KTM has changed the whole motorcycling scenario since the time it first entered the Indian market. We still remember the excitement of looking at the 200 Duke for the very first time in flesh. The Austrian motorcycle maker in co-operation with Bajaj auto opened new doors for Indian motorcycle enthusiasts that redefined the phrase, ‘affordable performance’ in India.
The company tasted huge success with the launch of 200 Duke and in no time, Duke was well praised all over the country for its brilliant value for money proposition and punchy performance it offered. Being manufactured at the Pune plant, KTM managed to price the bike sensibly.
Soon after the success of 200 Duke, the 390 Duke took centre stage. But for even more excitement, Indo-Austrian partnership was looking forward to introduce something different. Something that is engineered keeping Indian crowd in mind and that can do justice with KTM’s ‘Ready to Race’ philosophy. Enter KTM RC200 and RC390. We test rode the RC390, which is absolute bonkers. And now it was time to swing a leg over the RC200.
Look at the entire product portfolio of KTM, there is something common in all the motorcycles. This is like a thing with KTM’s designing team that they just hate using curves on their designs. RC 200 too is not an exception. The design cues on RC200 are carried from its elder sibling, the RC8. Though not the headlights, but looking at the RC200 does reminds you of the RC8.
At the front, RC 200 comes with striking looking dual projector headlamps and at night these projectors illuminate the road up brighter than the ones on the Duke, so apart from being a visual treat these also add to usability. The fuel tank slim and is designed in a way that it complements the over-all sleekness of RC.
The orange frame on RC200/390 is inspired from that of KTM’s Moto3 machines and the way KTM keeps it uncovered to see, is mad and beautiful at the same time. Unlike 200 Duke, RC also gets the orange wheels and of course the orange chassis, which is missed by 200 Duke owners.
The rear seat on the other hand doesn’t look like a rear seat at all which again is KTM’s smart design making the seat look more like a cowl. You won’t notice it until you touch it yourself and find out that it is soft and cushioned.
Coming to the rear section, RC is as marvellous to look from the back as it is from the front or side. The tail light glows up bright and the rear white panels attached on its sides makes the rear look just excellent!
Over-all RC200 is a great looking motorcycle, it is sleek, it is raw and it is edgy. All these characteristics combine to give RC its razor sharp looks. It is not bulky, it is not huge..it is something really different (in a good way of course)!
All that matters is speed on RC and do hell with comfort. The riding position on RC is the most aggressive one we have ridden so far on this category of motorcycles. Its handlebars are kept low to give you an aerodynamic advantage when riding hard near the red-line.
The rider seat is stiff and so is the suspension, and that is the reason why it is favourable for track-use and not traffic. Its pillion seat is comparatively more comfortable than the rider seat and riding the RC even on short distances would leave your back aching. You will have to shed some sweat and tears if you really want to learn to ride as a dedicated racer.
Engine and Performance
KTM is known for making motorcycle as light as possible to gain the best power to weight ratio advantage. Almost all of the bikes from KTM carry a tremendous power to weight ratio that makes the package a pocket rocket indeed. RC carries about 8 kilos more than the 200 Duke due to its added fairing components. It might have made the bike half a second slower than the 200 Duke in 0-100 sprint, but when it passes that point, it catches the Duke quickly as soon as aerodynamics kicks in. The 200 Duke has a top speed near 136 kmph, on the other hand RC200 goes 143kmph plus.
It carries the same engine as on the 200 Duke, which is 199cc single cylinder, liquid-cooled, electronically fuel injected, 4-stroke engine that churns out 25.3bhp at 10,000rpm and 19.2Nm of peak torque at 8,000rpm. This is a tried and tested unit, and is known to deliver punchy performance irrespective of the gears you are rolling in. You actually have enough torque available all the time that makes it such a fun engine. It is a rev-happy unit and it keeps you wanting to go faster and faster and faster.
Ride and Handling
The thing that makes RC a world apart from its naked sibling is the way it handles. RC is an agile track tool in the hands of an experienced rider. The way it corners is like using telepathy to control the steering. Its Moto3 inspired geometry has made the bike a dual-edge sword. It is certainly more flick-able than the 200 Duke, and with its low slung clip-ons, RC has a solid advantage over the Duke when it comes to taking corners. It feels agile and is the perfect motorcycle in-case you are looking forward to learn how to bring the knee-down for the first time.
RC 200 is equipped with 300mm front disc brake with 4-piston radially mounted callipers at front, while the rear is 230mm diameter disc with single-piston calliper. Like 200 Duke, RC comes with steel braided brake lines as well. You don’t have to worry about stopping power as you can bring the motorcycle to a halt with a single finger. We can surely say that these set of brakes are one of the most of responsive brakes offered in this category. It would have been even better if it came with an ABS braking system as an option, as a few smaller cheaper bikes already come with this safety feature.
Currently, RC200 retails at a price of INR 1.69 lakh (Ex-Showroom, Delhi) and mentioning again, RC is a brilliantly priced machine that well justifies the price. Motorcycles in its competition includes Bajaj Pulsar RS200 and CBR 250R. We would want to make it really clear that, RC is made for much focused riders. All of these three machines are different, but the RC is more different than the other two. Pulsar RS200 and CBR 250R, are made for those who cannot sacrifice their comfort no matter what. On the other hand, people opting for RC will be different set of riders altogether who will want to go fast, lean, corner, accelerate and repeat!
Photography - Mohd. Nasir