Wherefore Art Thou KTM RC390?

12/04/2013 @ 3:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler45 COMMENTS

Wherefore Art Thou KTM RC390? ktm rc390 635x423

KTM USA is going to have a mutiny on its hands if it doesn’t bring at least the KTM RC390 street bike to American soil, and we won’t even mention the KTM RC125 & KTM RC200.

Not only have bikes like the Honda CBR250R and Kawasaki Ninja 300 shown a lucrative market for small-displacement machines in the United States, but AMA Pro Racing’s recent announcement that it is considering a national racing class for ~250cc bikes should sweeten the pot for the “Ready to Race” brand.

Of course, KTM USA’s on-road segment management is umm…lacking…in its ability to bring the brand’s latest models to our shores. The KTM 1190 Adventure just recently made its way to US dealers, a full year after its arrival in Europe.

The KTM 390 Duke still hasn’t made its way to the United States, despite launching at the 2012 EICMA show as well. We were surprised to see the KTM 690 Duke make its way to our soil, though no word as to whether the pepped-up KTM 690 Duke R will do the same. Our fingers are crossed regarding the KTM 1290 Super Duke R.

With the orange bikes seen largely as an off-road brand here in the US, KTM USA has not only a tough sell to make to its dealers, many of whom could care less about having an RC8 R on their showroom floors; but the brand also has a tough battle to make with American street riders.

Other European brands have taken the American on-road market very seriously, with Ducati and Triumph offering a variety of competent and competitive machines that stack up well against KTM’s lineup.

Watching this video on the KTM RC390, it is plain to see that the Austrian brand’s problem isn’t product related — Americans view the RC as a serious road bike.

The problem isn’t one of marketing — Americans are just as enthralled with the latest KTM machines as any other marquees. That leaves only a couple areas that could be to blame — we’ll let you speculate on that.

Source: KTM

Comment:

  1. kww says:

    Let’s see, on KTM’s site, I do a dealer search with 100 mile radius.
    6 dealers, only 1 that does street bikes. Of that dealer, every street bike listed is ‘call for price’ – that’s code for special order only, none in stock.

    BTW, the metro region I live in has almost 3 million people

  2. TheSwede says:

    KTM better get its shite together. I want THIS bike. I don’t want the Honda or Kawi. They’re heavy, under powered and with lackluster styling.

    This is like a modern cafe racer IMO, and I love it. This doesn’t show up here I’m gonna be pissed..

  3. jeram says:

    A modern cafe racer eh? haha

  4. MisterMarquis says:

    I will be pissed too…

  5. Tim says:

    The Duke 390 is now here in Thailand
    But the dealer here has priced it like a Ducati so I do not expect
    to see many on the street.
    It is priced higher than the new 4 cyl Honda CBR650 & the Kawasaki 650 twins here.
    Also just about 2x the price of a new Kawasaki 300 Ninja

    They claim it is due to import taxes but there is no way
    taxes are this high.
    This Bike retails for a third of this price everywhere else

    Too bad as KTM does have a nice product that is aimed at
    enthusiast. But at this price? Not going to happen

  6. BBQdog says:

    Had been waiting for my Duke 390 for almost 6 months before it arrived. The first batch got starting problems, mis-aligned chain guides, bad front suspension and some other small problems. And one has to beg the dealer for modifications, you won’t get a phone call from KTM. Some customers where compensated with 400 euro, but most of them, waiting just as long, got nothing. I hope KTM gets things well sorted before they launch a next model range.. So far I don’t feel very appreciated as KTM customer.
    Customer trust comes walking and goes on horseback as we say over here. KTM might as quickly loose there customers as they sell bikes as they proceed like this.

  7. J Wilson says:

    KTM’s delivery / availability problems notwithstanding:

    I have a terrific local multi-line dealer who is very pro KTM, have had several of their big RC8 and big Adventure bikes in stock at any one time, and they face the usual ‘whatthehellisthatthing?’ questions.

    My advice for KTM would be to expand their design language. The bikes are certainly more than capable, usually feature first-rate components (imagine having WP in house!), but they all look alike, from their dirt bikes right thru their biggest and most potent street rides.

    For me, their street bikes have been a non-starter, as why would I sit on a dirt bike seat all day? It’s as if they make the same bike in all sizes and disciplines. Some variation on their orange/white/black scheme could certainly be played to differentiate their product lines, or what the hey, offer OTHER colors, real seats, etc.

    I just feel like they’re channeling Henry Ford: ‘You can have any color you want, as long as it’s orange/white/black’!

  8. smiler says:

    If I was 16 and starting my motorcycle career again it would be time to spent a few minutes in the toilet. This new set of small capacity look great. We no longer need to rely on pocket rocket grey imports from Japan. The motorcycle industry is dead…long live the motorcycle industry.
    With men as they are a 390 will not suffice in the longer term.

  9. Bruce says:

    JB writes: With the orange bikes seen largely as an off-road brand here in the US, KTM USA has not only a tough sell to make to its dealers, many of whom could care less about having an RC8 R on their showroom floors.

    This. I have a long time KTM dealer 15 minutes away. They are dyed in the wool dirt riders. The current owner is the second generation owner. His father and he are great guys, beloved in the dirt community, but they will simply not consider selling road bikes. It’s a shame for those of us in the area who would be interested in a KTM street ride.

  10. RD350 says:

    Agreed .. its time for KTM to get serious about the US market. Americans want their bikes and will buy their bikes. But they have to have a presence in the country
    … and dealerships.

    I am traveling to the (usually lame) NYC motorcycle show this year in the hope of seeing the RC390 in the flesh. However, I doubt this bike .. or even KTM for that matter .. will be there.

  11. Westward says:

    I will venture to say, that the lack of a 250cc series for the AMA is precisely the reason for the lack of viable talent for Americans on the national stage.

    Americans idea of a feeder class is a 1000cc series, due to too much bravado.

    Really though, 600cc is too much power to entice younger riders to participate, not to mention the cost. A 250 series will be much better to hone a young ones skills, and to ease the burden of cost.

    In Europe, especially Spain and Italy, the kids start out with pocket bikes, then move on to 125, followed by the 250, and then the 600, before graduating to litre bikes. Maybe that is why Europe has more talent in Motogp, a result of the cultivation process….

  12. Norm G. says:

    .re: “My advice for KTM would be to expand their design language.”

    no. stay the course. in the cookie cutter/niche business of motorcycling, it’s their USP.

    re: “The bikes are certainly more than capable, usually feature first-rate components (imagine having WP in house!), but they all look alike”

    precisely.

  13. sburns2421 says:

    I get a kick out of reading the reactions from potential customers when a little bike like this is available elsewhere but not in the US. Assuming it is actually imported, KTM will make the same mistake they have for the last decade with their streetbikes: overpricing the bike.

    Sure the 390 is neat and if it were the same price as a Ninja 300 or CBR250, a new rider would probably consider it along with the green or red bikes. But it won’t be. It will be priced about the same as a CB500R if I had to guess. At $6k, it is simply not viable in the US market considering what you can buy for the same amount of money new, not to mention lightly used. At the end of the day there have been very, very few sub-400cc street bikes made in the last 30 years that are sales success in the United States. Small Ninja is the only one I can think of that sells in any real volume, and only because the perception is it is safer for a new rider and cheap.

    So throw a fit and write letters and emails to KYM USA all you want, if the bike is actually imported watch it languish in showrooms.

  14. Norm G. says:

    re: “Americans want their bikes and will buy their bikes.”

    ya sure that’s what Americans want…? or do they want “free lunch”…? a great many are still walking into dealers confused. at this price point, there should be no confusion.

  15. Norm G. says:

    re: “KTM USA is going to have a mutiny on its hands if it doesn’t bring at least the KTM RC390 street bike to American soil”

    I dunno, can you have a mutiny with 4 people…?

  16. RD350 says:

    “Sure the 390 is neat and if it were the same price as a Ninja 300 or CBR250, a new rider would probably consider it along with the green or red bikes. But it won’t be. It will be priced about the same as a CB500R if I had to guess. At $6k, it is simply not viable in the US market ..”

    I dont see the RC390 being in direct competition with the Ninja 300 or CBR250 ..

    While obviously similar, the Japanese bikes are price point bikes, made to look like larger sport bikes for (mostly) entry level riders. Their price reflects weight and cheap components.

    If the RC390 lives up to its promise .. lighter weight, quality suspension and brakes … than I see the bike as being more of an enthusiast ride, a track-day bike (especially for woman) or a bike for shorter riders. While I agree that many American riders still go for the bigger is better mentality when bike shopping, I think that smaller sport-bikes are coming into their own for a larger number of riders.

    Many, my self included, would rather spend $6000 on a great looking 390 single with premium suspension and brakes than a budget 500-650 with crap suspension and brakes. Not saying they will sell millions .. but they will sell a bunch. And for KTM, that would be good enough to bring in a lot of future Duke and SuperDuke buyers.

  17. BBQdog says:

    @RD350: the RC390 is only 5 kg lighter then a CBR 250R. It has some more horsepower.
    Price for the Duke 390 in Europe is about 5500 euro, the RC390 is said to be sold for 6000 euro.
    A CBR250 is about 4750 euro for the ABS version.

  18. RD350 says:

    “the RC390 is only 5 kg lighter then a CBR 250R.”

    Ugh .. that’s disappointing. The CBR250 is not exactly light for a 250 single.

    Ok, fvck it … lets bring back the 2 strokes. Who’s with me?

  19. BBQdog says:

    Addition: KTM can put the name ‘WP’ on their suspension but that doesn’t mean it is quality.
    The suspension on my Duke 390 is just so so, front brake is not much better then that of my previous owned CBR250R. Advantage is that the Duke 390 already has a UPSD front fork, so with some small and not too expensive modifications one can turn the Duke 390 into a sharp steering machine. The front brake already has steelflex hoses and 4 pistons, so with the exchange of the brake pads that could be fixed too. The Duke 390 is a budget bike like the CBR250R and the Ninja 250r and all those new models coming next year, but it has a much better base the all the others.
    Never thought of modifying my CBR 250R, was not worth it.

  20. BBQdog says:

    >>lets bring back the 2 strokes. Who’s with me?

    I got a beautiful Aprilia RS 125 2008 in my garage, like new and I will keep it for ‘just in case’.

  21. Scott says:

    KTM is absolutely clueless when it comes to the North American market. I’m a proud supporter of their brand but many look at my bike and ask what the hell is it. It’s so foreign over here. Step up and inject some money into branding and people will buy the product. I can’t even get pricing info from my local dealer. If KTM actually wants to sell bikes here then step up and step into the digital algae and give yor dealers some pricing / release date info. I guess they think Europe only matters.

  22. RD350 says:

    BBQdog .. I would expect that the RC390 would be a major step up in quality over the Duke 390 and especially over the CBR250/Ninja300. If not, and if the 390’s price is significantly higher, than I would agree with the other posters that this bike will not sell.

    It has to to be significantly better, functionally, than the Japanese or it has no hope. Looks alone wont do it. And they cant compete with Honda or even Kawasaki for reliability. KTM has gotten better, but not quite there yet.

    Interesting to see what they do …

  23. RD350 says:

    Scott says:
    “KTM is absolutely clueless when it comes to the North American market. ”

    Agreed .. KTM can use a lesson from Ducati on how to market Euro-Exclusivity and the with it, the eager acceptance of higher price points.

    However, it did take Ducati years to get their thing together. Remember how poorly run Ducati was in the 80s and 90s?

    KTM will get there … hopefully sooner than Ducati did.

  24. TexusTim says:

    so were is this bike going to “fit ” in any race series?..shouldnt they be trying for a simple 300 ? I see the mini class going to that displacement..all these different displacments really dont make market sence to me. it seems to be too much and no focus on what is the 300,600, 1000 cc classes.
    sure it will spank a 250 and 300 and maybe even a 500 but no place to race the thing means no winning formula to win on sunday sell on monday.

  25. L2C says:

    Put Tony Hawk -old as he is- on a KTM 390 and advertise that shit in skateboard magazines. If Michael Jordan can sell food that he doesn’t eat, and underwear that he doesn’t wear, Tony can sell a bike that he doesn’t ride. But maybe he does ride KTM, who knows? Just get clever like that and sell some ridiculously awesome bikes to lots of young people.

    Fugg it, put Michael Jordan on one of them. He’s definitely into bikes. Have him in an ad daydreaming about young again and being jealous of some young dudes flying past him on their KTMs. Instead of an ad that’s all about being like Mike, have it be about Mike wishing that he was like some nervy young people, and then suddenly realizing that he was one of them a long time ago. Tag with some clever like, “You can’t have everything.”

    I bet KTM would sell plenty bikes stateside if they did something like that.

  26. BBQ says:

    @RD350: you missed one little point. The KTM Duke 390 may be not perfect as you buy it but it is has the basic goodies you need to upgrade it. It is as base a good package. I owned both the Ninja 250 and the CBR250r but I never became willing to spend more money on these bike then an exhaust change. On my Duke 390 I have a modified front fork and exchanged rear suspension and it changed the bike and I think it is money well spend. What I would like KTM to do is to come up with an ‘R’ version with real WP components, weight saving and better front brake as standard. Yes, the Duke 390 is more expensive the the other bikes in its class, but at the end you get more. Compare it with those japanese 125cc two stoke racers. The were cheap and reliable but not very fast, but affordable. If you wanted to spend more you would buy a kit (cilinder, exhaust, ignition) and invested in the suspension as soon as you had the money for it. I see the KTM Duke 390 as a basic package, kept cheap but affordable.

  27. TexusTim says:

    BBQ and Rd I grew up on 2 strokes ,my first street bike was a 1974 yamaha dr 350 got it new for my 17th birthday and a white bellstar helmet…man that was so cool and that bike hauled ass for what it was, back in the day of ponytails and real chicks.

  28. Norm G. says:

    re: “so w(h)ere is this bike going to “fit ” in any race series?”

    better question: where is this race series…?

    ie. one that’s worth altering a business strategy already “in play”. savvy…?

  29. Norm G. says:

    re: “I bet KTM would sell plenty bikes stateside if they did something like that.”

    fair play. now define plenty. define costs. define the ROI. explain to the comptroller in GAAP that what you suggest isn’t a zero sum (or worse), a negative sum game.

  30. L2C says:

    @ Norm G.

    Let KTM define and explain. It’s their job. ;)

  31. Norm G. says:

    re: “Let KTM define and explain. It’s their job.”

    perhaps their lack of response might be a leading indicator that they’ve already consider this, and what you suggest is a recipe for receivership…?

    last I checked, if you want guys like MJ to endorse your product, any conversations better end with you handing over a check for $10 million. granted, you don’t have to have HIM persay, but if you want to appeal to the secular world…? well then you’re going to PAY secular price. make sense…?

    how about this, I can do you one better, think running an ad during the Superbowl. would it increase brand awarness…? hell yeah. would it cost you MORE than your market potential…? hell yeah.

    so unlike underwear or “Gatorade”, the sobering reality is you DON’T have a secular product.

  32. jackie says:

    The 390 is dragging its belly pan on the pavement.
    Not a promising sign.

  33. RD350 says:

    @BBQ says:
    “you missed one little point. The KTM Duke 390 may be not perfect as you buy it but it is has the basic goodies you need to upgrade it”

    I get it BBQ. The problem is you (and I) are enthusiasts. Most of the buying public are not. You and I would spring for the better, more expensive KTM even if we had to finish it ourselves with pricy upgrades. Most people would not.

    If the RC390 is equipped with cheap bits it needs to be priced competitively or it will fail … whether it has better, ultimate potential or not.

    I think you are right on about an “R” version. If they could sell a standard version for that can compete in price with the Japanese and an “R” version for , say, an extra $1500, I really think they would have a winner on their hands. Something for the beginner and something for the enthusiast in one package.

    @TexusTim — I also grew up on RDs and RZs and later, Honda RS125s on the track. I have always loved small bikes, 4 stroke singles and twins and 2 strokes. Owned a 2000 KTM Duke II which was perhaps the most fun bike I ever owned. Naturally, I am very excited about this RC390 … its right up my alley! I have been riding for 35 years and never owned a 4 cylinder and likely never will.

  34. kostritzer says:

    I’ll be at the IMS show in Long Beach on Sunday. If the Duke 390 or RC390 are nowhere to be seen, then the KTM guys at the show will be getting an earful and then some!

  35. mxs says:

    Clueless KTM North America ….. booooooo!

    It’s really a shame … so much potential so bad execution. I cannot wait for the clueless faces at the motorcycle shows starting in Jan …..

  36. Tim says:

    BBQdog says:
    “@RD350: the RC390 is only 5 kg lighter then a CBR 250R”

    The Duke390 is 33lbs or 15kg lighter than a CBR250
    You sure the RC is 10kg more than the Duke?
    http://www.ktm.com/supersport/rc-390/highlights.html
    147kg= 324lbs
    Honda cbr250 is 357lbs I believe or 33lb/15kg heavier

    Also better compare a rc200 or duke 200 to a cbr250
    the 200 is 50lbs or 22.6kg lighter than the cbr250
    & the KTM 200 has 2 hp more than the cbr250

    KTM is on the right track weight wise. At least they
    are doing way better than the big 4

  37. Tim says:

    PS: I had the rc390 weights wrong sorry I quoted without fuel.
    A fueled 390 is 340lb/154kg so only 7+kg lighter

    But the compare to a KTM200 is still valid at 57lbs/25+kg lighter &
    has 2 more hp

    To compare a RC390 you would be better using a Honda 500
    which is about 90lbs or 40+kg more in weight & 3hp more than the 390

  38. paulus says:

    You US guys are spoiled. You get bikes far cheaper than the rest of the world.
    Order your parts on-line (also the cheapest in the world) and get your hands dirty.

    A DUKE 390 (not RC) is US12,000 here in Thailand… and there are only 2-3 dealers in the whole country.
    Despite this, those that want one will get one.

  39. Norm G. says:

    re: “You US guys are spoiled.”

    +1

    re: ” You get bikes far cheaper than the rest of the world.”

    +2

    re: “Order your parts on-line (also the cheapest in the world)”

    +3

    and there it is.

  40. mxs says:

    @ Paulus
    A DUKE 390 (not RC) is US12,000 here in Thailand… and there are only 2-3 dealers in the whole country.
    Despite this, those that want one will get one.

    Seems like, your pricing is messed up (probably due to some improt duties, taxes) … because India’s prices are 3x times lower, roughly??

  41. mxs says:

    @ Tim
    To compare a RC390 you would be better using a Honda 500
    which is about 90lbs or 40+kg more in weight & 3hp more than the 390

    It’s more complicated than just power weight ratio … Honda would handle like a pig compared to KTM. It also depends where exactly is it heavier. Down low in the center would not mean much …

  42. Ben says:

    All I know is I have cash in hand ready to walk down to the dealership to swoop one of these up the moment they arrive. Actually that cash is burning a hole in my pocket right now so if KTM takes too long, it might go away to another toy. Jussst saying.

  43. kostritzer says:

    Well, I went to the IMS show in Long Beach today. Asked a KTM rep where the 390’s were, and he just smiled and said, “you know, you’re the first person to ask me that this weekend!” He was kidding of course, but he did say “next year”.

    He said that the bikes that are being sold in Europe have go through QC in Austria after being shipped from the factory in India. So basically they have to figure out a way to bypass KTM Europe(to keep costs down) and have the bikes shipped directly from India to the US while making sure that quality is up to par.

    Seems like there’s a simple answer to that scenario, otherwise he was just blowing smoke up my ass…

  44. RD350 says:

    @kostritzer says : “next year”

    They had the bike at EICMA .. so why couldn’t they just ship it here? Too much of a hassle? What are these people thinking?

    Are they trying to break into the American market or not?

    Did they at least show the new SuperDuke?

  45. kostritzer says:

    @RD350

    Yeah, would have been easy enough to have one on display. The rep seemed very knowledgeable about the bike, and he did mention that KTM wants to have more of a presence in the street bike market. Seems like they’re taking baby steps to me.

    They did have a Superduke there, and it was very impressive in person. 16K buys a lot of tires, trackdays, and club races though!