Just like the design, the ergonomics are identical to the RC200. The 824mm seat height is quite tall and if you’re shorter than my 5’11’’ stature, getting onboard could be cumbersome. And once seated, I could almost flat foot, with my heels slightly above the ground. Now, typical of a supersport, the riding position is a bit aggressive, but not as committed as the previous model. You crouch a little to reach the clip-ons with your knees properly folded to get to the pegs. And when you want to go full send, there's ample space to move at the back and tuck in. That said, track junkies will be happy to know that the clip-ons can be lowered by 10mm. As for pushing the bike around, it’s easily doable, courtesy of its 172kg kerb weight.
On to the performance now, off the line, the bike charges ahead vigorously and builds up pace cleanly, and with urgency. The motor truly comes alive after 6,000rpm and it keeps accelerating spiritedly until its redline of 10,000rpm. However, unlike the outgoing model, there's no sudden surge of torque anywhere in the rev band and the overall performance is quite linear. Thanks to the improved mid-range grunt, my wrong gear selections around corners were forgiven with a clean pull. Although I couldn't test the top speed, I saw 165kmph on the speedo on the main straight of the track. And that's where the new fairing design truly shone by doing a commendable job of deflecting wind and letting it all pass over my helmet.
The clutch is supremely light and accompanying it is a slick-shifting six-speed gearbox which works without any fuss. And so does the quick shifter! While the clutchless downshifts are free of errors, the upshifts misbehaved at times, especially around 8,000-9,000rpm. But for the most part, mainly between 3,000-8,000rpm, even the upshifts were seamless.
As for the new chassis, it feels quite communicative and bestows the bike with utmost precision. Tipping into corners is effortless and more progressive than before and holding on to the desired line is equally easy too. Then, it flicks from side to side with minimal steering inputs while not being unnervingly tippy to scare you off.
But I was left wanting for better grip from the Metzeler tyres. While they deliver reasonable grip around long sweeping corners, it was around sharp bends and at extreme lean angles that the rubber felt squirmy and didn't inspire a lot of confidence.
The new suspension setup, meanwhile, contributes to the cornering efficiency by soaking up mid-corner undulations neatly and not letting the bike unsettle. Even the front dive wasn’t unnerving under hard braking which meant tipping into corners was a smooth affair. Furthermore, every time I braked hard before a corner, there was a lot of stopping power from the front with a sharp bite and reasonable progression. Plus, the brakes didn't fade even after multiple laps around the track.