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All-New 2022 KTM RC 390


2022 KTM RC 390
2022 KTM RC 390 with all-new styling and performance

Introduced in 2014, the RC 390 is KTM’s most potent beginner sportbike and clearly unlike anything else in its class. A quick revving single cylinder engine with liquid cooling and double overhead camshaft that is capable, tractable, and full of energy. But, not quite flexible enough as you would like it to be.


That 373cc engine doesn’t like slow speeds and acts like a kid who’s been grounded and angrily banging on the door of his room that he’s been locked in, wanting to come out. Keep it anywhere in the upper half of the rev-range and it’s happy as a kid in a toy store, tirelessly delivering fun performance in the city, mountain roads, and highways.


First Major Update Since Introduction


2022 KTM RC 390 with LED headlight
Completely new bodywork that's more aerodynamic and offers better wind protection

For 2022, KTM has significantly changed the RC 390, from the wheels, brakes, tyres, chassis, suspension, and the overall styling. There are updates to the engine as well, primarily the Euro5 compliance and the higher torque, but nothing too major.


That said, the crux of the changes is weight saving and as it may turn out, this is possibly the best way to improve the KTM RC 390 as the 373cc single is already a powerhouse and as a road engine, it really doesn’t have to produce any more power. This is also important to keep the motorcycle A2 license compliant across Europe.


Let’s start with the most prominent change though, the bodywork. It is entirely new. The front fairing now houses an LED headlight which reminds of the one on the Duke 390. The front LED indicators are also integrated in the front fairing. Overall, it looks a bit wider than the previous one. KTM says the bodywork is more aerodynamic and covers the rider better at higher speeds, especially when they are tucked in. The new fairing, along with a 40% larger airbox (we’ll get to that in a bit) and weight savings, has resulted in 11 kph higher top speed compared to the outgoing model. Not bad at all.


The side fairing is layered, which is designed for better heat dissipation, that not only helps the rider in staying cool but also improves the overall engine heat management. The rear part is as minimalistic as it can be with the sub-frame almost wholly exposed. The rider and pillion seats are distinctly separate pieces that are said to be wider and come with better padding for enhanced comfort over short and long distances. This was one of the low points of the previous RC 390. I had a 2015 model, covered nearly 25,000 km, and did a short weekend tour on it with my brother as pillion. The ride was great but the seating comfort was directly opposite of that, especially for the pillion! The new seats also look to provide more space, especially the front one that should give the rider more freedom to move around.


The fuel tank is new as well and now holds 13.7 liters of fuel which is going to noticeably improve the range. A very welcome change. The overall impression is of a slightly larger motorcycle mainly due to the bigger front fairing.


Coming to weight savings, the place where KTM has reduced maximum weight is at the wheels. Both wheels are new on the 2022 RC 390 and have shed 3.4 kg of weight. That is huge. This results in less rotational inertia while handling the motorcycle around corners, which translates to better and lighter handling feel. The new Bybre front brake setup is also 800 gram lighter than the previous setup with new disc and callipers.


Furthermore, the chassis is all new even if it may not look entirely different. The subframe is now a separate unit bolted to the main steel trellis frame. Once again, the complete frame is 1.5 kg lighter than before. At the same time, KTM has improved the stiffness of the frame for better stability, feedback, and feel for the rider.


Another huge change in the new RC 390 is the suspension and I’m personally so happy for it. Because even though the previous RC 390 handled quite beautifully, the rear suspension was a letdown in the corners while the overall damping characteristics at both ends wasn’t very nice. The motorcycle had a tendency to squat while trying to corner enthusiastically and any changes to the preload didn’t really help much. The new RC 390 gets fully adjustable 43mm WP Apex front forks that offer 30 settings for compression and 30 settings for rebound. Additionally, the new rear WP Apex monoshock also provides rebound and preload settings. This will really help change the overall handling dynamics of the motorcycle for the better.


Another visual and functional change is the inclusion of a TFT display which looks similar to that of the Duke 390 but gets an updated UI. It gives all sorts of information and you’d be able to connect your smartphone to it as well via bluetooth. The TFT display is controlled by a new set of switches on the left handlebar. The display will also allow you to control the new ABS setup which now offers the familiar Supermoto mode (already present in the Duke 390 and the 390 Adventure), that turns off the ABS at the rear wheel letting it slide and enabling better control in certain situations such as on a racetrack.


It doesn’t end there though. The KTM RC 390 is now equipped with cornering ABS and cornering track control for unmatched safety in its segment.


The Same 373cc Powerhouse, Refined


2022 KTM RC 390 with new suspension, chassis, and brakes for better handling
All-new chassis, suspension, and brakes for better handling and cornering

The engine is largely the same and that is not a bad thing, if you at all feel that way. The 373cc single is currently the most powerful engine of its kind in a road bike, producing 43.5 PS of power and higher 37 NM of torque (up from 35 NM of the model the new bike replaces). There are also improvements to the ride by wire throttle as well as changes to the engine mapping. The higher torque is the result of that and the larger airbox. Overall, these changes are said to make the engine respond smoother to the rider input which should improve its tractability. What this means is that you should now be able to control the throttle response better at any given speed.


Also, enhancement to the heat management system, through the new side fairing, and the better as well as the relocated radiator/fan results in overall better cooling performance of the engine. This should help improve the engine longevity too.


Worthy Upgrades That Pushes The Competition Ahead


2022 KTM RC 390 gets updated 373cc engine for more torque as well as cornering ABS & cornering traction control for unmatched safety in its class
Updated 373cc engine for more torque and smoother response. Cornering ABS and tracktion control for unmatched safety in its class

All these are truly enticing updates to the KTM RC 390, changes that are done to the areas that affect the handling and performance characteristics of the motorcycle, without unnecessarily changing the engine. This helps keep the cost under control.


The motorcycle is now lighter, smoother, faster, handles better, and to us, it sure does look better too. It’s a unique and one of a kind motorcycle in its segment. The new RC 390 is certainly going to push the competition forward. We are waiting for it to arrive in the Indian market and see how it actually looks and rides.


All images: www.ktm.com

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