600 Miles in 14 Days - 2015 KTM RC390 Review (During the Breakin Period)


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I've been looking for a good starter bike. Being that I grew up in England, most of the bikes people start on are mopeds at around the 50CC mark. From there, you can graduate to a real bike later on after you got some miles under your belt. My actual first bike was a 1992 Suzuki GS500E. A good cheap bike to learn on, and toss around the street; But not something that I ever felt comfortable on, even after doing ~2500 miles on it. Monday May 16th, 2016 I finally got to pick up an 2015 KTM RC390 from Motorcycle Mall in NJ. They are 50ish miles from my house, but they are the only one who had the RC390 in stock. I've been pretty much lusting after this bike for the past year after seeing it for the first time. A 390CC engine (Actually 375CC engine, but who's counting?) would be perfect to really learn how to really ride on. It's a modern bike, so it should outclass my 1992 Suzuki no problem.

Pulling away from Motorcyclist Mall, the bike's Odometer reads 0 miles. I'm told that I need to bring it back for the first service at 620 miles otherwise it might void my warranty. I'm already late for work, that starts at 2pm, it's 3pm already when I'm pulling away from the dealer. 50 miles on a brand new bike, is not the way I really wanted to learn how to ride it; But we all do what we have too. The first 50 miles I'm very careful, the tires are brand new and need some time before they are ready for their full load potential. No slamming on the breaks or full throttle take offs. I'm gentle for the first 50 miles on the way to work. When we get over the Throgs Neck Bridge I know where I am now, as I live on Long Island, NY, I'm still late for work so I start to late split all the way to work from that point forward. I've never lane split before, but being on the bike I almost immediately knew that it was good. I felt more comfortable on that bike then I ever did on my Suzuki. Except for the seat ... My ass was killing me. Granted it's been a while since I was last on a motorcycle seat, about a year, but still the seat is very hard. I walk around at work when I finally get there like I'm doing the PID Shuffle. After my tour is over, I ride home and put her too bed.

My second ride, third, forth and fifth ride are all too and from work. On the weekend I finally get to take it out again. I'm just above the 100 miles on the bike at this point and can finally take it into some turns at speed without having to worry too much about the tires. We take Post Ave up to Bayville with my sister on her 2007 Kawasaki ZX600J. Her bike is a bike that I've also ridden a lot and love over my Suzuki having her on the ride gives me a good impression of my KTM, I don't have any issues keeping up with her, but my cousin on his Triump Speed Triple pulls away without any problems. Being that I don't know the bike that well, I understand that my only hope is in the bends and never on the straight ways. My very first impression of the bike, is that it's incredibly stable and very responsive. I've heard the term "telepathic" used to describe handling before, but I've never experienced that until this bike. I think it, it does it. It's great for building confidence in the bike's abilities as well as my own. When we get back into my town, we split up and my sister follows me to a friends house. After we leave there for home, she get's on my bike, and I try her bike again. I remember the Kawasaki being a world better then my Suzuki. But after being on the KTM, I'm having to put a lot more effort into the bike to get it to change direction. I never really noticed that until I had the KTM. Back home, my sister tells me she loves my bike ... I know ... I know ... I do too.

At this point, I'm pretty much begging people to come out and ride with me. Good thing my best friend has a 2008 Kawasaki ZX9R. Him and my dad are the two people I've been able to learn the most from over the course of the 3 years I've been riding motorcycles. We take our bikes out later that day up to Bayville again with a mutual friend of ours on her 2015 Yamaha R3. This time we go via RT-106 for a more straight up ride as it's night time now. My friend has his fiancé on the back of his Kawasaki so we are not going crazy at all. We ride up there without any issues at all just getting some miles on my KTM so I can bring it to the first service and lock in my warranty. It's nice but muggy and it starts to rain while we are heading back the way we came. This is where I learn that my bike can handle the rain pretty well as well. It starts to down pour on us just after we get to a late night pizza place in the area. We get pizza and hope that it will pass, but it doesn't and we end up driving home in the worst of it. I follow my friend on her Yamaha to her friends house so she doesn't have to ride triple the distance back to her house. It's pouring while we are riding, but I'm not concerned that much. The bike is handling like a champ. I have supreme confidence that it will grip. As she gets to her friends house, we part ways and I head home, now at a just above the speed limit clip. As I get onto the highway getting up to speed I open the throttle wide, the rear tire slips for a second as I'm passing over the white lines on the road, but it doesn't concern me that much. The rest of the ride home is uneventful. Very impressed with it at this point.

The next night, my friend and I go out again. He is still on the 2008 Kawasaki ZX9R, but he doesn't have much time to be out. So we go for a QUICK run around our area. The run is all highways this time he's setting the pace and I'm following along quite happily behind him. We are rocking around at 100mph, I'm running at full throttle. We connect with the Northern State Parkway and keep in full throttle for the whole stretch of it. The bike is stable and poised during the whole thing. It doesn't put a foot or wheel wrong. There was a small section where the steering became light, but again I was not concerned by it. My max speed was 109mph indicated on my gauge. My friend later tells me that when I passed him, he was doing 110 so I must of been going faster then that. We do a 14 mile run in a little less than 9 miles. That quick run costs me about 2.89 cents as it ate a gallon of fuel. Wide open throttle does that. For the most part the fuel economy has been improving through the breakin period. Were it started at about 30 miles to the gallon, I'm now getting high 45-50 even when I'm on the highway following behind other bikes running at 80-90 miles an hour. I expect it to get 50-60 if I was being much more cautions on the bike.

I spend the next week commuting on my bike back and forth to work, getting a few proper rides in as well, but they are all pretty much a rehash of what you've already read. As I get more and more miles on the bike, I gain more and more respect for it. For a bike that costs 7000 out the door, it's VERY capable. The tires are AMAZING, I've ridden quite a few different bikes, but I've never trusted a tire more then I trust the one's they decided to put on the KTM. The breaks are very good, I've read a few reviews that said that they had no feel to them. Maybe, I just haven't ridden a bike that has REALLY good breaks, but of all the bikes I've been on these feel the best. I've never locked them nor have I used the ABS, front or rear, but I've also never felt like I needed too and I hope I never do. The engine is quite good, I set my RPM1 and RPM2 to 7000 and 7500 respectively. There have been a few times in traffic where I needed to exceed these ... suggestions ... for my own safety. When you're accelerating away from a controlled intersection (That would be the ones with the traffic lights) and there are cars behind you, you can move from first to second to third in about 2 seconds, at the end of that you'll be doing about 50 miles an hour. The engine kinda of smacks you in the face with power above the 6000 - 7000 RPM mark. It's a very pleasant surge, like the engine is saying "Ok, you want to play, I want to play too!" The accelerating is enough to push you back into the pillion seat. I was very impressed with that as it's "Only a 390." I've heard a few people say that a single cylinder bike would be "buzzy", like the engine vibration would cause your hands, feet and ass to go numb. I've not had that issue, that bike doesn't feel buzzy at all. It should be, I agree, but the bike was very well put together and the fit and finish on it has resulted in a very good package. I don't feel the buzz that people talk about.

Last night my self and my friend still on his 2008 Kawasaki ZX9R went out to Port Jeff, a collage night life area on Long Island. From my house and back it's around 90 miles. We get out there on the Long Island Expressway, it's pretty much straight the entire time so nothing really to report other than we are running about 80 miles an hour and my bike feels great. I last did this run with my Suzuki and it almost feels like that bike was an asthmatic, every now and again it would cough, or lurch and now really have a good time when it's going for a run. The KTM on the other hand, feels at home. It feels like it wants to run, it was to go, it wants to see what's around the next corner and it wants to see it now. The riding position on the bike is certainly more focused on performance and that translates into how I ride it. I almost always feel like, "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go!" when I'm on this bike, with the "3 quarters" riding position whereas the Suzuki was straight up the whole time. That might also affect how I perceive both bikes. Just south Port Jeff we enter into a section of road that my Suzuki never liked. The tires on the Suzuki and the KTM are basically the same size as each other, but on the Suzuki it felt like my bike would be taken away from me by a dip in the road and I'd have to fight to get it back out again. The KTM on the other hand laughs at these minor inconveniences and files over them with not much more then a small dip in the suspension travel. What a difference 23 years makes to suspension technology and tire technology.

At Port Jeff now we find a second where there are plenty of people walking between the various bars. We park out bikes on the main strip and watch the people walk by. I get a pizza because I'm hungry and we laugh at the 19 - 23 year olds that are far to high strung. Pretty much everyone that is walking around is drunk and loud. A few make a comment on our bikes, but more make a comment that the RC390 looks great. Bear in mind that these are guys and girls that probably don't know bikes. His bike is green, my bike is the Black / Orange / White and most of the comments are "Hey nice bike!" in our direction. My friend makes a comment that resonates with me, girls that don't know bikes pick them based off color, kinda of like how when they get into sports they pick it based of the color of the jersey. Fair point Mr. Sir. It seems that more people like the Black / Orange / White on the KTM then they do on the Green Kawasaki. A point that I rub into him every time I get the chance for the rest of the night. As we ride around the area, more then a few girls wave at us while we ride by. They don't know that his bike is twice as fast as mine. If you're worried about that sort of thing, don't be the ladies love the look of the KTM. With it being around 2am, we decided to ride back home bringing me to just under 600 miles on the bike.

With that, that is the first 600 miles on the 2015 KTM RC390. On our ride home, now that I trust the bike and know what it can do, he leans into a corner and I keep up with him. Over the Sena headset I hear him say "I'm proud of you." Damn skipy, if I was on the Suzuki I would of got out of the throttle and limped around that turn, but not on the KTM. The KTM is a bike to be ridden and ridden well. Don't lose your nerve in the turns and it will reward you with great corner speed and a great exit speed. The RC in the bikes name is not just for show, it really feels like a Race Bike for the road. I REALLY want to take this to a race track and see what this thing is truly capable of in a controlled setting. I trust this bike; It earned that trust over my Suzuki in the first 50 miles and every day that I get on it, I'm impressed with it's capabilities. Yes, it's not the fastest thing in a straight line but that's not the point is it? You bought a race bike for the road, it's meant to carve up corners for breakfast and eat miles for lunch. The seat has even grown on me, the feel from it regarding what the bike is doing at any point in time is fantastic. I'm not sure I'm even going to replace it with the Ergo seat at this point. Last night I did 90 miles on it and I don't have any aches or pains. I love this bike, if you don't have one, I think you will too.
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New Member
Thank you, I hope this gives a few of the people on the fence about the bike that push they need. It's a fantastic bike! I've now compleated my first service, but I've not had the chance to put many miles on it, due to the fact that I'm still waiting for NYS DMV to send me plates. This is QUITE annoying.


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Thank you, I hope this gives a few of the people on the fence about the bike that push they need. It's a fantastic bike! I've now compleated my first service, but I've not had the chance to put many miles on it, due to the fact that I'm still waiting for NYS DMV to send me plates. This is QUITE annoying.

This could be an outstanding bike if KTM could just up the quality control. We have users that have had zero problems and users that have had multiples. Im in the multiples side, its impossible to understand the wide range here. I could see if it was a major common problem that should demand a recall, but it just got me a bit confused. Im glad you are having a great experience on the bike, I agree its a blast to ride. For some reason I find myself not worrying about tossing it into the corner at stupid speed becuse it seems to stick well and even backing it in with that stock shock works. I cant imagine what it wouild be like with good suspension. Its not quite as close as to what my TZ125 was like, but still a fun ride!!