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Launch report: KTM RC8R

By Trevor Franklin -

First rides & tests

 07 February 2009 13:41

KTM's new RC8R is one of the best sports bikes on the planet, says MCN's Trevor Franklin who has just ridden the bike in Portugal.

The new bike is the long-awaited 'R' version of the already popular KTM RC8, but comes with bags of extra kit including a 2mm bigger bore, taking the capacity from 1148cc to 1195cc. The RC8R now makes a claimed 170bhp, putting it right in line with the Ducati 1198. The KTM also comes with lighter wheels, better suspension and a revised gearbox.

MCN’s chief road tester Trevor Franklin is at the launch of the KTM RC8R at the Portimao circuit in Portugal and these are his first impressions.

“The first two sessions in the morning were hampered by torrential rain. Riding the KTM RC8R at a reduced pace tells you two things – it’s got some explosive power from 6000rpm onwards and it still has that slight lag at 4000rpm where it’s all or nothing.

“KTM put this down to the race throttle been fitted, where power delivery is almost instant. The bike also comes with a road throttle whereby the throttle tube has a different cam profile to make throttle openings considerably smoother.

“The bike comes fitted with Marchesini forged wheels and these make the bike considerably more agile than its smaller brother the RC8 – and this is despite the bike having more trail to make it feel more secure through fast sweepers.

“Everything about this machine is geared towards the circuit, from the lightweight wheels to the WP suspension.

“On the first ride KTM have definitely cured the gearbox aggravations on the LC8 engine which blighted a few of the original RC8 models.

“In the wet the suspension feels too firm but as a dry line appears around the circuit where we can make more use of the explosive power the suspension is coming into its own.,

“Many other manufacturers claim their bike is race ready out of the crate, however the RC8R is definitely ready to race from the crate.”

We’ll update this later with more riding impression as the circuit dries. But as it is at the moment it’s two thumbs up for the RC8R.