KTM firmly places itself into the history books with its first ever superbike! It's orange, its fast and its right straight out of the crate. KTM really managed to impress both Jeremy McWilliams and myself. The 1148cc V-twin from Mattighofen takes on the world.
KTM showed us the very first concept version of the RC8 at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2003. The Austrians are aggressive in their marketing strategy and choosing Tokyo was a nice little intimidating stunt aimed at the Japanese big four. KTM wants to make a big statement with the RC8. It says in big orange letters that if we can beat you at offroad we can beat you on the road too.
The RC8 started out as a 999cc V-Twin, and then it became a 990cc V4. KTM then scrapped everything done before and developed a brand new V75 1148cc twin from scratch in 30 months. In the last two years KTM lobbied with Ducati to get the current World Superbike regulation changes through to allow the 1200cc super twins to compete.
The real competition right now is first and foremost the Ducati 1098. The RC8 1190 is aimed directly at the 1098S at a lower price than the standard 1098. As a matter of fact, Mattighofen engineers have aimed very precisely and the RC8 1190 makes exactly the same rear wheel horsepower as the 1098S. A source also told me exclusively that KTM has purchased not one, but two brand new Ducati 1098R's for study (this is not unusual as every manufacturer studies its competition). But in the corridors lurk both a BMW and an Aprilia 4-cylinder superbike too. World Superbike racing will be extremely interesting in 2009.
More: 2008 KTM RC8 1190 Review