When KTM invaded the circuit scene, including the premiere MotoGP category this year, I just had to try their RC390 sport bike and find out if their racing technology has filtered down to this very agile bike.
Well, I wasn’t disappointed as the RC390 lived up to its hype and that comes at an affordable P300,000 tag price!
A love-hate polarization happens to those who see the bike; some people love it and some people don’t. As for me, I like the modern, transformer look with angular lines in the fairings and the orange colored trellis frame.
The small headlights with spoiler like extensions make it looks like it’s slicing the wind when standing still. The 2017 orange/white/black graphics design use the contours of the bike to good effect. However, I saw the new 2018 design and it is much better, and really enhances the angular look.
The orange wheels, huge front disc, and 43mm diameter forks give it a very sporty look. The skinny tail section and lights is a feature of new sport bikes and no one will find fault in them. The well-crafted seat looks like it’s for only one person but a back rider can still tag along as there is a disguised, top seat with rider’s pegs.
Its engine is torquey 35 Nm and 44 hp on tap. The pulling power is commendable as you can keep the bike in a higher gear and it will pull you through when you crank the throttle. The transmission is good and has well-placed ratios. I can actually go one final gear numerically lower in this bike for easier highway riding.
The engine sound though is not something that you can be proud of as it is noisy at low rpms, especially at idling. It quiets down quite a lot when you get to move but I miss the multi-cylinder sound when you open the throttle. At above 6,000 rpm, the tune becomes quite good and you would like to keep it there all the time.
KTM fitted a slipper clutch and this helps a lot in controlling the rear tire from all the back torque when you shift down. This year, the throttle was fitted with a fly-by-wire system that provides for better engine control.
Being a sport bike, one can expect really carving those turns. The RC390 didn’t let me down. It has very good grip when you lean it. With its very lean packaging of bodywork and chassis, with high set pegs, the riding position just begged me to keep on pushing the bike into turns.
But in traffic, you could hurt your wrists and back with that setup. Maybe a higher bar will help but I’m sure it will spoil the fun on the track.
While the great handling will keep everyone talking about this bike, the hard suspension will get some complaints especially from riding along bumpy, urban roads.
The brakes are very strong and will not let you down. The rear brake is very sensitive and I hope the anti-lock braking system (ABS) can control it better.
I would like to get a more comfortable seat, lower gearing numerically, and better ABS settings especially at the rear. Maybe the 2018 model will be better with the fly-by-wire throttle and better looking graphics. Nevertheless, with this very affordable price and great pedigree, you can’t go wrong if you are looking for an exciting sport bike. I rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars and hope to ride it again on the tracks.