KTM's 390 single-cylindered LAMS machines offer exceptional performance in a super light and easy to handle package. Here's our KTM RC 390 review. Test: Kris Hodgson Photography: Campelli M, Barbanti A.

My first impression jumping of the KTM RC 390 on heading off was, ‘Wow, this thing has grunt for a LAMS bike…’. It’s not quite in the same league as the premium 600cc LAMS machines on paper but the performance on offer is absolutely great.

KTM claim 43hp which combined with the dry weight of 147kg provides an exceptional power to weight ratio. It’s also all delivered in the low to mid-range which is exactly where you want it for hooning around and general riding. 

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The 390 is not as peaky as the Ninja 300 or R3 but that’s more than made up for in the mid-range, and at 110km/h there’s plenty more on tap for overtaking maneuvers. Vibrations are also minimal for a single-cylinder so unless you’re really pushing the RC 390remains comfortable.

First gear is short, so a good twist of the wrist is rewarded by a quick upshift, with fueling faultless throughout the rev range. Particularly in first and second gear rolling off the throttle too drastically could unsettle the bike as you transition onto engine braking, with the better option being to take advantage of the RC390s awesome brakes with a smoother transition.

Despite having just a single front rotor, the four-piston caliper gives immense bite and stopping power, something shared with the rear single-piston item as well, no doubt aided by the RC 390’slight weight.Handling is super agile, with the WP front and rear suspension offering a sporty but compliant ride except over the more damaged or uneven of our Australian roads.

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Front end feel is great and the rear is planted when ridden sportily, making rapid progress through your favourite twisties great fun and very rewarding. The RC 390is so light and nimble I actually had to reassess my riding style for the quick turn in and easy ability to change line mid-corner at a whim.
It’s aimed towards the sportier end of the market which is my preference but for those living with terrible roads and long commutes it may not be so suited.

 

Comfort was mainly great, with an upright seating position and good reach to the bars and pegs, with a more naked than supersport feel to it. For my 180cm frame the bike was just right while still being small although wind protection from the screen is minimal. The dash was a bit small for my liking although the only important information – speed, is clear, with a gear indicator a nice perk as well.

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The seat was probably my biggest point of contention considering how much I liked the RC 390 – it was awful for any longer distance and commuting 45-minutes each way was about as long as it stayed comfortable. A cool feature was the fact the tail incorporates a pillion seat, despite looking like a racing tail, although I didn’t have a chance to get anyone on the back to test it out.

Styling is probably the biggest note of contention for prospective buyers and the bike’s fully faired for that sporty look, despite being more learner friendly ergonomically, with futuristic styling, an eye catching trellis frame and lightweight sporty rims. The sunken dual headlights aren’t the most picturesque but lighting at night is exceptional, while the exhaust incorporated into the belly of the bike helps centralise weight.

The KTM RC 390 is the complete package and one of the LAMS bikes I would be seriously considering if I was buying.

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SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 KTM RC 390

PRICE: $7,295 RRP + ORC
WARRANTY: Two years/unlimited kilometres

CLAIMED POWER: 43hp[32kw]
CLAIMED TORQUE: 35.3Nm[26ft-lbs]@7000rpm
DRY WEIGHT: 139kg
FUEL CAPACITY: 10L

ENGINE: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke single-cylinder, four-valve, 12.6:1 compression ratio, 89 x 60mm bore x stroke, 373cc
GEARBOX: Six-speed
CLUTCH: Wet, multi-disc

CHASSIS: Powder-coated steel, tubular space frame, light alloy swingarm

SUSPENSION: WP 43mmUSD forks, 120mm travel, WP Monoshock, 150mm travel

BRAKES: Bosch 9MB two channel ABS, single 300mm front rotor, four-piston radial caliper, single 230mm rear rotor, single-piston caliper

WHEELS & TYRES: Cast light alloy, 110/70ZR17, 150/60ZR17, Metzeler

DIMENSIONS:
SEAT HEIGHT: 820mm
WHEELBASE: 134015mm

INSTRUMENTS: Digital LCD display
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