• 2022 KTM RC 390 - Performance, Price, and Photos

KTM’s hot little supersport just got better

Austrian giant KTM gave its RC family a shot in the arm with a new generation for MY22, including the RC 390 supersport. A ground-up rework runs with new wheels, brakes, and suspension. Power comes from a proven engine with a new airbox and new electronic engine control, all under new, race-inspired bodywork.

2022 KTM RC 390 Performance and Capability

2022 KTM RC 390 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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KTM’s development of single-cylinder engines is legendary, so its no surprise that a liquid-cooled thumper powers the RC 390. The engine rocks an oversquare layout with an 89 mm bore and short, 60 mm stroke for a 373 cc total displacement.

Dual over-head cams time the four-valve head with ultra-hard carbon treatment on the followers for long service life. Mounted ahead of the engine, just under the steering head, the small water cooler does its job with an electric fan for forced ventilation in slow/stop-n-go traffic.

Retuned engine mapping for optimal performance is just the beginning of the electronic yummygoodness. A ride-by-wire throttle control starts things off, and under the hood, the corner-sensitive traction control ensures calculated interventions to prevent rear-wheel spinout.

The KTM RC 390 produces 43 horsepower and 28 pound-feet of torque. That power flows through a slipper clutch for more rear contact-patch insurance, then a six-speed transmission with a chain-type final drive.

The final drive ratio turns out a KTM RC 390 top speed of 112.5 mph before it bumps into the rev limiter. Zero-to-60 time clocks in at 4.3 seconds, which is on par with the 390 Duke. If you plan on actually racing one of these bikes, the optional Quickshifter + feature lets you bang your way both up and down the range without rolling off or grabbing the clutch.

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, 4-stroke engine
Bore x Stroke: 89 mm x 60 mm
Displacement: 373 cc
Power: 43 hp (32 kW)
Torque: 28 lb-ft (37 Nm)
Lubrication: Wet sump
Starter: Electric starter
Transmission: 6-speed
Clutch: PASC™ antihopping clutch, mechanically operated
EMS: Bosch EMS with RBW
Chain: 520 X-Ring

Design

2022 KTM RC 390 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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The factory means for you to race this thing, as evidenced by the race-worthy bodywork. I mean sure, the standard bodywork’s built for speed, but for actual track use, KTM put together a set of racing body panels to swap out with the EZ-off stock bodywork.

As for the stock sheet metal, the front fender is typical with minimal coverage and foil-shaped uprights that double as spoilers over the front forks. That shape pushes the incoming air outboard into laminar flow with the engine cowling for low-resistance penetration.

A cyclops headlight dominates the entry. To keep them out of harm’s way, the engineers incorporated the front turn signals with the face of the front fairing.

Up top, a smoked bubble screen protects the cockpit somewhat. Its main purpose is to form the wind pocket for the pilot to hunker down out of the slipstream though you’ll have to put your chin on the tank to find it. The tank itself saw a boost up to 3.6 gallons giving this little racer some longer legs for your daily commute if that’s your intended purpose.

Behind the glass, find an all-new Thin-Film Transistor screen. The screen acts as both the instrument panel and the rider interface for the higher electronic features.

The pilot’s seat rides 32.4 inches off the deck, which may be taxing for shorter inseams. It’s a KTM, so the seat looks as cushy as a pizza box, and we all know KTM’s reputation for “firm” seat padding.

If you want to share the fun with a friend, the stock package does come with a smallish pillion pad and fold-up footpegs that are removable ahead of track days. Out back, a mudguard-type assembly carries the plate holder, tag light, and blinkers with a swingarm-mount hugger to complete the coverage.

KTM RC 390 Specs
Fuel capacity: (approx.) 13.7 l
Shipping Weight: 341.7 lbs (155 kg)
Ground clearance: 6.2 inches (158 mm)
Seat height: 32.4 inches (824 mm)

Chassis

2022 KTM RC 390 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Tubular members make up the Trellis main frame on the RC 390 as well as the bolt-on subframe section. The swingarm is a full yoke with both sides constructed of engineered C-channel members complete with cast-in webbing reinforcement for extra rigidity.

At 23.5-degrees from the vertical, the steering rake is dead short. This is indicative of a very nimble machine indeed.

Much of the rebuild for this year centered around reducing weight. Chief among the measure is the wheel design that shaves a whopping 7.5 pounds from the unsprung weight with 3.3 pounds more coming off the frame to turn in a more responsive ride as a result.

WP APEX 43 usd forks float the front end on 4.72 inches of travel. The left fork handles compression damping while the right fork handles rebound, both of which come with thumbwheels on top for quick adjustments through a 30-click range. Out back, a WP APEX shock rocks an adjustable spring-preload feature along with adjustable rebound damping and 5.9 inches of travel.

ByBre supplies the brakes with a single, four-bore caliper that bites a 320 mm front disc, opposite a single-pot anchor and 230 mm disc on the rear wheel. Bosch 9.1 MP twin-channel ABS delivers cornering ABS protection. If you’re down for sliding the rear end around, the SuperMoto ABS mode lets you do just that as it deactivates ABS on the rear brake only.

Chassis & Suspension
Frame: Steel trellis frame, powder coated
Front suspension/ Travel: WP APEX 43 / 4.7 inches (120 mm)
Rear suspension/ Travel: WP APEX – Monoshock/ 5.9 inches (150 mm)
Steering head angle: 66.5 °
Front brake: 320 mm disc, Four-piston radial fixed caliper
Rear brake: 230 mm disc, Single-piston floating caliper
ABS: Bosch 9.1MP Two Channel ABS (Supermoto ABS)

2022 KTM RC 390 Price and Availability

The MY22 KTM RC 390 costs $5,799. KTM offers a pair of colorways, the usual combination of black/orange/white and a new blue/orange package that’s a different look for the marque.

Competitors

2018 - 2022 Kawasaki Ninja 400 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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KTM puts together a race-tastic little supersport that’s track capable, but honestly, most riders are liable to be A2 license holders looking to work their way up the displacement range eventually. With that in mind, the street-friendly Kawasaki Ninja 400 looks like a platform that’s likely to appeal to that sort of rider.

Kawasaki Ninja 400

Since the U.S. doesn’t use the tiered licensing system quite as they do elsewhere, the extra size and power from the Kawi doesn’t put it out of reach of the same buyer base. The Ninja carries wind tunnel-tested bodywork for good penetration with plenty of that Ninja panache that fans love so much.

Kawasaki powers its entry with a parallel-twin plant and slipper clutch, but nothing of higher electronics to cede a significant technological advantage to the Austrian. As for brute power, Kawi capitalizes on its 399 cc displacement to put out 49 horses over 43 from KTM, but torque is a tie at 28 pounds o’ grunt.

2018 - 2022 Kawasaki Ninja 400 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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The checkout counter doesn’t do Kawi any favors. With the ABS feature, the MY22 Ninja 400 starts at $5,599. I doubt many riders will find the money-to-tech trade-off to be a good deal in light of the RC’s electronic suite.

He Said

“Even if you never see a track, the race-tastic nature of the RC 390 should perform well with the younger-rider market. As for that blue and orange paint, I mean, a New York Knicks fan might like it, but you can count me out. That said, I think it’s cool that the factory has accessory bodywork for race days proper.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The KTM RC 390 is a proper supersport trainer. I’m not going to call it a superbike because of the small displacement, but if superbike is where you want to end up, this is a good place to start.”

KTM Photographer Credit: Rudi Schedl

TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
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