KTM RC390 (2022 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Lighter chassis parts and improve feel boost performance
  • Racy styling
  • Surprisingly versatile

At a glance

Power: 44 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.4 in / 824 mm)
Weight: Low (342 lbs / 155 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £5,700

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Big numbers rule with sportsbike street-cred. KTM’s new A2-compliant RC390 middleweight sportsbike changes that with its peppy, 44bhp single cylinder motor, housed in a sharp 155kg lightweight chassis, supplying big fun and surprising pace on both road and track.

Taking on the challenges of the narrow, twisty, and very bumpy roads of the hills above the Ferrari home of Maranello at speed, doesn’t faze the RC390 one bit.

Even round the tight and demanding Auto di Modena, the KTM copes brilliantly. It kills the myth that you need massive power to generate fun, thrills and speed. Think back to the days of LCs keeping up and beating much bigger capacity rivals and you can understand why the 390 cuts the mustard as well as it does.

Despite its budget price of £5500 (estimated - the final price hasn't been announced) suggesting otherwise, there’s a quality feel to the Austrian bike. This is not a low spec bit of kit you need to make excuses for. Real attention to detail in its design, and high-spec components make it feel much more expensive and accomplished.

Lighter wheels boost agility, and increased frame flex gives more feel. Riding one is essential to realise just how capable it is. The spec sheet doesn’t tell enough of the story.

This bike’s a real winner in its class, thanks to the quality of its components and electronic package which supplies cornering ABS and traction control. Its rivals can’t match it on both performance and value

Riding the KTM RC390 on the road

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Steering superbly, and with little persuasion, holding a line is a remarkably intuitive event for the precise and agile middleweight.

Suspension quality matches this handling virtue, the WP Apex equipment providing great support, and compliance at both ends – even over knackered Italian roads and flat out on track. Tweaking is easy thanks to accessible adjusters, which lets you fine tune the ride to suit you best.

The Continental ContiSport rubber works well, though its feedback on the edge takes time to fully appreciate. In saying that, polished Italian roads and superhot track temperatures made the task trickier. Over here on grippier routes and in cooler climes, they’ll give you all you need.

No such allowances need to be made when it comes to the brilliant brakes. Both power and feel deserve high scores, with the ByBre calipers challenged less by the KTM’s low 155 kilo weight.

The 2022 KTM RC390 gets a larger fuel tank

Roomier than the previous model thanks to the adjustable bars sitting 10mm further forward, only taller riders might feel their comfort compromised thanks to the relatively high footrests.

It’s not a massive issue and the trade off is huge ground clearance which lower pegs would reduce. The 824mm seat height means most will get their feet on the ground, and though the fairing gives the impression it could only protect midgets, it offers enough protection at a sustained 100mph.

Touring is definitely a possibility on the 390, though we can’t vouch for all-day seat comfort just yet.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Giving the impression it could be the 390’s weak spot, the 373cc single cylinder, Euro-5 compliant motor, with its torque-improving 40% bigger airbox, has way more potency than its configuration and capacity suggest.

OK, the 44bhp maximum it produces when you rev it to 9000rpm doesn’t supply instant stimulation, but its punch and flexibility are useful tools to good progress. Spinning it harder isn’t essential, but the extra pull it gives when you do, make it worthwhile.

It’s not always smooth when caned, and there’s some chattering unless you use lower gears at town speeds. Even so, it revs keenly, fuels perfectly, and delivers spirited pace on demand, helped by the slick quickshifter.

Never intimidating to use, even very hard, the motor’s one of the key reasons the RC feels so friendly and accessible. There’s really involving and rewarding feel from keeping it on song. And thanks to the massive capability of the chassis, using all it’s got feels safe and secure.

Tucked in on the 2022 KTM RC390

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

KTMs do have a less than perfect reputation for full reliability, and niggly issues aren’t unknown. Overall though, with its race-proven motor, and classy looking equipment, on the whole you should expect the 390 to get you to your destination without any major trauma.

The single-cylinder engine is now Euro5 compliant

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
5 out of 5 (5/5)

With a spec and level of quality the KTM has, it’s expected £5500 asking price when it goes on sale early next year, puts it well ahead of its immediate rivals.

Kawasaki’s Ninja 400, Yamaha’s R3, and Honda’s CBR500R models offer A2 licence-holders alternative options. But they just can’t match the KTM’s equipment levels.

A front view of the KTM RC390

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

Build quality and finish look strong and durable, and the TFT dash offers extra class. Suspension control is class-leading, but it’s the electronics package which includes a three-axis IMU to give cornering ABS and traction control that sets the KTM apart.

A view of the top of the KTM RC390

Specs

Engine size 373cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4v, single
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 13.7 litres
Seat height 824mm
Bike weight 155kg
Front suspension 43mm WP forks, adjustable compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Single WP shock, adjustable preload and rebound damping
Front brake 1 x 320mm disc with four piston Bybre caliper. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 230mm disc with single piston Bybre caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 150/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £47
Annual service cost -
New price -
Used price £5,700
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 44 bhp
Max torque 27 ft-lb
Top speed 110 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

Originally brought to the market in 2014, the 2017 version was the first significant upgrade with its ride by wire influenced electronics, and higher overall equipment level.

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