It is a great time to be a motorcycle enthusiast in India. Especially if you love the world of sports motorcycling. The purist in me will say that it all began with the Yamaha RD 350 and RX100. But the masses got a chance to access it first with the Yamaha R15 back in 2008. KTM further added a steppingstone with the Duke and RC family. However, unlike Europe, India missed out on a beginner performance motorcycle for first-time riders. The Austrians decided to plug the gap, first with the Duke 125 and now the KTM RC 125.
KTM India has launched the RC125, a direct competitor to the Yamaha R15 v3.0. But can the premium positioning of the KTM RC 125 justify a tug of war against the Japanese model? Here’s a comparo to tell you more:
Design – the best looking 125 cc motorcycle
The KTM RC 125 follows the design language of the rest of the pack. In fact, if you change the colours and stickering, you can easily mistake it for the RC 200. Just like the naked Duke 125, the RC 125 sports an underseat exhaust. With the stricter BS-VI emission norms just around the corner, it will be commendable if KTM manages to still have such a compact exhaust unit. Or will the company change to a side-mounted canister next year? Well, that remains to be seen.
If you manage to overlook the monotony in styling, the bike will be a welcome relief to your eyes if you consider the other ‘shining and glamorous’ 125 cc motorcycles on sale in India. The KTM RC 125 is the only fully faired motorcycle in its segment and looks ready to hit the race track. The seating position is track ready and the bike is a perfect platform for beginners to learn track riding on. The rear set foot pegs and low handlebar will leave your back hurting after a long commute. The silhouette of the bike pays rich tribute to KTM’s MotoGP bike RC 16. How many machines do you know at less than 1.5 lacs that can boast this?
In comparison, Yamaha R15 v3.0, even though a fully faired sports motorcycle, is slightly more road biased. The riding position is less demanding than the RC 125. The pillion, as well as the rider’s seat, is significantly more comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, the R15 v3.0 is not a tame bike and you will love to ride it every day. Even on race tracks!
KTM is introducing a new black and orange livery for the RC125. The European colour option with white and orange is also on offer. The trellis frame is coloured in black but the alloy wheels are orange. The Yamaha R15 v3.0 is offered in 3 colour options, grey, blue and black, the last of which is a personal favourite.
No matter which bike you choose, both pack a strong recall. While the Yammy will make the heads turn in admiration, the RC 125 will see people return slight bewilderment.
Engine: KTM RC 125’s engine – boon or bane?
The KTM RC 125 is powered by the same powerplant as the KTM Duke 125. The 124.7 cc liquid-cooled, the 4-valve mill is a DOHC unit, unlike the Yamaha model's engine. This engine, however, produces 14.5 PS of max power at 9,250 rpm and 12 Nm of peak torque at 8,000 rpm. The can followers get carbon coating for increased reliability even at high engine speeds. The gearbox is a 6-speed unit. The engine will be a hoot on high engine revs but the same cannot be said for the low engine speeds.
Yamaha’s baby track tool for India, the R15 v3.0, sports a 155 cc liquid-cooled mill has a single overhead cam unit that produces 19.3 PS of max power at 10,000 rpm and 14.7 Nm of peak torque at 8,500 rpm. While both the KTM and Yamaha engines are high revving units, the latter boasts Variable Valve Actutation (VVA). This helps the R15 return ideal amounts of power even at low engine speeds. Yamaha gets an upper hand on KTM on this. Also, the higher maximum power output will translate to a higher top speed in the Yammy.
That’s not all. The Yamaha R15 v3.0 has another advantage up its sleeves. It has an assist and slipper clutch which reduces the clutch load and provides stress-free downshifts while braking. This feature will be a boon when you are at the track, testing your mettle.
Cycle Parts: the most loaded 125 cc motorcycle vs the most potent 150 cc offering in the country
Now let me get this straight first. The KTM RC 125 is not your average 125 cc motorcycle. It gets top-level parts which it shares with the rest of the RC line-up. And hence, comparing it with the Yamaha R15 v3.0 is like pitting apples against oranges. The suspension duties on the RC 125 are administered by 43 mm WP upside-down front forks and a 10-step adjustable monoshock.
The Indian version of R15 v3.0 is suspended on right side down 41 mm front forks front and a monoshock at the rear. If we talk braking, The Yammy gets a 282 mm disc up front with an axially-mounted calliper and a 220 mm rear disc brake, both governed by ABS. The KTM RC 125 is a clear winner here with a 300 mm disc doing duties in the front wheel with a radially-mounted calliper and a 230 mm rear disc brake. However, it features a single channel ABS.
Both the motorcycles have an aluminium swingarm keeping the weight under check and keeping the perfect rigidity balance. The difference, though, is the frame. KTM has given a trellis frame to the RC 125, just as the rest of the range available in India. Yamaha has retained a deltabox frame as seen in the older generations of the bike.
The KTM RC125 is a heavy machine and while the wet weight has not been revealed by the company, the dry weight of 154.2 kg gives us a good idea. Yamaha has been far more conservative on this front and managed to keep the weight under check at 142kg! Trust the Japanese to keep their motorcycles light.
Price: Where things get complicated for KTM RC 125
The KTM RC 125 is the most premium 125 cc motorcycle available in India now. The bike has an introductory sticker price of INR 1.47 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). That’s a lot of money for a 125 cc bike. However, if you consider the premium cycle parts, KTM branding and supersport looks, it makes sense. Wait, isn’t that what we have been saying about the Yamaha R15 all these years?
Yamaha has priced the R15 v3.0 at INR 1.39 lakh and INR 1.41 lakh depending on the colour selected (both ex-showroom, Delhi). That’s an incredible value for money if you want a motorcycle which doubles up as a city commuter as well as a track tool.