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A little more than 7 months ago, KTM launched the 125 Duke in India. Came with it, a lot of hoopla surrounding the price of the motorcycle despite being a 125cc and a lot of numbers (and therefore moolah) for KTM. And since it is an established fact that every engine serves as a platform for various categories of motorcycles, we now have a KTM RC 125 on our hands! 125cc, a rather high introductory price and requiring much more commitment from the rider, the RC 125 has a mountain of a task in front of it. Maybe 125 Duke did well because it was Duke enough. But is the KTM RC 125 RC enough? Let’s find out.
In this department, yes, the KTM RC 125 is RC enough. Why? Because it looks exactly the same. It looks exactly like the KTM RC 200 and the reason for that is that it is. Almost all the components have been carried over from the RC 200. The frame, the suspension, the geometry etc. everything is the same. And it isn’t a bad thing because if I had an RC when I was in college, I would have gotten way more friendship bands than I did… or maybe not.
The point is, the KTM RC 125 definitely looks good. A big reason for why the 125 Duke did good numbers would have been the way it looks. Add full-fairing and voila, instant gratification. It gets two dual-tone colour: Black & white + orange and black & orange + more orange. In my opinion, the former looks a bit subtle while the latter kinda justifies the tagline, MOTO GP GENE.
Now, let’s talk differences. The first obvious difference is the colour scheme and in my opinion, the KTM RC 125 is the best looking RC. The colour scheme is really youthful punchy, and thus very alluring. I am sure that a lot of youngsters will want this to be their first motorcycle on which they… you know what I am talking about. Another thing is, the frame isn’t orange. I see the KTM RC 125 kneeled in an Austrian Church saying, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.” Or maybe it was the designers.
Build quality is important and a bit more so in the case of fully-faired motorcycles because of the plastic panels and stuff. After all, you don’t want your fully-faired attention grabber to sound like a Rattle. Thankfully, the KTM RC 125 has a very good build quality and finish. Solidly built and fitted plastic parts, no uneven gaps and no particularly offensive weld marks.
The same can be said for the switchgear. The buttons have a good tactile feel and they are illuminated too, always a nice touch. The digital instrument cluster is the same tiny orange backlit unit which is full of information. Personally, I would like to see it change but… psst, price!
I do not know whether to refer to this section as exciting or not so exciting. The reason for that is that the KTM RC 125 looks very fast but it is just a 125cc which might be a bit of a letdown after that first-look-I’ma be fast feeling. 14.5 PS of power and 12 Nm of torque aren’t really numbers to brag about. But then, when you ride the motorcycle after realizing that it is just 125cc, it blows you away. Let me explain…
The KTM RC 125 borrows its engine from the KTM 125 Duke and the only difference is the shorter gearing (probably to compensate for the acceleration lost due to increased weight). The power delivery is somewhat linear but there’s no doubt that this little RC is peaky. The real pull is felt when after around 7000 rpm. And with spot-on fueling, the KTM RC 125 does give you a taste of frenzy that is inherent to the bigger KTMs.
On the track, it does not feel lacking except on the straight. After 80 km/h, it starts to fade. While the speedo-indicated 118 km/h that I was able to do on the track is impressive considering the bike’s weight (and mine), it took a good drive out of the bowl at the Chakan track and braking late at the end of the straight to get there. I won’t conceal the fact that the fairing (and the resultant aerodynamic efficiency) also had a part to play. Now, the peaky nature may be fun to exploit on the track, but how it fares on public roads, we have to see.
The transmission is 6-speed and I really liked the gearbox on the KTM RC 125. It’s slick, positive and the clutch is also light. The shorter gearing does incite quick shifts, but the light clutch and the fantastic gear shifts help to skim through the gearbox and feel like a racer. The clutch will be a boon in the city as well where the motorcycle is surely going to need a lot of gear changes. Stunning roll-on acceleration was something I was not expecting from the bike and it did not prove me wrong. Want to accelerate? Shift down.
About cruising (sorry RC), if the highway that you are on has a speed limit of 80 km/h (and you have the will to abide), the motorcycle will be sitting in the 6th-gear without a hint of stress on the engine. The engine is quite refined and only mild vibrations are tangible around the top of the rev-range. Overall, for a 125cc, the KTM RC 125 is pretty enjoyable.
This is one part where a KTM can never be NOT exciting. The RC family connection of the KTM RC 125 is the most evident in this department. Trellis frame, 43mm USD forks, 10-step adjustable monoshock at the back, low-set triple clamps, rear set footpegs, and what not. Everything has been carried over from the bigger RCs and KTM has cut no corners in this regard to make sure it feels like a thoroughbred around a bend. And we are glad to report that it does!
Talking about ergonomics first, this is an RC and RC stands for Race Competition. So predictably, the riding position is very committed and one has to lean forward quite a bit to reach the handlebars. It might not be very comfortable for long hauls but not a lot of people will be doing that on this particular motorcycle. For the track, it is spot-on. The recesses on the tank make it easy to hold on to the bike with the knees. The fairing and the windshield cut through the air efficiently and once properly tucked in, it is all that one can ask for.
The handling of the motorcycle is fantastic. The turn-ins are quick, quick changes in direction are a breeze, it feels planted mid-corner and the straight line stability is also pretty great. The trellis frame does that to motorcycles so no wonder that the KTM RC 125 is such a confidence-inspiring motorcycle.
The suspension is also very well set up for a track and yet, I believe that it will do well on the public roads sprinkled with mildly bad patches of tarmac. The reason for that is that we found a place to test that on the track and it was surprising how pliant the suspension is despite performing well on the track. And all that, with no adjustments at all!
This is one of those motorcycles on which you feel confident right out of the box even if you are on a track the layout of which you are not aware of. Even when I was doing my best to go as fast as I can, it just kept egging me to push more. I was pretty far from the limits of the motorcycle but pretty close to mine.
Now, I did not want to stop riding at all even though it was raining, I had to go back to the pit after the rain intensified. While my saddle time suffered, what I learnt was that the tyres on this motorcycle are pretty good. They had ample grip in the dry and in the wet too, they didn’t feel nervous or anything. So, we can safely say that the tyres are pretty good and are fit for a motorcycle the forte of which is phenomenal handling.
I don’t want to talk brakes because all the KTMs that I have ridden have awesome brakes. The KTM RC 125 is no different. The 300mm disc at the front with Bybre callipers have ample bite and a progressive feel at the lever. Awesome stuff.
Mileage: Obviously we did not get to test the mileage but since the engine has been carried over from the 125 Duke, 40+ km/l does not seem unlikely.
Rear-view mirrors: The rear-view mirrors are lovely offering a wide view of what’s going on in the back and they are devoid of any buzz that’d distort the image.
Exhaust note: KTM. Nothing special. It’s not particularly good, or particularly bad. It’s just… KTM. Some may like it and some may not.
The verdict that we have will be very hard to justify. The KTM RC 125 is a wonderful and fun little motorcycle. You are on the verge of saying aww when you look at the numbers 125 on the fairing. But show it a corner and it will be as ferocious and as RC as the other family members. It has a lot of premium components like the brakes from Bybre, suspension from WP, twin projector headlamps, LED taillamps, blinkers integrated into the rear-view mirrors, and the list goes on. But still, an introductory price of INR 1.47 Lakhs (Ex-showroom) is very hard to justify. Especially in a country like ours where the preference is displacement.
We felt the same way about the 125 Duke but the actual sales exceeded expectations and it is still going strong. The KTM RC 125 though may have it a bit more difficult because it weighs more, is a bit peaky and the committed riding position is not everyone’s cup of tea. And then it is more expensive too. What will happen to the KTM RC 125 in the market is something we’ll see, till then let’s talk buyers.
Youngsters love fully-faired motorcycles. KTM RC 125 is fully-faired and it looks smashing with the colour scheme. There you have the first set. The second set is comprised of people who’ll be able to appreciate (after trying rather hard) the premium components on duty in the baby RC. The third set is on the more serious side of the spectrum- the youngsters who want to race. And for them, the KTM RC 125 can be a perfect tool because of power that is not overwhelming and yet, handling that can help one to hone their skills on the track. There can be more sets but according to us, this is where the mass will be centred. All in all, with a fantastic package, the KTM RC 125 is a knee-slidin’ welcome to the world of KTM, though at a price.
And here are some more photos…