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Next-generation KTM RC 390 series breaks cover

Electronic rider aids will give you more fun on the track

The all-new RC 390 promises an even more exhilarating experience. PHOTO FROM KTM

Sport bike enthusiasts know that the KTM RC 390 is a pocket rocket. Compact, punchy and incredibly nimble, it is a no-excuses machine that rewards a skilled rider with fast lap times and enjoyable hill climbs. But the current-generation RC series is already getting long in the tooth, and any rider can see that its dated LCD dash and tiny fuel tank have lost any charm they might have once had.

Well, those looking at the affordable end of the spectrum will find plenty to like with the next-generation RC as it now comes loaded with a host of features designed to make it an even more enjoyable ride.

The all-new chassis is paired with fully adjustable suspension, lean-sensitive traction control, and cornering ABS. PHOTOS FROM KTM

The most obvious change is the new fairing inspired by the RC16 MotoGP racer. It has KTM’s trademark mantis-like LED headlamp and a rather massive windscreen. Look at it long enough and tell us it doesn’t remind you of the Dilophosaurus that ate the scumbag in Jurassic Park.

It does have a functional use, though, as it also houses the large, integrated turn signals and position lamps down its sides. And for those who think the new bodywork looks bloated and overdone compared to the outgoing model’s lithe aesthetic, KTM says that the new design was created using computational fluid dynamics for improved aerodynamics and better heat management to direct hot air away from the rider.

The bodywork panels have been redesigned with a reduced number of screws for faster servicing, as well as a narrower, more ergonomically shaped knee area for smoother rider movement with the largest possible contact area. The rear bodywork has also been shaved down to better complement the visual impact of the silhouette, while also providing improved pillion comfort with thicker seat foam. A larger 13.7L tank (compared to the outgoing model’s 9.5L) will be appreciated by everyone, too.

The LED headlamp is flanked by integrated turn signals and position lamps, and a large windscreen. PHOTO FROM KTM

The trellis frame is an all-new design as well, said to offer greatly improved feel and compliance at the limits. The suspension consists of a 43mm WP Apex inverted fork with 30 clicks of adjustment for compression and rebound, while the rear shock absorber offers five detents of rebound and preload adjustability. While the outgoing bike was already quite light with a wet weight of around 165kg, the new model shaves off a little more fat with an all-new wheel that’s 3.4kg lighter. The 17-inch wheels have fewer spokes and open hubs for reduced unsprung mass. They wear 110/70 rubber in front, and 150/60 at the back.

The ByBre (By Brembo) braking system has also been revamped, saving 960g over the outgoing RC. As before, it consists of a four-piston caliper and a 320mm disc at the front, while the rear gets a single-piston caliper and a 230mm disc. But it will come with Supermoto, a feature that deactivates the rear ABS for hot laps. Adjustable clutch and brake levers are also standard.

The new bodywork is more aerodynamic, offers better ergonomics, and makes track-day servicing easier. PHOTO FROM KTM

The 373cc single-cylinder engine is still there, but it now uses a 40% larger airbox for better torque, throttle response, and acceleration throughout the rev range. New ambient sensors have also been fitted to better regulate the engine mapping. KTM’s Quickshifter+ technology will be available, along with an entirely new exhaust system with stainless-steel header pipes and an aluminum muffler. The brand has not released power or torque figures yet, but there should be a slight improvement with all these changes. A slipper clutch and a close-ratio six-speed gearbox are standard equipment.

Finally, the electronics bring the bike up to par with the latest-model 390 Duke and 390 Adventure. There is now a full-color TFT display, and with it you can tailor the ride modes as the bike will now come with lean-sensitive traction control and cornering ABS. The KTM My Ride system connects to the rider’s smartphone to provide navigational cues and access to music and incoming calls.

A larger 13.7L tank gives the bike better range, while the pillion pad is a little more bearable. PHOTO FROM KTM

While most of the sexy, expensive stuff like the adjustable suspension and lean-sensitive tech will undoubtedly be reserved for the RC 390, it’s safe to assume that its lower-displacement siblings will also benefit from the new chassis, bodywork and TFT display. KTM Philippines is still mum about the exact specs and pricing for the locally available units. But historically, the company has been at par with global standards.

The new RC series is targeted to be in dealers worldwide by March 2022, slightly more than half a year’s time from now. But if you can’t wait, KTM Philippines currently has some sweet deals on the outgoing RC 390.

Andy Leuterio

Andy is both an avid cyclist and a car enthusiast who has finally made the shift to motorcycles. You've probably seen him on his bicycle or motorbike overtaking your crawling car. He is our motorcycle editor and the author of the ‘Quickshift’ column.