KTM RC390: a small, affordable sport bike

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KTM-RC390 copy

“The new KTM RC390, which will be available for sale in 2014 will meet a big demand for affordable, quality sport bikes for the lower displacement class,” says KTM CEO Stefan Pierer. The race bike you see here previews that new, street-legal sport bike.

Just to make things crystal clear: the bike you see in photos here is the KTM RC390 Cup. It’s a race bike for a new spec series for junior racers. But, in unveiling this racing model in Germany this weekend, KTM is stating that a production model similar to it will be going on sale next year. That production bike will be called the KTM RC390.

KTM states that the new RC390 will be, “…the completion of the DUKE range of naked bikes with the 125, 200 and 390 displacement models, there will now also be a fully faired sports bike available for sale.”

While this is the first time we’ve seen the bike, it’s not the first time Pierer has talked about it. Back in April, he gave an interview to Cycle News in which he said, “We started out with the Duke naked bikes, but KTM is developing another family of motorcycles based on the same platform that will be full fairing sport motorcycles with clip-on handlebars. The RC125, 200 and 390 will be launched at the EICMA Milan show in November will look a little similar to our World Champion Moto3 Grand Prix racer, which gives a good marketing linkage to that.”

“These will essentially be the same platform as the Dukes,” Pierer continued in that interview, “but with different styling — the look is completely different, and I think Gerald Kiska and his designers have done a great job.”

Now we get to see that design, at least as it stands sans headlights, license plate and all that fun road legality stuff.

Looking at the RC390 Cup next to the KTM 390 Duke it’s based on, we see the same motor, brakes, swingarm, suspension and main chassis. The most noticeable differences are the trellis subframe and larger, side-mount exhaust canister. Well that and the edgy new plastic, obviously.

Getting excited? We are too. While there’s now plenty of affordable, sporty motorcycles on the market, none are what you’d consider a true sportsbike. Something light and sharp that could adequately follow in the footsteps of the old Aprilia RS250 or FZR400R. While signs are that the RC390 will be affordable, it should also be more of an outright, focussed sport bike and less of a budget all-rounder like Honda’s CBR250R and CBR500R.

Where the 390 Duke weighs 306lbs (wet) and makes 43bhp, this RC390 Cup shears that weight to just 286lbs, but also cuts power to 38bhp. The reason for that power change is unclear, but is likely some sort of racing class regulation. We’d expect the production bike to maintain the Duke’s power and be around the same weight.

American availability and price? Both are fingers crossed for now. While the 390 Duke will be entering the American market in 2014, no price has yet been announced. In Europe, it retails for around 5,000 Euro depending on the market. That’s slightly cheaper than the Kawasaki Ninja 300.

  • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

    I’d love one of these as a track day bike. Put some sticky tires, tape up the head lights, and just let it rip! Only question is if I’d be able to fit my 6’6″ tall self onto one.

    • Random

      Its already a track day bike! The RC390 is the spec racer.

      For $6k its a little more than some fully spec’d 600′s, but its so light, this thing would be a blast. I’m going to have some decisions to make next year for a dedicated track bike…

      • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

        I think for a new racer, or track day guy this would be better then built 600. The guys on Kawi 250s and 300s at my local trackdays always look like they’re having a blast and are learning a lot about riding a bike fast. This KTM looks like it will be a good alternative, if it’s not priced too high. I don’t need or want to race or cup kit, just some nice tires and plenty of blue painters tape.

        • Random

          A new racer/track day guy certainly. It takes some balls to roll up with a built 600. I’m mostly referencing my own experience in that I’m starting to look at used 600 race bikes as my dedicated track bike.

          I misinterpreted your comment a bit. I’ve been reading about the RC390 Cup and the racing series they are supposedly building up around it that I kind of forgot it was going to come out in a street legal machine.

  • TheSeaward

    I’m emailing KTM USA and telling them this thing better make it to the US. This is exactly the kind of lightweight trackbike I’ve been pining for. Just make sure the suspension is up to par.

    • TP

      What email are you sending it to? A 2 minute search of their website and I can’t find an address.

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        Ooh, we should start a letter writing campaign!

      • TheSeaward

        The only one I was able to dig up was pressofficeatktmdotcom. That should go to their marketing department if the website is to be believed.

        • TP

          Nice, thanks.

        • Tessier

          Use there Facebook page you might get better results there!

  • TP


  • Robert Horn

    Wishful thinking: Will a 350 XC-F engine bolt in…

  • Corey Cook

    So so nice and about time! A REAL sub-600cc sport bike!
    Well, except for that $2 brake rotor…

    • Dan S

      I heard that it actually stops really well! This bike is based on the Duke 390, and reviews have stated that the braking power is more than adequate on it.

  • Dan S

    Just sent KTM an email telling them to bring the RC390 to the US. :)

  • http://statesofmotion.blogspot.com/ FastPanda


    Empty savings account forget girlfriend complaints WANT NOOOOOOOOW.

  • HoldenL

    Just the right displacement and, if you squint and imagine black fairings without the company logos, absolutely gorgeous. I hope they keep the orange subframe and orange wheels. I’m trying to imagine what it would look like with white or dark blue fairings.

    Track days on this baby will be insanely fun. And it’s so pretty.

  • pete bloggs

    We still don’t know what the road going RC390 will look like but if it looks like this track bike I think it’ll be a winner.
    This could very well be my next bike

  • Kr Tong

    Problem is dealership network/ parts. Bringing the bike over doesn’t seem like the hard part.

  • TraderJoesSecrets

    PLEASE make the track-only version available in the U.S., preferably with the full-power motor.

  • c s

    a non-removable subframe for a race bike? not a great idea. heavy and
    not crash friendly. i think 99% of racers would rather have two used

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Remember that the bike in these photos was put together specifically for a one-make series and decisions like that were likely made to help keep costs down. It’s not a customer bike that competes in other series.

      • c s

        hopefully that means they’re leasing the bikes, and spares are part of the package. racing is more affordable when you can replace the subframe.

  • William Ow

    I’m first in line in my area. I have been waiting for this. The Aprilia RS125 was close but this is better.
    Santa Cruz

  • Eddie Lee

    Any chance we see a KTM390 JR. Cup in the USA? Something to move the kids forward in the USA. Bring it KTM USA!!!

  • Terry Davey

    1 year too late for me, bought the Baby Ninja to learn on/ pass down to the wife when I move up. Power to weight ratio on this thing is sick!

  • induwara

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    you money $6,000
    TANKA you