KTM RC 200 Test Ride Review
2015 KTM RC 200 – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

KTM RC 200 Review

Bike Tested: 2015 KTM RC 200

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1,85,880/-

The KTM RC 200 now has the show to match its go, it also offers super precise handling

There is a common phenomena in India of people referring to full faired bikes as sports bikes. The addition of a fairing gives the motorcycle that racing look is what we have heard from most people who have little interest in 2-wheelers but judge bikes based on the clothes it wears. Currently, the most affordable full faired motorcycle in India is the Yamaha YZF-R15 but that is set to change with the arrival of the Bajaj Pulsar 200 SS in March and the Suzuki GSX-150R (full faired Gixxer) in the second half of the year. So those who want to flaunt their machines are going to get a lot of options. Among this full-faired 150-200cc bike onslaught is the KTM RC 200 which was launched last year but is a sport bike in every sense of the word. After having ridden on Bajaj Auto’s own test track in Chakan, we test the machine on the roads to judge the finer details.

Motor Quest: The KTM RC 200 is the full faired version of the Duke 200, the latter was launched in India in January 2012 while the RC 200 went on sale in the country in September 2014. Both bikes are very similar underneath.

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The KTM RC 200 looks absolutely scintillating and draws a lot of attention

Styling – When KTM launched the Duke 200, not everyone liked the design although we loved it. The RC 200’s full faired design is sure to please all as it looks absolutely wicked with that exposed frame behind the fairing and the twin projector headlights at the front. The sharp front-end has the parking lights (which work as daytime running lights) below the twin projectors while the panels are sharp and edgy for a sporty look. Turn indicators are neatly placed on the front mirror stalks while the orange coloured wheels and frame instantly draw attention.

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The rear-end is sharp and raised, the exposed frame is unconventional for a full faired bike

The split seat set-up with the rear seat finished like a cowl does come across as extremely sporty, giving the bike a single-seater look while the grab rails aren’t placed conventionally like seen on most other bikes. The rear is sharp with an LED tail light and the whole design is smooth flowing yet with a dose of KTM attitude. The RC 200 gets a black colour scheme with KTM 200 written on the fairing, the RC moniker is placed lower down on the panel which covers the exhaust. The tyre huger and saree guard spoil the visual appeal but Bajaj too knows that and had removed the same on the media test bike.

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Same console as the other KTMs on sale in India, is thoroughly loaded

Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – Already discussed many times before, the same instrument cluster and switchgear features on the RC 200 as seen on the Duke 200, Duke 390 and RC 390. The all digital console has a plethora of data and there is nothing different on it. So you get a speedometer in the centre, tachometer on the top and tell-tale lights on the top and right, the buttons are placed on the left and are a bit hard to operate. The console’s multi-information display keeps you updated with things like distance to empty, average speed, distance to service, average riding time, etc. There are twin trip meters, side stand indicator (and engine shut off if you engage gear with the side stand down), programmable shift light and the usual fuel and temperature meter. Switchgear quality is top notch with the buttons being backlit.

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Long rides aren’t easy on the rider as the ergonomics tire you out quickly

Ergonomics – Committed but not like a super sport, that’s how one can best describe the ergonomics of the KTM RC 200. While we all know the ergos are suited to riding fast and scraping knees on corners, the key question is, can you ride long on this machine. The answer is NO because the RC 200 tires you out as the riding position is committed and that takes a toll on your wrists. The super soft pillion seat does make the RC better than the Duke in terms of pillion comfort but then the person is almost sitting on the first floor (like the R15). The rider’s seat is hard though which means long hours on the saddle won’t be welcomed by your butt. There are underseat recesses to hold onto and a grab rail on the right side. The pillion seat isn’t the easiest to open, it’s only big enough to keep bike documents.

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KTM’s 200cc mill is very refined and fuelling is spot-on too

Performance – Being the clothed sibling of the Duke 200, the RC 200 draws power from the same 199.5cc, single-cylinder mill which to our disappointment hasn’t been tinkered with. Thus it produces the same 25 HP of power and 19.2 Nm of torque but the motorcycle is heavier by a good 8 kgs. The extra weight makes negligible difference in performance and thus the RC 200 moves with the same zest as the Duke 200. Sadly KTM hasn’t altered the gearing so the bike revs very fast and is unwelcomingly greeted by the rev limiter at 10,500 RPM, quite abruptly.

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Just like the Duke 200, the RC 200 feels very frantic due to the short gearing

The KTM RC 200 has a lot of usable power, thus you can exploit all 25 horses anytime, every day

Compared to the Duke 200, the RC 200 does sound a bit more refined but that’s largely because of the fairing which does a better job in isolating engine noise. The exhaust note is similar too so it won’t really excite you but the refinement levels are better than its bigger sibling, the latter sounding rough in comparison. While the 390 twins are tall-geared, the 200 twins are shorted geared (you can ride in higher gears at low speeds with ease), making this KTM truly at home in the city. One can simply have fun while riding in town because the motor is fast revving and thus ambling around town is no issue, the bike doesn’t heat much. 0-100 km/hr takes 9.31 seconds as per our VBOX tests while top speed is 137 km/hr.

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The KTM RC 200 is more fun in the city than the highway because out on the open road, you reach the top speed very quickly and the rev limit kicks in so abruptly. You can’t even hold the top speed for long because keeping throttle open makes the limiter kick in abruptly, pushing you back from 137 km/hr to 135 km/hr and the process keeps repeating till you decide to keep the bike under 130 km/hr, where the motor doesn’t feel stressed at all as peak power comes in at 10,000 RPM. The 200cc powerplant does have more pep to do higher speeds but the short gearing robs away that.

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The redline comes in abruptly and spoils the fun, top speed should have been higher

100 km/hr comes up in fourth and if the bike was a bit taller geared, it could do the ton in sub 9 seconds. The frantic nature of the motor keeps you aware and makes you shift the smooth shifting 6-speed gearbox early so as to not get bogged down by the limiter which comes in like a wall. The clutch is light too but the palm grips and levers don’t go well with a motorcycle which costs Rs. 1.86 lakhs. Fuel efficiency is good at 30 km/l in a mixed riding cycle of highway and city but with the tank capacity now reduced by 1-litre, the range per tank is even worst than before.

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Immensely capable around corners, the RC 200 is super sharp and extremely agile

Riding Dynamics – The KTM RC 200 in truth isn’t a city or highway machine, it’s meant for the track. It’s a bike for those who want to become the Rossi of their neighbourhood. To further improve handling over the Duke 200, the RC 200 gets MOTO3 ergonomics, it has a changed geometry with a sharper rake, front-end centric weight, clip-on bars, stiffer chassis, reduced front suspension travel and shorter wheelbase. All this enables in super sharp and precise dynamics, the RC 200 turns in very quickly and before you know it, you are scrapping your knee down with little effort. The MRF tyres offer good grip but in front of the Metzelers, they lack in inspiring the level of confidence you would expect for a track bred machine. Being short geared, the RC 200 has good enough grunt to power out of corners quickly and you don’t have to wait for the motor to get going, like in the mad 390.

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No ABS on this KTM motorcycle, an option of it would have been nice

While the KTM RC 200 excels in handling, it lacks on the ride quality front and it is stiffly set-up, resulting in a harsh ride quality on less than good roads. It simply will rattle you on bad roads and your arms and shoulders already take a toll due to the race inspired ergonomics. Other issue is of course the ground clearance, which in spite of being raised, is of little help when you have a healthy pillion on board. But still, if you ride solo and corner hard, the RC 200 will not scrape its underbelly on a levelled road, it will however do it if you are on a incline or decline and leaned in hard. Brakes offer good bite, better than the 390 and stopping power is good but with the Pulsar 200 SS set to get an ABS option, the lack of it on the RC 200 isn’t understandable.

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Fast, fun, sharp and gorgeous best describe the KTM RC 200

Verdict – The KTM RC 200 has been much overshadowed by its bigger sibling, so much that no one really talks much about KTM’s entry-level faired bike. Sure the RC 200 isn’t as fast as the RC 390, neither does it get ABS or sticky Metzeler rubber but out in the real world, it’s a more practical bike, with better engine refinement, more usable power, no heating issues and most importantly a lower sticker price. If you are new to biking, want to learn and ride everywhere on a daily basis, the RC 200 is the bike for you but if you rate P-O-W-E-R over practicality like us, the additional Rs. 55,000/- for the RC 390 makes every bit the sense.

The KTM RC 200 is for those who want to have fun yet don’t care about being the fastest around. It offers similar handling as the RC 390 at lesser money, yet it will make you grin wide at every corner.

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The projector headlights on the full faired KTMs offer terrific light throw at night

What’s Cool

* Attractive looking motorcycle, is sure to turn heads where ever you take it
* Refined engine has a lot of punch to keep you going, even at home in the city
* Super sharp handling makes you feel like a Moto GP racer, feedback is terrific
* Top notch hardware – upside forks, steel braided brake lines, trellis frame
* Loaded console can shame most made in India cars as far as on-board info goes
* Aggressive price puts the KTM RC 200 in the reach of many

What’s Not So Cool

* Front headlight design makes it difficult to clean after a long ride
* ABS not offered even as an option when the Pulsar 200 SS is likely to get it
* Ride quality is harsh, this bike isn’t meant for bad roads
* For Rs. 55,000/- more, you get a much faster bike with ABS and better tyres
* Rs. 25,000/- more will get you the Duke 390, a more practical but less dynamic bike
* Some Pulsar parts look out of sync on a KTM bike

Alternatives: Honda CBR250R, KTM Duke 390

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The KTM RC 200 makes for an excellent beginner motorcycle in India

KTM RC 200 Specifications

* Engine: 199.5cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled
* Power: 25.34 PS @ 10,000 RPM
* Torque: 19.2 Nm @ 8000 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed
* 0 – 100 km/hr: 9.31 seconds
* Top Speed: 137 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 28-32 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Steel Trellis
* Suspension: Upside Down Forks (Front), WP Monoshock (Rear)
* Tyres: 110/70/17 (Front), 150/60/17 (Rear)
* Brakes: 300 mm Disc (Front), 230 mm Disc (Rear)

KTM RC 200 Dimensions

* Length x Width x Height: 1978 mm x 688 mm x 1098 mm
* Wheelbase: 1340 mm
* Ground Clearance: 178.5 mm
* Seat Height: 820 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 10-litres
* Kerb weight: 154 kgs

Riders: Hrishi Mandke, Viraj David; Picture Editing: Sri Manikanta Achanta

Further Reading –

KTM RC 200 vs Pulsar RS 200
KTM RC 200 vs Pulsar RS 200 – Video
KTM RC 200 Track Test
KTM RC 200 vs Honda CBR250R