KTM’s early forays into the street-focused motorcycle market looked much the same as the company’s current lineup. There was less horsepower being thrown about, and way, wayyyy less electronic gadgetry, but overall, you got big-bore adventure bikes and mid-displacement dual sports and supermotos, along with the naked Duke lineup. It made sense, as it was a logical progression from the company’s expertise in the off-road segment.
And then, around 2005, rumours started circulating of a new superbike project from KTM, mixing the company’s existing engine technology with a hot new roadracing chassis. By 2008, the machine, known as the RC8, was on the market, with the Super Duke’s 999 cc V-twin punched out to 1148 cc. And in 2009, displacement was once again bumped, this time to 1148 cc, like the machine for sale here. Supposedly, that was good for 155 hp at 10,000 rpm and 88.5 lb-ft of torque at 8,000 rpm.
So what else did you get for your money in 2009 ($20,898 MSRP in Canada)? The bike had a chrome-moly trellis frame, with aluminum subframe and swingarm. The rear monoshock and 43 mm USD forks were fully-adjustable WP units, and the front brakes saw radially-mounted four-piston calipers mated to 320 mm discs (only a 220 mm disc in back). Both front and rear brakes were from Brembo, and as CMG’s 2009 tests recalls, they were very powerful stoppers.
Overall, that was the theme of this bike: like KTM’s adventure bikes and dual sports, it supposedly came “Ready to Race.” Never mind the clunky transmission that motojournos complained about, never mind you could buy a couple of GSX-R750s for the same money, never mind the super-slick seat that saw you mashing your ‘nads into the tank under hard braking (if you were so equipped): this bike screamed “fast” just looking at it, and it was able to back up that talk with a comfortable, aggressive ride on both street and track. Like all KTM’s bikes, it was made for adult-sized riders, not the smaller Spanish racers the other OEMs seem to cater to, and that alone made it a very desirable machine.
Alas, the fun was short-lived. In the days following the 2008 financial crisis, riders just weren’t ready to spend a year’s mortgage payments on a fast orange toy, and the RC8 was increasingly forgotten until it was canceled in 2015. The high initial price tag and the low number of North American purchases mean this machine really is a rarity on the streets or track, which makes this used machine from Ontario all the more attractive. Not that it needs the help, because as the ad points out, it truly is a beautiful, futuristic machine.
This particular machine has just under 11,000 km, the seller says, and is mostly stock except for Akrapovic exhaust, a fender eliminator kit and removal of the pillion seat and pegs (that stuff is included, though). There’s also a bit of plastic damage noted, when the lower fairing melted on the exhaust; the seller says this damage is covered by a sticker. Otherwise, the ad says the bike is in “fantastic shape,” and says “Absolutely no test pilots. NO TRADES!.” Bummer, because we thought we might head over there with Mark’s old DR600 in a truck, and if we liked the KTM after the test ride, we’d offer a straight-up swap …
Is the machine worth the $10,000 asking price? Hard to say, but it’s about half what it cost new, and these bikes are just going to get harder and harder to find. You can get a lot of bike for $10k new these days, with traction control and all other sorts of onboard gadgetry, but with KTM’s leadership saying the company’s future superbikes will be track-only designs, this could be a rare chance to get your hands on a street-legal Austrian sportbike.
And it’s a fun ride; in our original review of the bike, Neil Johnson said
“I thought I’d boxed this guy up and shoved him away into a corner of my mind. I thought I’d moved on to more sensible things like adventure and touring, replacing this raving self with a better person, a responsible rider who takes the high road and chooses his moments. Then KTM comes along and hands me this RC8 sledgehammer. Wham! The crate is shattered and here I am ratting across town and running highways in an id-enhanced rage.”
If that turns your crank, head over to the autoTRADER ad for more details, more photos, and a chance to contact the seller.