All Tests – The new terror of the Superbike? – Used KTM

The new terror of Superbike ?

All Tests - The new terror of the Superbike? - Used KTM

It was during the RC8 Experience that KTM offered Site to test its RC8: a new motorcycle which is of paramount importance for the Austrian, since it is with it that it is investing the highly competitive hypersport segment. !

Firmly determined to enter the Superbike yard through the front door, KTM has sharpened its weapon for many years. Unveiled in 2003 at the Tokyo Motor Show and exhibited at the Munich Motor Show a few months later (read), the RC8 has admittedly since changed displacement – from 990 to 1190 cc, in accordance with the increase in displacement granted to the two-cylinder in Mondial Superbike – , but she wanted to keep her atypical aesthetic…

Conscientiously boned last November at the Milan Motor Show (read), this Katoche of a new kind should allow its manufacturer to mark the year 2008 "of a white stone"… What the Site was able to verify on the Carole circuit and in its surroundings, during an" RC8 Experience "day (see box below).

Author of a remarkable – although little noticed – dubbed in 1955 during the "Ruppert Hollaus Memorial Race"with its first" racing "125, the KTM factory took over the Intercontinental Circus (125 cc and 250 cc categories) in 2003 with great success and is now tackling the Mondial Superbike !

Koupe Sliced ​​Millimeter

Before getting on it, we therefore expect the RC8 to make no compromises. We can easily imagine that the Austrian pursues only one goal: pure performance, even if it means eradicating any notion of comfort concerning its pilot….

In appearance, the new KTM imposes some and one even wonders if this thin blade will not squarely tear us to pieces … Because the Kiska team in charge of the design has decided in the heart: chiseled optics – easily recognizable -, angular fairing, tank with sharp edges and rear part "billhook cut"…

Everything in the KTM is "Koupe Tranche", but also "Millimeter": the finish is excellent and allows to legitimize – in part – the high price of the beast: 16,250 euros. Or 1,100 euros less than the Ducati 1098 and 250 euros less than the Aprilia RSV Factory … but all the same around 2,250 euros more than the Japanese 4-cylinder and 3,550 euros more than the Buell 1125R (read).

From "tailor-made" !

However, by mounting the beast, all these apprehensions vanish. Of course, we are sitting on a sports bike – standard wooden saddle – but this Superbike reserves a rather warm welcome that can still be improved, because the RC8 offers plethora of settings….

The new buyer will start by adjusting the spacing of his levers – yes, both! -, its selector and its brake pedal. Then he can linger on the height of the half handlebars and that of the footrests..

"On demand"Upon purchase, he may even lower the rear loop of the frame, thus reducing the seat height from 825 to 805 mm. This operation is however achievable"at home in 5-6 minutes, just unscrew six screws (tank and buckle fasteners) but better to ask a second person to hold the buckle", explains one of the technical managers of KTM France..

Everything on the Katoche is therefore designed to make its pilot comfortable: we can even talk about comfort here! Nice surprise, therefore, and first good point for the RC8 … Second in fact, for those who have already been charmed by its look !

Then comes the moment to start the engine … Derived from the LC8 990, the RC8 (with an R for "Reecing") develops in its original version 155 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 120 Nm 2,000 rpm earlier. Values ​​that place it in the current canons of two-cylinder production.

To hear it, however, the Austrian engine does not rise to the level of Superbike singers. It explodes, turns, distributes, drives and hits more than it purrs, but at the first gas strokes the pot takes over and improves all that !

The clutch requires a good grip and by engaging the first report, the gearbox of the first RC8 ridden during our test scrapes violently. It only lasts a second … but a long second! Then we can finally set off on the new KTM. And in this case, for this very first run, it is on the "just dry" track of Carole that we tumble on the handlebars of our RC8.

Excellent cycle part

We quickly discover that the ergonomics of the RC8 are ideally supported by its WP (White Power) suspensions: 43 mm inverted front fork adjustable in preload, compression (slow and fast) and rebound, and rear mono-shock absorber adjustable in preload. , compression and relaxation.

Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tires heat up quickly – thank you for the unexpected thinning! – and the pace picks up. The two WP elements work together and give the RC8 excellent agility, stability and comfort.

Unfortunately, we simultaneously discover the character of the engine. And we will even say more: we simultaneously discover a motor … character! Thus, the V-Twin opened at 75 ° growls under 3000 rpm and asks to lick the clutch lever to circulate in the pit lane … or in town.

More surprising and annoying, the injection generates serious jolts and requires a great application of the right hand! The throttle control is very sensitive and in the first turns, the pilot struggles to keep his trajectories: the RC8 does not let itself be tamed that easily and its "racing animal" side quickly regains the upper hand. !

Once the injection faults have been erased by the pilot, the advantages of the cycle part still make it possible to gain a lot of ground! The front axle is agile – nervous limit in the descent of the pif-paf -, but the presence of the steering damper secures the whole.

The brakes on the other hand do not call for any negative criticism. Except that, among the most athletic pilots, to lack a bit of attack. Otherwise, the Brembo calipers powerfully clamp the two 320 mm discs and are more than enough to stop – clean or more gradually – the "200 kg all full"announced by the manufacturer.

"Characteristic" engine

The engine for its part pulls wildly and without downtime between 3000 and 7500 rpm. As the loops around Carole go by, we would ask for a lot more, but there is no point in climbing higher: the French version will not offer more than the 106 regulatory horses….


This spring, KTM France organized "five exclusive days to discover the character of the first KTM superbike in real driving conditions, both on the circuit (with advice from Christian Haquin) and on the road (with Gilles Salvador)", explains Jerôme Dalziani, marketing and communication manager of the French subsidiary..

"Organized in collaboration with our distributors in the region and the support of the factory (20 models to test in total), these RC8 Experience brought together more than 250 privileged testers", continues the manager.

In the end, according to him, the goal is achieved: "to meet the owners of sports and road, to try our novelty, to share our passion and to collect the first impressions, really positive of the rest !". The appointment is therefore made for 2009, provided that the plant follows !

Poor compensation: from 6,500 rpm, despite its two balance shafts, the engine distils unpleasant vibrations on the footrests and half-handlebars. We will therefore prefer – on the road especially – up the following gear. On fast track, this inconvenience should not happen since the RC8 exceeds 140 km / h "counter" from 5000 rev / min…

We note on this same occasion that in sixth, the RC8 only reluctantly accepts to resume below the 80 km / h mark. The crossings of the village will therefore be in 4th, or even 3rd, so as not to mistreat the mechanics, which does not deprive itself of tormenting the pilot. !

When we first made contact, the RC8’s gearbox did indeed take a bit of a beating from some of the participants in the driving days and left several of them skeptical (see our video). On our side, the gearbox of the first RC8 rode was particularly unpleasant: hard, it "gratified" us with a few false dead points and other gear jumps. !

During the second taxiing on the track, the box of the second RC8 was less rebellious, style "manly but correct": the reports passed better on the fly and no more jumps or dead points to report. The result of more careful application during gear changes ?

Not only, since the third and last RC8 benefited for its part from a quite pleasant, almost soft gearbox, which accepted to go up and back gears without touching the clutch, just by touching the selector! In the end, the box of the RC8 leaves skeptical and will require special attention from the factory….

"They have fully integrated this concern and they will work on it at the Mattighofen plant (where the RC8s are produced)", assures us Jerôme Delziani. Already the managers of the brand in France are signaling to their network that"the RC8 selector stroke can be reduced compared to the original setting, making it easier to lock gears"… To be continued !

and "the" boxes ?…

Satisfactory from the point of view of the gearbox, this last road trip also allowed us to note other small faults: the turning radius is limited, the rear suspension is a little drier than the fork on large clashes – to your tools! -, while the protection of the bubble is insufficient on the shoulders and the helmet … A real sportswoman in short !

On the other hand, the dashboard a priori "too complete (too much info kills the info)" offers exemplary readability of engine speed and speed: we quickly remembered the location of important data. Offering two modes – "track" and "road" -, it will satisfy all types of users.

Finally, as we suspected, the duo and long trips are not notions to be evoked in the presence of this new Superbike. On the other hand, we could spend a long time on that of "personalization", made possible thanks to the supplied catalog of KTM Powerparts. At Site, we will naturally note the edging of orange wheels, which offer a significant touch of elegance … for the modest sum of 25 euros.

Finally, to know if the RC8 will or not be "the new terror of Superbike", it will be necessary to wait a few more months: after having watched it in the French Superbike Championship in the hands of Philippe Donischal, it will have to be followed closely from 2009 in World Superbike !

One thing is certain, however: on the handlebars, at their own pace, the pilot will not be terrified, quite the contrary. Agile, comfortable both in posture and in suspension, it would gain in approval by adopting an injection and a softer box. See you for the next vintage … Stay connected !

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