I’ve always liked the KTM RC 390. The return of smaller capacity sports bikes has been a great thing for riders like me. I understand why people might enjoy riding a fast, litre-capacity motorcycle on the road, but my lack of self-control and ability means that I favour bikes which favour cornering over straight line ability. It’s why I still miss my mid-1990s Honda RVF400. And why I’m excited that the 2017 KTM RC 390 gets a slipper clutch, better brakes and other upgrades.
The KTM has proved pretty successful. Not only does it appeal to younger riders on an A2 licence, but the KTM Cup has reinforced it’s abilities on track. So there are some performance improvements, some changes due to the recent Euro 4 emissions rules, and some cosmetic modifications. And they all generally improve what was already a good bike.
2017 KTM RC 390: Same Power with new Slipper Clutch and Ride-By-Wire
The new 2017 KTM RC 390 should be able to out-accelerate the previous model. That’s because KTM have managed to meet the Euro 4 emission regulations by making some changes, and without having to drop the 44hp power output at all.
And to improve things, they’ve switch to a ride-by-wire system to control the throttle. That should mean more accurate control for riders, and uses CAN-BUS for better tracking and efficiency. Plus it means less cabling to sort on the bike.
Even better news comes with the new Power Assist Slipper Clutch (PASC) which should reduce rear wheel chatter when you’re down-shifting through the gears in a hurry. Or when you’re trail-braking into corners. It comes as standard on the new 2017 KTM RC 390, but can also be retrofitted to previous models. And should mean you can harass larger bikes more easily on tighter turns!
2017 KTM RC 390: Bigger Brembos and Side-Mounted Exhaust:
In addition to the slipper clutch reducing rear wheel issues under braking, you should also be able to stop the 2017 KTM RC 390 more quickly. That’s due to the larger 320mm diameter Brembo front brake disc. The 20mm increase will give you more power, and after rider requests, the brake and clutch levers now have adjustable spans. Great news for those with smaller hands or that found the previous set-up wasn’t to their liking.
There is one change that might not make everyone happy. The previous RC 390 had a sexy underseat exhaust. The 2017 model has had to switch to a more traditional side-mounted version to meet the Euro 4 rules and maintain the same performance. That means a new stainless steel underbelly pre-silencer, and the rear aluminium absorption silencer containing the catalytic converter.
Fortunately the new exhaust doesn’t look too bad. And the rear passenger footpegs have been utilised as exhaust hangers without having to add lots of new metalwork to the bike.
2017 KTM RC 390: New Bodywork
So the 2017 model year isn’t a complete redesign. But there are a number of functional and cosmetic tweaks to the bodywork. The overall look stays the same, but the front spoiler now has more ground clearance. That’s due to the loss of the underbelly exhaust silencer. And will help you avoid scraping your fairing. So more extreme cornering is allowed, along with less concerns about speed bumps!
Apparently KTM had been told the mirrors needed improvement. So you should now get a wider view of what is behind you. And there’s an activated carbon canister in the fuel tank to avoid evaporation, which means you can rely on more of the 11 litre capacity. Given that the KTM has pretty good fuel consumption, that should give you some extra miles. It’s helped by the fact the bike still weighs around 147kg (dry weight).
The seat height stays at 820mm. But although the 2017 KTM RC 390 still looks like it has a one-piece race unit, passengers will now be more comfortable with an extra 12mm of padding. So pillions are a more realistic proposition.
So basically, the 2017 KTM RC 390 is an improvement on an already fine motorcycle. With the possible exception of the side-mounted exhaust for some people, everything else is an upgrade. And even if you prefer the underslung silencer on previous models, at least the new version still looks pretty good, and you get the same power output.
And obviously there’s a range of KTM PowerParts to let you change the RC 390 even more, whether that’s to suit your personal taste or emulate the RC 390 Cup racers.
There’s no news of a price increase. So you’re looking at around £4,999. But if you can’t stretch that far, older models can also benefit from the slipper clutch. And it looks like the mirrors, new seat etc, could also fit. So if you fancy a sporty, Moto3 inspired single cylinder sportsbike, it seems like KTM have answered minor niggles with previous models and made it even better.