If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The revised KTM RC 390 for 2017 is an ideal example of this expression. When launched a couple of years ago, it was one of the best track tools for someone learning the ropes of riding on a racetrack. And with these subtle updates on the MY2017, KTM has managed to iron out the trifling issues the 390 had - snappy throttle response and weak brakes.
Okay, the weedy braking power cannot be termed as a petty issue. in fact, it's an important aspect of a bike that lets you push it harder on a racetrack, which KTM knows well. And voila, the updated RC 390 now comes with a bigger 320mm disc up front (up by 20mm) that offers much better stopping power, letting you brake late and hard into corners. There's solid bite from the 320mm disc and when coupled with ABS that comes standard, it now gives you the confidence of pushing the 390 to its limit. KTM was kind enough to bring the MY2017 RC 200 along, which comes with only a revised paint scheme, and that presented us with an opportunity to sample the 300mm and the new 320mm disc brakes back-to-back and oh boy there's a world of difference as far as stopping power goes.
Another key change for MY17 is ride-by-wire technology, which means the older RC 390's snappier throttle makes way for a smoother, linear response. This latest addition makes it easier to modulate the throttle and it won't feel testy even if you give it a whack while still leaning out of corners. With this little piece of tech, KTM has transformed the 390 into one smooth little track tool and when you combine it with the ever-so-grippy Metzeler tyres, it's much easier to go faster around a racetrack and shave a few seconds off your lap times.
Wondering why KTM restricted itself to making just a couple of changes on the MY17 RC 390 when it could've explored a lot more since there's an all-new Duke 390 on the cards? Well, KTM was left with no choice as the 390 begged for sharper brakes and as for the ride-by-wire tech; well, that's the only way the 390's single-cylinder 373cc motor could have adhered to emission norms the world over. Making the RC 390 cleaner and greener also required KTM to add a conventional side exhaust, which does look a bit odd at first, but you quickly get used to it. In the process, the 390 now sounds better than before and it's also one of the easier ways to tell a 390 from a 200, from a distance.
Talking of which, KTM has added more black and a different, richer shade of orange. Ahem. Nevertheless, the new graphics do look striking and gives the 390 an edgier look. In terms of bodywork, the lower half of the fairing has been modified and is much slender than before. However, the RC 390 hasn't lost any weight. In fact, in the process of meeting emission norms, the RC 390 has gained some, 7kg to be precise, and to compensate for that added mass, there's 1 Newton metre of torque added to the equation.Now does that show in the way it performs? Quite frankly, it doesn't. It still feels as fast as before, but as mentioned, throttle response is much smoother, it picks up pace rather well even from low revs and sounds better too. Until you do not subject the old and the new machines to a performance test, it's going to be extremely difficult to call out the difference in overall performance.
Now that brings us to the final question - how much more is KTM asking for the MY2017 RC 390? At Rs 2.33 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai), the revised RC 390 is around 11 grand more than the outgoing model and in our books, it's not much of a dent. For that money, you still get a motorcycle that manages to outdo its competition as far as power-to-weight ratio goes and despite being greener and cleaner, the KTM RC 390 retains its performance edge and continues to be the best sportsbike this side of Rs 3 lakh. Specs 1cy, 373cc, 43bhp, 36Nm, 6M, 147kg (dry), fuel tank\: 10 litres, front disc\: 320mm, rear disc\: 230mm, dual-channel ABS
VerdictSubtle but important updates on the KTM RC 390 make it an even stronger entry-level sportsbike. It's a lot smoother and more enjoyable on a racetrack now.