KTM have tweaked the RC390 – but they haven’t done enough

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - MICHAEL NEEVES CHIEF ROAD TESTER michael.neeves@mo­tor­cy­cle­

KTM have moved their racy RC390 into the Euro4 era with ride-by-wire, a new side-mounted ex­haust, a bel­ly­pan and, er… that’s about it. The £5099 race replica doesn’t fea­ture the swathe of up­dates lav­ished upon the new £4599 390 Duke we rode at its glitzy launch last month on the race­track roof of the old Fiat fac­tory in Turin. That bike boasts a new chas­sis, en­gine mods aplenty, up­rated WP sus­pen­sion, stronger brakes, a crisper gear­box, re­vised styling, an LED head­light, evo­lu­tion switchgear, a full-colour multi-func­tion TFT dash, and a big leap-up in build qual­ity.

KTM have raised the bar so high with the new 390 Duke that you now can’t help feel­ing you’ve been a bit short changed with the not-so-new, more ex­pen­sive RC390.

You won’t be sur­prised to learn the 2017 RC390 isn’t a whole lot dif­fer­ent to ride than the out-go­ing bike, other than the ride-by-wire fu­elling from a closed throt­tle is now a lit­tle harsher. That aside, it’s still the go-to ma­chine for as­pir­ing young sports­bike rid­ers and racers to learn their trade.

In pre­vi­ous MCN group tests it’s proved to be the fastest A2-li­cence­friendly ma­chine you can lay your hands on down a twisty road, and – as we’ve seen with the KTM RC Cup that sup­ports British Su­per­bikes – it’s not too shabby on the track, too.

Although the sus­pen­sion is slightly bouncy and the brakes could do with more power, the light­weight chas­sis is taut, there’s plenty of ground clear­ance and the Met­zeler Sportec M7 tyres (110/70 x 17 front, 150/60 x 17

‘You can’t help but won­der how much bet­ter it’d be with those tasty mods’

rear) have the grip to grind out Moto3 lev­els of cor­ner speed.

The 44bhp sin­gle-cylin­der en­gine is lumpy and vi­brates through the pegs and bars at low revs com­pared to the new Duke 390, but on the flip­side the RC has an ex­cit­ing, revvy spread of easy-to-man­age power. Like be­fore, the un­changed gear­box still feels a lit­tle slow and lazy.

On a more prac­ti­cal level the RC390 makes a lot of sense. It’s all-day roomy, comfy and on an easy blast it will re­turn over 66mpg, which gives it a range of over 140-miles from its tiny 10-litre fuel tank.

It might not have the Duke’s lat­est bells and whis­tles, but the RC390 comes with ABS brakes, a black and white LCD multi-func­tion dash, il­lu­mi­nated switchgear but­tons, chunky top yoke, ad­justable brake levers, ra­dial brakes, WP sus­pen­sion and a one-piece foam sin­gle seat unit that dou­bles up as the pil­lion perch.

With its mi­nor up­dates the RC390 re­mains the sporti­est in its class and de­spite its mod­est size there’s very lit­tle it can’t do. It’ll get stuck into com­mut­ing, mo­tor­way cruis­ing and brain-out back road scratch­ing, but now KTM have spoiled us with the new naked ver­sion, you can’t help but won­der just how much more bril­liant the RC390 would be with all those tasty new mods. Next year, maybe?

Life with the RC is never dull but KTM need to do more

Trel­lis frame, WP sus­pen­sion. It’s a hand­some beast

Full LCD dash isn’t full colour yet but still looks great and shows all the es­sen­tials

Rear is ad­justable for preload only

Head­light’s a con­ven­tional non-led

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