In 2015, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer discontinued the brand’s revered RC8 model and halted future production of street-legal superbikes. Citing modern superbikes as too dangerous for public roads, Pierer famously stated, “if your Superbike is reaching 200 horsepower or more, it’s impossible to argue that it belongs on the street. It really doesn’t, anymore.”
Since then, Team Orange devotees have had an RC8-shaped hole in their hearts. Now, KTM faithful can rejoice, as the House of Mattighofen lifts the cover on its new RC 8C. While the new RC still isn’t road-legal, the track-only model compensates with a raft of upgrades. Buoyed by a bespoke 25CrMo4 steel tubular frame, the new KTM also sports an ultra-light aluminum Drymag wheelset along with a dedicated airbox and racing air filter.
Gallery: KTM RC 8C
In accordance with the lightweight construction, Team Orange also adopts a new composite subframe. The new unit doubles as a fuel tank as well, centralizing the mass for better handling and stability. Drawing from the Red Bull KTM and Tech 3 KTM MotoGP teams, the new superbike dons RC16-inspired carbon Kevlar-reinforced GRP bodywork. All the diet parts result in a 308-pound dry weight for the RC 8C, cutting nearly 60 pounds off its street-legal counterpart, the 890 Duke R.
Aside from the strict diet plan, KTM packed extra muscle onto the RC 8C as well. Under the MotoGP-inspired bodywork lurks the same LC8c parallel-twin that powers the firm’s 890 Duke R. However, the liquid-cooled, eight-valve, 889cc powerplant earns an Akrapovič titanium muffle and race tune. As a result, the LC8c now churns out 128 horsepower (compared to the 119-horsepower claimed by its road-going sibling). Of course, that extra horsepower is nothing without extra stopping power, and the Ready to Race brand delivers with up-spec componentry.
Sporting twin 290mm discs up front and a single 260mm rotor aft, the Brembo Stylema calipers provide more than enough bite to bring the RC 8C to a halt. KTM only sweetens the package by paring the superbike-worthy binders with a Brembo 19RCS Corsa Corta radial master cylinder. Featuring technology drawn directly from the MotoGP paddock, the Corsa Corta allows users to adjust the braking system’s “bite point” with an easily accessible selector at the top of the master cylinder.
Developments made by KTM’s MotoGP Factory Team also benefit the RC 8C’s 43 mm WP Apex Pro 7543 closed cartridge fork. Assembled by the same department that maintains the RC16’s suspenders, the exclusive WP unit offers zero hydraulic stroke limitation, which enables riders to continually control the damping properties. Out back, a WP APEX PRO 7746 shock includes separate high and low-speed compression and rebound settings so racers can get the perfect setup regardless of the track and conditions.
Today’s riders depend on telemetry and data more than ever, and the RC 8C’s AIM MXS 1.2 Race dashboard not only boasts a data logger but also integrates GPS functions. The system continuously collects, collates, and displays data on the five-inch TFT dash and analyzed by AIM Race Studio.
Listed at $38,999, only 100 hand-built units will be available worldwide. Those interested can pre-order the KTM RC 8C starting at 16:00 CEST (10 am ET) on July 22, 2021. Twenty-five lucky customers will also earn a chance to join the Red Bull KTM Factory racing test at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain.
Those opting for the KTM RC 8C race track experience will also get to ride with MotoGP legend Dani Pedrosa and KTM test rider Mika Kallio. The track experience package will also include an extra Dymag wheelset, an additional set of front and rear brake discs, paddock stands, tire warmers, and a KTM Race carpet. No, the RC 8C may not be a street-legal model, but with its introduction, KTM is back in the superbike business.