We arrived at the Bajaj testing facility early on Saturday, to be greeted by the 2017 RC twins. The signature orange trellis frame and wheels have been retained on both bikes, and can't be mistaken for anything other than the work of the Austrian company, while the new graphics does a great job of enhancing the sharp angles of the tank and fairings. The RC 200 boasts a lot more white, complimented by orange and black stickers, while the 390 seems to be the darker cousin, with orange and white graphics on a black base. The new regalia is the only way to tell the 2017 KTM RC 200 apart from the previous model. The only other visual change is the wider and user-friendly RVMs.
Both bikes get wider mirrors that offer better visibility
The most prominent change in the 2017 RC 390 is the side-mounted exhaust, which has been incorporated to allow the motorcycle to adhere to Euro IV emission and sound norms. We were surprised to see that the engineers at KTM had managed to pack all the necessary hardware into slim and shapely aluminium package that actually complimented the overall design of the bike. The bike now sounds somewhat subdued and a little bit more refined. And we're happy to say that the bike still turns in sharply, and attacked the corners at the test track with aplomb, feeling extremely stable.
The slipper clutch that was introduced in last year's model is here as well, and does an excellent job of keeping the bike composed. KTM has also introduced a ride-by-wire system on the RC 390, which basically means that there is no physical cable connecting the throttle to the butterfly valves. Instead, a throttle position sensor reads the inputs from the rider and, based on engine speed, gear and load, the ECM decides on precisely how much air and fuel to let into the engine. This allows you to fearlessly open the throttle even in corners, and the bike remains extremely composed.
The new RCs now get levers with adjustable reach. pics/Sanjay Raikar & Saurabh Botre
All of these changes have clearly ushered the RC 390 into 2017, without dampening the fantastic ride experience of the outgoing bike. However, KTM has finally addressed thing that the bike always lacked; the brakes. For 2017, we finally have a larger disc and new master cylinder up front. The switchable ABS is not the least bit intrusive even under hard braking. The improvement in braking was clear when riding the 200 and the 390 back-to-back. The RC 200, still running the 300-mm disc that was shared by both models till last year, required a lot more force, and was actually a little scary after switching over from the 390 and its new 320-mm disc.
The repositioned Euro 4 compliant exhaust on the RC 390 manages to look sleek and attractive
The 2017 RC line-up continues KTM's 'Ready to Race' philosophy, and we came back from this first ride quite impressed with the motorcycles.
The saddle gets a little more padding on both the RC 200 and 390