KTM 2022 RC 125 – The Best Just Got BetterArmani Moffatt
There are doubtless many out there who still bemoan the passing of small capacity two-stroke motorcycles. Yes, it’s true that with most things from our past they are in reality a skewed and somewhat glamourised version of moments, experiences, feelings – I remember when all this were fields, et cetera. But physics don’t have a habit of changing like memories do, and one thing that cannot be denied is that a ring-a-ding 125 is more powerful, and therefore faster, than a four-stroke option of the same capacity.
Those little 125 ripper strokers from back in the day were often good for touching or just over 100mph, some a fair bit more with some liberal fiddling and gearing swaps. But those days are over and sightings of the last bike standing for road racer honours, Aprilia’s RS125, are sadly few and fleeting. Little 125cc four-strokes? That’s what we see these days, and we can be thankful there are still budding bikers out there buying them even if they are mostly a shadow of what one used to be able to have.
At least for the most part, because although the first few years of four-stroke 125s were dull and a tad risible to say the least, the more modern ones have gotten their acts together. In sporting parlance, none more so than KTM and their nipper RC line. Just like their larger 390 sibling, the wee one has had a thorough overhaul for 2022.
It shares the same lighter frame and new featherweight wheels, knocking nigh on a hefty 5kg between them alone, never mind the other savings clipped hither and thither like a 1kg lighter ByBre brake caliper. Less weight on something this small is crucial to making the most of what the engine format can produce.
Where KTM comes up trumps over other single-cylinder engines of this ilk, is their magical way of maintaining something of a worthy top-end without sacrificing any of the low-down punch a single cylinder is capable of delivering. Just look how their 390 is competitive against larger, multi-cylinder opposition in Supersport300 classes, when it really shouldn’t be – it’s witchcraft!
The 2022 lump (including software and mapping) has been refined and modded to ensure performance sapping Euro5 regulations can go do one, including a new airbox, which helps it generate more torque than the previous version – nice. It doesn’t enjoy any of the electronic upgrades the 390 was graced with, bar ABS, but then it has zero need for them with just 15 ponies on the leash.
A larger fairing and new screen aids in allowing the bike slip through the oncoming air easier while also doing its part to improve fuel economy on longer runs and bringing the overall visage bang up to date. The TFT equipped cockpit is new, as are the general riding ergonomics, and it appears the 125 will enjoy an upgrade to the 43mm front fork with revised settings, and likewise with the APEX rear shock.
It’s a pretty darn good upgrade all round, really, and it’s great to see KTM (among others) taking this class seriously. They are trying their hardest to make this a proper little sports category in its own right, with bikes that deserve the Supersport look they’re given as much as is possible. For a long time sports 125 four-strokes were lame, uber slow, uninspiring and hard to recommend. No longer, and KTM lead the way with the 2022 RC 125, so say we all…
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