World Superbikes : KTM 1090 RC8 R

Thursday, May 14, 2009
The newly developed 1190 RC8 R, as the motor sports-oriented variation of the 1190 RC8, the first ever KTM Superbike presented just 12 months ago, is the spearhead of the latest model generation and represents spectacular data, the most elegant fittings and design right down to the last detail. With 1195 cc displacement, an increased top performance of 165 hp as well as the enormous maximum torque of 123 nm, the ultramodern two-cylinder construction is best suited for sporting activities on closed racing circuits. An optional sport kit is available that lifts the engine performance to 180 hp to produce the most powerful KTM series model of all times.

High quality equipment like forged light alloy wheels and suspension components specially developed for motorsports use, compress the weight and sharpen the lap time potential
of the 1190 RC8 R. The Superbike, with the characteristic orange-coloured tubular steel frame, will be available from the spring of 2009 and therefore just in time for the new motor racing season.

Ride Impressions

The 2009 R-model RC8 has many changes over the 2009 RC8, including new pistons, an orange painted frame (instead of the older model’s black) and a super delicious black-white-orange colour scheme. In response to feedback from owners and journalists, KTM have paid a great deal of attention to fine-tuning the bike’s fuel injection system and making the six-speed gearbox slicker and smoother. A new oil cooler has also been added to optimise engine cooling in extreme conditions.

While the basic RC8 makes around 155bhp and 120Nm of torque, the R-model packs 170 horsepower at 10,250rpm and 123Nm of torque at 8,000rpm. The compression ratio has also been increased from 12.5:1 to 13.5:1. The light and strong chrome-molybdenum lattice frame remains as before, as does the aluminium swingarm.

The Brembo brakes on the RC8 R are just wonderful – we must thank KTM for choosing these brakes! The twin 320mm discs at front, with their radial-mount four-piston callipers are just wonderfully efficient, while the reworked gearbox smooth and precise – no more missed shifts, ever. The RC8 R’s engine isn’t exactly very smooth, but the vibes are almost charming – we like the engine’s character – and there is plenty of torque from low down in the rev range. We think KTM have done a good job of optimising the RC8’s fuel injection system and the bike now works much better, especially at lower revs.

Coming to the suspension, the RC8 R’s WP 43mm USD fork worked very well on the glassy-smooth surface of the Portimao circuit. The fork offers multi-adjustable compression and rebound damping, so most riders should be able to find a setting that works for them. The KTM's fully adjustable rear shock also offers ride height adjustment, which, again, is a good thing.

The RC8 R has a spacious riding position and its adjustable foot and hand controls allow you to tweak the ergonomics to suit your requirements. You can also choose between ‘road’ and ‘race’ modes on the bike, with the instrument panel’s display changing accordingly. The digital panel’s contrast setting even changes automatically to adjust to the ambient brightness.

So, who exactly is the RC8 R meant for? We would say it’s primarily for those who would sacrifice comfort for a heavy dose of all-out performance. As you would expect, the bike’s ergonomics are more suited to the track rather than the street, but then you wouldn’t buy a KTM RC8 R to go touring
on anyway…

Make Model

KTM 1190 RC8R




Liquid cooling, four stroke, 75°V-twin cylinder, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder


Bore x Stroke105 x 69 mm
Compression Ratio12.5 :1


Electronic fuel injection

Ignition / Starting

- / electric

Max Power

121 kW @10250 rpm

Max Torque

123 Nm @ 8000 rpm

Transmission / Drive

6 Speed / chain

Front Suspension

43mm WP Upside down adjustable, 120mm travel

Rear Suspension

WP shock, fully adjustable, 125mm travel

Front Brakes

2x 320mm discs 4 piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 240mm disc

Front Tyre

120/70 ZR17

Rear Tyre

190/55 ZR17

805 mm / 825 mm


182 kg

Fuel Capacity

16.5 Litres

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