The year 2017 was the year KTM joined the elite motorcycle racing series MotoGP in partnership with Red Bull. And in the five years since its debut in the sport, the second-generation RC 200 is the first new race bike to come out of the Austrian stable.
KTM intends to position its entry-level sport bike as the “daily performer,” a motorcycle with the personality of a superbike and the usability of an everyday commuter. The size definitely fits the bill, and so does the ergonomics. It is a relatively compact and narrow bike, perfect for filtering through traffic. Given its dimensions, it’s also quite light at just 151kg thanks to weight-shedding innovations such as hollow-cast wheels. The riding position is still on the sportier side, albeit slightly loosened by higher-set handlebars for less achy palms in daily riding.
When I first laid eyes on the new RC 200, I immediately missed the quirkiness of the old model’s styling with the beak-shaped front cowl and the round twin-headlights that looked like the soulless, opaque eyes of the undead—stripped of all humanity and left with an instinctive yet insatiable appetite for tarmac. To me, the new look feels more traditional (dare I say, generic). However, my qualms were quickly quelled as the manufacturer pointed out that the new face was not the result of a design decision, but rather of an aerodynamic one. KTM explained that the fairings all over the motorcycle, including the headlight, the cowl and the windshield, were sculpted based on the data and the experience they gained in MotoGP. This, in turn, improves airflow around the bodywork and also helps with cooling, it added. The bike does retain the steel trellis frame finished in bright orange though, giving the RC 200 a helping of the KTM flavor I was missing.
Out on track, the bike surprised me with its brawny demeanor. The engine felt substantial—punchier than what one would expect from a 199cc single-cylinder engine that produces 26hp and 19.5Nm. The 43mm front fork and the rear monoshock supplied by WP Apex provided agility and stability on the perfectly paved asphalt of the Batangas Racing Circuit, but comfort on the not-so-perfect roads of Metro Manila has yet to be seen. It is also equipped with traction control for added safety. Dual-channel ABS with what the brand calls Supermoto mode is standard on this motorcycle as well. The latter can be activated during aggressive riding to disable only the rear ABS, giving the rider absolute control over the rear wheel.
The best part, though, is that this amazing motorcycle is built locally. KTM’s factory in Santa Rosa, Laguna, was opened in 2017 to manufacture the firm’s small-displacement models (the 200 and the 390)—not only to feed local demand, but also for export to our ASEAN neighbors and China. The build quality on the RC 200 is exactly what one would expect from a premium European brand, and to think that Filipinos are behind putting it together is absolutely phenomenal. Given the skillful craftsmanship of our countrymen, the 790 series has since been added to the Laguna plant’s production line. According to a representative of the Austrian brand’s authorized distributor Adventure Cycle Philippines, most of the parts on the RC 200 are sourced locally apart from the chassis, the engine, and the branded components such as the Bybre brakes and the Bosch ABS.
I have never swung a leg over any KTM before the RC 200, so my editor gave me a short briefing on what to expect. In his eloquent words: “Basta KTM, bastos ’yan.” And this bike proved him right. If commuting on a compact yet lively sport bike is your cup of tea, the new RC 200 is worth a test ride and can be had for P198,000.