model is just that.
(In partnership with AutocarIndia)