The revised KTM RC 390 is now the most advanced small-capacity sportsbike on the market, and it’s bloody good fun.
The KTM RC 390 was undoubtedly the surprise package of the 2022 MOTY contenders and all the testers were blown away by just how much fun the 390 was to ride. It was easily the nimblest machine around our twisty test loop and, despite its modest 32kW/37Nm output, we didn’t have to wring its neck to eek every bit of performance from the torquey 373cc single. Fun factor? Tick.
The RC 390 also scores well for innovation, as it’s the only motorcycle in its category to be equipped with cornering ABS and cornering traction control. It also has ‘Supermoto ABS’ mode, which disables the rear ABS allowing riders to lock up the rear into corners. This mode also allows extra braking pressure to be applied before the ABS activates on the front wheel, so you can brake hard enough to lift the rear wheel.
Another innovative feature on the RC 390 includes its updated WP Apex suspension, with easy-to-access and tool-less rebound and compression damping adjustment on the top of the fork legs, and adjustable preload and rebound on the rear shock. Ride quality is impressive and there’s great control on offer when braking and cornering. The RC tips into corners quickly and easily, and it holds its line well even over bumpy surfaces, while the ContiRoad tyres offer good grip in dry and wet conditions.
KTM has also put a lot of effort into minimising weight, and a revised ByBre brake package not only offers fantastic stopping power and good feel, but it’s 960g lighter than the previous model. The chassis is also 1.5kg lighter while the wheels save a hefty 3.4kg, and all up the RC 390 tips the scales at a lithe 155kg dry. Innovation? Tick.
Take a close look at the RC 390 and when it comes to build quality there isn’t a lot to fault… other than some peeling rim stickers on our testbike. Other than those, fit and finish on the RC 390 is great, and materials used appear to be of high quality. The overall design is fantastic and there’s no doubt KTM’s MotoGP effort has had a big influence over the look of this new model. There’s enough room to duck in behind the screen and, although the footpegs are quite high, their relationship to the seat isn’t extreme. That means as well as providing plenty of ground clearance for scratching, the riding position is comfortable enough for more relaxed highway rides or daily commuting. Build quality? Tick.
There’s no doubt the RC 390 is priced competitively. At $8399 ride away, it’s within a couple of hundred bucks of its two main road and track rivals: the Kawasaki Ninja 400 and the Yamaha YZF-R3. Value for money? Tick.
Finally, does it fulfil its design brief? You betcha! Not only is it a quick little sportsbike, it’s also probably one of the easiest to ride thanks to its torquey single-cylinder engine. It’s still happy to be revved to its 10,000rpm redline, and it gets there quickly, but you don’t have to always rev it hard to enjoy it, unlike some other small-capacity machines which can be hard work.
Test: Dean Mellor
Over the next few days we will reveal more about the eight MOTY finalists on the AMCN website and eventually announce the winner. If you can’t wait that long to find out which motorcycle has been awarded AMCN’s 2022 Motorcycle of the Year presented by Shannons Insurance, grab a copy of the AMCN Yearbook, which is on sale now at newsagents and select supermarkets.