The KTM RC range of motorcycles has always been one of the most committed, track-focused bikes you could get on a budget. I mean think about it, you got a very similar chassis package to what you would get on the Moto3 spec KTM bikes. But what was its biggest strength – posting blisteringly fast times on the track was also its biggest downfall. It was way too aggressive for the streets. The people who would buy an RC were trading off any semblance of comfort for that level of performance. Apart from this, the bike hasn’t gotten any significant updates since its launch. That is until KTM announced the 2022 RC range with slightly more relaxed ergonomics aimed to make the bike a better street bike while retaining the track-focused nature we all know and love. For India, KTM has launched the RC 125 and the RC 200 first and we got a chance to sample the RC 200 at Bajaj’s Chakan test track to figure out if the changes have translated to a better street bike.
The 2022 KTM RC 200 is pretty much all-new in terms of design. Starting with the front, it gets an all-new headlamp set up, one that makes the bike resemble the original RC8. The India-spec model gets an LED unit unlike the projector units available on the international models. These headlamps are flanked by integrated DRLs, which mean that these light strips function as DRLs and turn signals. I can’t comment on the performance of the lights considering we rode the bike in bright daylight but more on that when we do a proper road test. Then there is the new windscreen which is larger and taller and does a good job of reducing wind buffeting. Continuing on the same theme there’s also an all-new fairing that has been designed for better aerodynamics and to improve cool airflow for the rider.
Moving one step behind there’s the new fuel tank which has gone up in capacity from 9.5 litres to 13.7 litres. Even the battery which was placed behind the triple tree clamp has now been repositioned behind the fuel tank to improve serviceability. After this, there’s the new split seat setup. The seat has a new double foam padding and right of the bat, the seat is plusher and more comfortable as compared to the outgoing bike. The added thickness has not changed the 835mm seat height and in fact, it is now easier to reach the ground because the section under the seat is considerably narrower courtesy of the new split trellis frame design. The rear section of the 2022 RC 200 is also new with a new grabrail design and shrouds that cover the familiar strip LED tail light. Apart from this, the bike also gets new, lighter wheels and a larger front brake rotor. In terms of equipment, the 2022 KTM RC 200 comes with the same amount of kit as earlier but this time around with a new LCD screen identical to the one found on the KTM 250 Adventure.
This department is where the RC 200 has seen the most changes. Weight savings has been one of the key areas of focus while developing the 2022 bike. Instead of trying to reduce the kerb weight of the bike ( it is identical to the identical model at 160kg), KTM has tackled and reduced the unsprung mass of the motorcycle with lighter wheels and sprockets. The wheels which now have hollow hubs are 1.1kg lighter than the outgoing motorcycle. Apart from this, the Austrian marquee has also managed to shed another 2.2kg with the use of a lighter and bigger 320mm brake rotor which is now directly mounted on the rim via the spokes. And this has translated to a bike that is much quicker to change direction. The bike is extremely flickable and changes direction with little effort and that is saying something considering the old bike was no slouch, to begin with. KTM also claims that the new split trellis frame weighs the same as the single unit on the older bike and that they have managed to do so by improving their engineering methods.
The next big change is the raised clip-ons. The clip-ons are now 14.5mm higher than before and pushed slightly towards the rider. This in addition to the comfier seat now means that the RC 200 is a much more comfortable bike than its predecessor and not at the cost of handling. The bike retains most of its sharp handling without breaking your back and that in my books is a definite win. However, should you choose to lower the handlebar back to how it was on the previous bike, you can do so. Braking performance was sharp as well with good amounts of feedback and bit and a non-intrusive ABS system. There’s also the Supermoto ABS mode in case you want to let the rear step out just a little bit while tackling those apexes hard. The suspension setup is identical to the previous generation but KTM has managed to extract 10mm of travel from the front forks. The setup seemed extremely at home at the well-paved test track. How they will fare on the road remains to be seen.
The 2022 KTM RC 200 uses the same engine setup as the previous bike. Meaning, it is the same 199.5cc single-cylinder, high-compression BS6 engine that puts out a respectable 25.4bhp at 10,000rpm and 19Nm at 8000rpm. However, what’s new is a forty per cent larger airbox and KTM claims that this has made the torque curve richer and wider especially through the midrange. And to KTM’s credit, they have managed to make the mid-range more potent. You get much better drive out of the corner even if you have dropped below the powerband and this wasn’t the case with the older bike. There’s also a new curved radiator with ten per cent more surface area. And in the short stint that I had with the bike, the radiator fan kicked on only twice when moving the bike around for the photographer. But then again that is not a proper indicator of how the bike will perform in the real world so more on that when we do a full road test of the 2022 KTM RC 200.
The 2022 update to the KTM RC 200 has been long overdue and the old design was starting to seem a bit long in the tooth. The new bike has been in the making for a while and I feel the wait has been worth it. Not only is the bike a lot more comfortable to live with on the daily basis, it still remains an extremely competent package to set the racetrack on fire with. It gets a comfier seat, a larger fuel tank and the reduction of the unsprung mass has made it a much easier bike for anyone to ride hard and fast, no matter the setting. All this plus the fact that KTM has launched the bike at the same ex-showroom price of Rs 2.09 lakh as the outgoing model should see the 2022 RC 200 attract a wide audience. And a wide audience it definitely deserves.