2021 KTM RC 390 vs Old RC 390: Differences Explained

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The past couple of days have been quite happening in the Indian automotive industry. We got to witness some pretty substantial leaks, be it the upcoming Mahindra XUV700 or the updated KTM RC series. KTM first brought in the RC 200 and the RC 390 to our shores back in 2014 and they caused a huge uproar in their respective segments. The RC 390 might have been an absolute riot back then but soon, rivals stepped up to challenge its supremacy and it started feeling a little dated. Fret not, because the updated RC 390 looks all locked and loaded to take back the throne. Let us take a detailed look at all the differences it has over its previous iteration.

Bulkier looks

The previous avatar of the RC 390 had razor-sharp looks and chiselled bodywork. The updated motorcycle, however, has grown in proportions, no matter which angle you look at it.

2022 KTM RC 390 Leaked (2)

It might have received a lukewarm response from the Indian audience across social media platforms but we believe that it could change once we see it in the flesh because as far as pictures are considered, the updated RC390 does have a big-bike appeal. The twin projector headlamps upfront has made way for a hexagonal headlamp setup we are already familiar with. The indicators too, have moved from the rearview mirrors to the front apron.

New 2017 KTM RC390 front

The leaked images suggest that the KTM RC 390 will boast of a rather attractive colourway with blue and orange accents. The front apron also boasts of faux carbon fibre inserts while it also houses a larger windscreen that should provide better wind protection. The texture of the seat looks comparatively more premium as well. Overall, it does look like it belongs to the same family as the RC8 and the ancestral lineage can be seen, even without putting our microscopic lens on.

Riding ergonomics

The RC 390, ever since its inception has been a great track tool and a major chunk of its razor-sharp handling characteristics has to be attributed to its super-aggressive riding stance. But it looks like KTM has tweaked the riding ergonomics to make the ride a more relaxed one.

New 2017 KTM RC390 action (11)

It might disappoint the enthusiasts who don’t like their drinks to be watered down but if KTM positions it as a sports-tourer rather than an out and out track weapon, it will be able to sell the RC 390 a lot more than before. The clip-on handlebars are retained but they look more relaxed, rather than being super-low as the previous RC 390. We can also expect the rider’s footpegs to be slightly more relaxed too. By the looks of it, the seats also look more cushioned than before.

2021 KTM RC 390 spied (1)

Adjustable suspension

The 390 Adventure sold overseas gets adjustable front suspension and the same setup could also make its way to the RC 390. The triple clamp seen in the leaked images suggests that the international-spec RC 390 will feature adjustable compression and rebound damping for the front fork.

2022 KTM RC 390 Leaked (1)

As before, the rear suspension is expected to feature preload adjustability, and might also have rebound damping as seen on the international-spec 390 Adventure. However, it remains to be seen whether KTM decides to omit adjustable suspension or not when it comes to its India-spec avatar. Including adjustable suspension in the mix is only going to make the RC 390 in India more premium than before.

Updated instrument cluster

The LCD display found on the previous iteration of the RC 390 still might pack a bucket-load of information but it did start feeling a little dated as compared to the rich and vibrant TFT display of the Apache RR 310 for that matter but that is bound to change with the updated model as it will get a TFT unit like that on the 390 Duke.

New 2017 KTM RC390 instruments console

This would mean a crisp and informative screen with Bluetooth connectivity, and as a result, turn-by-turn navigation as well as controls for phone calls and media playback.

2017 KTM 390 Duke instrument console (41)

Rear subframe and wheels

The rear subframe is now a bolt-on unit. The bolt-on design of the subframe should make accidental repairs easier and cheaper (should it bend or break in a crash). The new wheels are wrapped in Continental ContiRoad sport touring tyres – the same as seen on the international spec 890 Duke. Whether we get these tyres in India or if KTM continues with the Metzeler M5s is still to be confirmed.

2022 KTM RC 390 Leaked (4)


The updated RC 390 is expected to retain the same powerhouse as its previous avatar. It remains to be seen whether KTM has managed to extract a few more ponies from the same powertrain or not. In its current state of tune, the engine is capable of putting down 43.5 PS @ 9000 rpm and a torque of 37 Nm @ 7000 rpm. The engine is expected to retain its high-revving trait with explosive performance.

2022 KTM RC 390 Leaked (3)

Braking equipment

The disc brakes appear to be more perforated than before and that would definitely translate to better cooling of the rotors so that the braking equipment would perform in a desired manner despite being pushed to its limit.

New colours

The leaked images have confirmed that KTM’s blue-orange MotoGP livery will distil down to the RC390 as well and if you ask us honestly, it does look smashing in this avatar!


Track aficionados absolutely love bi-directional quickshifter because when you are out on the track, every millisecond matters. Quickshifter allows you to seamlessly upshift or downshift without using the clutch. KTM introduced Adventure 390 with a quickshifter as standard. Though it doesn’t work as effortlessly as it should, it does the job anyway. The RC 390, being an out and out track-focused motorcycle, would benefit a lot with a quickshifter. It is already a fast and sharp motorcycle around the track and the quickshifter will only make it faster.

Riding modes

Another possible and crucial addition to the new RC 390 could be riding modes. The RC 390 hasn’t received any major update ever since it was launched in India but it did gain ride-by-wire throttle which completely eliminates throttle cable from the setup and uses throttle sensors instead. Incorporating riding modes in a motorcycle driven by ride-by-wire throttle isn’t that hard.

2022 KTM RC 390 Leaked

TVS pulled it off with the new BS6 Apache RR 310 when they installed ride-by-wire throttle and included 4 different riding modes. Riding modes could come in really handy for people who are not a fan of KTM’s high-revving nature and explosive performance. It might actually improve its fuel efficiency too. However, we cannot confirm at the moment whether it will come with ride modes or not.

Exhaust unit

Another major aesthetic and mechanical update would be the revised exhaust unit. The exhaust system will continue to feature a side-slung end-can, but its design is different to the one currently used, and the mesh on the exhaust exit is noteworthy. We can expect the same raspy exhaust note to be carried forward but with a little more bass to add to the character.

Better cooling

The previous iteration of the RC 390 was notorious for roasting the rider’s legs in urban riding conditions. However, KTM has worked heavily upon making the heat dissipation of its motorcycles better than before. While it’s hard to be certain from these pictures, it does appear that the new RC will get two radiator fans in place of the current bike’s one.

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