The Indian motorcycle market welcomes the lightest member of the “Ready to Race” family, the KTM RC 125. Targeted at those seeking to be initiated into the universal motorcycling cadre, it is the combination of celebrity brand-image, race-inspired styling and respectable class-performance. It looks just like its older siblings, and the cleverly concealed 125 cc motor means that it can easily be mistaken for anyone of them, at first glance. Looks, however, are not the only thing important for KTM, though the RC 125 is aimed at the likes of those who’ve just gotten into college and freshly served with a driver’s license.
Build and Styling
Like all its siblings, it looks fast and impressive, has impeccable fit-and-finish quality and head-turning capabilities owing to its sharp and aggressive styling. As mentioned, it shares almost every component with its more significant engine variants, including the body-work of the 200 and 390. It also gets a fresh set of graphics and bold decals on a base body colour option between white and orange.
The signature trellis-frame forms the skeleton of the 125, just like the rest of the RC lineup. It is the same framework used for the more significant engine variants along with the rear-wheel swinging arm. The suspension is also the same, with USD front works from WP and an inclined rear mono-shock absorber. List of functional-gear includes an LCD panel that covers all generic information such as rpm, speed, distance covered and engine temperature. Braking comes courtesy of a single-channel ABS along with a 300mm ventilated disc on the front wheel, and a 200 mm on the rear.
The small engine produces some fair numbers – 14.3 bhp at 9,000 rpm and 12 Nm of torque at 8,000 rpm. As is with its older siblings, the rev-limiter kicks in to indicate the need for a gear change, since the engine is built for a wide-throttle range. Unlike the rest, however, its cruise-happy range is limited to two digits, and reaching the three-digit zone will take time, even on the open highway. Top speed is limited to 120 kmph, and 0-100 takes a while, just as with other motorcycles in the same class. No matter how well internal-combustion is timed in engines, with smaller displacements come smaller power figures, and this KTM is aimed at the entry-level segment.
Ride and Handling
Cornering and turning are where the RC shows its true colours. What it lacks in the engine-punch, it more than makes up for in handling and rides quality. Despite the engine capacity being nearly half of the RC 200’s, the overall weight is just less than 12kg. If one takes the 125 out for a spin, expecting the same ride-DNA that is exhibited by the 200 and 390, they will come to realise that it is very different from them.
Despite being stable and grounded even through corners, the 125 misses out on a lot of the peppiness of its heavier-engined counterparts. It isn’t as lively as the 125 cc Duke, and though the chassis and suspension pull through all kinds of challenges, the engine simply isn’t enough to cope. MRF REVZ tyres provide for quite a decent grip and will inevitably not fail to do their job even when the rider decides to get pushy.
Stupidity on a KTM is severely ill-advised, and for those continually bickering about how it fails to deliver on a lot of key performance parameters – a gentle reminder – this is only an entry-level sports bike aimed at the uninitiated timid souls, for whom biking is still just a six-letter word.
It is a rather strong contender for the 125 cc game, with its looks, dynamic appeal and impressive handling, and would be ideal for the first-time motorcycle riders.
The KTM RC125 is priced at INR 1.47 lakh, 17,000 more expensive than the Duke 125, and is slightly less agile than its naked-street counterpart. It is challenged by the Yamaha YZF-R15, the third version, which is cheaper and also peppier than the 125. There are other entry-level options too, in the likes of Yamaha, Honda and Bajaj, and they offer slightly better performance outputs at significantly lower prices. Few of them come close to providing the experience that a KTM does and it’s entirely up to the first-timers, at whom the bike is targeted to decide what they wish to begin their motorcycle journey with.
It has never been easy to decipher the brains of eighteen-year-olds, and with a plethora of informative digital devices, and the world at their fingertips, their latest ailment is information overload. If however, they do choose the RC125 over its competitors, they will find it challenging to step into the next level of motorcycling, on anything other than a KTM. It’s just like the case with iPhones – if one chooses to use it, they become pretty much incompatible with any other handset.