2015 KTM RC390 | HARD PARTS

You don’t need more than this to have fun!

KTM reported recently that it sold more than 70,000 units in the first six months of 2014. That's a big number, and as with any major brand operating on the global stage, KTM has expanded production internationally—specifically, with a partnership with Indian bike-maker Bajaj.

While 125cc and 200cc single-cylinder engines have also been fitted to both Duke and RC (for "Race Competition") chassis, the RC390 is the first of these Indian-made KTMs that we will see stateside. Why 373cc? The RC390 fits exactly into the "A2" license stage in Europe, which sets a regulation on maximum power-to-weight ratio. In other words, if you're an 18-year-old European with an A2 license, this RC390 is as fast as allowed by Euro law.

Engine

The RC390’s 373.2cc, liquid-cooled single seems simple enough, but it’s a modern powerplant throughout, using Bosch fuel injection and a forged piston and breathes through a four-valve, DOHC head. It borrows other contemporary sportbike technology too, like a vertically stacked, six-speed transmission to keep the engine compact (KTM says the whole engine weighs just 79 pounds).

A bore and stroke of 89mm x 60mm means slightly less stroke but a much bigger bore than Honda’s comparable CBR300R engine, which measures 76mm x 63mm. A claimed 23.6 pound-feet of torque is similar to the CBR, but even with a larger piston the KTM makes its peak power 1,000 rpm higher, delivering a claimed 43 hp at 9,500 rpm. An under-slung exhaust mimics its big brother, the RC8 R.

Chassis

The centerpiece of the RC390’s chassis is the robot-welded, tubular steel-trellis frame, ostensibly lifted from the 390 Duke naked bike. However, tightening the steering head angle 1.5 degrees to a fairly steep 23.5 degrees also means less trail and a shorter wheelbase—52.7 inches to the CBR300R’s 53.9 inches and Ninja 300’s 55.3 inches. Truly sporty geometry and a claimed 341 pounds with the 2.6-gallon tank full mean the RC390 feels even lighter on the road.

A 43mm inverted fork has the same stanchion diameters as the RC8 R superbike’s, but the measurement is the only thing that’s shared—no adjustability is offered. A die-cast alloy swingarm uses clever trellis-like fins to add rigidity (and style) without piling on weight, while the WP shock offers 10 preload positions for the progressive spring but no damping adjustments.

The RC390 brake calipers seem like a no-name brand, but Bybre is actually a subsidiary of Brembo; the Bybre brand supports sub-600cc vehicles in markets for Brazil, Russia, India, and Southeast Asia.

A 32.2-inch seat is tall for the category (the CBR300R and Ninja 300 sit at 30.5 and 30.9, respectively), but the RC390 is slim in the midsection.

Electronics

Raising the bar for electronics in the beginner sportbike market isn’t difficult, but the RC390 delivers an impressive array. And while the RC’s switchable Bosch 9MB two-channel ABS isn’t as sophisticated as the units on larger KTMs, it comes standard and works on par with systems fitted to much more expensive bikes. A fully digital LCD dash is backlit orange (what else?) at night, while LEDs are used for all dashboard warning lights and headlights/taillights.