New KTM RC 125 vs Used KTM RC 390: Which One To Buy?

Modified On Jun 28, 2019 By Gaurav Sadanand for KTM RC 125

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Where would you rather invest your money? A brand new KTM RC 125 or a more powerful used RC 390?

When KTM first launched the 125 Duke we were a little sceptical about the idea of a smaller Duke being the breadwinner for the brand in India. KTM then cashed in on the growing demand for premium 125cc bikes by launching the RC 125, a thoroughbred supersport priced at around Rs 1.65 lakh (on-road, Delhi). A price that high doesn't really gel well with everyone. 

With that in mind, does it really make sense to buy a brand new RC 125 or should you invest your hard earned cash on something a lot more exciting and powerful? Say a used 2017 RC 390 for Rs 1.70 lakh? Let’s take a closer look at what the two have to offer, what works for them and what doesn’t. 



It’s a no brainer that the KTM RC 390 puts out a lot more power - 43.5PS and 35Nm compared to  14.5PS and 12Nm on the baby RC. Also, thanks to new balancer shafts and a side-mounted exhaust, the 2017 RC 390 runs a lot smoother than before. What also works in favour of the RC 390 is a slipper clutch which lets you slam down the gears before entering a corner without worrying about wheel hops. Additionally, the newer RC 390s feature ride-by-wire throttle which offers precise throttle inputs as opposed to the cable throttle on the RC 125. 

However, the frenzied nature of the 390 takes some getting used to. On the other hand, the RC 125’s engine feels a lot more refined owing to its smaller displacement, and its performance is less intimidating for beginner riders. Plus, the low compression ratio in the smaller RC’s engine helps it run cool even in stop-and-go traffic, unlike the angry gas-guzzling motor on the 390 which inherently runs hotter. That said, the lack of power also works against the 125, as there’s a very real possibility of you outgrowing its performance pretty soon. 


Ride and Handling:

Both bikes come equipped a trellis frame, upside down forks, radially mounted calipers and radial tyres, but the RC 390 gets a couple of premium components over the RC 125. For instance, the former rides on stickier H-rated Metzeler Sportec M5 tyres and brakes better thanks to a massive 320mm front disc brake. To clarify, a H-rated tyre is approved for speeds up to 210kmph under optimal conditions.  Aside from this, it gets dual-channel ABS as standard compared to the single-channel unit of the RC 125. 

However, the RC 390’s razor-sharp handling and frantic power delivery leaves a really low margin for error and requires an expert hand to tame it. While it may not be as potent as mid-displacement supersports, it will still keep you engaged around the race track or around ghats. On the other hand, the RC 125, though equally good in the corners, is more forgiving and easy going, making it easier to live with on a daily basis. 


Overall maintenance:

The RC 390 is likely to eat into its parts a lot quicker, more so when it’s a used bike. To put things into perspective, the bike tends to wear out its soft compound tyres pretty quickly - a set of which costs close to Rs 11,000. And if you were to choose the stickier W-rated Metzeler Sportec M5 tyres, they’ll set you back by around Rs 14,500. 

Then you have parts like the clutch plate and rear sprocket that requires replacement every 10,000km or so. Frequently changing these parts could get frustratingly expensive, however, reasonably priced KTM spares could be your saving grace. 

Adding to your maintenance cost is your yearly insurance renewals for used bikes, which cost anywhere between Rs 2,000 - Rs 4,000. There’s also the risk of a badly maintained bike.

You wouldn’t have to worry about most of these issues in case of a brand new KTM RC 125. Besides, you get a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty and 5 years of insurance included in the price of the bike. Also, a new bike will always run smoother compared to a used bike and will require less maintenance. 

All things considered, it all boils down to how you’ll be using the bike. If you’re a beginner rider trying to hone your skills, we’d suggest the smaller RC 125. Yes, you will grow out of it rather quickly, but your parents would sleep easier at night knowing you’re riding a less powerful bike. 

Conversely, if you have the skills and fancy the raw power from the 390, by all means, go for it. You wouldn’t be disappointed for years to come.

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