Typically, the most fascinating sportbikes have high price tags and outrageous levels of power. KTM’s playful new RC390 has neither but, nevertheless is almost irresistibly appealing.
Until now, entry-level sportbikes have been fun to ride but lack the desirability, equipment and performance that experienced riders demand. The RC390 has the style and capabilities to change that equation. Compare its sharp lines, lovely tubular-trellis frame and radial-mount brakes to segment rivals like Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 and Honda’s new CBR300R, and the RC390 looks like it punches in a class or two higher.
We published our First Ride Review of the RC390 a few days ago, and now we’re bringing you the sights and sounds of the alluring KTM in a video you can view below.
Powering KTM’s latest RC is a single-cylinder engine displacing 373cc, giving it a big leg up on the 286cc Single in the Honda. The twin-cylinder Ninja 300 (296cc) will come close to matching the KTM’s peak horsepower (43 horses claimed at the crank), but the Kawi (and Honda) will fall well short of the RC’s torque output, crank-rated at 25.8 ft-lb.
The RC390 uses a cool, robotically welded trellis frame that adds style points and saves weight. KTM claims a lithe 324-lb tank-empty weight, which undercuts the CBR’s 337 lbs and the Ninja’s 357 lbs. The RC is pushing the power-to-weight limits of Europe’s A2 licensing tier. Switchable ABS is standard equipment.
Yet to be released is the RC390’s price, but it’s expected to be surprisingly low, aided by the RC’s production taking place in India. I originally guessed an MSRP in the $6,000 range, but KTM today confirmed its price will be “very competitive” with bikes in its class. With ABS, the CBR retails for $4,899, while the Ninja is priced at $5,299, so the sexy little KTM will almost surely have a sub-$6k MSRP, which would make its value proposition even stronger.
Americans will have their first chance to see the RC390 during the International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, California, November 14-16, when the official MSRP will be announced. Availability in dealers is expected by March 2015.