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Old 12th June 2015, 16:24   #1
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Default KTM RC 390 Ownership Review

Its been a week since I took delivery and it seems to have passed in a haze.

Bike has done about 600 kms and should be ready to service next week.

The buying decision:

I have been a fan of Duke 390 from the day it was launched. All the equipment it came with was worth drooling over. ABS, USD suspension, radial brake calipers, rigid trellis frame and those mystical Metz to name a few . A proper 'do it all' kind of motorcycle. Plus it seemed like an appropriate upgrade from Cbr 250. Then the pictures of RC started doing rounds on the internet. I must confess i do have a soft corner for faired bikes. But still standing at the showroom floor looking at both the RC and D390 back to back, that brain vs heart fight started. What made things worst was that Duke is equipped with slipper clutch and there is still no news about RC.

By all means the brain was favouring Duke. So paid the booking amount and told the dealership people that I'll pick up the bike in a weeks time but did not confirm whether it would be Duke or RC. Both bikes were in stock so they happily obliged.

5 days later and after a lot of brainstorming I let the heart take over the matter in it's hands. And here we are now.

So here are a few words on initial impression and personal opinion.

The Engine:

First and foremost, the real draw to the 390 is the without a doubt, the engine. 43 Ps of raw power. I still haven't exploited it to the fullest and keeping the RPM below 7.5k and even till 7k it explodes like a rocket.

The test ride bike that i rode a while back was in such a bad nick that if I were to purely base my decision
on the test ride, I would have never thought of buying this bike. The test ride bike was quick but engine was so rough it almost seemed as if it was low on engine oil and would seize any moment.

Now I know what the issue was, if you ride the engine below 4000 rpm it coughs and flutters and vibration itself make the ride coarse. This issue is simply resolved by keeping the engine between 4500 - 7000 rpm thus keepin' it within the recommended rpm before first service. and beyond 6000 rpm vibrations subside and engine is peppy and smooth.

Gearshift are smooth all through out, no issues there.

As for clutch, it does seem a bit hard in stop go traffic, but on highway one might not feel the heaviness as the
release will shoot you off into a time warp and all your concentration will be directed towards harnessing that
unrelenting acceleration.

Yes,Yes. I know I am behaving like a kid. And I know I am gonna go nuts after first service. Now I know what the D390 guys were always talking about.

Kudos Bajaj/KTM

The ergonomics:

I have been riding R15 (V1 and now V2) for almost 6 years now, with 18 month of brief CBR 250 ownership. and all these bikes though come with sport riding stance(CBR being much more comfortable than the R15's) just make you feel that the body might have gotten accustomed to aggressive stance. Or so I thought, but couldn't have been more wrong.

On the RC its not that the handle is lower than say the r15 but its the distance between the seat and the handle that causes the rider to lean further in order to reach the handlebars thus leading to a more aggressive stance.
It can get exhausting if you are stuck in traffic but on highways and on open roads it is the most natural sports stance.

The key here is to keeps the elbows slightly in bent position and trying to control your upper body weight at your waist and gripping the tank while braking makes every thing fall in place and at the end one does feel more at home. I know I do

Suspension:

Front are just perfect, its the rear that needs adjustment IMHO. In stock it comes at 3 clicks of preload and the suspension though not soft but makes the bike a bit bouncy. On straight roads its rather comfortable at slow speeds and even at speeds around hundred it makes for a supple ride. Nothing scary. But its at corners where the real difference is felt.

At corners the bike feels stable but undulation on road does unsettle it a bit. I am around 75kg and have no idea about how to set the sag but just for experiment sake I have set the rear at 4 clicks. It does feels more stable but until the first service after which I will be able to push more and move upto 5-6 clicks and see how it behaves. For now its 4 clicks.

There has been no belly scrapping incidents yet while riding over speedbreakers.

Heating Issues:

Well, I was silently following the Duke 390 treads from day one. all the issues about engine overheating and burning/roasting legs did scare me a bit. I remember that when i test rode the D390 about a year back around CP Delhi, it was a short ride and I was so hooked up on the power that i did not even notice much heat. around the same time the news was going around that KTM has resolved the issue.

Honestly I don't know what KTM did back then with the Duke but now on the RC the heat issue isn't much of a bother. Be it because of better routing of heat through fairing or God knows what, I have been stuck in traffic in scorching Delhi heat and when the fan starts moving except for the noise it makes, everything else seems ok. If I were to compare it to the R15 or say CBR, yes its a bit warmer but manageable. No leg roasting/ burning issues for sure

The Seat:

I should have included the Seat part in the ergonomics itself but I feel they(it) require a special mention.

I will say it at the very beginning and put the issue to rest. The only thing i'll crib for long time to come is the seat.

Yes, while throwing her around the corners its a boon, its amazing actually. The rounded edges of the seat just let you hang your bottom with such grip and comfort that its almost unimaginable once you look at that tiny padding resting between the tank and rear seat/cowl .

Now having said that I should stop and move on considering this is one bike about which the company has always been clear that it is a track focused machine. Hmm. Where does that leave me than? I'll commute on it, I'll go on rides and than, eventually, hopefully end up on track once in a while.

My belief is KTM/Bajaj might have been able to find a decent compromise between track focus and comfort.

But no complains here.

Tyres:

The Metz. To be honest, I really shouldn't comment on these or I'll come out as a real fool. Quoting Mark Twain "It's better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt'.

But since I have already said a lot, I'll say this 'I am yet to see what the big fuss is about when it comes to Metz'. May be in extreme leans they do aid grip like say on tracks or ghats but on normal roads they just are normal everyday tires. No complains at all but its just that i havent experienced that oomph factor.
So until I take the bike to track or ghats(which is more likely to happen first), I'll stay hush hush.

Fit and finish:

The wires being clamped to the chassis with zip ties is an eye sore. It looks as if the bike is still in preproduction stage. But considering the complicated design involving numerous over lapping panels the bike does hold all the pieces with resolved subtlety.

There are a few complains about the battery cover vibrations making annoying noise eventually, but I havent experienced any such issues yet.

I should mention that the first thing that was done after getting the bike home was to take out the tool kit and checked all the nuts and bolts accessible, starting with the infamous gear lever one. And except for the rear mud flap bolts, every thing was in place, tight as tight as it should be.

One niggle deserving mention here. The rear brake fluid master cylinder. It just not in the right place. I had a feeling that the easy access might makes it prone to unauthorized access by some unscrupulous elements in the office parking or somewhere else. I usually love to be proven right, but not in this instance.

So here is what happened. I believe that some malicious character spent some time on the bike in the office parking (evident by the offset RVM), the master cylinder might have caught his attention thinking that the fluid inside could be fuel and rightly following his urge to open it and put the curiosity at rest. And so he did. Finding otherwise, in utmost dis-satisfaction he must have put the cap back on the cylinder and decided not to tightly screw it in. I mean, who are we kidding, why should he screw it back.

I have one question, how many of us check if the master cylinder cap is tightly screwed down before we start our ride?

Times are changing and we must learn and adapt. So those who did do it, I bow in reverence and those who didn't, its never too late.

Only if engineers could have hidden the cylinder or at least made its access not so damn easy.

Features:

- ABS
- Upside down fork
- Radially mounted 4 pot brake caliper
- Trellis frame
- Metzeler tyres
- Projector headlamps

I would like to mention here that the ABS though a lifesaver but does take the fun out. I am new to the high tech gizmo. So I haven't switched it off yet but surely will.

What I like about RC 390
  • Powerful engine
  • Handling
  • ABS
  • Informative digital console
  • Design, styling, looks

What I don't like
  • Rider seat
  • Fuel tank capacity
  • Exposed components like wires and brake fluid reservoir

As I bring my observations/opinions to an end I'll say this for the aspiring buyers "You don't take a kitchen knife to chop the firewood and you certainly don't take an axe in the kitchen to cut salad".

Finally in India we have purpose built bikes for almost every role, just know your cup of tea.

I'll stop my babble now, though there is a lot more to be said. I will definitely post some more afterthoughts after the first service is done.

Some pics:
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Last edited by GTO : 17th June 2015 at 13:20. Reason: Removing excessive spacing :)
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Old 12th June 2015, 18:28   #2
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 ownership review

Many congratulations on joining the Orange Brotherhood!

A few photos would do a great deal of justice to your thread. Choose your SVC wisely, even if you have to ride a few extra kilometres for it.

Ride safe. Cheers!
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Old 12th June 2015, 18:51   #3
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 ownership review

Thanks barcalad.

Haven't clicked many. But here you go (sorry for the bad quality)

The pillion footpegs have been removed. I have no intention to take a pillion as of yet.

I might put the mudflap back as monsoon proceed.

As for the service center, I was advised by showroom guys that noida one will be a good option. They didn't have the address though. Will google it. But any and all reviews by fellow bhpians will be of great help.

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Last edited by mehuel : 12th June 2015 at 18:59.
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Old 12th June 2015, 18:57   #4
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 ownership review

Quote:
Originally Posted by mehuel View Post
Tyres:
..No complains at all but its just that i havent experienced that oomph factor...
First up, congratulations and wishing you many happy miles!! While all your observations are spot on, I'll just want to add my experience with the tyres. During last Sunday ride, I was on highway going at a bit more than 80 kph. All of sudden there was a herd of cows who decided to cross the road. It wasn't exactly a panic situation as I had spotted them well in advance but I did grab hold of brakes harder than I would. To my surprise and reassurance, the braking was without any drama. The bike didn't twitch even slightly and felt like it was on rails.

These incidents give me the confidence that paying for these tyres in future will be a worthy investment.
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Old 12th June 2015, 19:10   #5
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 ownership review

Thanks Ksameer1234

Yup, have heard so much about these metz, i guess i ended up expecting something mystical
But i'll take your word for it. I'll let the best of Metz unravel themselves in due course.


P.S: The sugar free cap on the reservior was a makeship DIY after the incedent in the parking left me without the cap.
I have bought two now, one is back on the reservior and second one goes under the seat, just in case if the need arises.
Cost 30 INR. for both.

Last edited by mehuel : 12th June 2015 at 19:31.
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Old 12th June 2015, 21:02   #6
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 ownership review

Recently had the opportunity to ride a RC200 and going by the reviews I assumed it would be a pain in the city. To my surprise the RC200 was way better in the city then the CBR250. Power delivery was good in the low end so did not have rev the bike.
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Old 17th June 2015, 12:22   #7
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 Ownership Review

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for updating it!
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Old 18th June 2015, 07:02   #8
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 Ownership Review

I could have very well called it KTM RC 390 Ownership review by an Idiot.
Bike has done little over 800 kms. Considering 110 kms daily commute I decided it was best to not take it to office yesterday and save some miles till I get it serviced. I also thought it best to park it inside as it will unnecessarily gather just. Good thinking thus far.

So switch the ignition key on, ignition/ emergency switch on and thumb the starter as there is a little incline on the way in making it difficult to drag the bike on manpower. All said and done the bike is in and I switch this so called emergency switch off, park the bike, and leave for office.

See, since the bike is parked inside the house there is no reason to take the ignition key out. Now usually on other bikes if the ignition (emergency) switch is in off position and ignition key is in on, the meter console be it digital or analog, there is always some sign that key is in on position be it the neutral light or whole console back light stays on in most modern machine.

But that's not the case with this one. As soon as you switch emergency off, the meter console shuts down aswell.

And so assuming all is well I left for work. It was not until today morning when I went to the bike, (just to admire it i suppose ) only to find what I had done, leaving the ignition key on, that is. There was no sign of life as I desperately toggled the key and that switch.

I have taken the battery out to drop it for charging, it was fairly simple. So on a positive note, + 1 for the bike
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Old 18th June 2015, 11:04   #9
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 Ownership Review

Hi Mehuel,

I think in a case like this, you could have easily push-started the bike (and perhaps even used that little incline to your advantage).

Did you give that a shot, before handing over the battery for charging?
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Old 18th June 2015, 12:16   #10
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 Ownership Review

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Hi Mehuel,

I think in a case like this, you could have easily push-started the bike (and perhaps even used that little incline to your advantage).

Did you give that a shot, before handing over the battery for charging?
Nope, battery had gone absolutely to nil state of charge. no horn no nothing.
When i took the battery out it was still warm, warm enough to worry about.

Can I use the 9amp 12 v battery from Pulsar to check if the electricals and fuses are ok? KTM has a 8 amp 12v battery.

I am getting a feeling that some fuse or something might have blown for sure otherwise the bike must have shown some sign of life.
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Old 18th June 2015, 12:25   #11
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 Ownership Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by mehuel View Post
Nope, battery had gone absolutely to nil state of charge. no horn no nothing.
When i took the battery out it was still warm, warm enough to worry about.

Can I use the 9amp 12 v battery from Pulsar to check if the electricals and fuses are ok? KTM has a 8 amp 12v battery.

I am getting a feeling that some fuse or something might have blown for sure otherwise the bike must have shown some sign of life.
Its written in the manual somewhere (or I read it somewhere or heard it from someone) that leaving the ignition key in the On position does use up the battery as the electricals are primed, and some charge is being used up keeping them like that.

In fact its not a good practice to keep the key On for even 5+ minutes without the engine running. Here you left it like that for hours. Not surprised that your battery is drained flat.

Normally in low charge, your display comes on and you get a low battery error code. If you are getting nothing, means there's not even enough juice to power up your display. Which means there is zero juice to prime your fuel pump as well (which you can even with a low battery error code - so as to push start).

Please just first get the battery fully charged, and then try everything else. Or replace a charged Duke/RC battery temporarily to check if nothing else is the matter in the interim while your battery is charging.
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Old 18th June 2015, 12:47   #12
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Originally Posted by ebonho View Post
Its written in the manual somewhere (or I read it somewhere or heard it from someone) that leaving the ignition key in the On position does use up the battery as the electricals are primed, and some charge is being used up keeping them like that.

In fact its not a good practice to keep the key On for even 5+ minutes without the engine running. Here you left it like that for hours. Not surprised that your battery is drained flat.

Normally in low charge, your display comes on and you get a low battery error code. If you are getting nothing, means there's not even enough juice to power up your display. Which means there is zero juice to prime your fuel pump as well (which you can even with a low battery error code - so as to push start).

Please just first get the battery fully charged, and then try everything else. Or replace a charged Duke/RC battery temporarily to check if nothing else is the matter in the interim while your battery is charging.
Thanks for clarifying Doc. That does calm my nerve a little. I was starting to get worried that this episode might have lead to some fried electricals.
As I dont have acces to any other Duke/RC battery and the nearest service center is about 15kms away, I will just have to wait till the battery is charged, hopefully everything will be fine and up and running.

And I suppose using 9 amp battery might cause some issue to the electricals.
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Old 18th June 2015, 12:49   #13
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Thanks for clarifying Doc. That does calm my nerve a little. I was starting to get worried that this episode might have lead to some fried electricals.
As I dont have acces to any other Duke/RC battery and the nearest service center is about 15kms away, I will just have to wait till the battery is charged, hopefully everything will be fine and up and running.

And I suppose using 9 amp battery might cause some issue to the electricals.
Don't mess around with any other battery. Just wait it out till yours is fully charged.
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Old 18th June 2015, 13:55   #14
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 Ownership Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by mehuel View Post
...

And I suppose using 9 amp battery might cause some issue to the electricals.
In theory, using a 9Ah battery will work but in practice, the battery may not fit the battery bay. The main difference between the 9Ah Pulsar battery and the 8Ah KTM battery is that the KTM one is a fully sealed, valve regulated lead acid battery (VRLA) which allows fitment in any orientation. The Pulsar is simply maintenance free but it is not sealed and should only be installed the right way up with the bottom parallel to the ground to prevent electrolyte leakage.

So just connecting a pulsar battery to check the electrical system is fine but don't fit and ride the bike as acid (electrolyte) might spill out and cause injuries to you and damage the bike.
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Old 18th June 2015, 14:48   #15
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Default Re: KTM RC 390 Ownership Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by ebonho View Post
Don't mess around with any other battery. Just wait it out till yours is fully charged.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Motard_Blr View Post
In theory, using a 9Ah battery will work but in practice, the battery may not fit the battery bay. The main difference between the 9Ah Pulsar battery and the 8Ah KTM battery is that the KTM one is a fully sealed, valve regulated lead acid battery (VRLA) which allows fitment in any orientation. The Pulsar is simply maintenance free but it is not sealed and should only be installed the right way up with the bottom parallel to the ground to prevent electrolyte leakage.

So just connecting a pulsar battery to check the electrical system is fine but don't fit and ride the bike as acid (electrolyte) might spill out and cause injuries to you and damage the bike.
Point noted, Thanks.
I should get the battery back by tomorrow. Fingers crossed
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