KTM reveal prototype 990RC R sports bike and confirm road going production version for 2025

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KTM are back in the road-going sports bike game, confirming a long anticipated parallel twin middleweight 990RC R is in the works for the 2025 riding season.  

Although seen here in a pre-production guise, it comes after years of hints, drip fed information, and spy photographs. In fact, it’s been so long in the making that some began to doubt it would ever arrive at all!

Dressed in a set of battleship-style black and white fairings complete with winglets and a MotoGP-inspired tail, the Austrian firm have stated that the finished bikes will be powered by a Euro5+ compliant version of their LC8c parallel twin – likely a tweaked version of the motor that can also be found in the existing 990 Duke naked.

KTM 990RC R prototype front end

There will also be both a standard and ‘Track’ level of trim, with a prototype race bike due to make non-point scoring wildcard entries in a number of supersport championships across Europe.

Much like the bike seen in these photos, the Track version will do away with the road going essentials, and feature performance parts such as a full racing exhaust system. This version is set to be ready for the second quarter of 2025.

Unlike conventional supersport bikes, KTM say the RC R has been designed for “the practical demands of the road” and is said to have less weight on your wrists. You also get adjustable foot pegs, and the clip-ons remain mounted below the top yoke, meaning it’ll still be plenty focused.

Cornering on the KTM 990RC R prototype

Although only limited details are currently available, KTM have confirmed it’s producing a claimed 126.2bhp and 76lb.ft of torque – around six horses up on the naked Duke alternative, with the capacity likely to remain the same 947cc.

That twin cylinder motor is said to tip the scales at just 57kg, with the gear lever reversable for race shift as standard. This is housed in a steel frame said to be designed with performance in mind, with a heavier weight balance towards the front end.

Although largely concealed by the track focused bodywork, it’s likely to be a trellis design similar to the 990 Duke, and features a 25-degree steering head angle and increased stiffness for cornering forces at high speed. A diecast aluminum subframe bolts on at the rear, with a blacked-out swingarm leaving room for the low-slung right-side exhaust to exit from the bike.

Side view of the KTM 990RC R prototype

The 990RC R marks the firm’s first return to the road legal sports bike genre since the striking RC8 V-twin, which was first introduced in 2008 and disappeared from showrooms in 2016. Since then, KTM have produced only naked large capacity sports offerings, plus an exclusive track-only RC 8C built in collaboration with German firm, Krämer Motorcycles.

It joins a resurgent supersport class, which also includes a mixture of traditional four-cylinder 600s such as the returning Honda CBR600RR and Kawasaki ZX-6R, as well as the larger capacity Ducati Panigale V2 and 798cc MV Agusta F3 family. A three-cylinder Yamaha R9, based around the MT-09 naked is also hoped to join the party next year.

As for the KTM though, we’ve been expecting the arrival of the 990 since the introduction of this year’s limited edition RC 8C, thanks to a press release back in March that stated owners would be eligible to attend a special track event in Portimao, Portugal where: “KTM will be unveiling something super-special as a world-exclusive preview of what is to come from the brand for the future.”

Tucked in on the KTM 990RC R prototype

Now it’s finally here, the orange brand have confirmed the 990s will begin rolling off the production line in Mattighofen, Austria in early 2025 dressed in fully adjustable WP Apex open cartridge suspension, leading down to five spoke cast aluminium wheels wrapped in Michelin tyres.

Brembo calipers feature at both ends too – no doubt fitted with lean sensitive cornering ABS, as is the way with the existing 990 Duke. Exactly what rubber this will be remains to be seen, with the prototype seen here wearing slicks.