Test riding new KTM RC 390: Best version of the 390 ever sold in India

The fit and finish levels have gone up rather substantially. It feels like a well-made motorcycle.

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While talking to one of the trainers at the Rajini Academy of Competitive Racing about what I would need to do to make my motorcycle more track focussed, I was asked to consider the option of picking up a KTM RC390, as it was a bike that was purpose-built for racing. After following up with the usually uninterested local KTM dealership, I was handed the keys to the Adv 390 and the RC 390, for short test rides in the city.

Here are some observations about the RC 390

  • While my opinion is sharply divided on the looks of the new-gen RC 390, I have quickly come around to liking it. The proportions of the old bike were far too small for large-framed riders. The updated motorcycle looks much more substantial, in comparison. This colour scheme is pretty neat. As per the salesperson, young riders aren’t digging the looks of the new bike, and hence, end up dropping it from their list of potential buys. I suspect that they aren’t liking the sky-high price, either!
  • Along with the looks, the fit and finish levels have gone up rather substantially. The On-Off switch could be better but other than that, the rest of the bike feels like a well-made motorcycle. You could say the same for the old RC 390.
  • The bike had less than 100 kilometers on the odometer, hence, I was rather careful during my test ride. Riding in the city, meant that I couldn’t get into 4th gear. Despite these limitations, the acceleration from the smoothened-out BS6 engine was quite something! However, be prepared to work the gears, especially in the city. You cant leave it in a higher gear and enjoy a smooth stream of never-ending torque.
  • The motorcycle was very flickable! I tried leaning off the motorcycle, to simulate cornering 101 exercises, and it felt very natural.
  • The front brake feel was a lot stronger than that on the Adv 390 that I tested, just before it.
  • The foot pegs are high set but not uncomfortably so, if you are relatively fit. The handlebars were a bit more relaxed, as compared to the foot pegs. This is going to be really good for track riders / cornering enthusiasts. Ready to race, all the way. On the flip side, the aggressive body posture isn’t going to be great for touring. Here, the stock TVS Apache RR 310 scores over the KTM RC 390, while the fully kitted TVS Apache RR 310 BTO will redefine torture on two wheels.
  • The engine didn’t throw up any heat onto my legs. That said, the loud fan(s?) kept coming on and going off. Between the gruff exhaust note and the vocal fan(s?), this is a clamorous motorcycle.
  • The rear preload was set on level 2 of 10. I don’t know what the rebound was set to. With my 90 kg weight, the rear end of the bike was bouncing up, after the slightest bit of compression. I identified this even before the test ride started. The showroom team didn’t have a C-spanner and didn’t seem interested in setting the preload to say a level 5, like I suggested, at a later date. Lighter riders will be thrown off the seat, with this suspension setting. With all due respect, the showroom team didn’t have any clue about the rebound problem that I pointed out.
  • While KTM has tamed the 390, in each successive iteration, there is no getting away from the fact that this is, was, and will continue to be, a buzzy powerplant. Once the engine opens up, after a few thousand kilometers, it will only find more dollops of ahem, character. That’s just what KTM owners live with, considering the levels of fun that are on offer. Between the aggressive rider triangle and buzzy engine, it is difficult for me to imagine touring for multiple days on this RC 390. That said, if I could only do track days with one motorcycle, this would probably be it.

I asked the showroom team why so few bikes have been sold in Kerala (which is KTM country). Apparently, the supply from the company has been very limited, which is why we don’t spot them on our roads. That doesn’t make any sense. Why launch a bike and then, willingly choke supply to your dealers? I believe that pricing has a major impact on sales or lack thereof.

Below is the breakup of the on-road pricing in Kerala. For the remainder of the month, KTM is throwing in the extended warranty (years 3 to 5) for free. So, if you are planning to pick up the new RC 390, now is a good time to do so.

  • EX – SHOW. – 3,16,987
  • INSURANCE – 28,473 (1st year B2B, 3rd part for subsequent years)
  • ROAD TAX – 67,022
  • VPC. – 1000 (Vehicle preparation charge, a.k.a handling charges)
  • ON ROAD. – 4,13,483

Optional Packages

  • Ext Warranty – 2,999
  • Orange Assist – 999 (Roadside assistance)
  • WAX POLISH. – 1500
  • TOTAL. – 4,18,981

I have always maintained that the KTM 250 platform was the perfect middle ground for our varied conditions. Though I have never really been a fan of the 390 series, I found myself quite liking this latest iteration of the RC 390. To me, this is the best version of the 390, that has ever been sold in India. It just might be the best bike that KTM has sold to our masses.

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