Long-term report: KTM RC390

Published: 13 May 2015

A Chinese sage once said: “The sparrow may be small but it has all the vital organs” and, as I spend more time with the KTM’s pint-sized supersport, I’m discovering this maxim is pretty much true for the type of riding I’m doing on a daily basis.

Its heart is a punchy single-cylinder engine, which KTM say makes 44bhp and propels the RC to a genuine 106mph, easily strong enough to pull off (well planned) overtakes. Its body is a neat, slim, trellis frame with cool-looking WP suspension, ideal for scything through rush-hour traffic. Meanwhile, its brain contains switchable ABS, an impressive multi-function dash, and reasonably smooth fuelling. The only really disappointing element is its fuel tank stomach, which is just a measly 10-litres…

Reaching this state of enlightenment, however, didn’t come naturally. I had to engage in a little bit of soul-searching first; be honest with myself about how and where I’m riding, and what my needs actually are. I may want 180bhp, exotic cycle parts, and the potential to accelerate to triple-figure speeds at will, but where can I get the benefit of all that spine-tingling performance on the road? Absolutely nowhere – not legally and not without the crushing ‘speeder’s guilt’ I’ve developed over the years. No, for everyday, real-world riding, the KTM does enough to keep a grin on your face.

 Only time will tell whether the RC’s lack of suspension adjustability, the tiny 10-litre fuel tank and the exceptionally rubbish mirrors will invert my smile in the weeks to come, especially as I venture first on to the track and then out for a bit of European touring. And I must admit, I do miss the sensation of proper acceleration. But for cross-town and B-road blasting, the KTM is so far, so good.