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2011 KTM RC8R - Raising their game in the superbike wars



The first RC8 model from KTM came out as a concept in 2005, before going in productions as a 2008, followed by the RC8R as a 2009 model here in America. The first models were faultless street bikes, with the best sportbike ergonomics at the time and plenty of useful torque across the rev range from the 152hp, 88.5lb-ft of torque engine.

The 2009 1190 RC8R came with 165-170 horses and 90.7 lb-ft of usable torque, a significant step up from the previous model. The “R” happily kept the adjustable footpegs and clip-ons to ensure happy ergonomics on the street, and the extra potential from the engine and upgraded suspension components turned the “R” into the King of track days and Canyon shooting if you lived in California.

Photo: KTM

Time marches on, as do sportbikes, and 2010 saw the arrival of the standard-raising BMW S 1000 RR and Aprilia RSV4 Factory, two bikes that upped the performance bar several notches for street as well as track riding. And for 2011, Kawasaki has now raised the bar again with the remarquable 2011 ZX-10R.

KTM did anticipate this rise and has just announced the 2011 1190 RC8. A revised engine, now with two plugs per cylinder and a new crank, ups power to 175hp and torque to 93.7 lb-ft, along with more torque and a smoother throttle response at low rpm than in 2010. Once you get past 6000rpm, the bike fairly explodes forward – too much for the street and ideal for longer straightaways on the track.

Improved ergonomics keep rider comfort at the front of the pack, while the improved suspension bits and effective mass centralisation make for an even more agile ride than last year’s model.

No mention of Traction Control or ABS, two essentials in today’s motorcycle world. You can also choose the track-only version, called appropriately enough the 1190 RC8R Track, with its 180hp engine, an even-more upgraded suspension, race exhaust system and less weight – and available in Europe for about $24,000Ca.