KTM RC125 REVIEW: FIRST RIDE

 Words: Amir Rahman  Photography: Courtesy

The new KTM RC 125 is targeted at a segment of riders who have just got their hands on their new driving license and are looking for some fun in the corners. For the millennial motorcycle rider, the brand, performance, styling and statement all hold equal importance, or so it seems. And that is the target audience KTM wants to woo with the strikingly stylish KTM RC 125. It looks great, and has the presence of its bigger siblings KTM RC200 and RC390.

Design and Features:

If it’s one thing the KTM RC 125 has in spades, it is presence. Any angle you look at it, it oozes stylish elegance and quality, and it has a level of fit and finish that immediately endears you to the bike. It’s edgy, sporty, and definitely a head turner. It now gets new body graphics with bold decals on the fuel tank, and on the fairing. The RC 125 however isn’t just about looks alone. In fact, it shares almost every single component with its bigger, and more performance-oriented siblings. The KTM RC 200 and the KTM RC 390, except the 125 cc engine, of course. And so, it’s positioned as a beginner’s sport bike, offering an entry into the KTM RC family, but with easy accessibility and a level of performance that will not be intimidating to young riders.

On the features list, the RC 125 gets a LCD panel which offers all necessary readings like rev counter, speedometer, odometer and a click. Suspension is sourced from WP, and braking duties are handled by 300 mm disc on the front wheel and a 200 mm disc on the rear wheel, with single-channel ABS. The trellis frame is the same as the bigger RC siblings, as is the aluminum swing arm. In fact, the RC 125 shares everything with its bigger family members, the only difference being, of course, the 125 cc engine, which is shared with the KTM 125 Duke.

Performance and Ride ability:

The RC 125 is effectively the 125 Duke with a fairing and if you’re familiar with the naked motorcycle, the good news is that you already know half the bike. The 125cc liquid-cooled engine puts out 14.5PS at 9,250rpm and 12Nm of torque at 8,000rpm which of course is the same as the 125 Duke. Sounds underwhelming? We’ll get to that later. But first, the motor is refined and is happy to climb all the way up to the limiter. Even with extra body panels, vibration does not creep into the handlebars or foot pegs very easily, which impresses. Peak power is available in the upper echelons of the rev band, but with that said bottom end performance is adequate, though the RC 125 truly feels alive when you’re transitioning from mid-revs to the top. But here’s the tricky part. My initial impression was that the bike is slow, all the way from the moment I released the clutch until I felt a buzz from the foot pegs and clip-on handlebars. And a big reason behind this belief is that somewhere in your head you’re thinking that the cycle parts sourced from the bigger 200s are a little too heavy for the puny 125cc to haul.

But after spending some time with the bike, banging a few gears up close to the engines redline and putting all the ponies to use, I found that the RC 125 hits 100kmph with ease. What’s even more impressive is the fact that power delivery is very linear and friendly. This might sound uncharacteristic for a KTM machine, but it is obvious the manufacturer has ensured the RC 125 will not scare inexperienced riders.

Chassis and Suspension:

The RC 125’s chassis is a tubular trellis frame that offers ample feedback, courtesy which the bike felt sure footed while hunting for apexes. In fact, it does not feel unnerving at any point of time and also feels very agile. In fact, the feel and feedback had me get carried away at one point by carrying too much speed into a corner, though luckily for me I had enough space to brake and save it. The same mistake on a public road with traffic could have landed me into trouble. But effectively, that’s how confident the RC 125 is, you cannot put it down by calling it ‘just’ a 125, as it feels just as confident in terms of handling as its elder siblings. The bike tips the scales at the 160kg kern and is a few kilograms shy of the 390’s weight which also aids is light and nimble feel. I have to mention, the RC 125’s suspension setup and steering geometry are apt for track use, though I found the rear shocks to be on the softer side. It should provide more comfort for city riding, but if you’re planning to put your knees down on the corners then I’d prefer an aftermarket suspension setup for that tight feel. I mean who doesn’t like it tight?

The Verdict:

The KTM RC 125 is a good bike for inexperienced riders to cut their teeth in the exciting world of fully-faired sports bikes. It is a motorcycle that will help novices hone their cornering skills with its confident handling without scaring themselves. More importantly, you cannot underestimate the potential it holds, particularly on the handling front, as it comes from the stable of KTM, a manufacturer that is a force to reckon with in the sport bike world.

That said, it is a 125cc motorcycle only and the resultant engine outputs might just be a little too meager for many riders, as a long term commitment, especially at its price point. In fact, at its price of 3,90,000BDT (Indian with ABS) and 6,00,000BDT (European with ABS) the KTM RC 125 costs about 1,15,000BDT more than the Yamaha YZF-R15 (Indian with ABS) which is a more powerful motorcycle and a highly accomplished sport bike as well. A lower price point for the RC 125 should thus help KTM tap into the bottom rung of the sports bike market better.