KTM sportsbike is ready to roll: Road-going 990 parallel twin race-rep caught on camera

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KTM are readying their biggest fully-faired sportsbike since the full-on RC8 V-twin left production in 2015.

Having dived head-first into the superbike market with the RC8 in 2008, the company have since entered – and won races – in every MotoGP class, transforming KTM’s image from a dirt bike manufacturer to an all-round bike brand.

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However, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer has been vocal in his belief that out-and-out superbikes are too fast for road use. The RC990 seen here, shows how KTM could appeal to sportsbike fans without returning to the extreme superbike market.

Back in July, KTM revealed the RC 8C, a track-only bike powered by the 890 Duke’s LC8c parallel twin, based on the Kramer GP2-R trackday bike that was developed by former KTM engineers. Even at £30,999, all 100 examples of the RC 8C sold out in just four minutes and 32 seconds.

This new bike shares styling with the RC 8C, but mechanically it takes its components from the next-generation parallel twin Duke, which is expected to be a ‘990’, with a slight capacity increase over the current model.

With its unusual 285-degree crank to mimic a 75-degree V-twin, the 890 Duke R manages 119bhp, so with the expected capacity increase the RC990 could hit 130bhp+.

There’s a brace of headlights but other than those, a licence plate hanger and the LED indicators, it looks every inch a racer – right down to carbon air intakes on the Brembo Stylema front brakes.

KTM RC990 sportsbike test mule on the road

WP Apex Pro forks at the front, with separate compression and rebound thumbwheels, are matched by a direct-action, remote reservoir shock and Apex Pro steering damper to further the sporty credentials.

The chassis – a tubular steel frame in KTM’s usual style – is noticeably different to the Kramer design. It’s closer to the 890 Duke’s frame, with thick tubes running over the engine rather than the RC 8C’s trellis.

The same design was seen earlier this year on development mules for the next generation Duke. The swingarm itself, also seen on Duke prototypes, has KTM’s signature external bracing but gains a ‘banana’ curve to the right side to clear the Akrapovic exhaust.

Like the RC 8C, the fuel tank is under the seat, but where the ultra-expensive track bike had a self-supporting tank that doubled as the subframe, the prototype road model uses a plastic tank with aluminium side plates forming a subframe.

KTM aren’t likely to launch the RC until the 2024 model year. Taking the 890 Duke R’s £10,649 as a pointer, we’d expect it to be around £12,000.

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Ben Purvis

By Ben Purvis