2010 KTM RC8 R Road Test Review- KTM RC8 R First Rides

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2010 KTM RC8 R Road Test Review- KTM RC8 R First Rides

2010 KTM RC8 R – First Ride KTM launches the 2010 RC8 R superbike at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Photography by Kevin Wing

The wait is finally over: KTM is bringing the RC8 R to the U.S. I rode the new V-Twin Austrian superbike at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in early November. I spent one full session on the base RC8 early in the day to get a feel for the differences between the 2009 and ’10 models and also to get a better reference for the performance gains made available on the R.

Cycle World has had multiple opportunities to sample RC8s during the past two years. In “Superbike Bookends” (November, 2008), the KTM went head-to-head with a Suzuki GSX-R750. More recently, Road Test Editor Don Canet rode a European version of the RC8 R at the Oschersleben race circuit in Germany for “Supersport Days” (August, 2009).

To take full advantage of current World Superbike rules (should KTM decide to join that series), the R’s 75-degree V-Twin was bored 2mm for a displacement of 1195cc; bore and stroke now measure 105 x 69mm. New lightweight pistons and revised connecting rods are fitted, and the cylinder heads have been reworked and now feature 42mm titanium intake and 34mm steel exhaust valves. Compression is 13.5:1.

On the track, the increase in horsepower and torque was instantly noticeable.

Driving hard out of Laguna’s Turn 6 uphill toward the Corkscrew is where the added oomph was most noticeable. As Canet and I discovered back in 2008, the RC8 has a light throttle spring and requires a delicate touch. At Laguna, R-model fuel injection was spot-on, but, once again, the light throttle required smooth inputs to keep the bike composed, especially while cranked over at the apex of the corner.

KTM provides with the sale of each R more progressive throttle-body cams, but these were not fitted to the press bikes.

Significant revisions to the six-speed transmission on the both standard and R models have improved shift action considerably. Gear changes were slick and precise, and new, heavier clutch springs improved feel when downshifting.

Updates to the chassis provide better stability, the lack of which we complained about on the previous standard model. The 43mm inverted WP fork features firmer valving and rides in a CNC-machined triple-clamp with offset reduced from 34 to 28mm, thus increasing trail from 91 to 97mm. The shock uses a softer spring and revised damping settings for improved action.


A new link allows 12mm of ride-height adjustment.

Laguna has a few bumps but, for the most part, the surface is excellent. An at-the-apex dip in Turn 6 and g loading at the bottom of the Corkscrew were good tests for the suspension, but I never messed with the clickers all day. Spring rates, too, were ideal.

The R felt stable turning into corners and all the way through to the apexes.

Radial-mount Brembo Monobloc calipers squeeze 320mm discs that are .5mm thicker than those fitted to the RC8. Modulation and power are excellent without feeling like overkill. Forged aluminum Marchesini wheels reduce rotating unsprung mass by 2 pounds and improve high-speed handling.

Every aspect of the rider interface—handlebars, brake and clutch levers, footpegs and subframe—is adjustable to suit personal preference. An informative dash with a bright, programmable red shift light stares at the rider from the cockpit. Styling is a more consistent combination of finishes, improving the overall look of the bike.

KTM is restructuring its U.S. pricing. Hopefully, this will mean less-expensive motorcycles. That would be a good thing, because the RC8 R model is the most potent and refined KTM sportbike we’ve ridden to date.


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