KTM RC125 road test review
The KTM RC125 managed to put a smile on my face when I rode it at Bajaj's own test track near Pune, despite its coffee mug-sized engine. Of course, it runs KTM's genes and in this case, the fact that the bike is 'just' a 125cc motorcycle didn't matter too much since the bike uses a chassis and cycle parts that are usually seen on motorcycles powered by engines displacing twice, which helped the RC125 deliver the goods. But now, it's time to take the little RC out of its comfort zone and put it through the grind of commuting in traffic, to see how KTM's smallest sportsbike takes on the drudgery.
Style and Build
Identical is a more apt word in the RC125's case than familiar. While the styling is, well, identical to the RC200 and RC390, the RC125 gets its own distinctive paint scheme that lets the bike stand out. Like we've said earlier, the orange is vibrant while white is low key. The paint finish is on point and adds to the premium feel, though decals had started to peel off, unfortunately, thanks to the carelessness of the guy washing it using a high-pressure jet.
This proves that you need to be more alert when getting the motorcycle washed, which is a tough job given the bike's design. On the other hand, the build quality is premium, in keeping with the bike's positioning and the brand's repute. Everything on the motorcycle feels dated though, especially since we have been seeing the same design and same components, like the instrument cluster, for years now.
Performance and Rideability
The outputs of 14.5PS (produced at 9,250rpm) and 12Nm (produced at 8,000rpm) from its 125cc liquid-cooled engine were decent on track, the peaky delivery isn't too impressive on the road. It's almost like you're waiting for the power to kick in, but by the time you get to the power band, the bike is already at the rev limiter. Of course, that's beside the fact that you barely get a chance to get to the top of the rev range in city traffic. The RC125 thus feels slow at low revs, since the engine comes alive only around the 5,500rpm mark. Shorter gear ratios should improve matters for city riding, but there's only so much gearing can change acceleration to 60kmph is decent, to say the least, with the bike clocking 6.20 seconds.
The RC125 takes aeons to get to 100kmph though and clocked a time of 18.42 seconds in our test. Roll-on acceleration timings are not too impressive either, with the RC125 managing the 30-70kmph test in third gear in 7.66 seconds while taking 10.40 seconds for the 40-80kmph run in fourth gear. Another reason behind the dreary feel on the road apart from the tall gearing is the bike's kerb weight of 154kg, which affects its power to weight ratio. Of course, these factors affect the bike's fuel efficiency as well. The bike managed to return 30.19kmpl in our city test while returning a more impressive 45.15kmpl in our highway test.
Ride and Handling
Here's the tricky bit. As enthusiasts, we sure love the KTM Dukes and RC series for their impressive dynamics, especially since the bikes are pretty much 'over-engineered' and run cycle parts that could be used on more powerful machines. Of course, that is the case with the RC125 as well, as it runs the same sharp steering geometry and higher-specced parts as its elder siblings.
This despite the bike running a significantly lesser powerful engine. In effect, the chassis, upside-down forks and monoshock straight off the RC200 together make for a sporty feel and confident handling package but you know the bike can handle a lot more power. That said, the ride quality is surprisingly pliant and in fact, I had the rear monoshock bottom out a couple of times on bad roads, given my heft.
Of course, the ergonomics are very committed, which takes a toll on your wrists in traffic, especially since this is a slower motorcycle as compared to the RC200 and RC390. That said, at 835mm seat height is good enough for most riders to be able to manoeuvre the bike easily. The 300 mm front brake disc did not offer the kind of bite I was expecting though.
The bite is a little too progressive and in fact, there were times when I was hoping to stop quicker than I actually did. Sharper brakes on the RC125 will certainly be welcome in my opinion.
As mentioned in our first ride review, which was on track, the KTM RC125 sits in the price bracket where the RC200 was positioned, but to its credit, real-world offered a fair amount of involvement and riding fun. The RC125, however, does not live up to the mark and leaves something to be desired in terms of real-world performance.
It has the cycle parts that made it a sporty and confident handler on track, which somewhat masks the need for more engine performance, but in the real world, the bike does not deliver the goods as well.
Overall build quality is good which should help in terms of a long term commitment, but that said, the meagre engine performance will probably make you want to upgrade to a bigger, more powerful motorcycle rather quickly. The committed seating and aggressive stance might just be a stumbling block for many 125cc buyers too. But most importantly, at Rs 1.70 lakh on-road the KTM RC125's asking price is just too steep.
For the price, you could easily get yourself slightly larger motorcycles like the Yamaha YZF-R15 which is more powerful but still friendly enough to hone your skills on. Or, you could get something like the 2019 Suzuki Gixxer SF that is as powerful but a lot more comfortable and friendlier.
Fuel efficiency -
City fuel efficiency - 30.19kmpl
Highway fuel efficiency - 45.15kmpl
Overall fuel efficiency - 33.92kmpl
0-60kmph - 6.20 seconds
0-100kmph - 18.42 seconds
30-70kmph in 3rd gear - 7.66 seconds
40-80kmph in 4th gear - 10.40 seconds
60-0kmph - 2.91 seconds, 20.05 metres
80-0kmph - 3.51 seconds, 36.43 metres
Photography Donald D'souza