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KTM RC 390 in the driving report

Lively speedster with great handling

You could guess: after the small entry-level sports car, the RC 125, the Austrians are bringing the KTM RC 390. A lively 44-hp single-cylinder with sensational handling.

Since Stefan Pierer with KTM is in charge – and it’s been 22 years now – there is only one direction for the orange: upwards! Under his aegis, the company developed from a bankruptcy candidate to – by number of units – the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe. Only with bikes with studded tires would the ascent have stalled at some point, which is why the asphalt part of the world became the focus of Austrians. The first attempts with the travel enduro adventure got off to a good start. Later, the Duke series of fun bikes set about shaking up the market. Only the RC8 superbike fell short of expectations in terms of sales.

KTM RC 390 in the driving report

Lively speedster with great handling

RC 390 according to.

Elaborate, finely crafted components

When developing the KTM RC 390, the KTMers based themselves on the requirements of the A2 driving license regulations. These require, for example, a power to weight ratio of a maximum of 0.2 kW / kg. A motorcycle with the maximum permitted power of 48 hp must therefore weigh 175 kg. And since the 390 is homologated with 44 hp, one can conclude from this that it will weigh around 160 kilograms with a full tank. The first impression is initially convincing: Elaborate, finely crafted components such as the cast aluminum swing arm delight the eye of the beholder. On closer inspection, large plastic surfaces and screws become apparent, the quality of which cannot quite keep up with the models produced in Mattighofen. While the engine, exhaust, wheels, swing arm, cockpit and many small parts of the RC are unchanged from the 390 Duke, the frame has been slightly modified. The steering head is 1.5 degrees steeper, the caster is easy to handle 88 mm.

During the first functional test of the chassis of the KTM RC 390 while stationary, the big difference between the fully dampened and sluggishly appealing, non-adjustable upside-down fork and the rather soft and undamped-looking shock absorber is noticeable. According to KTM, this design is intentional, the shock absorber has a fairly progressive spring in order to achieve a sensitive response behavior even with lighter riders.


KTM RC 125 in the driving report

125cc in a sporty version

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Always "Ready to Race"

Indeed, when driving, the shock absorber of the KTM RC 390 doesn’t feel underdamped. The pilot’s accommodation is the same as with modern sports bikes: sporty, but not uncomfortable. The handlebars are comfortably high. The first few meters are on small, winding roads into the mountains. So tight that the supposed performance deficit is not perceived as such at all. The 373 cm³ engine certainly does not tear up very large trees, but it is cultivated below. From around 6500 rpm, which you can barely read on the tiny tachometer bar, it then unpacks its little hammer and turns briskly to the limiter at 10,500 rpm. The six-speed gearshift box works smoothly, but the gears often jumped out, at least on the driven specimen.

The KTM RC 390 follows the course of the road lightly. When it started to rain, it was able to prove its effectiveness, as with the 125 series two-channel ABS from Bosch. It works at short intervals and pulsates in the hand lever just enough that the control range is perceived. The rear-view mirrors are less functional, apart from your own station wagon, you can’t see anything in them. In return, they do their job as turn signal holders very well. Like the license plate holder, they are quick and easy to dismantle, because a KTM should always be "Ready to Race".

The KTM RC 390 with Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact tires was able to prove its suitability in this regard on the small but fine Autodromo di Modena. The KTM is not a bad choice, especially for newcomers to the racetrack, because it teaches you to have a smooth and precise driving style, as you cannot make up for driving mistakes with engine power on the next straight. In addition, the pilot is not overwhelmed by the power. However, on the tight curling course, the front brake reaches its limits of resilience, and the fairing keel and footpegs touch down at a great angle. Nevertheless, the RC 390 is also great fun on the racetrack, as long as the straights are not too long. And at 5595 euros, the fun is also affordable.

Technical data KTM RC 390


The KTM RC 390 is great fun on the racetrack as long as the straights are not too long

engine: Water-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine, a balance shaft, two overhead, chain-driven camshafts, four valves, rocker arms, wet sump lubrication, injection, Ø 46 mm, regulated catalytic converter, 12 V / 8 Ah battery , mechanically operated multi-plate oil bath clutch, six-speed gearbox, X-ring Chain, secondary transmission 15:45.
Bore x stroke: 89.0 x 66.0 mm
Displacement: 375 cm³
Compression ratio: 12.5: 1
Rated output: 32 kW (44 hp) at 9500 rpm
Max. Torque: 35 Nm at 7250 rpm

landing gear: Tubular steel frame, upside-down fork, Ø 43 mm, two-arm swing arm made of cast aluminum, central spring strut, directly hinged, adjustable spring base, front disc brake, Ø 300 mm, radially mounted four-piston fixed caliper , rear disc brake, Ø 230 mm, single-piston floating caliper, SECTION.

Cast aluminum wheels 3.00 x 17; 4.00 x 17
Tires: 110/70 ZR 17; 150/60 ZR 17
Tires: Metzeler Sportec M5 Interact

Dimensions + weights: Wheelbase 1340 mm, steering head angle 66.5 degrees, caster 88 mm, suspension travel from / h. 125/150 mm, seat height 820 mm, empty weight approx. 155 kg, permissible total weight k. A., tank capacity 10 liters.

Guarantee: two years
Colors: black / white
Price: 5595 euros
Additional costs: around 200 euros

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