Ride Quality & Brakes
The RC’s steering bears all the right sportsbike hallmarks – it's light, flickable and capable of lightning direction changes.
On the road it’s just brilliant, bowling along with the motor in its sweet spot, dancing on the gear lever, holding off the excellent brakes for as long as possible.
The limiting factor when pushed hard, surprisingly, isn’t the tyres - it's the suspension. The RC’s WP forks and shock feel budget and can, under hard cornering, lose control and start chattering mid-corner. You’d think being WP – who are owned by KTM – it would be better.
Limited to 15bhp, the KTM RC125 is easy to assume the RC’s engine will be similar to other 125s – and, at first feel, it is.
The throttle is effectively an on/off switch, and the motor needs a big smearing of clutch to get away at the lights, just like a two-stroke.
But the gearbox is smooth and clutch action light, so it’s easy to blend drive into one long slur of acceleration. And once rolling, the engine doesn’t feel artificially restricted; it gathers momentum smoothly and with as much gusto as the law permits.
There's nothing of substance below 8000rpm
There’s nothing of substance below 8000rpm and by 10,500rpm it’s all over, but 2500rpm is just wide enough to hold 60mph at a vibe-free 8000rpm. Top speed is an indicated 84mph, however in reality that is more likely to be around 71mph to 75mph.
In 2017, the RC125 gained a number of updates to help it comply with Euro4 regulations. This included the bike's engine, which was slightly tweaked. As a result, the current RC is a lot smoother than it's A2-compliant brother; the RC390.
Build Quality & Reliability
Designed in Austria and built in India, the KTM RC125 features quality components like WP suspension and Bybre brakes (Brembo's Indian division).
Despite this, there have been some instances of electrical problems letting the bike down, including relays and battery woes, with some owners complaing of breakdowns as a result and others complaining of relays catching fire under the petrol tank.
All parts have been replaced under warranty though, which comes with the bike for 24 months after purchase.
Insurance, running costs & value
Big-bike looks, great steering, a sweet engine, good brakes and clever features at a premium price stand the RC in good stead for being top of the 125 tree.
At a current cost of £4399, it is slightly more expensive than some of its rivals - which is fine, as long as build quality issues don't emerge. It does lose a few points for cheesy details and feeble suspension.
Spolit for choice
The sports 125 market is currently saturated, with the majority of the major manufacturers producing L-plate friendly miniature supersports, designed to capture the imagination of any soon-to-be biking teen.
2017 marked the introduction of the latest bike in this class; the Suzuki GSX-R125, which offers all the same performance as the KTM, however with a slightly cheaper feel - which is reflected by its £4099 price tag.
In that same year, Kawasaki announced a faired Ninja 125 and naked Z125, however these are not expected until the end of 2018.
Farewell Honda CBR125R
The cheapest of the sports 125 line-up is the dependable £3999 Honda CBR125R, which sacrifices some top-end performance and quality components to deliver a more accessible all-round package.
Unfortunately, this has now been dropped from Honda's line-up and replaced with the naked CB125R, meaning finding a new machine will depend entirely on the amount left in the dealer network.
How about some Italian exotica?
Sitting at the top of the price ladder is the exotic Aprilia RS125. At a penny shy of £4700, the RS name pays homage to Aprilia's former two-stroke RS125, which captured the imagination of teenagers across the globe.
No longer leaving a plume of blue smoke in its wake, the performance and handling are on a par with the KTM, however it is hard to justify its additional cost.
Superficially the KTM RC125 looks the part. Its sharp, angular fairing, tank and seat unit maintain a KTM family resemblance, looking almost identical to the firm's larger A2-compliant RC390.
It also bears similar graphics and jagged edges as much of KTM's current range and under the skin there are good ideas as well some obvious budgetary constraints.
Unlike the naked 125 Duke, the fully-faired RC doesn't come with KTM's coloured TFT dash, which also offers mobile phone connectivity.
It can feel slightly cluttered
That said, the clocks are well spec’d, with a fuel gauge, gear position indicator and various trip functions. On the move, it can feel slightly cluttered, though and you do miss certain details unless you really focus on them.
The pillion pegs are nicely sculpted and the tail unit is made from soft rubber, which looks like a solo seat but is actually a pillion pad.
Although there is no official option to convert it to a single seat, there are multiple tail bag options in the Power Parts range, to make it more practical.