2022 KTM RC 390 First Look

John Burns
by John Burns
Fast Facts

More aero and slipperier RC16-inspired bodywork
Better ergos, bigger gas tank
More torque via Euro 5
Modern electronics including Supermoto ABS
Better everysing!

Torquier, slipperier, comfier, safer, sweeter

We already loved the sporty, overachieving little RC 390, but word just in from Austria tells us we’re about to love it even more. Looks aren’t everything, but they’re a lot, and nearly every body panel has been redrawn to better resemble KTM’s MotoGP racer. Weren’t we just wishing for something other than orange the other day? Two new color schemes include a classic KTM blue/orange.

Lighter and Slipperier

Though the claim is that it’s lost a few pounds, the overall package is said to be a bit larger, for better aerodynamics. And those changes should result in more comfort and better ergonomics for the rider. The new bike is narrower between the knees, where the shape is said to “allow for smoother, more intuitive rider movement, with the largest possible contact area.” The new fuel tank holds 3.6 gallons.

Now, we’ve got optimized wind and weather protection, along with inner and outer body panels that direct airflow away from the rider for better heat management: It’s also not a bad thing that the rear shock is no longer mere millimeters from the hot exhaust collector. Bringing up the rear, a shrunken tail section reveals more of the bike’s redesigned trellis (bolt-on) subframe. Overall, the steel trellis frame is said to be 3.3 pounds lighter than before and stronger, while new wheels lop off fully 7.5 lbs of spinning, unsprung mass.


Speaking of which, a suspension upgrade takes the form of a 43mm inverted open-cartridge WP APEX fork up front, adjustable for compression damping on the left and rebound on the right; the single WP APEX rear shock absorber gives preload and five clicks of rebound adjustment.


We’re not claiming any more power from the already powerful 373 cc DOHC single, but a 40%-bigger airbox under the new gas tank is said to result in higher torque and better throttle response, as we move to Euro 5 compliance. New sensors inside that airbox also aid happy running via more precise mapping.

On the other end, a new exhaust system with stainless header pipes and an aluminum muffler reduce weight and emit racy noises…


We’ve got lean-sensitive Cornering ABS, Cornering traction control, an optional Quickshifter+, and don’t forget Supermoto ABS mode. It’s all monitored via a new TFT display which, of course, connects to your phone so you can see who’s calling now?

(KTM’s RC 125 gets a bunch of the same type of upgrades, but it’s not sold in the US so we really don’t care. Sorry.)

Overall, it looks like one of our most favorite little track bikes is going to be quite a bit trackier than before – and if you need something a tad streetier, you know a revised Duke 390 can’t be far behind.

2018 Lightweight Sportbikes Shootout

The bad news is you’ll have to wait ’til March for the new RC; the good news is it shouldn’t be much more than the $5,549 of the outgoing model.

KTM Press Release:

Highly anticipated and eagerly awaited by KTM RC fans the world over, the all-new 2022 KTM RC range is ready to roll out of pit lane and line up on the starting grid.

The KTM RC range has been a staple Supersport model in the KTM lineup for a number of years, filling the Sportsbike gap in the KTM lineup. Now boasting Grand Prix-inspired design, a true race-derived chassis, and high-end electronics previously unseen in the small displacement Supersport segment, the new generation RC range charges out of pitlane with real-world, race-winning intentions.

The most immediately obvious update across the board is the Grand Prix-inspired styling, which sees almost every panel being redesigned, boasting race-inspired lines and two new colorways which clearly define the sporty character of these motorcycles.This redesign has also been purposely done to increase the overall size of the RC range, not only to give it a striking visual presence but also to optimize aerodynamics due to higher top speeds, thanks in part to a computational fluid dynamics design process.

This new design has also optimized wind and weather protection, with enhanced heat management by using a combination of inner and outer body panels to direct airflow away from the rider.

The rear bodywork has been reduced as much as possible for a more aggressive profile, but also to show off as much of the redesigned steel trellis subframe as possible.

As true sports bikes, special care has been taken in improving overall ergonomics. The knee area is now ergonomically developed to allow for easier, more fluid rider movement, being as narrow as possible with the largest possible contact area.

An all-new two-part cockpit and windscreen holder makes use of a cast aluminum upper area and a lower composite part that secures the headlight, while a larger fuel tank has been added for improved day-to-day riding, comfort, and fuel range.

The new bodywork is easily removable, with a reduced number of screws being used as well as a redesigned mounting system. This makes swapping out the street-legal bodywork for race-ready panels more practical. However, the most notable updates to the KTM RC range can be found underneath the new bodywork. The 2022 KTM RC range was developed with a focus on weight saving, with extensive savings made throughout the chassis.

An all-new wheel design accounts for a 3.4 kg (7.5 pounds) unsprung weight saving over the previous generation, while the new ByBre braking system saves an impressive 960 grams. The frame too, has undergone the knife with a 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) saving.

The suspension has also undergone a major refresh, with adjustable open cartridge WP APEX upside-down front forks up front, which feature 30 clicks of compression adjustment on the left, and 30 clicks for rebound on the right.

The range topping KTM RC 390 is fitted with a WP APEX rear shock absorber which offers preload adjustment and 5 clicks rebound settings.
(The KTM RC 125 features WP APEX open cartridge front fork with a completely new sportier factory setting, and a new WP APEX shock absorber with split piston functionality.)

Every model in the KTM RC range is powered by a EURO5 state-of-the-art, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke engine with twin overhead camshafts, four valves, and electronic fuel injection. For 2022, the KTM RC range delivers more torque compared to previous models thanks to a new airbox design. The KTM RC 390 has also received a new engine mapping for increased torque and overall rideability.

From an electronic standpoint, the new generation KTM RC range sets the benchmark for the small displacement Supersport segment, with the KTM RC 390 boasting a selection of rider aids usually only available on bigger motorcycles, namely SUPERMOTO ABS, Lean angle sensitive Cornering ABS and Cornering MTC, and the optional Quickshifter+.

KTM MY RIDE can now also be added to the KTM RC 125 and KTM RC 390, thanks to new TFT color display, which allows riders to access important information at a glance, with the added flexibility of being able to tailor the display to show what they want to see. The display also automatically adapts its brightness to ambient light.

As a package, the 2022 KTM RC lineup promises to bring more READY TO RACE to the realm of Supersport with real, race-bred ability and technology to match.

The new generation KTM RC range will be available in dealers March 2022.

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John Burns
John Burns

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2 of 21 comments
  • Karikor Karikor on Sep 04, 2021

    I hope KTM will someday tune this little bike to what aftermarket performance houses do, (something in the range of 55-60hp) , and launch it for people who love this bike but needs a little bit more power and not just stick to Britain's A2 licensing norms.

    Now can't wait to see how the RC490 will turn out..

  • Martin collins Martin collins on Sep 04, 2021

    no doubt a great bike but sadly, looks too much like a ktm which means butt ugly. this is not a bike to sit and look at when parked up in your garage.