Sunday, June 28, 2009

2008 KTM 1190 RC8 First Look

2008 KTM 1190 RC8
KTM announces the dawn of a new era, making the official Superbike plunge with the 1190 RC8.
The 65th EICMA show in Milan keeps cranking out the surprises, with Austrian manufacturer KTM introducing its first-ever Superbike design - the 1190 RC8.

Yet the KTM RC8 debut isn't too shocking, as the "Made in Austria" Superbike has been a long time coming. First breaking cover at the 2005 shows, the then-concept machine was powered by the Super Duke 999cc Twin. Promised for eventual production, the project morphed into the 1190cc version unveiled this week at Milan.

Explaining the development of his company's first Superbike design at its Milan debut, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer said: "The RC8 is the perfect embodiment of the collective know-how and the sporting passion of our development teams. In addition, they have proven that KTM is capable of pushing through its own model strategy and in doing so, being absolutely true to our clear brand philosophy, also on the road."

Based off the LC8 Twin powering the Super Duke, the RC8 motor is punched out to, we assume, 1190cc displacement. Power claims for the new V-Twin are 155 horsepower and 88.5 lb-ft torque. If our past experience with the LC8 platform is any indication, the RC8 will benefit from a bounty of torque and magnificent mid-range - characteristics which figure to only be enhanced by the extra 190cc.

Dispensing with the raucous leftovers from the new V-Twin is an under-engine exhaust, positioning we've seen before on Erik Buell creations. The underslung design helping to keep a low center of gravity.

2008 KTM 1190 RC8
With its entry into the Superbike class, the 1190 RC8 is an exciting option with a style all its own.
The chassis is made up of a tubular steel frame mated to what appears to be a standard-fare aluminum swingarm. KTM continues use of WP suspension, with a non-traditional rear linkage located at the top of the swingarm. The WP components are complimented by radial-mount Brembo brakes, both of which the Austrian firm utilizes on its other high-performance streetbikes. The total design adds up to a claimed tank-full weight of 440 lbs.

Images of the new Superbike entry indicate a stock steering damper, as well as a pivot in the subframe to adjust seat height. In this regard, the Austrians have taken an adjustability cue from their Northern Italian neighbors, Ducati, which offers seat adjustment forward and back. It is a feature which signifies the RC8's intentions to accommodate a wide array of riders on the street.

But is this orange tiger a purpose-built streetbike or full-blown racing platform?

Given KTM's history of competitive racing, it seems a safe bet that the RC8 will be contesting championships in the near future. A fact backed up at the Milan Show by the RC8 on display being in full Red Bull racing livery trim. But don't expect the new KTM to jump right into the deep World Superbike end of the racing pool right away. When we chatted with KTM reps at the Super Duke press intro last year, they hinted the RC8 would skip SBK right out of the gate and get its toes wet in some European national series first. (One possible arena where we could see the KTM here in the States is the MOTO-ST series.)

2008 KTM 1190 RC8
Either the new KTM superbike has a adjustable pivot to alter the seat height and subframe, or we had too much to drink last night.
Our conversations with the orange folk also gave us an insight into KTM's styling intentions with the RC8. At the Duke intro reps showed us blacked out silhouette shots of the future RC8 next to its Japanese superbike competition. It was clear then that KTM designers wanted a machine uniquely identifiable by its profile alone and they have delivered. From its spacious undertail rear to the sharp bodywork up front, there's no mistaking this KTM for any of its literbike competitors.

Also, although no MSRP is listed in KTM PR, we were assured by our Austrian friends that they want the RC8 to be affordable for the general public. Whether Austrian notions of affordability conform to those of your regular Yankee remains to be seen.

The 1190 RC8 will be offered in KTM's trademark orange and black scheme, as well as a white and black version. According to KTM PR the new model will be available March 2008, "just in time for the start of the new motorcycle season."

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