$3,500 off 2011 KTM RC8 R

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Word on the street is the KTM’s superbike isn’t selling. Not just here in the US, but worldwide. Need proof? The upgraded 2011 KTM RC8 R is a full $3,500 cheaper than last year’s model at a time when the Euro remains strong against the dollar. This new R serves double duty as a non-R replacement, it’s cheaper than that model too. Could the 180bhp v-twin now be a loss-leader for the company?

For 2011, the RC8 R has been upgraded with 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. Looks are revised with new LED running lights and purty new colors and the suspension has been overhauled to deliver an even wider range of adjustment. Considering the old model was one of the most adjustable bikes on the market, that’s saying something.

The fancier new parts, their development and the strength of the Euro point to a higher price point, not a lower one. This facelift comes only three years after the RC8 was first shown and two years after the RC8 R, so that development and tooling’s a long way from being paid off too.  KTM calls its $16,499 figure “aggressive pricing” which is indicative of its aim to drive traffic to showrooms. All the above added together suggests that KTM could now be selling each RC8 R at a loss simply to get its halo bike in the public’s hands.

So why isn’t the RC8 R selling? It has nothing to do with the quality of the product. We’ve spent significant track time on last year’s bike and it remains our pick of the superbike crop. It combines the ease-of-use of a Japanese superbike with the exotic character of a fire breathing European V-twin. To our eyes it still looks five years newer than any other bike on the market. It even plays a trump card no other superbike currently does — it’s all day comfortable for tall people like me. Thanks to all that chassis adjustability, it actually fits my 6’ 2” frame. All that together should deliver some reasonable sales, even during this recession. The problem seems to be with KTM’s non-existent PR, marketing and dealer network. No one’s going to buy your product if they don’t know it exists. No one’s going to choose your product over competitors if they don’t understand its advantages. Sadly, the cheaper price doesn’t address those problems.

  • Kirill

    Hopefully this also means poor resale value, would love to pick one up for cheap in a few years

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      It does, which is a bit disappointing for people that did take the plunge.

  • Patrick

    I suspect that one of the main reasons that it isn’t selling is that it is in fact fugly. It’s styling may be 5 years in the future but with it’s cartoonishly high tail and mish mash of curves and angles, it’s decidedly dystopian. Like a girl who looks good in pictures but not in person, it’s just not special enough for the people who spend the coin for a bike like this.

  • robotribe

    My theory: those who can afford it, would probably go Ducati or MV Agusta for the name on the tank and the rumored chick-magnet powers EYEtalian bikes seem to bring with them.

    There probably aren’t enough genuine enthusiasts for the bike’s unique qualities with funds to match when all is said and done.

    • dux

      Meaning: KTM is too nerdy. I agree -

      • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

        Funny you should say that; the only RC8 I’ve seen on the street was being ridden around the MIT campus.

  • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

    You can buy a CCW bike with that money saved. Haha

    But seriously, this is one of the most modern looking motorcycles currently being produced. LOVE YOU, see you in my garage soon.

  • Thomas

    ..most RC8R you see over here are displayed at the dealers – rare ones you see on the track, but I’ve not seen any on public roads last year – and I did about 20kmls with the bikes! Seems that the stealth-design and pricing does not attract people – there is a lack of emotion with that bike. If you ride it, it’s a beast – and fun ;-) And you don’t see the ugly design 8-)

    • Philip

      “…there is a lack of emotion with that bike.”

      I think you hit it right on. Well, that and the lack of emotion PR / marketing.

  • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

    The lack of dealer is an issue in Europe too. There’s only one in Paris for like 5 to 10 of every other brand (ducati and the japs), keeping in mind paris is a very small city, but nonetheless.
    Only saw one non-R outside the dealership so far, that’s sad this bike seems awesome. I did like the former R paint more tho, it was really stunning…

  • jonoabq

    its orange.

  • GT

    They need to race, I’d love to see a KTM WSB team.

    • James


      The Aprilia RSV4 was always a great bike, but didn’t enjoy the kudos it does now since Biaggi won the WSB championship with one. KTM need to put some proper money into racing that beast for it to be taken seriously.

      The vast majority of superbike owners will never push their bikes to the limit on track, so their bragging rights come from their bikes’ exploits racing. BMW realised to be taken seriously as a superbike manufacturer, they had to have an aggressive race strategy, winning the BSB Evo class in 2010 and looking set to take another giant leap next season.

      Everyone sees KTM as the foremost offroad bike manufacturer in the world, not because it builds the best bikes, but because it wins the Dakar with the best bikes.


  • stephen

    exactly, no one is selling these at their dealerships. Many people arn’t going to buy a motorcycle if they feel they will have problems getting parts to fix it.

    • Miles Prower

      I haven’t had any problems sourcing parts for my KTMs. Plus, there’re several online communities with lots of KTM knowledge being shared.

      KTM’s biggest problem is that most of their dealers sell offroad bikes and don’t know crap about KTM’s street bikes — and they’re afraid to stock any of KTM’s street bikes for fear that they won’t be able to move them.

      There’s a big KTM dealer about half an hour out of Boston, but to see an RCR8 in a showroom, you have to head to another state — either north to NH or south to Jersey. (My Duke came from Jersey.)

  • andy727

    I absolutely love this bike. I am a tall rider as well, and it fits me better than any other bike I tried. BUT..I ended up going with the BMW RR because of the electronics.

  • aristurtle

    I’m tempted as hell, but I know it’s got way more power than I can reasonably use. I wonder why KTM didn’t try to go into the 600-class first.

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      Because the RC8′s engire comes from the 990 LC8 from the superduke and they could’nt do a 690 superbike with the monocylinder LC4 from the duke so that would mean a whole new engine…

  • Joey

    GT is 100% right! The only way they are going to be taken seriously in this extremely tight market is to race and win! There is no connection, no pedigree with this superbike and lord knows that is what we are buying. We need to see and say that my brand has won this many times or did you see that race where my bike almost this or that. We need to see someone else ring it out in a spectacular fashion. For some reason we have no vision. But… on the flip side once we see what it can do in capable hands we will be all over it. Same with any brand really. Once we see who is wearing it or listening to it ect.. Then we come on board. I sure if KTM gave them to celebrities and they were shot all over town on them it would help big time. But I think racing is the biggest selling factor, no race no sell!

  • slowestGSXRever

    Hey, if there was someplace around me to buy one (and, you know, I had the money) I’d get one, they’re freaking sexy.


    there are a lot of good superbikes right now and the KTM doesn’t fare that well in magazine comparison tests, especially given the price.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Think that has something to do with the amount of money its competitors spend advertising vs KTM? I’ve ridden every superbike going with the exception of the 2011 ZX-10R and the RC8 DOES NOT fare poorly.

  • Peter88

    I’ve been a Honda buyer and am used to hopping on my liter bike everyday without a worry. I may be wrong but I heard the maintanence on those single cylinder 4-stroke engines is very high. So I extrapolated that piece of data to the RC8.

    • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

      I’ve owned a duke II with the 640cc LC4, no major issues with it… I rode it in the winter and even did a 250km highway stretch (wich is not much but not really the inteded use of that bike) under the rain going 170km/h for the most part, other than the vibrations making my license plate fly off, no problem. That engine is solid.

      • Miles Prower

        The latest version of the LC4 is much smoother than the previous-generation LC4 in the Duke II. I had a 625 SMC with a prev-gen LC4 — and yeah, the plate kept vibrating off until I fashioned a plate holder with locknuts and rubber washers. My 690 Duke with the new LC4 is all-day smooth.

  • JonB

    So how do you convince them—KTM, that it would be wiser to take a loss on investing in PR and Marketing rather than just a hack and slash on pricing?

  • Dean

    I was surprised that there wasn’t a KTM booth at the NYC motorcycle show this january. The RC8 was really the only new bike I really wanted to see.

    I do understand why some don’t like the futuristic looks, but it’s a huge leap forward in sportbike aesthetics — nothing else comes even close.

  • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

    Prices drop is also confirmed in europe: