Sunday, December 21, 2014

Insanity: riding the RC 390

Insanity..The Honda CBR whines, the Apache purrs, but the KTM;-The KTM RC 390 growls and roars: angrily, impatiently and mercilessly. The reason why I write so much about the sound is that it is a distinct one and takes a while to get used to. Initially it makes you believe that there are some cannons trying to make themselves heard in midst of rapid fire from Kalashnikovs and M16 carbines. Not a rattle, definitely not a whine, more close to roars from different members of the feline family at the same moment.

The instrument cluster seems rudimentary. Having said that, it would be criminal to not mention that the overall quality is top-notch and gives a rich feel. You mount the bike, and you know you have done so for a menacing ride. Certainly you are not out to buy onions and potatoes for the dwindling reserves at home. The posture is the blend of an off-roader and a street racer.

The engine growls when you open the throttle and as you release the clutch deftly, you are suddenly yanked a couple of yards ahead; as if propelled by a grenade explosion. The acceleration is barbaric. A first experience for the usual Indian bikers: suddenly migrating from a 'mileage kitna deti hai' to the mini-superbike league. You can hear the angry explosions in that engine pushing you to any speeds of your liking in fraction of seconds. The discs coupled with ABS brings you to the momentum of your liking in similar times as well. Certainly something that has been beyond the imagination of people who have experience with bikes ranging from 100-500CC. For the money you pay for this motorcycle, you get more than its worth when it comes to performance.

After riding the KTM, I was silent for a while. So silent that some people mistook me for Manmohan Singh. For after riding the evil orange machine, I was bothered by some menacing drum beaters in vicinity.. Later I realized that the noise was just the thumping of my heart. 

Such is the exhilaration associated with the RC390 experience. However; like a drug, it does wear off in time... I say so because I was quickly brought back to reality by the analytical conclusion of the brain when that thing called practicality comes into picture. A couple of places where certain questions rose:

1. Looks: Good lord! Why does it have to be only orange/black? Plus, devilish looks are fine, but does it actually look as expensive as it actually is? Why did they not make it different from its 200CC sibling? The dual headlamps and simple instrumentation remind me of the early 90s.

2. Ride quality: This is something debatable. Trust me, this is a machine bred for extreme performance. Ride quality was never the prominent things in its DNA. Yet, when I am to go for a long drive, would I still pick the KTM over a Honda? Nyope.. Also, I don't see the point of torturing my wife on that small seat.

3. Power delivery: Reiterating again- the power delivery is brutal. You get those bursts of power. Yet the delivery is not at all smooth. Its like whack! bang! boom! Explosions. Definitely not a Yamaha or a Honda which reminds you a rocket being launched in a scientifically smooth manner.

To conclude, the KTM is the best performance machine that your money can buy. But that said, it is still an expensive toy. One spending that kind of money may think of compromising on the brutal performance and go for the CBR250/300 just to get that 'big bike' experience and the more comfortable, suave and saner way of riding.  

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