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KTM RC200 & KTM RC390: The Racing Clones

AL-v-4-i-1-Outlander-167Less than half a decade ago, motorcycling enthusiasts that wanted a little oomph in their machines didn’t have many options to choose from in the Nepali Market. If you had deep pockets you could, maybe, splurge on a high caliber engine to tame your speed demon. But the less fortunate had to settle for a really fast commuter sports bike at best and push it to the absolute limit. This wasn’t a bad thing at all. At that time the 150-200cc premium bikes did a pretty decent job of keeping us occupied. But sadly there was nothing in between that adapted to the needs of the average rider who couldn’t shell the cash in 7 figures. That was until the KTM Duke 200 surfaced. Our expectations skyrocketed and KTM delivered. The orange demon sold like hot cakes and for good reason too. Featuring the best power to weight ratio in its class it came as a ray of hope to the common Nepali rider. The 390 followed suit and left us gaping with its capabilities.AL-v-4-i-1-Outlander-168Finally there was a motorcycle that gave an honest big bike feel beyond expectations. Taking into consideration our nations obsession with full fairings, it was quiet astonishing to see the naked fairings of the KTM Duke gain so much popularity. Just when people began to wonder if things could be taken up a further notch, came something that ticked all the boxes. A lightweight sports bike with full fairings the unveiling of the KTM RC in the 2013 EICMA motor show in Italy had us all at the edge of our seats. Finally here, we were eager to get our hands on it. Even if it was just an aesthetic upgrade, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for us. However KTM promised that there was more to it than what met the eyes. We took the RC 200 and 390 to find out first hand.AL-v-4-i-1-Outlander-176STYLING

Nepal loves a fully-faired engine and the full fairing of the RCs is an instant winner. We wouldn’t blame you if you took the RCs for a higher caliber machine than they actually are. The aggressive styling demands attention. Two projector lamps and DRL whiskers nestle under a raked out windscreen. Similarly aggressive design aspects transfer onto the chiseled fuel tank that drops down by a liter in capacity to the Duke. The 390 features an engine cover that only differs to that of the 200 in color the prior painted in a combination of white with KTM in black with orange accents and the latter sticking to an all-black and orange theme with white accents on the KTM logo.RC2The mirror mounted turn indicators, a segment first, are also decent eye catchers. The all-digital instrument cluster isn’t different to its naked sibling and the switch gears are well built. The triple clamp mounted handle bar definitely comes to par with the sporty aesthetics and dynamics of the RC. A bright orange exposed trellis frame transitions your interest onto the extremely well designed rear. Slim LED lights settle under the tail section accompanied with protruding indicators. RCThe exhaust too is sophisticatedly integrated with the full fairing onto the underbelly. But the star here is the beautifully designed rear seat that contributes to the single seat illusion that establishes the RC’s sports bike design. The KTM RC 390 is equipped with Metzeler Sportec M5 tyres while the 200 sticks to the MRF. The non-adjustable 43mm inverted fork and spring-preload adjustable shock are featured. When it comes to visual appeal, the edgy design and styling of the KTM RC definitely sets the standard in its segment.AL-v-4-i-1-Outlander-169PERFORMANCE

When we rode the Duke 200 and 390, we dismounted with a satisfied grin on our faces. Throwing our legs over the RCs, we couldn’t help but hope for something similar if not better. We were not disappointed. The more sporting riding position and clip-ons level with the top triple clamp alone sets the RC apart. Getting into position demands you to step into your alter ego that feeds off of the numbers escalating through your speedometer.

AL-v-4-i-1-Outlander-173RC 390:

The higher-powered brother of the RC 200 brings things up to a whole new level. The claimed peak output of 44 horsepower at 9500 rpm seem justifiable when you’re crouched and holding on to the bolting machine that you just unleashed with the flick of your wrist. The linear power delivery is very grunty at the lower rpms and convincingly rakes through the rpms seamlessly translating into a satisfying zing at the 10,000-rpm redline. Simply put, the RC 390 will shoot through the tarmac and render objects in the rear view mirror invisible in a matter of seconds. Gear ratios are comparatively better so you won’t shift through gears as quickly as in the 200, the shifts however are seamless and smooth.AL-v-4-i-1-Outlander-178The RC 390 is composed and slaloms equally well through tight traffic as it bolts through straights. Thanks to the Metzelers on the 390 carving corners is where it excels with exceptional grip. If you want to put your shoulder into the curve this is the bike to do it on. The ABS system works great and gives you the extra confidence to push yourself further down the road. You don’t have to worry about locking up the 300mm and 230mm disc brakes at the front and rear in panic braking situations. The integrated ABS system makes it a safe fast motorcycle, especially in wet conditions. Interestingly, if you are the kind who fancies getting the rear wheels up more often, the ABS can be easily switched off via a switch in the console.AL-v-4-i-1-Outlander-177RC 200:

You can’t take anything away from the 200 either. It boasts of probably the best power to weight ratio in its segment and performs with vigor. The numbers claim a peak power output of 25 bhp at 10000 rpm. It is torque hungry and gear ratios are short, so you will find yourself shifting through gears rather quickly. The shifts are smooth thanks to the well-built gearbox, but you’ll be looking for more gears when you hit the limit .Cornering is a positive experience and it pulls out of the corners with proper energy. Of course the ABS and Metzeler tyres are missing from the 200 but the MRF tires and the 300mm front and 230mm rear disc brakes do a very decent job of gripping the road and bringing you to a halt.AL-v-4-i-1-Outlander-186

VERDICT

As much joy as the KTM Dukes brought to the motorcycling world of the average economic Nepali man, the RC took it a step further. For the motorcycle enthusiasts who had to settle for the naked styling of the Duke, the RC comes as a savior for the ones who love a full fairing. It certainly satisfies the speed demons and is in its entirety a very capable lightweight sports bike.AL-v-4-i-1-Outlander-172

The RC 200 might be short of a few features and power output, but it gets you very close to the big bike feel. The 390 version tops it up with a considerable amount of power and features and takes the satisfaction quotient to an even higher level.

So what this ultimately means is that you get to feel a sports bike experience without having to inherit a fortune to do so. Now what more could you ask for?

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