2011 KTM RC8 R: design supremacy

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Last week, we exclusively leaked the entire 2011 KTM model range, including the 2011 KTM RC8 R. Now we have more pictures of the updated superbike. While there are some minor mechanical changes intended to make the now more powerful RC8 easier to ride, the big changes here are the striking new graphics and these gorgeous new LED running lights.

Update: video!

Update 2: 44 high-res action photos added to the gallery below.

Photos: Schedi, R. / Erimoser, Marcus

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A new crankshaft, refined fuel injection and new dual-plug ignition increases power from 168 to 175bhp and torque is up 1.5lb/ft to 93.6. That crank, the injection refinements and a new, heavier flywheel should address the main complaint people have of the RC8: an aggressive surge of power as it comes on-cam. When you’re fully leant over and that happens it can upset things. It’s not a huge deal, but people do bitch about it; hopefully no longer. KTM claims these changes also marginally improve fuel consumption and reduce emissions.

On the handling side, KTM claims its thoroughly revised the suspension giving it a wider range of adjustment than before. These changes include a new eccentric linkage for the rear shock.

Then there’s the looks. KTM clearly employs the best graphic designer currently working for any OEM. Loud, but classy, the two-color paint schemes perfectly accent the RC8’s sharp, geometric lines.

  • Shinigami

    I just don’t know. I looked into buying one of these when they came out, but when I (finally- 12 months later when they were ACTUALLY available) test rode one it just didn’t do it for me. The price and feature set weren’t in good synch then and I think still not now, in an era when you can get a literbike with TC, ABS and better ergos (as in, the 600 known as the S1000RR…)

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      The RC8 is enormously adjustable, even in the ergonomics, which means there’s a lot of opportunity there to get its setup all wrong. Sounds like that’s what happened to your tester.

      When I had the chance to ride the RC8 and RC8 R at the Skip Barber Superbike school I found it to be one of the most comfortable, easiest-to-exploit, just plain awesome superbikes that I’d ever ridden. Think how easy a bike like the CBR600RR is to ride fast, then translate that to an exotic, fire-breathing, 1,200cc v-twin and you have the RC8. If I was liter bike shopping, I wouldn’t even think about anything else, not even an RSV4.

      • The Lawyer

        You’d take this over the 1098R?

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          I’ve only ridden an 1198S. The RC8 feels faster, is more comfortable, easier to move around on and doesn’t look like a generic Japanese superbike that melted in the sun. TC is neat and all, but I don’t need it.

          • The Lawyer

            I’ll check out Skip Barber and report back. But seriously, there’s nothing like a Duc on the track.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    I love the RC8. If I had the money, I would do the Skip Barber Superbike School that Wes went to to actually try it before I bought it. Awesome.

  • deckard

    RC8 is a great bike. But I personally think the graphics on this RC8R are a bit over the top. And the bright orange frame accentuates a part of the bike that is of relative little visual interest, and disrupts the flow of the bodywork. Wow, and cromoly tube frame welded in the shape of a triangle. Next!

    • g.r.b

      what? are you joking? this is one of the best designed bikes out there, ktm has top level designers and that includes its graphic designers, this bike is literally a design masterpiece, “the flow” is perfect, from the concept to the production model if they ever got one thing right its “the flow”

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        I’ve edited your comment to reflect what I feel is a good way to disagree without launching into a personal attack. Please endeavor to create more intelligent comments in the future.

        • g.r.b

          thanks, you are right

        • deckard

          No need to protect me. Let clowns be clowns.

  • phobos512

    I think it’s a great looking bike. It’s outrageous and it looks the part. But they are now lagging in features – BMW and now Kawasaki have significant advantages in electronics and rider assistance features in this price range.

    Does anyone know if the US bikes will have closed loop fueling? I see O2 sensors in the gallery – couldn’t find anything on KTM’s site.

  • redblur360

    I’m going to throw my two cents in here as a creative director and a motorcycle hoon. From an asthetic perspective, this bike is easily one of the most noticeable on the rode. Distinguishable lines, great paint schemes (the akrapovic and red bull packages are top notch, fit great). The one thing that falls flat is the “R” design… The subtle wave in the R destroys the hard lines on the bike. In my professional opinion, if they fixed this to compliment the bike more it would be perfect. As far as the bike goes, I was going to get one but when I test rode it, it was rode too much like a Honda Fourtrax, a big bulky workhorse. Given, it was comfortable and easy to ride, but I personally want “Scare my insurance company fast” and could care less about comfort (I own a 675 haha)

  • mchale2020

    I think the visual cues and design of this bike compliments the nature of progressive motorcycle technology perfectly. Everything about it looks radical, just as a machine of this nature should. Despite my mortal riding ability, it’s the one exotic I wouldn’t feel ashamed to own simply in admiration of the design KTM invested into the RC8 and reflected with the final product.

    In a way, it’s almost shameful to see how sport bikes have been distilled into a numbers game. To me, KTM has bucked that tradition by building something that looks so properly wild and full of vivid character.

  • NickK

    I love this bike from the looks and design side. I hate myself for both not having ridden it, and not being able to afford it. I will now proceed to slap myself upside the head, and go out to make the duckets.

  • shawn.bassplayer

    I’d love it if they made a SuperDuke based on this. :)

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Looks like KTM have sorted both things that were kinda keeping the RC8 off my shortlist (fuelling/snatchiness and power).

    Whenever something like this comes up I always say that there’s something I like about twins. One thing that stood out about the RC8 from the start was the adjustability.

    Interesting Wes that you mention the comfort and ease of use. I guess all the adjustability gives you that… now I’m hanging out for a test ride! Banks are always keen to give a young guy a loan. This could get dangerous fast. Haha :P