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KTM RC200: Review

After a long wait, the KTM RC200 is finally here. But does it have the potential to be the segment leader?
KTM RC200 in action
The two Dukes were undoubtedly just the right machines to bring to Indian shores as an introduction to the KTM brand. From aggressive looks to breath taking performance (for their respective classes of course), not to mention tremendous handling ability, these naked offerings had it all. No wonder then every motorcycle enthusiast wants one.
But, there were others who wanted even more. A fully faired machine with more aggressive styling and even sharper handling but equally intoxicating performance and an equally tempting price tag. We spent a day at the Bajaj test track in Chakan to find out if the new KTM RC200 could really be the motorcycle these discerning enthusiasts were waiting for.
Much like the 200 Duke, the KTM RC200 also shares the same look as its elder sibling. The dual projector headlight with the boomerang shaped pilot DRLs gives it an aggressive look up front. The large windscreen smoothly leads into the headlight. The sharp cut fuel tank is well crafted but can only hold 10 liters of fuel as it also hides the battery at the front. The belly fairing which is a separate unit from the engine fairing smartly integrates the exhaust.
The rear seat that looks like a cowl is a neat addition to the design. The all LED tail lights give the RC a touch of style at the back too. Thanks to the addition of the fairing and other parts, the RC200 is nearly 12kg heavier than the 200 Duke. On the negative side, the fairing has a few too many gaps which are difficult to reach into to clean.
KTM RC200 rear grab handles
Albeit subtle, the overall design of the RC200 does have its differences from the RC390. The fairing on the RC200 is washed in black as opposed to white; the rear panel that tidily hides the grab handles get a white treatment; and the RC200 misses out on the bar end weights at the end of the clip-on handle bars.
Hiding behind the fairing is the same 200cc single-cylinder motor that works force on the naked 200 Duke. In fact this one too produces 25PS and 19Nm same as the Duke. The engine feels as quick as on the naked. Although the power build up is smooth, you need to keep it at its peak to extract maximum go. That said, the spread of power is pretty friendly.
KTM RC200 engine
It’s not just the engine, the ratios of the 6-speed gearbox too continue unchanged. The short gear ratios mean that the RC200 doesn't throw any tantrums doing 60kmph in top cog, and is absolutely comfortable when revved right up to the redline. Moreover shifting gears is smooth and light.
With an engine that can do so much, the RC200 is also well supported by good handling dynamics. And while the upside-down front fork and the rear mono-shock play their part, the star here is the trellis frame. The Duke chassis that is being used in the RC models with the addition of the new sub-frame continues to be as communicative and delightful.
KTM RC200 handling
Leaning the bike from side to side through corners is as quick as thinking about it. The shorter wheelbase, the reduced steering head angle and the stiffened out suspension give it a more purposeful persona than the naked and it works well when you want to ride hard around a switchback. While the 200 Duke was the right mix of street appeal and race genes to suit the need of every buyer, this one is for the focused motorcyclist out there. The RC200’s one-track mind (pun intended) makes it sure, composed and a whole lot of fun. But, as much as we hate to admit it, it does have downsides.
Although the overall riding posture with the flat handle bars and the slightly rear set foot pegs help improve handling, it can get a little painful when riding through stop-and-go traffic in the city. It won’t be as easy to live with on a day-to-day basis as it naked sibling, but at the same time it is something that you can get used to.
KTM RC200 fairing

To sum it up then, the KTM RC 200 is a good looking machine with a potent heart and impressive handling. And at Rs 1.60 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) it is affordable, no doubt. KTM has always been clear about what it wants with a motorcycle and it comes out clearly with the RC200 as well. To us, it’s a great proposition and it will give the competition a run for their money.

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