Endurance test interim report KTM RC8

Conclusion after 25,000 kilometers

Not an easy task to build the first super sports car in the company’s history that still works? and holds. The mid-term review of the KTM RC8’s endurance test shows whether and how it does this.

A round thing, without any rough edges?

In all honesty, no one could expect that from KTM’s first superbike project, the RC8. Not in view of this angular Kiska design. And certainly not in view of the fact that KTM set the bar very high and wanted to compete with the best of the V2 genre.

Which meant: it should be around 160 hp and 200 kilograms. Not an easy undertaking for a newcomer, but the RC8 mastered the hurdle with ease. During the initial measurement, the Alpen-V2 put 157 HP on the test bench roller and the bike 201.5 kilograms on the scales. And was thus on Ducati level.

AT.Unlike the red divas, however, the RC8 not only flattered itself with its steely fitness, but also with its successful ergonomic conditions in the editorial office. A narrow tank, handlebar halves clamped at a dignified height, height-adjustable footrests placed exactly in the right place and a rear frame that can be adjusted in height in two stages – on the RC8 young and old found a suitable arrangement for their extremities. Only the hard bench did not meet with undivided recognition. Although it delivers crystal-clear rear wheel feedback and thus fits perfectly with the high sporting demands, on the other hand it abused the seat meat excessively. But even that did not deter professional travelers: “Mega class! Even cleaned out of sheer enthusiasm ", the former head of the department on the road Annette Johann notes in the logbook:" Great details and workmanship, comfortable seating position, I would immediately prefer all Ducs. "The KTM had around 1,600 kilometers on the clock.

And a lot behind it. A predecessor, for example, that only managed almost 2,000 kilometers on the first attempt before it prematurely stretched the cylinders. “Worn lower connecting rod bearing in the front cylinder” was the diagnosis (see “Defects during the test”, page 50). In view of the low mileage and the severity of the damage, MOTORRAD decided to restart, especially as KTM assured that the connecting rods were now not only finely turned, but also honed, so that such damage would be excluded in the future.

By the time this issue went to press at 22,700 kilometers, this was entirely true. The engine lasted so far, but the RC8 was not only a lot of fun but also attracted attention again and again with minor mishaps.

One of the worst: the bad design of the license plate holder. Obviously, one of the Austrian designers has never been on the German concrete slab highways at high speed. Otherwise it would have been noticed that the protruding hard plastic arm is not able to withstand the hard blows caused by transverse grooves. The result: the 190 roller pulled the license plate and holder with force towards the strut, not once, but several times – and once, after around 1,500 kilometers, it tore off completely.


The RC 8 in the stress of the racetrack

One can imagine the queasy feelings the testers had from then on (up to the assembly of an accessory holder, see box on page 48). Always worried about the license plate number and rear tire of the bike – and by the way about your own intervertebral discs, because what the shock absorber puts on the rider’s back, especially on heels, is not adequately described with "hard". MOTORRAD therefore experimented with a 95 kilogram spring from Wilbers instead of the original 110 kilogram spring, which noticeably increases comfort without unduly diluting the feedback. Nevertheless: Further attempts with an RC8 shock absorber from the year 2009 (softer spring, modified configuration) and retrofit shock absorbers are still pending.

In contrast to the shock absorber, when the manufacturer only responded to criticism as part of the model update, KTM immediately took action with regard to the shiftability of the transmission. The long-term test RC8, like the customer motorcycles, was given a new star gear as part of an inspection, which was supposed to reduce the forces required to change gears. That also succeeded – but the RC8 gearbox is still a bit away from an exemplary transmission.


In its element: the RC 8, moving quickly on a well-developed country road

Just like the V2 from a vibration-free drive. From 7000 rpm it gets so violent that nothing can be seen in the rear-view mirrors on the autobahn and hands and feet fall asleep on long journeys. However, the distances cannot be really long, because after a good 15 liters the tank is in absolute low tide. The author had to experience this firsthand when on an early Saturday morning (deserted motorway, urgent appointment) the reserve display refused to work for some inexplicable reason. Another time, the KTM was left behind in the south of France because the chain suddenly said goodbye.

Nevertheless, like so many in the editorial team, he climbs on the RC8 every time with a tingling sensation in his stomach. And is looking forward to the next 25,000 kilometers.

Accessories put to the test


So that the look of the RC 8 is also right, there are some upgrades. For example a new windshield


Contrasting program: The white RC8 front with the tinted part from the KTM accessories program (49.48 euros) is much more pleasing than with the clear window. However, this does not change anything about the not outstanding wind protection. This is less due to the height of the fairing than to its narrow shape, which at least puts arms and shoulders in the airstream.


Tank pads

It is a torture to see the dirt sensitivity of the stylish matt white paint, which suffers particularly from the neuralgic tank bulge. The KTM tank pads (29.65 euros) not only look good, they also protect the sensitive paintwork.


Rim rings

And something else for the optics: the desolate black of the rims is pleasantly loosened up by the orange trim rings (KTM, 24.69 euros). The assembly (three parts per side) requires calmness and a sense of proportion, the durability is good.


License plate holder

Chic and functional: With the higher number plate holder from tecbike (www.tecbike.de, including Kellermann indicators and reflector 177.85 euros) the tiresome number plate problem is solved. However, the assembly is no fun because the plug connections do not fit and accessories from electronics retailers are required.



Brake and clutch levers

Chic to look at, high-quality workmanship, but ergonomically a clear step backwards: the folding levers from the TM range of accessories (clutch and brake lever each 147.76 euros). The levers are significantly shorter than the originals, which further reduces the risk of breakage in the event of a fall, but significantly increases the operating forces, especially of the clutch lever. A recommendation therefore only for the racetrack.


Footrest system

And something else for the eye: In view of the ideally placed and height-adjustable original footrests, the elaborately processed and diversely adjustable system from the KTM accessories program (475.01 euros) is a real luxury. You should take some time for the attachment because the assembly of the push rod for the master cylinder of the foot brake lever is not that easy. Functionally, the system does not differ significantly from the original, but it appears to be of a much higher quality.




In addition to the license plate holder, the strut is the second major construction site. The original spring (left) is too hard for everyday use. MOTORRAD installed a shorter, softer, more comfortable Wilbers spring (95 N / mm). Noticeably better.


Anti-hopping clutch

Especially on the racetrack, an anti-hopping clutch is a great thing, especially with large twins, and the Suter clutch (KTM, 1189.01 euros) also works perfectly when downshifting quickly and violently. In everyday life it is no gain because of the higher hand strength.



The copies from FAR (www.tecbike.de, € 54.50 each) are much more delicate than the original mirrors. Your biggest advantage: They vibrate significantly less than the originals and allow up to around 200 km / h a view to the rear that is only clouded by parts of the elbow.



The hard and violent throttle response of the RC8 gets on my nerves in everyday life. The throttle with variable stroke from the KTM range (127.93 euros) provides a quick and uncomplicated remedy. MOTORRAD favors the middle variant, which makes the response more gentle without losing too much of the refreshing temperament that characterizes the V2.

On road


Tank bag and tail bag

The color and form of the tank bag and tail bag from the KTM accessories range are well coordinated with the RC8 (tank bag EUR 168.48, tail bag EUR 147.76). The tank bag is attached to the side frame tubes at the front and under the seat bench at the back.


In the case of the tail bag, two bolts simply snap into the passenger seat mounts. Both bags are protected from moisture by a rain cover. Opening and closing the tank rucksack is difficult because of the card cover over it, and it does not interfere with the journey.



Akrapovic exhaust

The accessories market doesn’t offer much, but of course KTM has a classy Akrapovic accessory exhaust in its range for the RC8. However, without ABE, only for use on the racetrack. The ultra-light titanium system (4.5 kilograms compared to 11.4 kilograms of the original) is beautifully manufactured, with a good fit and impeccable workmanship. The assembly is done in about two hours, the sound is already clearly louder than the original with dB-Eater and even louder without it. However – and that’s a shame – the customer gets little or no more power for around 3000 euros (1973.41 for the manifold, 1081.91 for the silencer). With the dB-Eater, the Akrapovic system packs just two horsepower on top, without the dB-Eater, the performance is even at the original level, the curves are almost the same.


Crack in the chain

The old one could not be found, the new one was assembled by a Yamaha dealer in Bollène in southern France at 15,600 kilometers. The chain was by no means unduly worn.


Switch star exchanged

Not a defect in the classic sense, but a conversion campaign: Because first gear could only be engaged with reluctance and the gear changes required a lot of effort, KTM replaced the star gear (the new one on the left).


Rift in the cockpit

An unsightly crack has graced the left side of the cockpit for a few thousand kilometers (this also happened with the endurance test 690 Supermoto, in which the cockpit was swapped twice). A second crack recently appeared on the right side of the cockpit. The component just doesn’t seem to be able to cope with the pithy vibrations.


License plate mishap

A faulty construction: the license plate holder of the RC8. Again and again the rear wheel and license plate collided. With bad consequences for the license plate. Only a bracket from the accessories (see box on page 48) provided a remedy.


Connecting rod bearings

Not nice when a connecting rod bearing rubs itself out and the rotating bearing shell leaves plenty of chips. This happened at the first attempt of the RC8 endurance test after 2000 kilometers, so that MOTORRAD broke off the endurance test and started again with a second machine.

Rainer Froberg, fleet manager


"I took the RC 8 into my heart!"

In the beginning I didn’t like it at all, the bike was too hard, too stiff, too jarring for me. In the meantime, however, I have really taken her to my heart. Also thanks to its variability in terms of ergonomics, which gives me the perfect athlete seating position. Anyone who has found the right suspension setup will no longer want to dismount because they impress with their direct response, their fine feedback and their balance.

Gert Thöle, test chief


"Good thing it’s not red"

I always see red when I drive the RC8 – but only with my mind’s eye. Because optically, the KTM is miles away from the Ducati, the mother of all V2 athletes. Nevertheless, it is always measured against it, but can easily hold up to the comparison. Because the RC8 appears more balanced and impresses with clever detailed solutions. Nevertheless, there are still points of criticism, especially the transmission bothers me enormously. And some surfaces could be more elegant.

Andi Bildl, test editor


"A diamond in the rough"

Great, a sports twin that is handy and has decent ergonomics. On the one hand. Still, my relationship to this powerful edge is a bit ambiguous. The hard throttle response, the stubborn shock absorber, the rough gearshift – in the city, on narrow passes or worn out asphalt the horror. But if she can run on smoothly ironed slopes, if this magnificent engine can let off steam, then she’s awesome.

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