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KTM RC 390 vs Keeway K300 R: Comparison Test Review

03 December 2022, 12:24 PM Anuj Mishra

Introduction

KTM RC 390 Left Side View

The KTM RC 390 doesn’t need much introduction. It received its most significant update earlier this year which has made it more desirable than before. It continues to wear the crown of one of the most value-for-money propositions in the entry-level sportbike space. However, there is a new contender which intends to grab a piece of this segment. It goes by the name Keeway K 300R. 

Keeway is a Hungarian company but it is now owned by China-based QJ Group. Its India operations are handled by Adishwar Auto Ride, which also retails other brands like Benelli and Moto Morini in India. Now, the K300 R is a supersport offering, just like the RC 390. And these kinds of bikes are not only meant to go fast around mountain twisties or set great lap times around a race track but also to carry out commuting and touring duties. On most of these fronts, the RC 390 has proved to be quite efficient. Now, what we are curious to find out is if the new player can beat the RC at its game or succumbs to the Austrian engineering and finesse. 

Design and Quality

KTM RC 390 Right Side View

Visually, the K 300R and RC390 are quintessential sport bikes with an aggressive stance and angular body panels. However, the RC390 is more polarising, especially with its wide and imposing front fascia. Personally, I admire its refreshed bodywork that is bigger and more muscular than before. But what might look a bit odd to some are several panel gaps around its front fairing. The Keeway, meanwhile, is more compact, tightly packed, and relatively more proportionate. In fact, its dramatic front fascia and nicely carved side fairing truly catch the attention of onlookers. 

KTM RC 390 Front View

When it comes to quality, both bikes are decent and there isn’t much to complain about. The paint finish is opulent and the fitment of the panels is up to the mark. If I had to nitpick, the plastic panels of the Keeway feel slightly more flimsy than the RC, and the KTM has better quality switchgear with more tactility. Moreover, despite the K300 R being a fresh test unit, we could hear some panel squeaking noises while moving the bike. 

Ergonomics and Comfort

KTM RC 390 Left Side View
KTM RC 390

KTM RC 390

  • Displacement373.27 cc
  • Max Power(bhp)42.9 bhp
  • Kerb Weight172 kg
  • ;

Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 3,14,101

Typical of sportbikes, both these contenders offer a committed riding stance with certain differences. The K300 R has a lower seat height of 780mm which makes getting onboard and placing your feet on the ground easier. Even the handlebar is closer to the rider so you don’t need to crouch as much as on the RC. However, the handlebar is angled more inwards and it’s narrower which results in a lack of leverage. Also, your knees are more aggressively bent on the Keeway which gets uncomfortable after a while. For perspective, with my height of 5’11’’, the handlebar hit my knees while making a full-lock turn.

KTM RC 390 Right Side View

 As for the RC, the seat height is considerably taller at 824mm. So, getting on the bike is slightly more difficult and most of the riders would be tip-toeing. But once you’re in the saddle, you realise it has a wider handlebar which provides better leverage, although you have to bend more. However, the legs aren’t as acutely bent so it feels more natural. The most noteworthy aspect of the RC is the space and cushioning it offers on the saddle which adds to the comfort quotient. Even the aerodynamics are much better than the K 300R. Its new fairing design does a great job of deflecting wind away from you, even at speeds of about 120-130kmph. Whereas, on the Keeway, the wind keeps brushing against your shoulders which induces fatigue on longer rides.

Talking about the ride quality, both bikes have a firm suspension setup but none of them feels annoyingly harsh. At slow speeds, the Keeway feels suppler and handles mild undulations like potholes and rumblers in a more composed manner. However, the RC has a slightly better high-speed ride which feels flatter on the highway. 

Features and Tech

KTM RC 390 Instrument Cluster

The RC 390 is a typical KTM in terms of features and technology and it outdoes the Keeway by a considerable margin. It gets a traction control system, a bi-directional quick shifter, lean-sensitive cornering ABS, adjustable clutch and brake levers, and dual-channel ABS with the option to turn it off at the rear wheel. All of these are usually available in bigger and more expensive motorcycles. 

The new RC 390 also gets the same full-colour TFT console as the 390 Duke and 390 Adventure. This unit not only shows a host of information but it also offers Bluetooth connectivity for smartphone pairing which gives you access to music and telephone control on the display itself. 

KTM RC 390 Instrument Cluster

The K300 R is just about average in this department. It gets full-LED lighting, non-switchable dual-channel ABS, and an LCD console which is not just a tiny unit but there's also a dearth of information on display. It also incorporates a riding mode button but toggling through these modes didn't change the behaviour of the bike whatsoever.

Performance and Handling

KTM RC 390 Right Side View

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? 

KTM RC 390 Right Side View

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. 

KTM RC 390 Right Side View

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. 

KTM RC 390 Front View

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. 

KTM RC 390 Front View

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. 

Conclusion

KTM RC 390 Right Rear Three Quarter

As an individual product, the Keeway K300 R is a likeable motorcycle. It’s quite impressive in terms of engine performance and handling. In the city, in particular, it feels enjoyable due to its light weight, super light clutch, and strong mid-range performance. It’s also decently comfortable on the highway and fast around corners. However, the kind of riding experience the RC 390 brings to the table is difficult to match. Some of the things that blew my mind are the feisty acceleration, slick gearbox, and precise handling at any given speed. And the bi-directional quick shifter makes riding it aggressively extremely wholesome. Plus, considering the number of features it offers, the whole package is mouth-watery. 

KTM RC 390 Right Side View

The Keeway could do with better brakes, more advanced features, and above all, a more attractive price tag. The ex-showroom prices of the Keeway start at Rs 2.99 lakh and go up to Rs 3.20 lakh, depending on the colour variant. On the other hand, despite being more accomplished, the RC 390 is cheaper than the top-end variant of the K300 R with a price of Rs 3.16 lakh. So, if you’re looking for a fast, fun, engaging, and more useable small-size sportbike, the RC 390, hands down, is a better buy. 

Photography by Kapil Angane 

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