Johannesburg - While this is not an all-new bike (that’s expected near year-end as a 2018 model) KTM’s updated 2017 RC 390 mini-sportster boasts more than just BNG (marketing shorthand for Bold New Graphics, which it gets anyway).
There’s also raft of technical upgrades aimed at making it more fun to ride, rather than faster.
They start with a new ride-by-wire throttle set-up; KTM is claiming that throttle response is smoother throughout the rev range, although early reports from the marketplace don’t bear this out. We haven’t ridden one as yet so we’ll reserve judgment on that one.
What’s definite is that, in conjunction with a completely new exhaust system that includes a stainless-steel underbelly pre-silencer and an side-mounted absorption-type aluminium tailpipe, the RC390 is now not only Euro 4-compliant but also street-legal in the United States.
A new power-assisted slipper clutch lets the clutch slip just enough on the overrun to prevent rear-wheel chatter, while still providing enough engine braking that you can back it into a corner without using the back brake. Better still, under acceleration it works the other way, forcing the plates together so KTM can use a lighter diaphragm clutch spring (the clutch is now one-finger light) without clutch slip at max attack.
Front brake disc size has been increased from 300mm to 320mm, with a Grand Prix style four-pot ByBre (Indian-made Brembo) radial mount calliper doing the grabbing, while the rear brakes are unchanged, with a single-piston floating calliper and a 230mm disc.
Brake and clutch levers are now adjustable for handspan, and the seat gets an extra 12mm of padding; somebody at KTM must have taken offence at the media’s ‘plastic plank’ comments!