Austrian make KTM with their latest offering, the Stealthy looking RC 8 is one bomber that took the super biking world with a storm. Considering that this is their first superbike venture, KTM has indeed done an excellent job.
KTM has not only established themselves in the motor cross and rally race circles but also in the 2-stroke 125 and 250cc class in the motogp with Mika Kallio winning 3 races from the first eight of the 2008 season and is currently 3rd in the overall standing.
On the test day, the weather was really unpredictable but it was also a blessing in disguise as I get to try out the bike in both wet and dry condition. Firing up the engine and the un-mistakable V-twin sound comes to live. Although the well hidden stainless steel exhaust doesn’t sound as “intimidating” as some after-market racing pipes (due to the regulated catalytic converter), it compensated that with its look, which is directly positioned underneath the swing arm and riders with sensitive ears will be glad that they can ride it without ear plugs on.
On the twisties the bike, with its Chromium-Molybdenum trellis frame handles well and good mid-range torque gets you out of corners in a breeze. The handle is really light and you need to fight quite a bit in getting it to “point” to the direction you want. Un-fortunately the test bike was not set up according to my weight and I couldn’t push the bike as hard as I would like to. However all this can be fixed with some tweaking on the WP front and rear suspensions and steering damper.
The 1190cc, 155HP RC8 may not have the smooth power delivery and gear change as the Japanese counterparts but it is loaded with front and rear Brembo brakes with steel braided hose which come standard on the bike. Stopping power is excellent and one can pull a stoppie without much effort. The liquid cooled RC8 runs on wet multi-disc clutch although upon starting it, it sounds like it’s running on dry. The sitting geometry is good on riders like me who is 170cm tall. I did not feel the strain on the wrists and back and riding it in jam packed K.L town was a joy too.
Now here are some of the things that bother me during the test ride. The first was the heat dissipation from the engine. The RC8 comes with half vertical fairings and on a hot day I can feel my shins burning up. The other is the gear lever, which in my opinion was a wee too short and I actually mis-shifted the gears on some corners. The front screen is also too low and wind was blasting on my helmet visor even when I was already almost kissing the tank at over 180Km/h. Other than the engine heat issue, the others can be rectify with some aftermarket parts.
This stealth machine comes with a tech instrument panel. It has readings for front and rear tyres temperature, external temperature, average speed indicator, a clock, distance before your next service, and a minimum to maximum fuel range. All that with a slight push of the Lap button on your left handle next to the horn. Now is that cool or what? Be careful however as I almost always pressed the Lap button instead of the horn when some moron just decided to come out of junctions without looking.
This 184Kg (dry weight) beauty will definitely be a choice for V-twins lovers or those who wants a difference. The RC8 comes with 2 colour choices. The signature orange, and white.