What is there to say about the KTM RC 390? Well, for starters, it’s probably the lightest, snappiest and most sharp-steering scalpel of a bike the current small-displacement sportbike market has to offer. It’s no surprise why many junior and development race series like MotoGP’s ADAC, WSBK’s WorldSSP 300 class and MotoAmerica’s KTM RC Cup and now Junior Cup feature racing based heavily on the RC 390, who’s DNA is deeply rooted in Moto3 competition.
It’s a fantastic stepping-stone in building up to a 600cc supersport as well as just a plain riot to ride for riders of all abilities, from just starting out to seasoned veterans. The RC 390 and its naked sibling, the 390 Duke, pack perhaps the biggest punch and provide the most grin-inducing performance of any sub 500cc street bike.
KTM has just kicked it up a notch and announced that it will be producing an RC 390 R model for the European and overseas markets in 2018 – a homologated, limited edition machine ready for Supersport 300 competition when combined with the optional and dedicated SSP300 Race Kit. Production will be limited, though, as only 500 models will be made and available only abroad – for now. For us in America, we’ll have to wait a little longer, but we’re told a U.S. version is on the way. The introduction of the new, hardcore R model comes right on the heels of the ever-growing popularity and promotion of small-displacement motorcycle racing, as evidenced by WSBK’s WorldSSP 300 class, which is starting its sophomore year in 2018, MotoAmerica’s successful RC Cup and all-new Junior cup, and the newly announced M1GP/Women in Motorsports Foundation Superlites Endurance Championship.
The R model will feature a host of factory race parts including fully adjustable WP suspension both front and rear that will allow racers of all sizes to dial in their perfect setup, a lighter and more aggressively positioned top triple-tree and bars, and CNC milled foldable levers designed to swivel and not break in the event of a crash or lay down. Additionally, the RC 390 R will have a shorter intake to maximize and widen the 373.2cc single-cylinder engine’s overall powerband. The whole package will be wrapped in a racey graphics kit.
The KTM RC 390 R, due to its top-shelf componentry and race-inspired nature, will set overseas riders back a considerable amount over the base model. Costing 8,500€ including German VAT, it doesn’t sound cheap, but it’s arguably some of the best equipment money can buy. Other bikes in the RC 390’s class include the Ninja 300/400, Yamaha YZF-R3 and Honda CBR500R, which are all considerably cheaper to initially acquire, but definitely require additional investment in key component areas to bring up to competitive race-pace.
For racers who want even more performance and tunability, KTM is also offering the SSP300 Race Kit, which complies with international SSP 300 FIM regulations for 2018 and contains more than 230 individual parts that truly give racers the ability to custom tune the bike to suit various tracks and conditions. The Race Kit includes a full titanium Akrapovič SSP300 EVO02 system with race ECU, STM slipper clutch, quickshifter, wiring harness, spare wheels, a huge selection of gearing options, an increased-capacity cooling system and a full bodywork kit made from strong, lightweight materials, in addition to other various parts.
The SSP 300 Race Kit will set an overseas rider back 11,000€, including German VAT, over the initial cost of the bike. But to a dedicated racer, having a brand-new, completely race-ready bike out of the box with factory-level equipment and an exceptional amount of adjustability might be worth it for that competitive edge. After all, KTM’s mantra is READY TO RACE. Just as the R model will be limited to 500 total units, the SSP300 Race Kit will also be limited to only 50 kits per year and will have to be acquired directly from KTM Customer Racing.
Fortunately for us Westerners, KTM tells us we can expect a U.S. announcement including pricing sometime soon.