Can a sportbike be practical? Perhaps but the old KTM RC200 was never easy to live with, considering its peaky power delivery and rock hard suspension. So, when I received the message, "Wahid, would you like to test ride and review the new KTM RC200 (2022)?," I replied "Yes" with some trepidation.
The positive answer was also a follow on after testing the new KTM 200 Duke earlier this year. The engine was torquier, suspension more supple and was easier to live with as a commuter bike. As such, I hoped those revisions are carried forward to the RC.
First perception of the new KTM RC200 (2022):
- Totally revamped bodywork with many slots undoubtedly for aerodynamic, as well as for rider comfort.
- This new bodywork uses the new material as KTM's bigger bikes which incorporates the colour into the material, rather than being painted.
- Its bubble screen is actually one large, transparent unit, offering better visibility.
- The seating and handlebar positions are also revamped.
- Reach to the handlebar is further to provide a much better ergonomics for crouching at higher speeds and it felt like a bigger bike.
- The handlebars are sloped downward slightly, allowing the shoulders to drop when riding straight and especially useful during cornering. This is a sharp contrast to the old handlebars which were straight and uncomfortable.
- More maximum turning angle for the handlebar, making it easier for slow speed riding and U-turns.
- Similar to the 200 Duke, the new frame is split between the main unit and underseat subframe. KTM says this new frame is tuned for some flex during corning. The top mounting points of the subframe are much larger than on the 200 Duke.
- Grab rails for the passenger and easier for the rider to move the bike.
- 2 ride modes: ROAD and SUPERMOTO. The latter turns off the rear ABS, allowing the rider to "drift" the rear wheel into corners.
- The very first impression was the amount of torque available when the clutch was dropped.
- It was fully confirmed during the climb up Genting Highlands (our testing ground for all bikes). One no longer need to rev the piston rings out of the engine to climb the mountain. Instead, I found myself using 3rd and 4th, even 5th gears during the test.
- Although the suspension appears to be the same as before, since they are WP, the forks are WP Apex Big Piston (BP). The bigger pistons allow for better slow speed compression i.e. better at soaking up smaller road irregularities.
- It translated to much more confidence when riding around the broken tarmac at Genting because hitting bumps and potholes in corners does not send the bike off your cornering line. Additionally, it made the front more comfortable and the hands were not sore or numb after riding.
- The shock has also been revised with much better damping characteristics. It absorbed shocks very well (better compression damping) plus providing much better feel without wallowing (better rebound damping).
- The standard MRF tyres are not known for their grip but the better suspension made them great, as bumps did not upset the suspension. Imagine if you fitted better tyres!
- Its new design has both likers and detractors but one thing was for sure: It really worked on many fronts.
- Firstly, it kept wind turbulence off the rider and there was no helmet shake or instability at high speeds.
- Secondly, the vent on the left fairing channeled hot air from the radiator away from the rider very well, hence it did not feel hot even when stopped for extended periods.
- The revised tank sides provided much better support to the thighs and knees during cornering.
- Those new seats are covered in some felt-like, albeit rubber, material which is much grippier and provides much better support. The padding has also been revised and they are much, much more comfortable even when riding for an entire day.
- All these changes were planned and all-encompassing, translating to a much better experience for riding.
- We brought the bike up to Genting Highlands on a Sunday and the roads there were choked with traffic, as well as at Karak Highway, Duke Highway, Jalan Tun Razak and even MEX Highway. Additionally, most road surfaces was still damp after the overnight rain. Yet, I managed to cover that 66.3km distance in just 47 minutes! That is mighty fast for a 200cc bike!
Shortcomings of the KTM RC200:
The torque was plenty good due to shorter gearing, thus 1st and 2nd gears were too short, in my opinion. This is however, a simple cure by adding 2 teeth to the front sprocket or removing 2 teeth from the rear sprocket.
In a nutshell
The new KTM RC200 (2022) is truly a fun bike to ride both fast and in traffic. Gone are the eccentricities of old, while new features had been added. At just RM15,888 (not on-the-road) it presents a stiff competition to especially the Yamaha YZF-R15M (RM14,988) while outperforming it in all categories. In fact, a good rider on the RC200 can outride the bigger 250s in the twisties too.
So, if you are hunting for a sub-RM16,000 lightweight sportbike, look no further!