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KTM RC390: A sportsbike that doesn't cost a bomb!

By Kunal Kelkar
October 05, 2014 09:54 IST
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RC390 is the perfect city bike for India says Kunal Kelkar.


KTM has been known to make some really awesome machines. Their RC8 is probably their most renowned track bike. In India, KTM was very successful with its entrant, the naked bikes -- Duke 200 and its successor the Duke 390.

Once the 390 was launched there was a bull all of this past year about KTM launching a race ready version of one of its bikes -- a mini RC.


The RC390 turns heads. Right away one knows that this bike comes from a lineage of thoroughbred sport bikes. The looks are very distinctive and nothing like what is currently available in the Indian market. I particularly find the recessed projector lamps very interesting. They sit deep in the nose of the bike giving the front end a sort of an avian feel, very raptor like.


The profile of the RC390 is very sleek, hiding the pillion seat which makes for a beautifully sculpted sleek tail. The fairings are large and have blatantly visible ‘KTM’ branding on them and are layered well giving the bike quite a macho look.

The instrument cluster is large and easily readable from the riding position. The screen shows a tach going all the way to 13ooo rpm but this bike red lines at 12000 rpm.

Apart from displaying the speed and the revs, the standard lights for check engine, neutral notification, high beams and low fuel, all have their own circular groove and distinct colours.  

The on board computer also notifies the rider once the low fuel range is reached. The KTM RC 390's seat is thin, however this fit is decently comfortable for short city riding.

Engine and handling

You might think that the RC390 is just a Duke 390 with fairings, but let me say that though the RC 390 shares a lot of parts with the Duke there are quite a few minor adjustments KTM has made to make this bike more of a race-ready machine than the city specific Duke.

The travel on the suspension has been reduced to stiffen up the ride making the RC even more race ready than the Duke. The biggest difference is that the RC weighs more than the Duke, a whole 8kgs more.

The chassis is the same between the 2 bikes but the steering rack is sharper on the RC360 making for nippier turns since it has shortened the wheelbase and made the ground clearance higher by about 8mm.

The 373.2cc remains the same producing about 45 horses for the Indian market.

On straddling the riders’ seat, one immediately feels the difference. The RC390 feels like a rocket powered feather.

The bike is very light making it very nimble in and around the city. The motorcycle responds to every action, every input from the rider. Push the right clip-on and the bike immediately dives right. This bike would be perfect on twisty roads. Though I didn't have the opportunity to ride it on any mountain roads, I'd imagine this machine to be very nimble and easy to manoeuver through tight turns as well as the long banked corners. One aspect of the bike I personally wasn't too happy with was that the seating position is angled pretty deep toward the instrument cluster which makes the weight transfer to the front of the bike instantly, which can be slightly unnerving initially, but once you get used to it, it can be worked around.

Riding dynamics


With a great amount of low end power, the RC feels very quick accelerating to 100km/h. There is enough power in the lower gears to pull the bike out of the corners and it does it while putting a smile on the riders face.

For a single cylinder low cc bike the RC390 is quite enjoyable to ride. Hitting the rev limiter in the first three gears is very easy; especially if you're riding style is on the aggressive side.

For a big guy like me, the RC390 is a delight to handle in tight situations. It is feather-weight and the great torque in the low end allows for quick bursts of speed to get out of traffic jams, or getting away from the commuter traffic at the signal.


You might ask: is it worth buying the RC 390 as compared to the already existing Duke 390? Well both the bikes are for a very different kind of rider.

The RC390 is aimed at the customer wanting the superbike look and feel. To be blatant, the seating position and the lack of handle bars can be quite tiring for the person using this bike as a daily commuter in India.

In slow moving traffic in the cities and knowing that one has nearly 50 horses going to one wheel can make one want to accelerate aggressively to get away from the chaos, but the dart like responsiveness and the immediate power delivery of this bike is something that should be respected.

It's a sport bike in its purest form, reduced to the bare essentials. Extremely fast, agile and ridiculously sporty.

In my opinion it is a wonderful bike for a customer looking to own a sports bike with all the capabilities of a higher cc machine at a lower cost.

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Kunal Kelkar
Related News: KTM, RC390, RC, Duke, India