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An Austrian Interpretation – 2008 KTM RC8

Founded in 1934 under the name Kraftfahrzeug Trunkenpolz Mattighofen, KTM has grown like the proverbial tree, branching out from bicycles to two-strokes, enduros to supersports, and lately into sportscars.  Their exciting entrance into the superbike arena was well-received and has become a standard-bearer for the company.

20160508 2008 ktm rc8 right

2008 KTM RC8 for sale on eBay

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Based on their LC8 V-twin, KTM developed the 1148cc in only 30 months, the results roar for themselves with 152 hp and 89 ft-lbs. torque. Underneath the stealth fighter styling it uses a chrome-moly steel trellis frame, with fully adjustable WP forks and monoshock.  Superbike-spec Brembo brakes have 320mm front rotors with 240mm rear.  Low polar moment exhaust ends under the footpegs.

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20160508 2008 ktm rc8 right rear

The RC8 presented here has just break-in miles and appears for all intents new.  Evidently owned by a fan, it has been preserved, maybe with an eye toward collectability.  From the eBay auction:

KTM’s RC8 Super-bike represents KTM’s first mass-produced production super bike. This particular KTM is #5 of only 50 produced in their first year; it also only has 1052 miles!! The KTM RC8 was fully designed with the racetrack in mind and is intended to compete directly against Ducati’s 1098/1198 Superbikes as well as the Big Four Japanese liter class motorcycles.

20160508 2008 ktm rc8 left rear

Introduced in spring 2008 as a 2008-1/2 model, the RC8 wasn’t without problems, there was a recall to adjust the transmission and a few quality control issues, but as a first superbike KTM hit it out of the park.  Smashing design and execution, pricing in between Italy and Japan, and most ergonomics are adjustable for the individual rider.  Never resting on their laurels, KTM improved the powerplant for 2010, and introduced a more dedicated track machine in the RC8R.  But the distinction of a first-year model and fine condition are a draw.  Listed by a Texas dealer, the auction has several days to run, dozens of bids, and hasn’t hit the reserve.  Looking forward to watching this one…


20160508 2008 ktm rc8 front

20160508 2008 ktm rc8 rear


  • 3 main problems with this bike, its under powered even for 2008. Second the body work unfortunately is not timeless as its other main issue. Its like the PT cruiser from Chrysler, really different at the time but aged very quickly. The owner is better off riding it then trying to sell it for that much! You can pick up a lot of other higher performing bikes for half the price. Lastly when the new duke 1290 engine gets into a sport bike all these RC8’s will be worth half! #bubble burst.

    • All matters of opinion of course. I have to laugh at the term “underpowered”. 25 years ago 120 HP was a high powered motorcycle, capable of propelling you to over 160 MPH . On the street that is a crazy number and I would dare say the vast majority of riders would never have the ability to use that power to it’s full potential, and that same mantra still holds true today. I rarely get out of 3rd gear on my 1994 CBR900 on the back roads, and I suck, maybe a fast rider would hit 4th. The idea that 150 HP is an underpowered engine is ludicrous, GP machines in the 80’s were in that range.Sure if you want to call it underpowered compared to new engines thats true, but for real world backroads riding a 150 HP torque monster will probably keep up with a newer bike except on the top end.

    • Ah your confusing points Tim, being underpowered and controlling it street or track is irrelevant to my comment. Compared to a lot of other bikes its underpowered especially when you start comparing the larger CC advantage it had over those bikes. 2008 R1, 186hp/75tq, 08 GSXR 1000 186hp/85tq, 2009 BMW RR 193hp/83tq, Cbr1000rr 175hp/83tq, 08 busa 194hp/114tq, 09 RSV4 185hp/83tq. Need I go on??? Unfair comparisons? Nope, back in 08-09 go to a sport bike ride day and look around you, all the bikes I mentioned and more where what others were riding.

      RC8 was outclassed performance wise the first day it hit the show room floor. KTM knows this as their failure, their RC8 sales were hurt by all these RC8 guys getting beat/harassed by all their cheaper liter bike friends. Thats why the super duke 1290 is so bad ass and has ridiculous performance numbers.

  • The K in KTM stands for Kronreif, one of the co-founders, with Trunkenpolz, the T in KTM, being the other co-founder. Kraftfahrzeug is German for ‘motor car’ or some general motorized conveyance.

  • I agree with TIim! The horsepower race has got out of hand for a street bike (maybe not so much for track days). I would rather ride a bike on the street that I can exploit a reasonable amount of its performance and still avoid massive traffic citations. Hell I managed to collect traffic citations in most of the states west of the Mississippi on an ’88 VFR 750. Most of those were for exceeding the posted speeds around corners. Since then I backed it down a notch to preserve my license and keep my insurance rates reasonable.

    • Thanks for the backup. I just added a 1967 BMW to my stable to “slow me down” !

  • Is this not devolving into a discussion about “prudent power”, which is inherently subjective? I’ve read stories about people traveling 1000’s of miles on a CT-90, and 6hp was enough for them. The OP was making the objective comment that this was underpowered compared to its direct rivals. I would disagree with him on his second point, but no one cares about what I think. Except for maybe me.

    • Exactly, Davidson gets it!

      I have lower HP bikes and I love them. But I also have a busa and I love that too. The RC8 beats 600’s but not liter bikes, and it should have with KTM engineering and the extra CC. Start comparing price too and the jap liter bikes are all cheaper. And don’t tell me the KTM has better suspension either over jap either. What I am saying in the end the bang for the buck is low and had it been equal in speed and power as the jap liter bikes it would have been an easier pill to swallow to pay more for something unique.

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