Austria’s big motorcycle company, KTM, has been trying to break into the literbike class for a couple of years now with the RC8, a bike that’s a bit of a departure for a company mainly known for its off-road products. Sadly, though, the KTM, with its unusually geometric styling, has been a hard sell. Not for the styling so much–although it takes a bit of getting used to–but for the rather iffy performance of the bike itself.
On paper, it looks like an equal contender to the V-Twin Aprilias and Ducatis. On the track, though, it’s been a bit disappointing. Iffy and snatchy throttling, and overly stiff suspension have amounted to a bike that one wants to love as a top-flight literbike…but can’t. Especially for the rather premium price that comes with the KTM logo.
For 2011, KTM says they’ve made a host of minor changes that completely transform the character of the bike. Is that true? Well, Motorcycle-USA’s Adam Waheed and Steve Atlas took one of the new RC8s to the track to see.
Their judgement is that a new crankshaft and flywheel, remapped throttling, dual spark plugs, new slipper clutch, and a suspension overhaul have radically improved the RC8.
What remains to be seen–and hopefully we’ll see it soon–is a head-to-head comparo of the RC8 with its superbike brethren.
One thing to note about the RC* is the placement of the exhaust, which is slung directly under the bike at the centerline, the same as the BMW S1000RR. Or as practically every Buell motorcycle, where that configuration appeared first.
I’m just saying.
KTM will be unveiling a new version of the 990 at EICMA next week. Although, since an official image got leaked today to Bikes in the Fast Lane, I guess it won’t be so much unveiled as confirmed.
This new version is known as the “Dakar”. See? it even says it on the tail, along with a catchy graphic of a fellow wearing a burnoose as protection from the burning desert sands.
It is also mind-numbingly–almost gloriously–ugly. The bodywork is a steel blue that is made hideously unflattering by the orange highlights of the frame, crash bars, and rear-views. from the front, it looks like some sort of monstrous, child-eating robot. I’m sure uglier bikes have been spotted for the 2011 model year, but not by reliable obeservers.
We also know nothing about the bike that can’t be seen in the photo. No specs, performance numbers, or anything else.
Just this threatening lump of blue and orange.
Usually, I am a lover of all types of motorcycles, and I usually like the angular nature of KTM’s design motif, but this thing just frightens me. I can’t imagine having it in my garage. I’d be afraid that late one night, I’d hear it repeating over and over, “I am Nomad. Sterilize.”
KTM’s releases at the INTERMOT show in Germany come in two flavors, neither of which will be seen tooling around American streets any time soon.
2011 KTM Duke 125
Designed with entry-level riders in mind, especially with Europe’s rigorous graduated-license scheme, the long-awaited–and long-seen–Duke 125 got its official unveiling today. The Baby Duke has a four-stroke, liquid-cooled, 4-valve, DOHC, single-cylinder engine. It weighs in at a featherweight 282 pounds wet, with an output of 15Hp and 8.9 ft-lbs of torque–both at fairly high RPMs. Alas, this model is meant for European riders only, so it won’t show up on this side of the pond.
2011 KTM 1190 RC8R Track
Not street-legal anywhere, any way, this track-only version of the RC8 boast nothing in the way of street-legal devices. It comes ready to race at the your local track day. You’ll just need a trailer to get it there. And, considering the money you’ll save by not having to convert a street bike for track use, you’ll probably be able to afford the trailer. Or, rather, you would, if only the track-only version of the bike didn’t cost more than the street version.
For the 2010 model year, KTM announced a while ago that they would undertake a “strategic price realignment” to make their bikes more competitive in the US marketplace. That’s probably a wise move, considering that KTMs, while nice bikes, have always been very pricey. But the announcement didn’t give us much of an idea of what “strategic price realignment” meant to the Austrians. Now we know.
First up is theKTM RC8, the base-model superbike with the 1190cc V-Twin engine. The price for this bike has been slashed by $3,000, with a new MSRP of $16,498.
The RC8′s 1148cc V-Twin mill pumps out 155HP at 10,000RPM and 88.5 lb-ft of torque at 8,000RPM. Without fuel, the ready-to-race weight is 405 lbs.
But, maybe you’re one of those lusty, gusty fellows who needs a bit more power. If so, the RC8 R, with it’s 170HP , 1195cc V-Twin, and upgraded components, has also been priced significantly lower, at 19,998. They’ve got red Bull and Akraprovic special edition models, at slightly north of $23k, but the R model is now superbike ready, at a bit less of a superbike price.
All of the other KTM models, including the popular–but agonizingly ugly–990 Adventure also see similar price cuts.
Aaaaaugh! My eyes! My eyes! The pain!
I’m sure uglier motorcycles have been seen out on the road. But not by reliable observers.
I hear it’s quite popular among the well-to-do adventure biker set, though.
The North American Division of Austria’s KTM Motorcycles has announced they are forming a new Streetbike division. Obviously, this is an indication that KTM is planning to enlarge their current dirt-heavy offerings with an expanded offering of on-road machines.
KTM is expected to unveil a new streetbike at the EICMA show in Milan Italy. It will be a completely new bike, not an update of an existing model.