I’ve heard the tales that how sharp the RC is around the corners, that how it demolishes every corner the tarmac throws at it but now it was time for me to find it out myself. So when I got the chance to ride the 2017 KTM RC 200, I had to make sure that I test it in every riding condition including its territory, the curves.
What’s new in the 2017 iteration of the RC 200?
The most prominent differences are visual, as it comes with a new livery. The older model looked sinister with its all black body panels but this one looks, umm, less sinister? The white and orange livery makes it look like a Junior RC8, which isn’t a bad thing at all.
The other major changes are the BS-IV compliant engine and AHO (Auto headlamp on). Ktm decided to improve some practical bits as well so they came up with wider RVMs, 10 mm more cushioning on the saddle and UV resistant paint. The other noticeable changes are the tires. The older RC was shodded with MRF Revz C but the new ones wear the Revz C1 moniker. The new ones have more treads but I found the Revz C more grippy. This might have to do with the particular bike I rode.
If I had to describe how does it look in just one word, it would be “sharp”. From every damn angle you look at it, it oozes out sharpness. The pillion seat is a clever addition, it’s designed to look like a cowl but is actually comfier than the seat on Duke 200, and it looks the part too! Two projector headlamps with led DRLs complete the look upfront. The trellis frame and the rims are painted orange because of the simple reason that it’s a KTM. If you want to be a chick magnet by showing off your bike, this has one of the best street presence in the sub Rs. 2 Lakh bracket!
Engine and Performance
With no mechanical changes in the engine department, it’s still the same Duke derived Fuel injected 199cc mill which produces 25 PS @ 10000 rpm and 19.2 nm of torque at 8000 rpm. The engine is mated to a 6 speed gearbox. What makes the party enjoyable is short gearing and the frantic power delivery. It won’t surprise you till 5000 rpm but the engine really comes into its own when the tachometer crosses 6000 clicks. It revs merrily and loves to redline in every gear. The engine literally begs you to push it to the redline to squeeze out every bit of power from it. Cruising at a constant speed isn’t something which it prefers. Torture it, redline it, pop wheelies, throw it around the corners and watch it wink at you, asking for more. Working around the super slick 6 speed gearbox is a breeze. All in all, it provides an engaging and firm riding experience.
Ride and Handling
Duke was already a sharp motorcycle but what takes the game even further is the RC. The flat handlebar from the Duke is replaced by proper clip-ons, the footpegs are more rear set and the wheelbase is shorter which makes it the best handling motorcycle in its price bracket.
The rider stance is quite focused and aggressive which is no surprise because it isn’t meant to munch miles, it’s meant to decimate every corner coming its way. And that, it surely does. The turn ins are super quick and is super stable in the mid corner thanks to the stiff USD forks upfront and the rigid trellis frame.
What impresses even more is the fuelling, which is absolutely spot on so you can open the gas while exiting a corner. The suspensions are obviously, set up on the stiffer side. You can feel everything happening on the road which is good for the riders who want the feedback but not for the ones who want to glide over the potholes. The engine because of its high compression ratio gets heated up pretty easily and that accompanied by the aggressive riding posture doesn’t help either when you’re stuck in the traffic.
But it’s all about learning to live with the flaws so show the RC some twisties and look over the bright side, the orange side.
Can it tour?
It isn’t the most comfortable tourer given the aggressive riding stance, frantic power delivery, stiff suspension and the small tank capacity but the rider is well protected from the windblast and it’s quite stable at triple digit speeds. Quick overtakes are just a whack of throttle away. So it depends on the rider, his preferences and adaptability.
Braking duties are performed by a four piston radically mounted 300 mm disc upfront and a single piston floating caliper with 230 mm at the rear. Keeping it short, the brakes are adequate but ABS is dearly missed because the rear wheel tends to lock up even with a gentle tap on the brake lever. Given the fact that many novices are getting their hands on the RC, this can prove to be dangerous.
It isn’t the most versatile or do it all motorcycle. It’s designer to make you feel like a racer and engineered to even make you one! The RC 200 is a scalpel which is meant to slay the corners and is quite a looker too. What it dearly misses out on is ABS and grippier tires which would make it the best affordable track weapon for the learners serious about hitting the apex and slaying corners.