KTM RC8 (2008 - 2010) Review


  • KTM's only attempt at a superbike
  • 150bhp V-twin engine
  • Only made for two years so relatively rare

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.1 out of 5 (4.1/5)
Annual servicing cost: £400
Power: 152 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.7 in / 805 mm)
Weight: Medium (438 lbs / 198 kg)


New N/A
Used £6,800 - £7,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The RC8 was KTM's first and only go at building a superbike having made their reputation and prowess making excellent off roaders and supermoto-style roadsters. The European superbike scene at the time was being propped up by the Italians with Aprilia and Ducati the only firms answering to Japanese dominance.

The KTM RC8 was the revelation of 2008, despite it being teased by KTM for the previous four years. Perhaps we should’ve given KTM more credit at the time because all their machines (on and off-road) to date are superb. Little did we know at the time that BMW would join the party with their own litre-bike debut, the S1000RR.

Nonetheless the RC8 is simply stunning and for all the right reasons. Its engine is powerful and usable; handling shames the Japanese and Italian superbikes; looks totally different to the norm but is, oh so appealing.

Watch: MCN's Trevor Franklin from the KTM RC8 launch here

Sadly, the RC8 only survived for two years before being dropped from the range. And if you're waiting for the Austrian brand to release a new superbike using the latest 1290 V-twin from the Super Duke R super naked, you're going to be disappointed. CEO of KTM's parent company, Stefan Pierer, has made it clear that he has no interest in making race reps for the road.

If you'd like a KTM with clip-ons and a fairing, you'll have to get yourself on the list for a track-only RC8C or wait for the rumoured RC990 middleweight sportsbike to arrive.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

A high point of the KTM RC8 is the clever use of WP suspension (owned by KTM) at the front and rear. Four years of development with the RC8 project has lead to comfortable suspension for the road, and race-like action with just a few simple tweaks on the easy-to-reach adjusters.

The RC8 steers like a whippet on a sugar rush but this quick steering doesn’t translate into instability, far from it. The RC8’s premier level of handling will flatter any riding style and was only one of two bikes available at the time capable of allowing people to ride properly fast so very easily.

KTM RC8 review action


Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

KTM claims 150bhp from its own designed and built V-twin engine. That said, whatever the final figure delivered at the rear wheel is, it’s ample for 99% of riders (even in an age of 200bhp+ monsters).

The torque curve is flat and juicy with power at the top end of the rev scale. There also weren’t any signs of erratic fuelling on the bikes MCN rode either and no sign of missed gears – although some launch bikes were reported as suffering from both faults. In fact, MCN’s first ride on the RC8 rated the engine as one of the best V-twins on the market at the time.

KTM RC8 engine

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Every component part, be it plastic, metal or other, fits so perfectly and looks to have been made by redundant Swiss watch makers. Reliability shouldn’t be an issue as the motor is based on the previously successful 990cc LC8 engine powering the Super Duke and Supermoto models.

Despite the visible stunning built-quality, internally the bike does have some gremlins, with owners revealing issues with false neutrals, oil leaks, flaky paint and replacement cams and valves. That said, when it's running right they appear to love 'em!

KTM RC8 front brake

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The KTM drops a point here because the £10,695 asking price meant it sat squarely between the Japanese 4-cylinder superbikes and Ducati’s 1098 exotica. If KTM had pitched the price closer to the Japanese, its proposed R version of the RC8 would be cheaper and, arguably, steal some of Ducati’s 1098S and 1098R sales.

The comparative rarity of the RC8 has held residual prices high, though, and you'd be unlikely to lose much on a low-mileage used example.


5 out of 5 (5/5)

The RC8 is shod with ultra-modern WP Suspension, complete with adjustable footpegs and handlebar controls. It's also easy to access the rear ride height adjuster, too.

Up front, there is a MotoGP-inspired dash that can be toggled between road and track applications and works via a bar-mounted control unit. The rear subframe is also adjustable for height and the detailing goes on.

KTM RC8 knee down cornering


Engine size 1148cc
Engine type 8v 75° liquid-cooled V-twin, 6 gears, fuel injected
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 16.5 litres
Seat height 805mm
Bike weight 198kg
Front suspension Preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Preload, compression (high and low speed) and rebound damping
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs, 4-piston radially-mounted Brembo Monobloc calipers
Rear brake 1 x 220mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 190/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 45 mpg
Annual road tax £111
Annual service cost £400
New price -
Used price £6,800 - £7,000
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 152 bhp
Max torque 88.5 ft-lb
Top speed 178 mph
1/4 mile acceleration 10.27 secs
Tank range 145 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2008: The KTM RC8 superbike is launched. It is the Austrian firm's first venture into the superbike class and it impresses. Despite lasting just two years of production, the bike is still very sought after, with used prices remaining high.
  • 2010: Bike goes off sale.

Owners' reviews for the KTM RC8 (2008 - 2010)

8 owners have reviewed their KTM RC8 (2008 - 2010) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KTM RC8 (2008 - 2010)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 (4.4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Engine: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.1 out of 5 (4.1/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £400
5 out of 5 KTM RC8 2008
21 November 2016 by Fluffy

Year: 2008

Annual servicing cost: £400

Considering it's age and what it was when released right up there. Top performer. Modern handler even to this day. Plenty of torque even when compared to R model. On the road still up there with newer models. Funky and completely unique looks. Clunky gearbox but only when putting it into first. Can false neutral, water pump seals fail. Bought this crash damaged. Parts are same cost as Japanese. Re wired by monkey, now fixed. Has Power Commander and secondary butterflies removed, runs smooth at low speeds. Akra evo exhaust and R model cams. Smooth and strong motor, gives heaps of torque at low to mid speeds. Flats a bit at the top (its a twin) but then you are doing 250 kms!. Utterly unique looks, no electronic aids and smooth torquey motor. Can be set up comfy or race mode, a great bike. Will be a classic if not already.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Fully adjustable rider position. Go from race to comfy.

Engine 5 out of 5

Smooth with fantastic low and mid range torque. Bad low speed jitters at about 50 kms. Fixed by removing secondary butterflies. Now smooth.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Just the water pump seal. Cams are R model but look good after 27000 km.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

That's 400 NZ dollars.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Big tail unit no storage? Akrapovic exhaust is a riot!

5 out of 5 fun
08 November 2011 by petedj

Gearbox mod sorts that out.. no neutrals, clutchless changes no problem. Fueling sorted with Akrapovic and latest mapping + throttle cam mod. Handling superb once set up. 100% reliable, no leaks. Only gripes, could use.. a few litres more fuel capacity, gear indicator, orange not my favourite colour. Very trick motorcycle, good quality components, lot of fun, recommended

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
2 out of 5 genious comes at a huge cost!
20 July 2009 by alvarez

without exception my RC8 is the best handling bike have ever ridden!!! It is such a shame it is constantly leaking oil or coolant or being called in for repairs (inc for some new pistons and cams!!) for mine i've had poor paintwork discolered and peeling, gearbox bodges, engine oil seal leaks, coolent seal leaks, the list goes on and on and on...... mine has had the oil leak repaired 3 times I took it out today and yet again the engine is bathed in a film of oil.... ho hum back we go again seems like half my RC8 ownership time has been spent riding dealer demo bikes not what I paid a hell of a lot of money for! (never thought i'd say this but maybe I should have bought a Ducati......god help me!) Even all the above is almost forgivable due to the exceptional handling but the final straw is the piss poor attitude of KTM UK they are truly the most arrogant bunch of idiots I have ever had the displeasure to deal with! seems once they have your money you no longer exist and they will do the absolute bare legal minimum they can get away with in ALL cases ....nice! If you buy one you need to be very lucky indeed hopefully you'll never have to deal with the importer and relive the Monty Python parrot sketch....if you don't have a charmed life get a Jap bike or a Ducati and spend the summer on the roads not hanging around the local KTM dealer with all the other poor RC8 owners taking turns riding crappy single thumpers....

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 2 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 1 out of 5
Value vs rivals 1 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5 KTM RC8
09 September 2008 by AdmBarnett

This has the potential to be a fantastic bike. A lot of reviews and test fault things like the gearbox or the fuelling at low revs. These can be an issue straight from the box, but this bike has so much that can be tailored to the individual, that an hour or two setting things up for yourself, will result in a sports bike that is second to none for handling, comfort, performance and overall enjoyment. I have never known a bike change so much over its first 1000 miles. After running it in, it has become a lot smoother, and seem to have loosened up considerably. A great bike, with plenty of quality kit as standard

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
4 out of 5 white finger
01 July 2008 by elvis_lives

so for the past few weeks been out test riding some bikes. i own an r1 07 with all of the trick stuff on and currently running rosso's. i do about 10k miles per year on the thing and generally ride hard..ish. the rc 8 is a great looking bike and with the apro can on sounds awsome. having just read some reviews here i though i would add a few of my own. vibration on the handlebars is extreme - do 10 hours on one of those and you can forget picking up your pint. brakes on or off - very sharp throttle ditto , low speed stuff in the towns is a mare and the fueling is diabolical.i understand the apro can and re-map which will set you back approx 1.8k fixes that but hey for 10/6k would have expected better pick up and throttle response. out on the open its good , great traction , good front end , rear a bit twitchy but then again i didnt play with the suspension so probably all rectifiable. bike is neutral and corners well and does nothing too surprising when gasing out of the bend. riding postion is good and both myself and cpt ashby thought the std screen and postion ok. false neutrals - ditto those mentioned by others , red line it and the limited doesnt half let you know you may have edged it a bit too far guv. i would like to see one of these after a year or two and check the build quality - even the demo bike was looking abit shabby after 4k miles. overall - is it worth 10k - yes i'd say so , would it do agressive long mileage - mmmnnn only time will tell. better than the 1098s by far in everything but not as rideable and positive as the R1 -07. saying that if they cut me deal i'll have one - and ride the spots off it for 12 months or so. if you like a bike with a bit of charracter and not the ususal kasayamahondiki then you have to have one.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5 White RC8
05 May 2008 by leepin99

I love this bike, i parted with an SP1 a year ago for a blade and never clicked with it. Bought the bike at the NEC on looks and v twin power alone and i havent looked back. Very comfy to ride distances on and goes like a bastard, which is whole point of having a v twin, punches out of corners and roundabouts like only they can. The mirrors are a bit crap and i look thru my arms not either side of them, but what you see is a bit of a blur, but if you ride fast enuf then there shudnt be anything beind you to worry about. Lovely in white and i think it will be the best bike i ever owned. Must adjust the rear brake as per one owner pointed out, its quite a stretch. Pricey but worth it bike, can do the lot very well..

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 Stunning Bike
16 April 2008 by DBMB

Due to the range of adjustability,the gear change needs setting to the correct position to avoid false neutrals. Once done,this is an utterly stunning bike.The handling is out of this world.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5 Fixer's RC8
10 April 2008 by Fixer

I picked my RC8 up on the 1st April and only had 3 days with it before I went to Scotland to see my grandson - in the car, because my wife and our dog needed transportation as well! So far the Ride and handling have proven to be superb. I was expecting a snarling beast that would try to rip my arms off when I opened the throttle and one that would cause the front wheel to lock at slow speed having read all the reviews about how good the brakes are. I needn't have worried though...the bike is quite docile under 7000rpm and pulls away cleanly. The brakes have enormous feel to them and you can use them at slow speeds in the wet without fear of locking the front up. At higher speeds they are phenominal, you would swear the tarmac is being ripped up! The quality is superb. All the fixings are good, the panels fit well and the bike feels well put together. Value....I was very happy with what I paid for it and, having owned a 950 Adventure before, I'm looking forward to my relationship with KTM and JD Racing continuing for severl more years. The engine is clattery as was my 950 Adv but when riding along it is not intrusive to the overall noise the vee-twin makes from it's underslung exhaust. The power is first class and coupled with the weight of the bike leads to very blurry scenery quite quickly! The second day I had it I went for a ride to Falmouth and got pulled over by a couple of Policemen in their Volvo estate. The driver jumped out as I was removing my helmet and was quick to say "It's Ok mate, you're not in trouble"! They just wanted to look at the bike as they were both bikers and mine was the first RC8 they'd seen! The only downside so far is the poxy Meta alarm which, although it's "plug and play", 'won't do what it says on the tin'. Still, it's not made by KTM so what did I expect? I love this bike, it's more comfotable than any other sports bike I tried and fulfills all my expectations and then some! Well done to KTM for having the guts to launch such a great bike!

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
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