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Life is full of events, happenings, instances and so much more. On a daily basis, we experience so many things but quite a few of them just pass by insignificantly. Even the important ones are pushed to the back of the mind as time passes. But there are some things that just stick out in your memory.
I have ridden a lot, on a lot of motorcycles, to a lot of places, and in a lot of places. The rides are massive sometimes and you forget chunks of them. Yet, I still fondly remember every moment of my first ride on the KTM RC8R. The exhilaration, the fear, the thrill; it was something else.
I mentioned fear too. It is an integral part of riding but not a frequently prominent one. For me, it has been very rare. Not a lot of motorcycles scare me. But if I have to take a pop quiz and name two off the top of my head; KTM RC8R and the KTM 1290 Super Duke R. They’re both KTMs. Says a lot, right?
From what I have seen of them so far, KTM ideology is simple; let the rider work for the glory they seek. As such, their motorcycles are sharp, edgy, temperamental, and unapologetic. The KTM RC8R was all that, and then some.
I was quite disappointed when it was discontinued. It was not a massive success but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it was a wonderful motorcycle. But I think it was perhaps too ahead of its time. Or too original and old school.
It had a certain purity to it. No electronics to have your back and skill being the only thing to rely on. ECU in the head and ABS or Traction control in your hands. Maybe that is why it did not click with a lot of people. Or maybe, the people did not click with it.
Despite all that though, the departure of the KTM RC8R was not all sad and sombre. That is mostly down to it giving rise to one of the most popular series of motorcycles in India. The KTM RC series. The RC200 and RC390 barged through the door in the Indian performance motorcycling market with the intent to rule it! And rule they did.
The displacement of the new RCs may have been smaller but the philosophy, the DNA, was the same as the RC8R; sharp, edgy, temperamental, and unapologetic. A demon if disrespected and an all-giving God if treated with skill and precision. As mentioned earlier, these motorcycles make the rider work for it.
Ask any rider who has been able to extract the most out of these machines and they’ll swear by the sensations, the feelings they got! But the smaller RCs had been around for a while and Dear Time does not wait for anyone or anything.
The folks in Mattighofen know that. And so, after a few milder updates, we have the new RCs on hand! It was a welcome occasion too since we had just added the KTM RC8R to the xBhp Garage. On the road, it was a sight like no other; the predecessor and successor, together!
Right off the bat, you can tell that the new RC200 is more RC8R than ever. The front fascia, the layered fairing, and a lithe subframe and rear end. And not to mention, just as polarizing. Is it beautiful? Varies from person to person. Does it draw a lot of attention? You can bet yours that it does!
My two cents would be that the motorcycle looks much, much better in person than it looks in the pictures. Something that was the case with the RC8R as well. I remember riding the smaller RCs when they were first launched in India. I loved them for their sheer focus on what they were meant for; going fast around a racetrack.
The new RC200 is still the same but in a much more refined package this time. Higher clip-ons mean an easier riding position. But they are adjustable and can be moved lower to make for a racier riding position. The new seat is also grippier than before. The seat height remains the same but the narrower area where the seat and the fuel tank meet means it is easier to find your feet.
The main frame is the same, the subframe is revised. As we have been told, the steering geometry remains the same which is a good thing. The tank capacity has been improved too and despite this and other smaller changes, it weighs virtually the same as before. That is because KTM has shaved off nearly 3 kilos from the previous RC200. More importantly, though, most of those weight savings come from cutting down the unsprung mass.
The rear chain sprocket, front brake discs and the wheels; are all lighter than before and that is what makes the new RC200 the phenomenal motorcycle that it is. Though I did not get to mash it on a racetrack, I can tell that it is going to be just as good as the old RC200. And because of lighter unsprung parts, it is more agile than ever. But this time around, it is a great road bike as well.
The engine remains more or less the same as before but the new RC200 gets a bigger airbox which has aided a better throttle response and a better torque curve. The gearing, like before, is short which makes it an engaging motorcycle to ride.
I am quite happy that the engine has retained its character and it sounds like a KTM is supposed to; pushing you to keep thrashing the engine. The 25 horses that it has may not seem like a lot but the way it goes about it is what makes it an RC. And that is what makes it a KTM.
Now, the new RC390 is also on the horizon and I can’t wait to check it out but I can safely say that the RC200 is nearly as good but more forgiving, and therefore, more approachable. Riding it alongside the RC8R sure brings a smile to one’s face. Seeing what the revolution that the RC8R was, has evolved into. The RC8R may have gone away but the lineage has survived… and dare, I say, thrived.