Though the powertrain on the RC 200 is similar to the Duke 200, the faired motorcycle's chassis gets some critical changes. For instance, the steering head angle is sharper, which means the front wheel is pulled in towards the bike more in comparison to the Duke 200. This also means that the wheelbase is smaller with a bit more ground clearance, while the seat height is raised by 20mm. All of this has resulted in pushing the centre of gravity up, making the motorcycle more agile and nimble. Along with the revised fairing and ergonomics, it gets a front biased weight distribution. While the WP 43mm upside down forks are carried over from the Duke 200, there is 25mm less travel at the front and is stiffer as well. Similarly, the set-up at the rear has been stiffened as well.
All of this seems pretty good on paper but how does it feel on the road? Well to answer that what better place can we get to test other than a race track! I took a few laps of the Bajaj test track that is custom-made with a variety of corners, positive banking and straight patches. The seating position is aggressive, the new clip-on handlebars are low and foot-pegs have been raised up a bit, I was still pretty comfortable on the bike though. I'm sure with the taller seat, people with more than average height will also get accustomed to the position soon. But again, for city traffic commute, we think it's going to be a bit stressful with the aggressive stance. The back and the arms of the rider might hurt with continuous riding.
So for the moment, on the track, the RC200 is definitely sharper in handling than the Duke 200. It responds very quickly to the inputs put at the handlebar. The steeper rake angle and wider clip-ons have tremendously helped in achieving this. I could shift down heavily and exit every corner with a large grunt without having to exert myself physically at all. The RC 200 is quick in short turns and stable in long corners. Me being used to a Duke 200, I feel it is the same as the other Duke siblings which beg you to ride harder and pull the throttle every time.
The rider's seat is well shaped and gives enough space for the rider to move about in the space given. On the track, the visor deflects the air over the rider rather than hitting the rider's torso. This will furthermore definitely help riders reduce the wind pressure on them when they take the bike on highways and long rides. However, the seat positioning is such that one can't really swoop down completely and get a proper view of the road in front. He has to raise his head slightly to be able to get a clear view.
The only thing I can actually grumble about is that unlike the RC390, which gets Metzelers, the RC200 gets MRFs. Not that the MRFs are bad, but they are just not as grippy as the former. So it becomes very important to be in the right gear, in the right line and at the optimum speed in the corners. Nevertheless, they do inspire a lot of confidence once they warm up.