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KTM RC 390 Vs KTM Duke 390 - The Difference Explained

KTM RC 390 Vs KTM Duke 390 - The Difference Explained

Snapshot: The 200 and 390 Dukes have been a hit amongst adrenaline lovers and to add to their thrills, their supersport versions have just joined the bandwagon...

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It’s been 2 years since KTM stepped into the Indian market. And since then, they have been the most aggressive motorcycle manufacturer in the country. From the aggressive pricing of their 200 and 390 Dukes to their aggressive marketing with events like Orange Days, Orange Rides, Orange Tours and the latest Orange Track Days, their machines have caused quite a bit of stir in the Japanese motorcycling world, and maybe a small angst of worry between them.  

The 200 and 390 Dukes have been a hit amongst adrenaline lovers, and to add to their thrills, their supersport versions have just joined the bandwagon. With the launch of the ‘Race Competition’ RC 200 and RC 390 twins the Austrian manufacturer is ready tointroduce riders to new levels of thrills while not breaking their banks. Priced at Rs 1.64 lakh the RC 200 is just Rs 22,000/- more in comparison to the 200 Duke while the RC 390 is only Rs 18,000/- more than its Rs1.8 lakh Duke cousin. With such miniscule differentiation in prices between the RC 390 and 390 Duke, it becomes rather difficult to make up ones mind as to which would be a better buy. We take a deeper look at the 390 cousinsto better understand which motorcycle is the best suitable for the money. 


The RC series brings KTMs Moto 2 inspired genetics straight away to the streets. Following on the RC-series lineage, the RC 390 boastslow clip-on like(not actual clip-ons) handlebars and further pushed back footpegs giving it a moreaerodynamic seating posture as compared to the upright position on the 390 Duke which aids in lesser windblasts at high speeds. The rear subframe is set higher than the Duke, making it a tad difficult for pillions to mount and dismount and the rear seat made out of specialized memory foam does appear to be comfortable only for short distances.

The rear on the RC is kept neat and clear of any protrusions as its taillights are slid underneath the rear tail and indicators hang off the rear fender. At the front the dual projector headlights lie recessed inside the sharp and angular fairing garnished by LED DRLs.

This makes the RC 390 look like no other motorcycle on the roads, aggressive and unique in styling. While both the RC and Duke share the same chassis, they both have completely distinctive looks with only small areas like the instrument cluster sharing a similar look and feel. 

Engine and Performance

The 390 RC and the Duke share exactly the same single-cylinder 43.5bhp engine and similar gearing;there are minute details that differentiate the performance on both the machines. The RC 390 has a modified inset steering angle giving it a shorter wheelbase as compared to the Duke. It also sits higher to the ground with an increase of 8.5mm in ground clearance compared to its naked sibling.

To further sharpen the handling, the front forks on the RCs have reduced travel making the steering sharper and more responsive to cornering. Although due to the fairing, the RC is 8kgs heavier than the Duke. While due to the excess weight, the RC will be a tad slower in acceleration as compared to the Duke, it would compensate the same with a higher (16kmph more than the Duke) top-end due to its aerodynamic design. 

Ride and Handling

The RC is poised to be an out and out corner-carving machine. With its forward set ergonomics and shorter wheelbase, the RC is more responsive to direction change as compared to the Duke. At high speeds, the RCs aerodynamic fairing protects from windblasts thus feeling more planted on the highways in comparison to the Duke, which struggles to find composure in crosswinds. While cornering, the front-biased weight setup keeps the front end planted and the sticky Metzelerrubber providing superb grip. While accelerating out, the single-cylinder 43.5bhp engine has enough grunt to power out of corners with furious acceleration.

While braking, the RC gives a slight more confident breaking feel over the 390 Duke due to its stiffer suspensions and front weight bias, although both the machines have the same 300mm disc at the front and a 230mm disc at the rear. In traffic though, it’s a completely different scenario. After a while, the forward leaning posture on the RC starts getting to your shoulders and wrists. And soon you would start missing the much more upright and comfortable seating of the Duke.

KTM is known for building purpose-built motorcycles that excel at a singular task rather than being average at all. The RC 390 is a made-for-cornering machine. Its has the right choice of ingredients to make it one of the most enjoyable and fun loving motorcycles in the country currently. On the other hand, the 390 Duke excels in stop and go traffic as no other street bike in its segment can. Both these machines excel and are the best at what they do and eventually it is a matter of personal preference and riding habits that suits ones riding style the best.

ALSO: Watch KTM Duke 390 Video Test Ride Review below 

KTM Duke 390 Test Ride Review

Photos Credit : Zigwheels

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