That Lisa of the Mysterious Smile is locked up in the Louvre; that Venus of the Armless Torso keeps company in a nearby space; that piece of Motorcycle Art - KTM - is, happily for us, riding free in Sri Lanka. Since this time last year KTM motorcycles have been officially available to our motorcycle lovers, courtesy David Pieris Motor Company (Pvt) Limited (DPMC).
For those who know, KTM comes ready to race. For those others, it is said you could take the RC 200 direct from factory to race track. And have a blast all day long. (RC = Race Competition). The single cylinder 200cc freely-revving engine is so massively over-square (from company literature, 72mm cylinder diameter x 49mm piston up-down movement) the red line arrives before you can catch your breath. The RC 200 engine sounds almost two-stroke through its musical range from idle to its higher revs. It cannot have that 2-stroke fluency - it is a 4-stroke and a single, after all - but the KTM horses flow so smoothly and eagerly that the rider is tempted to give her just that bit more twist of the right wrist. Speed limits do not matter to this smooth operating high performance piece of ready- to-race machinery. Long-time DPMC Corporate Communications person Manuranga Nayanajith describes the lightning acceleration of the RC 200 as “The insane power to weight ratio of this machine that no other bike in our market delivers is highlighted by its output of 25 BHP @ 10,000rpm”.
The same way the ‘rocket’ takes off, it is balanced in the deceleration department by the radial-mount front brake calipers, the ABS feature, and the RLP (Rear wheel Lift Protection), these attributes grouping up to offer the enthusiastic rider tighter control under hard braking which could otherwise position the bike hard on its nose, with possible resultant lack of control at other points. The ABS up front operates closely with the RLP at the other end, thereby balancing the fore and aft status and maintaining the bike on even keel.
The RC 200 comes with upside down telescopic forks, the 43mm diameter inverted design (Upside Down or USD) chosen for torsional rigidity and stability, especially under hard braking, again calculated to maintain this fore-aft stability, even heeled over in full cornering mode. The fork tubes mounted on to the steering head (USD pattern), help strengthen the frame, creating a stronger chassis with less flex overall under heavy braking and cornering. Mass centralization - a standard design criterion in high performance motorcycles - is very much a part of the RC 200. Low-mounted compact mechanical bits and lowered centre of gravity are two important factors that make a two-wheeler responsive to quick left-right-left directional changes. The weight centre so low down makes it easier and quicker for the rider to pick the bike up out of one corner and drop it into the next, giving the KTM competition type handling capability.
Carrying mass centralization further, the KTM designers have accommodated the exhaust system under the belly of the engine, the tail pipe peeking out discreetly. Not the first bike we’ve tested with belly positioned exhaust system but the neatest. So neat is it that on the race-ready RC you could easily miss seeing the exhaust tail pipe; it lies within an artfully crafted and streamlined blister in the right side of the fairing belly. Aerodynamics - and art - visibly at play here. Styling-wise the RC 200 lines make a lot of sense - pen out the most exciting, the most stimulating lines, then simply build those lines bigger, or smaller, to accommodate the larger or smaller engine, and mechanicals and other pieces of the bigger or smaller KTM siblings. Voila, one of the smoothest-looking full-faired bikes on the street today.
The RC 200 is standard equipped with Auto Headlight On (AHO) feature, the aggressive-eyebrows LEDs of the RC 200 particularly attractive. The RC 200’s twin-projector headlamps operate left only at low beam and both projectors at high beam. See the faired stalks carrying the mirrors discreetly house the LED front turn indicators, a neat, streamlined design cue. Art again. On the left end of the handlebar is the normal high-beam light switch and the high beam flasher button. Note: The Owner’s Manual does not say ‘pass light’ as other motorcycle makers term it. I take it as yet another sport and high performance commitment on the part of KTM - on a KTM you don’t pass another vehicle, you are already in front.
The 1-down-6-up gearbox is smooth and together with the sweet clutch is easy to coordinate. Noticeable was the low down torque of this high-performance motor. I’ve said this in the case of some bikes we’ve reviewed; the KTM RC 200, too, is a bike that your grandmother or aged aunt is going to be so comfortable riding, going down to the market - although where the good ladies will hang all those grocery bags I wonder…So punchy, yet so flexible and so accommodating in the low revs is the RC 200; it is further up the rev range that the RC 200 4-valve fuel-injected engine begins to bare her teeth.
On a sport machine ergonomics, naturally, must be spot on. I was keen to check this out on the RC 200 - the juxtaposition of seat to tank to hand controls to foot controls on our RC 200 was absolutely dead right. The throttle is light and responsive - I advise, to stay safe and to enjoy your ride experience, ride with what’s in your brain bucket, not merely with your right hand. The available horsepower of the RC 200, and the quickness of its arrival, could become an embarrassment to an unthinking rider.
Safety features abound in the KTM range of bikes. The multi-function all-digital instrument is more than merely a simple display unit. It is more like a full language information feed cum enquiries desk. When the bike is ready to go after all mechanical, electronic and safety checks are done, it even displays the message READY TO RACE. Some of the safety checks that show up on the face of this instrument: Clutch Switch Failure, Side Stand Down, Coolant Sensor Failure, Not Legal (if bike is invalidated by modification), and more. Heed them all; they know what they are talking about.
The main KTM Sales Showroom is in Battaramulla, a suburb of Sri Jayawardenapura, and a stone-throw distance from the David Pieris Company Limited Head Office. KTM motorcycles can also be purchased from all other KTM Sales Points islandwide. “KTM bikes are serviced by specially trained technicians, at the KTM main service centre at David Pieris Motor Company premises in Hyde Park Corner, Colombo, and at other service points in the island,” says Nipuna Kapugeekiyana of the KTM Sales Division. He adds, “The Black version is the new arrival; the white-orange and black-orange both form the current KTM line-up”. Manuranga Nayanajith of DPMC tells us “The KTM RC 200 target segment is the 18 to 30 age-group youth, who are interested in motor sports, super bikes, and the like.” Manuranga adds: “The KTM range in Sri Lanka is the Duke 125, 200, 250, and 390, and the RC 200 and 390. KTM is well represented island-wide with 50 service locations, ranging from the North to South, East to West”.
Annually, KTM clubs around the world celebrate Orange Day. This day to mark the KTM fraternity was celebrated end-March by KTM Sri Lanka, with over a hundred enthusiastic KTM riders turning up for the event, forming a sea of orange. Naturally, being a motorcycle sport brand, KTM competes locally and is ably represented in the Motocross racing scene by the talented Jacques Gunawardena aboard the KTM SX-F 250. Jacques has raced overseas, has stood on the podium 122 times, of 145 races he has entered, and has won the Sri Lanka National Motocross Championship, too.
Dasun Edirisinghe, Lead – Internal and External Communications, David Pieris Group of Companies says : ‘This year, 2019, Jacques Gunawardena and his KTM 250 have taken first place in the MX 250cc and MX Open events in the Thunder Valley Motocross meet and in the Nuwara Eliya National Motocross Championship.’
The KTM Owner’s Manual is the first ever instance I’ve read this: “To protect the future of motorcycle sport …” and goes on to talk of the environment. This concern for the health of motorcycle sport clearly underlines the sporty nature of the KTM culture and this particular (RC 200) ready-to-race KTM model. The RC 200’s rear tyre is round-shouldered, natural for a sport type motorcycle, the curved shoulder offering the quick steering of a narrow tyre while upright, and the increasing/enlarging contact patch when the tyre leans over. This shifting contact patch increases the road grip of the tyre as it leans, allowing the rider to lean the RC 200 over with confidence. Alas, I had neither the time nor the place to test this out on the RC 200.
Of the few bikes I’d love to ride on a race track KTM’s RC 200 is definitely high on my list.
KTM RC 200
Liquid-cooled 4-stroke single-cylinder
4-valve DOHC Fuel Injection
Power 25 BHP @ 10,000 rpm
Torque 19.2 Nm @ 8,000rpm
CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR
Brakes Front Disc 300mm,
Radial caliper, ABS
Rear Disc 230mm
Suspension Front Telescopic 43mm Upside Down
Rear Mono shock
Tyres Front 110/70 x 17
Rear 150/60 x 17
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Weight 137.5 kg
Fuel tank 10 lit
Warranty 2 years/30,000 kms
HOW MUCH Rs 707,950/-