What is 50cc worth? If in a motorcycle engine, would it make a difference? And how much? To answer those questions, we went to KTM’s launching of their new RC 250 and Duke 250.
Its very easy to just think that KTM simply bored out their present 200cc based RC and Duke to get the new 250s produced,but in truth the 250s share the 390 platform, the crankcase and cylinder block different from the 200’s. It also gets a boost in power(up 5hp from 26 to 31)and a unique selling point, slipper clutch. Visually the RC 250 looks identical to the 390,save for the 250 insignia, and the Duke gets a full set of new decals. Price is of course different, RM17,888 for the Duke, and RM18,888 for the RC. Oh yeah, another differentiation factor, the 250s sports Pirelli Diablo Rosso 2 tyres, while the 390s are Metzeler Sportec shod.
Initial ride impressions, the engine is good!Flexible in a way the 200s never were! Where the 200s were really shortly geared and having you change gear all the time, the 250s lets you hold the gear you’re in farther and longer. The power builds really linearly all through the rev range, with no dips and spikes,just one smooth rubber band-ish like pull. One of the reason the 250s were produced is for competition use, the 250cc category of the Malaysian Superbike Championship, and initial feel is that the engine is tuned for rolling speed in the corner with as-high-as-possible corner speed and wide opened throttle applications.
All the other ride quality is as the 200(for the duke, 390 for the RC). Brakes, instrumentation, suspension and ergos are the same, but for the RC, it hasn’t got the torquey thrust and top end of the 390. Due to it being the same weight and size to the 390, the RC 250 do feel slightly slower in throttle related action and reaction .The Duke 250 is more spirited and lively than the 200, the power is quite a noticeable step up in terms of smoothness and pulls strongly, linearly and longer all the way to the rev limiter. Handling wise, the suspension action and comfort feels similar for both bikes in comparison to the 200s and 390s.
For an initial impression, I believe that KTM has found the answer to what an extra 50cc brings to the table. It feels an upgrade to the present 200s, mostly in terms of power and engine flexibilty. My take is that its good for new buyers looking for an upgrade from small mopeds, or new motorcycle buyers altogether. For present 200 owners, they have to test ride to see and feel whether it will be a justified upgrade to their present ride, or even to the bigger, and more satisfying but costlier 390s.
As it is, both the RC 250 and Duke 250 are great improvements from the 200s, and should be a noteworthy addition in one’s new bike shopping list.
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