2022 KTM RC 200: Likes And Dislikes
It’s got a polarising design but does the RC redeem itself with its ride and handling?
The new-gen KTM RC motorcycles have caught the ire of the fanboys on the internet. What most of them missed out while causing much uproar are the subtle tweaks that KTM claim makes the new RCs even sharper. We were invited to spend some time astride the new 2022 RC 200 at Bajaj’s test track in Chakan. Here’s what we ended up liking on the RC and the bits that we believe KTM should improve:
Even though the riding posture on the new RC remains sporty and committed, it is far less taxing on your body. It starts with the raised clip-on bars. They are 14.5mm higher than before and angled outwards.
The new bolt-on subframe is slimmer than before. Hence, even though seat height hasn’t gone up at all, still rated at a lofty 835mm, shorter riders will find it easier to find their footing at traffic lights on the new model. With the new subframe, the seat itself is flatter and roomier, which is great for heavy-set riders to move around in the saddle quite easily.
KTM hasn’t changed the positioning of the rearset footpegs but the tank profile is new. It is wider now, as it accommodates 13.7 litres now instead of the measly 9.4 litres of the older bike. This change in tank shape allows the riders to lock their knees firmly while leaning over.
Meaty Midrange Performance
On paper, the 199.7cc liquid-cooled single mill makes the same 25PS and 19.2Nm. However, KTM has been clever by providing the RC 200 a 40 percent larger air-box. This enables the engine to breathe in more air, thus gaining a meatier torque curve, which translates to better mid-range performance. At the Bajaj test track in Chakan, we found the RC to be tractable enough to carry a gear higher into certain bends and still possess enough drive to exit fast, something which wouldn’t quite have been possible on the older bike.
This improvement also helps minimise the engine vibrations to a great extent. At 80kmph, the motor hums along at 6200rpm and even though it sounds a bit shouty when you reach 100kmph, which arrives at 8000rpm, one is only met with mild vibrations that are present at the bars, tank and pegs.
With my almost 90kg frame (plus the added 5-6kg weight of proper leather gear), I managed to reach a speedo-indicated top speed of 140kmph. It struggled after 135kmph and even lighter riders might not manage to extract more speed.
Sharp But Forgiving Handling
The RC’s sharp handling characteristics were second-to-none. However, with this iteration, KTM has managed to make it even sharper without overwhelming newbie riders. The steering geometry, wheelbase and kerb weight of the new RC 200 remains the same as the outgoing model. Where the real magic has taken place is the reduction in unsprung mass and a revised front USD fork, which has 10mm more suspension travel. KTM managed to shed nearly 3.5 kilos off the wheels and almost another kilo off the brakes. This reduction in unsprung mass has made it an absolute toy to hustle from one corner to another.
On the opening couple of laps around the Bajaj test track, the RC tipped in much more quickly than I anticipated. However, as I got a hang of the bike’s capabilities, it was far more rewarding to ride, reducing my left knee-slider to mere millimetres. Even around the daunting banked bowl of the track, the RC’s chassis and suspension setup felt confidence-inspiring, egging me to carry more corner speed. What limits you from unlocking the full potential of the handling package is in the dislikes section.
Feels Premium And Special
Aside from the switches, which are still quite similar to the older model, every single element on the new RC 200 feels more polished, nicer to look at. The quality levels on offer are leaps and bounds better than the previous generation. The panels feel more solid, the paint quality more premium and even the matte finish is neatly executed. I particularly liked the Electronic Orange shade on the metal fuel tank, the bolt-on subframe and the new 5-spoke cast alloy wheels. Lastly, the split seats have this lovely alcantara leather-like cover.
Aah, the limiting factor: the MRF Revz-C1 tyres. As the RC 200 has progressed into a more involving bike, the tyres simply don’t match up to the handling potential. It feels jittery, losing traction while carrying extreme lean angles. You cannot help but wonder what a pair of stickier tyres, like the Apollo Alpha H1s or the TVS Protorq Extremes, would do to enhance the bike’s capabilities.
The RC 200 now runs on a larger 320mm front disc. But despite the larger front disc, the initial bite isn’t as fierce and you have to grab quite a handful of the lever to get the bike to a halt. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue at sensible city speeds but rather when you start hooning on the bike on twisty mountain roads. ABS intervention on the relatively smooth test track was consistent and not too intrusive but we would like to make a fair call regarding this once we get the bike for a road test.
On The Fence: Its Looks
I have waited until the end to tackle the RC 200’s new design and that’s because it is not quite as bad as the internet would have you believe. It is certainly not photogenic and as my colleague Priyadarshan pointed out, the RC would have benefitted if the front visor had a dark smoke coating, which would be one of the first things to do for someone who is keen on buying the bike, after replacing the tyres that is. The side profile of the RC 200 looks smashing, giving off an RC8-vibe. Even the tail section looks sharper and sportier.
By pricing the new RC 200 at nearly the same amount as the outgoing version, which is Rs 2.09 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), KTM has delivered a neat motorcycle. Yes, it isn’t quite as much a value-for-money proposition as KTMs used to be a couple of years ago and this price tag is only introductory, so expect prices to go up at least once by the end of 2021. It is around Rs 28,000 dearer than the priciest version of the Yamaha R15 V4 and also Rs 24,000 dearer than the more powerful Suzuki Gixxer SF 250. What makes the RC 200 still a serious option to consider is that neither the R15 nor the Gixxer SF 250 offer quite the balance between usable, thrilling performance and razor-sharp but still easy-going handling that the Austrian supersport has.