The KTM continues to lead with flying colours here too, with a larger displacement mill and higher performance numbers. Its 373cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine produces a staggering 42.9bhp and 37Nm. The Keeway, on the other hand, is propelled by a 292cc motor that produces 27.1bhp and 25Nm of peak torque. But, out on the road, is the difference in performance equally substantial?
Oh yes, it is! The RC feels way quicker from the get-go. While the acceleration up to 5,000rpm is brisk, it becomes truly ballistic beyond that. Reaching triple-digit speeds is a much quicker affair on the RC, and that gives it a clear edge on the highway. The RC can cruise comfortably even at 120kmph and overtaking from there isn’t difficult either. As for the K300 R, it isn’t slow by any stretch and the acceleration is quite peppy. However, the power delivery is more linear on the Keeway. It keeps shooting ahead spiritedly until 7,000rpm, but post that, the performance tapers a bit. Also, overtaking on the highway requires a lot more planning and at times, downshifting.
The K300 R is easier to ride in the city though. It feels more tractable due to the flatter torque curve, which means you don’t need to work the gearbox much. Then, a super light clutch is an added bonus. It can comfortably do speeds of around 50kmph in sixth gear, which is a shuddery affair on the RC. Although the RC 390 is more tractable than before, you still need to keep working the gearbox a fair bit in the city. But that’s not an issue, to be honest, as KTM has bestowed it with an extremely slick gearbox and toggling through cogs is effortless. Also, you don’t need to use the clutch always as the quickshifter works seamlessly for the most part. Whereas, Keeway’s gearbox feels slightly clunky and misbehaves at times.
As you hit the twisties or execute fast manoeuvres in traffic, you realise both bikes are pretty agile. The Keeway is 7kg lighter and that translates into a nimble-feeling motorcycle at slow speeds. Further, the more compact front section makes it easier to flick through tiny gaps in traffic. However, as the speeds rise and you start pushing the handling envelope, the RC comes into its element. The precision and stability with which it takes on corners at any given speed are incredible. The Keeway, too, carves corners with decent proficiency, but tipping it in at higher speeds requires you to put in more effort than the RC. Also, adding to the KTM’s cornering prowess are its Metzeler tyres which deliver marginally better grip and feedback.
Another reason for the RC 390 inspiring more confidence while riding spiritedly is its brakes which deliver tremendous bite at the front and rear. The front brake, in particular, is commendable and delivers great feedback even with the single-finger operation. On the flip side, Keeway’s brakes considerably lack in terms of bite and lever feedback. Moreover, the ABS system on the K300 R is pretty intrusive and robs you of control over the brake lever under hard braking.